The Racist Bicycle

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All cyclists know of a fellow rider who lost their lives on the roads we share with vehicles. It is too common of an occurance and happens due to lack of accountability by drivers and the laws that govern the roads. Cyclists are viewed by drivers as second class yet they have as many legal rights as do all drivers.

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I say this in jest but if you ever want to know what it is like to feel like a second class citizen, spend a year commuting by bike. You will very clearly come to find that cyclists are treated as second class drivers by those who drive vehicles on the roads they share.

The irony for me though, is that the passenger vehicle driver is by far the worst vehicle to share the road with. They are the majority, feel entitled to do what they want and clearly understand that law enforcement and the judicial system will be on their side.

Passenger vehicle drivers (PVD) regularly get away with murder. They kill cyclists with little or no repercussions because PVDs are more valuable to society than the cyclist. If more people rode bikes, less gas use, less taxes collected, less cars bought, less medical costs due to healthier users so it is by no accident that cars rule the roads. 

A story: I was an elite Division I cyclist in college in Colorado, a state in which cyclists are not a rarity. I was someone who rode my bike in my underwear that I viewed at the time as my superhero outfit. Spandex head to toe.

 On one training ride I crashed coming down a mountain. I burned all the skin off of the right side of my body including most of my spandex. A PVD came up behind me and laid on the horn as I tried to soft pedal, ride slowly, home.

I screamed, “FU.” My ass cheek was hanging out and my palm was palmless and leaking blood. 

He stopped.

I stopped.

He was angry that I said FU in front of his kids while he was driving his car past me while honking.

This is a prime example of how PVDs feel about cyclists. Turns out he was a pastor who lived within the community which meant he had seen thousands of spandex clad cyclists riding. He should have been able to ascertain that something was wrong, but he didn’t care. He believed he was a class above all cyclists all the time on the road.

PVDs regularly swerve at cyclists, throw things at cyclists, open doors on cyclists and get away with it because they know they have more power when push comes to shove.

I assume that this is how an upper class person feels about the poor. That we are just things in the way taking up space and slowing them down. And even though there are laws protecting cyclists, most of the time PVDs understand that the laws don’t apply to them.

PS: I would use race as the metaphor and make this writing about being black and white but since I am white, I do not feel comfortable making assumptions and that leap but I do know what it feels like to be treated like a second class citizen.


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