Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Throne of Rattan Cane

Wicker bike by brasil- eiros artist Jarbas Lopes shown at Arizona State University

A conversation with a bike acquaintance concluded, “Withstand sand.” So well covered last month, was tempted rather to reply, “Mind the moguls.” Labann surely does. A double entendre, could mean pavement humps or privileged punks. Frost heaves left a lot of skill challenging, tire slashing runs, similar to what skiers stumble over in Aspen. Mogul Empire declined because of popular reaction to same corruption that describes corporations and government today: Disgust for depravity in high places, excessive luxury, and exploitation of peasants; failures of conservatism; revolt against religious rule; social independence. Rattan unravels under bloated 1% gluttons. Monarchs insist their right to rule is divine and succession to throne, so much the topic of recent British press, secured by birth. Atheists disagree; secular commerce ignores royalty. Nothing more than a tourist attraction, the Crown Jewels have lost any ruling sway or trendsetting cache.

Though Paris strives to be Europe’s bicycling capitol, you might be impressed by an official report from London’s Road Safety Observatory. It makes an important distinction: "Cyclists opting for assertion want infrastructure that helps to establish their right to be on the road and that clarifies how the road is to be shared; and, cyclists opting for avoidance want infrastructure that gives them more opportunities to avoid traffic." If anything, it demonstrates riders aren’t a homogenous group, don’t necessarily concur, and probably require both.

Just as pelaton devotees who call bikes racing equipment do not epitomize all cyclists, "avoiders" don't represent majority, either. America’s Federal Code of Regulations and state laws grant pedestrians first rights to shared pavement, followed by cyclists, commercial operators of taxis and trucks, and lastly private car drivers. In a conspiracy of greed the amoral and illegal reversal of this order was choreographed by automakers, Big Oil, and their lobbyists, who for decades urged parents to deny children their bikes. Sure, why not curb sustainable alternatives and ensure everyone the right die at speed and take out others? As Hunter S. Thompson observed in Kingdom of Fear (2003), “We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world, a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you.” Capitalists declared war on low consuming, slow moving cyclists; they're not supposed to fight back? Freedom Day, the 150th Juneteenth, may only be a month away (June 19th), but reforms should begin today.

What’s unbearable is having to repeat songs of fire and ice for the umpteenth time. Bicyclists shouldn’t have to put up with bridge bans; lack of lanes into and racks at airport, bus and train terminals; loss of shoulders at intersections, where many cycling accidents occur; rotaries that require instant acceleration. It's bad enough bikes are banned from >25% of roads (interstates, limited access highways), discrimination that favors motorists. Like all of roadnet, bikenet must be continuous to offer a real alternative, preserve pavement, relieve gridlock, and stop pollution. Why not bar motorists from some streets to create corridors through cities that segregate cyclists from noxious odors, traffic worries, and unhealthy fumes? Yet saving shoulders on streets makes them safer for everyone. Cars can pull over in emergencies. Bike riders can ease over to let cars pass. Shoulderless, 2-lane, undivided roads account for majority of accidents of all types. Federal law says streets need to be complete, or provide, at least, a nearby parallel route for vulnerable users; if a bikeway, it must be lit, patrolled and swept. States that don’t comply either forfeit federal funding or pay fines; legislators don't care because it's your taxes they squander.

What you begin to trust then let in ultimately defines you. Sly pundits advise you to dismiss negative spokesmen; beware their treachery. When status quo gets ugly, one ought to say so loudly, not schmooze gentry and smooth over transgressions with pleasantry. As soon as anyone imposes senseless rules, patriots circumvent them. Most, though well intentioned, are inapplicable or unenforceable, or just cannot be abided. As John Barlow wrote and many have adopted as a mantra, "We'll go right through the book and break each and every law." How else can boundaries be tested? It's a marvel anyone still believes that dicta serve any purpose other than domination by insane ideologues, who’d curtail your rights to expand their own, or those less intelligent or talented. Clearly, some can’t handle freedom, but isn’t that for them to decide after frequently exercising? Whoever doesn’t assume responsibilities inherent in liberties lives to regret consequences: disrespect, homelessness, illness, poverty, probable death, punishment enough. A society that allows a few to rise only to be let down repeatedly has every right to complain and remedy the problems that power invites. Instead people persecute a harmless crank… too easy to kick a dog, too hard to depose a king.

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