A solid component of man’s quest for knowledge used to be the pursuit of Truth (and Fact). The major barrier to this endeavor, sadly, is people don’t care much for either of them. However, to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in the movie Jurassic Park - Truth breaks free; it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but Truth… finds a way.
And, when I refer to the Truth, I am referring to societal customs of universally held beliefs, aka, Dogma. In short, is something really true, or do we all just hope it is, and plow on with our lives, regardless? One relevant example of these societal myths is the phrase “Sharing the Road.” In truth, it is a complete fantasy. It is something we like to think is benevolently so, but Zeitgeist tells us otherwise.
Humans do not really interact all that well, together. In any collection of people, someone always thinks they are better, faster, smarter, a leader, or worst yet, “Deserving.” The realties of human interaction are actually quite a bit darker than we care to admit when humanity is viewed along its historical record. We have to be taught to be nice. It is not innate. Fish can swim in a school, and birds can fly in massive flocks, all the while not colliding into each other with disastrous results. They work together and behave beyond the individual. Humans cannot even walk together without bumping into one-another, and forget about driving (or riding) in large groups – Disaster!
Where am I going with this? I really don’t like to get into the politics of everyday life on this blog, however, when decisions are being made for me (and others), it is time to take note and speak up. What I am directly referring to is the term “Bicycle Advocate” (whatever that means?). There is more than enough evidence to argue that those who propose to speak for me, and all cyclists, are really not looking out for everyone’s best interests but are only looking out for their own, narrowly-focused interests.
Here is a perfect example of the phenomenon, and with all due respects to comedian Henny Youngman, take the subject of Road Diets. Please!
The Road Diet - It is an innocuous, pretty sounding, name for militantly screwing over your fellow human beings for the sheer reason they do not ride a bicycle, nor happen to commute via one. In concise terms, if someone else does not do what you do, attack and demonize them – Wash, rinse, repeat. This has been a popular tactic of activists since Adam taught his kids how to walk. It is blatant discrimination at its best, and terrorism via Public Policy at worst. Someone does not do as you do, so you seek to limit, and in some cases, outright ban their legal, chosen mode of conveyance. Don’t scoff. It is happening all over the World, right now.
See, while some people live by the bicycle, not all of us do. The bike is a component of our lives, however, it is not the entire reason for our existence. Sorry! This explanation will get you into a fight with a “Cycling Advocate” faster than you can say, “Road Diets Suck!" That is why I have no faith in, nor have time for, any so-called Bicycle “Advocate “ or “Coalition.” For a group of citizens claiming to be “Community Based,” these folks certainly are pretty dang discriminatory, and mean, to boot. These peeps are actually motor vehicle loathing anarchists.
Another weapon used to support the cause of the Anti-Vehicular Jihadist is the self-imposed, miraculous, sacrosanct Truth by Personal Observation (TPO). This is a case where facts are completely irrelevant, and “What I saw” is deemed as true because it is, well, “How I see things!” Meanwhile, the wicked step-child of this advocate sophistry is, “It’s what I feel!” This process of madness is utilized to justify less capacity for motor vehicles. And, we have all heard (and read) it, too. “I sat at a corner, and I saw only two cars, but I saw twenty bikes. We need more personal space for bicycles, since there are hardly any cars, anyway.” Oh really? Where were you standing, what time of day was it, what day of the week was it, what road was it, and how many trucks, buses, motorcycles and pedestrians did you see???
Consider this quote lifted from a Southern California blog:
“Car-centric planning has been an abysmal failure for Los Angeles on every level (safety, property values, travel times, you name it.) It’s time motorists start sharing, instead of acting like entitled children anytime the issue of complete streets comes up. We pay taxes for the streets just the same as you.”
And, truth be told, that author was absolutely correct – About the infrastructure. Transportation infrastructure has been an abysmal failure, because it was IMCOMPENTELY PLANNED, POORLY CONSTRUCTED, AND IS INCOMPENTENTLY MANAGED! With the logic of Comrade Blog Writer, should the Wright Brothers have stayed on the ground after the first failure of their new invention? Since the first wheel did not roll, should the idea have just dropped, right there? Bunk! Good ideas evolve, thrive, and live on, while bad ideas rightfully die, unless it is a Public Policy ploy, whereby untold amounts of tax dollars are funneled into it to keep the bad idea alive (and bureaucrats employed) – Our transportation infrastructure in a nutshell.
This leads me to another affliction of the so-called “Activist.” When it is in THEIR best interest, a concept must be tried, and tried, and tried until it “Succeeds,” even if it is a horrible, unworkable, and expensive idea (by the way, it’s never their own money being spent). However, when it comes to the needs of Motorists, it is “Oh well. We tried the road building thing once, now it is time to move on.” The latter is the “Abysmal Failure” aforementioned Comrade Blog Writer was referring to. Thus, upon further investigation, it is interesting that the loudest advocates for “Share the Road,” in reality, do not really want to. Theses people want to OWN the road. It is classic Bourgeois-Proletariat philosophy: “We are all equal users of the road. However, some of us are more equal than others.”
For those who claim more vehicle lanes will bring increased traffic, well, wake up – The traffic of tomorrow is already here, TODAY! We need more, and better, infrastructure, not less of it. The ire of the “Activist” in the State of California (and everywhere), for instance, is the Motorist, but their sights should be purely upon that bastion of Expensive Bureaucratic Incompetence, the California Department of Transportation, aka, Caltrans. And, in regards to Caltrans, to paraphrase the great Sir Winston Churchill: Never before has an agency done so little, for so many, for such an exorbitant cost.
Stay tuned for Part II.