23 May 2023

What Does Bike Parking Have To Do With LGBTQ, Gender and Racial Equality?

I, personally and cyclists, collectively have been accused of "taking too much space" on the road--by drivers of SUVs and gaudily painted pickup trucks that have never been besmudged by a tool box in the cargo area or a dirty hand on its steering wheel.

So I wouldn't have been surprised, though I would have been no less upset than Scottish cyclist Alan Gordon was to find this:

He locked his bike to a curbside railing in Colinton, an Edinburgh suburb, to attend a volunteer start-up session for the area's new free tool library.  I would assume that the library would benefit residents of the complex as well as people in the surrounding community.

Anyway, in the Twitter thread that followed, someone showed a motorcycle and a two garbage bin in another parking spot, taking up more space than two bikes like Alan's would have.  No one left a "polite notice" about them.

(As someone else noted, starting the note with "Polite Notice" was a tip-off that what followed would be the exact opposite, just as people who say "I'm not a racist" usually follow it with some stereotype or another.  Or the person who, a couple of days ago said, "I'm not a transphobe, but..."  to me.)

Oh, and someone made a comment about paying road tax.  I don't know about the laws over there, but I've gotten into that exact argument with drivers here. And I have very politely pointed out that I do, in fact, pay road tax.  The only tax I don't pay that motorists have to pay is for gasoline.

This may seem strange (of course it won't when I explain it), but recounting Alan's tale reminded me of another part of the conversation I had with the "I'm not a transphobe" dude and other people with similar mindsets. Any time a law is passed to give Blacks, immigrants, women, LBGBTQ+ people or anyone else who is in a "minority" the same rights as white, cisgender, heterosexual Christian men, such people whine that things have "gone too far" or that we're getting "special privileges." Complaints like the one Alan received in the "Polite Notice" have the same feel to them.  

As I have pointed out to such folks--including a few relatives of mine--if you have always enjoyed a right or a privilege, you don't notice it until someone else gets it--or you lose it.  The latter has happened to me in my affirmation of my female self:  I lost some of the assumption of competence, innocence and other things I once could take for granted.  Likewise, most drivers, especially if they're not regular cyclists, would never know how much of the landscape and economy are shaped by their driving--which, I grant, is a need for some.  Contrary to what some think, though, I am not trying to take anything away from them--or cisgender people.  I only want the same rights and protections they take for granted.


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