Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Bikes and bikes: friends not foes

I stepped into a gentleman's washroom this morning to, well... wash my hands. There was a table in this washroom and on it was a backpack and a bicycle helmet. Someone with bare calves and bicycle shoes was making use of the other facilities available. I put my motorcycle helmet next to one of three sinks and proceeded to go about my business.

His errand completed, a slender gentleman with a bicyclist's body girdled with spandex began washing his hands next to me. He said, "You know, it's cheating when you use a motor." I chuckled and replied that I have heard that before. His comment stuck in my craw, however. When I was done washing up I addressed his reflection in the mirror. "At least we both have two wheels," I said as I reached for a paper towel.

"You're right," he answered, "I guess we are sort of on the same team."

Yes. We are. I don't see any need for rancor or rivalry in what should be a fraternity of two wheel drivers. There is also a sorority, which combined would make everyone a well-balanced family. If we are balanced between two pivot points in the unobstructed wind, it doesn't matter how we get between one end of our journey to the other. We face similar obstacles and dodge the same hazards. Don't make an enemy when you can make a friend of a fellow traveller.

I haven't owned a car since I was eighteen years old and, after many years of being the littlest thing on the public thoroughfare, I know that daily doses of excess adrenaline can make a person battle-hardened, scoffing at those who don't subscribe to the same philosophy about transportation options. That's no way to get through a day. Life's long road beckons and there is room for everyone to share, especially those on two wheels. Two wheels set a person free.

I drive a motorcycle. I also drive a bicycle. For many, many years I drove a motor scooter, which gets the least respect of all after mopeds, which I've never owned (though I someday may). I zip around Boston faster or slower depending on my means of propulsion, but I don't see any need to get upset or to feel better or worse because of what I choose to drive.

My grandfather told me he was a Democrat because he rooted for the little guy. I don't always follow his political persuasion but I tend to side with the little guy too. As someone who navigates traffic on two wheels, how can I not side with the most vulnerable. A motorcycle may be bigger than a bicycle but they are both related. One is no better than the other; both share the same perils.

Having an engine isn't cheating. I can't call something that will propel me over the highway at 110mph a motor, and it is insulting to compare the power train of even the littlest Ninja with what powers a vacuum cleaner. There is no point in disparaging another person's steed. "I guess not walking barefoot is cheating." No, it's not. It is a choice. There are bigger fish to fry than steaming over someone who doesn't travel exactly as you do. If everyone rode bicycles there would be velocipede traffic jams, the fallacy of numbers clashing into the Law of Unintended Consequences. It is better we all get along, looking out for one another and driving safely and responsibly.


terminationshok said...

Don't take it personally, you have to bust the balls of everyone who's slightly different from you. It's a rule. If you had a bicycle or he had a motorcycle, it would be the wrong kind. cruiser/custom/harley/sport mountain/road/track/bmx They all bust on each other.

I almost forgot the rule: motorcycle

Whalehead King said...

Thanks for the rule. I forgot it too.

I don't take it personally and I don't really mind. When that attitude carries from the washroom to the road though, that bothers me.


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