My tweet about #cycling was paranoia?

On the eve of Christmas Eve, yours truly took exception to some Twitter mini-screeds in which people who ride bicycles were slandered as paranoid #BikeZealot whiners who think every driver on the road is out to kill them.

This was fun.

Pixabay image

I said, “Assuming that motorists are often careless, drunk or otherwise dangerous and deadly isn’t cyclist paranoia. It is a basic survival skill for anyone on the road.”

My favorite response to that:

Your whole tweet is paranoia.

I was also labeled nervous, scared and more:

Bikers who are that scared of drivers and have preconceived notions like that don’t belong on the road.

Obviously a guy can’t let that go unanswered, so I politely observed that the difference between situational awareness and paranoia is difficult for many to grasp.

“Let me put it this way,” I added. “Don’t trust anyone driving a motor vehicle (me included), and also assume any nearby cyclist is about to do something stupid. IOW: Pay attention.”

The guys (an assumption, maybe a preconceived notion) liked that. They saw the light. They agreed with me and appreciated that I had called out “bike twitter,” who surely wouldn’t appreciate that. Clearly some preconceived notioning was going on.

The problem with bikers that whine on here is that they don’t believe in co-existence, they want cars gone for good.

Horrified as I was that someone might think I was on their side against people who ride bicycles, I tore myself away, turned out the lights, and got a decent night’s sleep.

If I’d thought it would make any difference to anyone, I might have gone on my own rant – not calling it that, of course – about motorists who whine when they have to share the road, about how our society is hopelessly addicted to driving, and about the enormous harm we do ourselves and others because of that addiction.

Driving a car has its place. I drive sometimes. Until working from home became a requirement rather than a choice nine or so months ago, I occasionally drove from Longmont to Boulder and back. More than 95% of the time, I rode the bus. I bicycled part or all of that nearly 40-mile, round-trip commute many more times each year than I drove.

I don’t want all cars gone for good. Just most of them.

Pedal on,

B.J.

Beware the little cyclists (and big people, too)

Experienced cyclists like Mrs. Smith and yours truly know a good bit about avoiding road hazards. I learned some of that the hard way – once by going too fast around a curve on an asphalt trail that was covered in wet leaves, for example, and once by hitting a rough railroad crossing at a bad angle in the rain.

Some of the scariest moments on a bicycle involve children, the scary part being fear of running into and hurting them. After witnessing a number of hazardous situations the other day on some busy, beautiful trails in Summit County, I thought it might be good to state the obvious that is not obvious to everyone.

  • You are not quick enough to avoid hitting a child who swerves into your path if you are riding as fast as you want to. Slow down. Trust me. A child walking or pedaling on a trail or anywhere else will be in your way at some point. They are learning.
  • Many adults are still learning. Some never will.
  • Don’t assume a cyclist or pedestrian you’re passing hears you say, “Passing on your left.” Not everyone has good hearing, and many others are listening to music or podcasts.
  • Far too many people will not give you a polite “Passing on your left” as they approach you from behind.
  • You cannot trust anyone who is driving a car, truck or other motor vehicle. That includes me. We are human and we all make mistakes, not to mention those who are drunk, texting or otherwise negligent.
  • You cannot trust other cyclists, so be responsible for your own safety. I’ve had a cycling friend yell out that a road was clear to cross only to see him nearly hit by a speeding car a second or two later. Always check for yourself.

Summary: Pay attention.

Pedal on.

B.J.

Motorized bicycles that are ‘non-motorized’? Say hello to my ‘cat’

This morning was perfect for a bicycle ride from Longmont to Lyons, a distance of about 10 miles if you start at the Smith place. It’s always great fun to be on the road with nearly as many cyclists as motor vehicle operators. Mrs. Smith and I aren’t the slowest people on bicycles, but we’re not so fast that we miss the scenery, the road-killed snakes, and all the yellow skins apparently shed along the way by bananas that no longer need them.

We’re also noticing more and more of those e-bike things, which I thought were referred to as such because they have electric motors. Silly me.

I read in the Denver Post after our human-powered morning ride that the U.S. government has decreed that e-bikes are actually “non-motorized.”

And up is actually down, unless I have that backwards.

My favorite and funniest part of the article, even though this is no laughing matter:

“The Interior statement said riders must use the motor only to boost their pedaling on the trails, and not zip along on motor power alone.”

The absurdity is obvious: The Department of the Interior has determined that the riders in question don’t have motors. What’s more, we all know that cyclists, motor vehicle operators, and even riders of non-motorized contraptions that do have motors routinely fail to do many of the things they must do.

I wouldn’t deny anyone the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, as much as or even much more than I do. The arguments in favor of using e-bikes to get around are numerous, and many of those reasons are actually good.

As a writer and editor who cares about language, however, I do take exception to calling things and people something they are not.

By the way, I thought I’d share a picture of my cat, since people love cat pictures so much.

Pedal on, my friends.

B.J.

In search of good bicycle fiction

Something prompted me to search for “bicycle fiction” and “cycling fiction” this weekend. (OK, the prompt just might have been this book review.)

My search turned up some short fiction but not many exact matches. I did find A Simple Machine, Like the Lever on Goodreads and tagged it as a book I want to read.

Movies about bicycling are easy to find, often in lists like this one:

The 26 Best Cycling Movies of All Time

time lapse photography of man riding bicycle
Photo by Stepan Kriz on Pexels.com

If there are 26 “best,” that leaves me wondering how many cycling movies there are, and how much time I’m willing to put into watching.

I’m more inclined to read, if anyone out there can recommend some good novels that you consider bicycling or cycling fiction.

Pedal on.

B.J.

P.S. I read Lance Armstrong’s It’s Not About the Bike when it was considered nonfiction, so don’t bother.