27 January 2012

When Hipsters And Hasidim Use The Same Adjective

From Indigo Jo Blogs

When people on opposing sides of the same issue are using "stupid" as a prefix for the same word, the thing they're talking about can't be good.  Right?

I'm thinking now of bike lanes.  Both cyclists and the people who hate us, or merely find us a nuisance, use that same adjective in reference to the lanes.  

I was reminded of this when I stumbled over a site called "Stupid Bike Lanes" and read articles like this, and the comments on them. 

Of course, the velophobes--who include all sorts of (but not all) people whose way of life or business is auto-based--think we're getting in their way of getting to wherever they have to go and believe we're getting "special privileges."

As any number of other bloggers (including yours truly) and commentators have pointed out, the antipathy toward cyclists, particularly in urban areas, is often generational and based on socio-economic or ethnic issues.  Here in New York, non-cyclists hold contradictory views of cyclists: the messenger, the hipster, the Whole Foods customer and the simply rich.  What reinforces these stereotypes is that those who most vociferously oppose the bike lanes tend to come from what remains of the blue-collar class and groups like the Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who have large families that they transport in vans.  So, they are always driving, it seems, from one available parking spot to the next and, as they see it, the bike lanes take away those spots.  

The bike lane-haters who are actual cyclists don't dispute those objections, and in fact cite one basic flaw of most urban bike lanes:  They run alongside parking lanes and, therefore, directly in the path of opening drivers' side doors.  I've been "doored" a few times: on all except one of those occasions, I was riding in a bike lane.

Some bike lanes are badly designed in other ways.  The most obvious flaw, aside from the one I just mentioned, is that many of them go nowhere, end abruptly or in the middle of busy intersections, or are so poorly marked so that only those who already know where they are can find them.  

All of the problems I've mentioned actually make cycling less safe than it is in the traffic lanes of most streets.  And they indicate that those who design them know as little about cycling as transportation, in an urban area, as those who hate cyclists.

1 comment:

  1. Love the title. Your writing always packs a wonderful surprise.