I was looking through the blog’s stats today, and of the 80+ posts so far, the ones that generated the most dicussion and debate involved biking. In fact, we’ve had some heated discussion about pedestrian and biker’s rights (of the roadway).
Add to this a snippet from an annoying forward sent my way from an acquaintence: “As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists”.
Fellow R.U.E. blogger, Jeff Dudar, also mentioned to me that while living in Halifax, the mere mention of biking in their independant weekly spurred heated debate on all sides.
So… what’s all the fuss? What is it about biking that has made it such a contentious, dividng force? Movements like Critical Mass started as a way to draw attention to areas that were not conducive, or down right dangerous, to bike in. These days, the event which takes place in over 300 cities brings cyclists together to advocate for more routes and awareness. However, there seems to be a backlash of animosity towards those who choose to commute by bike.
I wonder if this negative recourse is akin to any that is felt when people make an active choice that is not widely adopted by most in a particular society (I have felt my fair share by being vegan, choosing not to shop at Walmart, and being an advocate for walking). For some reason people take these choices, and it would seem the active choice of people to bike rather than drive, as some sort of criticism or peronal attack. In reality, I don’t think that is the case – some people just choose to bike and don’t care about why others choose driving (or any other mode of transportation).
For my part, I am glad that the Regina Downtown Plan focuses on walking and biking as important methods of transportation along with transit and cars. Perhaps if we are forced to come together and have a dimplomatic dialogue about these issues we will not only create a more vibrant, diverse city but can all take a deep breath, relax and avoid blowing a lot of insecure, reactionary, hot air.