Letter from an Eastbay Cyclist
Our Eastbay cycling correspondent checks in:
Those BFBC, EBBC, SFBC, & CBC bicycle activists are far left, eco-ideologues. Clearly they're radical bicycle socialists, greenies who want to re-order society by making car ownership and operation progressively more difficult through a restrictive and punitive transportation policy. In the one-party controlled Bay Area, Democrat politicians are working on or promoting such anti-car polices. The recent Superior Court decision stopped the SF Bicycle Plan. The Alameda Superior Court stopped the 2.5-mile reconfiguration of Telegraph Ave. for unnecessary bicycle lanes. It's those leftist politicians that have enabled the dubious bicycle coalition extremists to promote unpopular "bicycle improvement" traffic schemes that sacrifice bicycle safety, increase tailpipe emissions, and create regional gridlock.
The extremist bicycle coalitions are cleverly using incorrect and misleading concepts of bicycle safety, and alleged problems of reasonable bicycle access (pushing the idea that bicyclists are victims and must be given special accommodation and protection) to justify promoting traffic calming and street reduction or reconfiguration schemes to limit and reduce convenient motoring for the general public. Their calculated anti-car strategy is to force people to use buses, walk, or bicycle.
Many of the anti-car activists actually are transportation riders, but they're incapable or reluctant to develop the necessary bicycle proficiency skills for safe cycling. Instead, because they're angry anti-car bicycle socialists who see in automotive culture all of what they consider to be the negative manifestations of capitalism, such as pollution, noise, speed, freedom and mobility, selfish consumerism, imperialism and Middle East oil dependency, they hope for the elimination of the car and indignantly demand special protections from cars and unreasonable accommodation for bicycles on the public streets. My impression is that, as they have families and grow older, many of them won't be daily transportation cyclists 10 years from now. If they don't eventually start driving cars to get around daily, they'll walk or use public transportation services, which has always been part of their anti-car agenda. Fundamentally, they take up bicycling for ideological reasons, not because it's a instinctive passion or joy with them, but that's not to say they don't come to enjoy cycling.
That's the significant difference between them and veteran natural cyclists such as myself. We ride because it's in our blood or nature---freedom, speed, fresh air, quick efficient mobility, fitness, economy, no parking & moving violation tickets or car registration & taxes, or vehicle insurance hassles, and of course our sense of adventure or wanderlust is fulfilled by cycling. It's the urban sporting life, a twin-wheeled existentialist lifestyle, as the Manchester poet John Cooper Clark said in the 80s about the nonconformist motorcycle culture in England. And we occasionally enjoy driving sporting cars as well! We certainly don't like the road and fuel/air hogging excess of those stupid and absurd monstrous SUV's, but we're not angry with sensible cars, as the bicycle coalition extremists certainly are. Criticizing them is not to say that where possible and reasonable---that's the issue!---accommodating bicycles with such improvements as constructing or striping wider road shoulders and, most importantly, making the street pavement smooth is helpful to cyclists.
But filling public streets with bicycle hazardous traffic-calming control devices, such as speed bumps, circles, chokers, bulb-outs, channelization, etc., is seriously detrimental to bicycle safety, and it's a growing problem for cyclists. Most traffic-calming control schemes sacrifice bicycle safety rather than improve it, as the anti-car bicycle coalition extremists always claim. Not only are most traffic-calming control devices bicycle unfriendly,they also significantly increase auto tailpipe emissions. When that very important air polluting fact is pointed out to the ban-the-car bicycle coalition greenies, they amazingly refuse to acknowledge it!