What exactly is the difference between a car driver and a bicycle rider? When you really get down to it, what is the difference? I know we all play up the idea that there is one; cyclists are good, drivers are lazy, bicycles are green, cars kill... but when we dig down a bit, does the comparison hold up? When we take the machines out of the equation, are the people who use them different from one another in the same ways?
I am a bicycle rider, a very visible one. Last year I rode three times as many miles as I drove. In that time I experienced just about all the things that urban bicycle riders all over the world do. I have been doored (good for me I am quick to react so while there was a deal of swearing and name calling, there was no contact), hooked (all but one time accidentally), I have had flat tires and had to replace my tire because of all the glass in it, experienced lack of safe parking, forgotten my lock and thus had to get people to let me bring my bike into stores, not positioned my seat correctly so that my knees became so painful I couldn't straighten them...
At the same time, I have rediscovered the sheer joy of random honeysuckle, how much fun it is to hear those little bits of passing conversation that couldn't possibly mean what they sound like, that thrill of seeing a reflection of myself (from the good angle) in a shop window, waving at people I know as they move about town, the best legs I have had in years and the best part of my day- the Snugglybumpkiss
I have a great car. It is a convertible (fully automatic open and close!) with a leather interior. Driving around with the top down on a warm evening on the coast with the full moon in the sky, listening to audio books while I drive through the mountains, talking to my kids while we tool around town listening to the radio, just having a space that is my own anywhere I go...
Traffic jams are the worst thing in the world that does not involve mass death (at least for me), sitting in a car seat for too long makes my back feel like it is on fire, I get car sick if I don't drive, I hate other drivers and find myself swearing at them constantly (even if the kids are in the car with me), every time something goes wrong with it it costs me a thousand dollars and I keep getting tickets on it because I forget where I parked it last week.
Maybe that is the secret of getting people out of their cars- let them hate things about cycling and love things about their cars. No one has to be the bad guy. We can all be complex persons who experience all kinds of things so that we can appreciate the simple beauty of our bicycles without guilt or defensiveness or fear.
Watcha think about that?