Quickie: Making a Cycling Destination

Two totally uncool confessions:  1) I rode the trainer this morning; and, 2) while doing so, I watched Fixation on Netflix.

Fixation, if you aren’t familiar, is all about the single speed / fixed lifestyle.  (I was unaware that a specific drivetrain was a lifestyle choice, but am now in the know).

In any event, there were some interesting parts of the psuedo-documentary…but one of the most interesting was a part focused on this young fixie rider named Sean.  He lived in LA, and looked much like Sean White.  He rode a track bike, very aggressively, and talked about how he wanted to make LA a cycling destination…that when people moved to the US, they would say, “I want to move to LA, not Portland, or San Francisco.”  That people would identify LA as a cycling mecca.

Right after this statement, we cut to clips of him riding all over LA.  Making right turns in front of cars from the left lane.  Blowing through red lights.  Nearly clipping pedestrians.  Weaving all over.  Riding totally unpredictably, and in a fashion that most certainly inspired ire from fellow road users.

What truly shocked me about this behavior wasn’t the behavior…it was that he didn’t see the inherent hypocrisy in his actions.  We cannot create a cycling destination or build a cycling community by being irresponsible, unsafe users of the road.  We cannot create a cycling community by making drivers and pedestrians hate us.  We cannot protest when drivers violate the laws and hit a cyclist, and then go out and violate all of the traffic laws ourselves, in a highly visible way.

Thinking about our behavior in an intentional way, modeling good behavior, building a good environment for cycling–these can all be hard things to do.  But a community built on fundamental mistrust between people using the same infrastructure simply won’t work.

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