Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Xavier's response

Xavier of the Hip Suburban White Guy blog wrote the following in comments. I’ve posted it here because not everyone reads comments and his are certainly worth reading.

Xavier wrote to say:

Ahem. Let me clear up a few misconceptions.

1. Not "hairy chested" at all. Smooth as a baby.

2. Smoke filtered cigarettes, nut unfiltered (and have finally decided to quit. Soon. I swear!)

3. Not married but treat women like the goddesses they are.

4. Better cook than any of the women I have dated. My Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo is to die for.

However, you were absolutely right about me not letting facts get in the way of a good rant.

Loved the quote from the Journal of Lazarus Long, btw.

Ride in peace. Just not around me. LOL!


Good to hear from you!

First, it's tough to quit the cigarettes. I saw my Dad struggle with it after being diagnosed with emphysema. He quit, but in doing so he had to change in other ways. He didn't go to bars much after that, because having a beer at the bar brought the craving back.

I tried a couple of cigarettes when I was a teen. They made me ill, and I wasn't tempted to try them again. I found other things - booze, mainly. If I'd remained a factory worker, I'd likely be an alcoholic by now.

I always liked those Lazarus Long stories. Heinlein's theme seemed to be self-reliance throughout all his books.

Now to business. I didn't feel your post was mean-spirited since you're candid enough to poke fun at yourself. But it was a good rant.

I'm a bicycling instructor with the League of American Bicyclists. One of the goals of cycling education is to make bicycle travel commonplace and unremarkable. But education doesn't extend to cyclists alone. It encompasses motorists, elected officials, law enforcement, and
bureaucrats. We want to get everyone on the same page, so to speak, by developing a common understanding of the rights & responsibilities of cyclists.

I'm not going to lecture here, and I'll try not to climb up on my soapbox! Let's just say that like motorcyclists, bicyclists need to know the rules of the road just like any motorist, but they need
additional skills and another level of awareness in order to use our roadways safely. The hazards we face are often unknown to the motoring public, mainly because cars seldom topple over.

So, with that in mind, I'll make you an offer. If you're ever in Tulsa, I'd be happy to ride with you. I'd be wearing spandex, of course, because I sweat like a pig and I want to avoid saddle sores! (In cycling clothes, form follows function, but that's a topic for another time.)

I posted all the above as a comment in Xavier’s blog.

Like most cyclists, I own a car and I get to drive it from time to time. Having teenagers in the house means that the car seldom gets a chance to cool down. But it’s true that most cyclists (not all!) drive cars too, and they pay fuel taxes just like anyone else. The difference is that we pay less if we use our bikes more. Does that make us tax evaders or just smart consumers?

But fuel taxes mostly go toward expensive infrastructure like bridges and highways. Local roads are paid for with sales taxes, real estate taxes, and state income taxes. So far, I haven’t found a way that cyclists are exempted from these. If I do, the roads will be clogged with bicycles! And I’ll write a book on how to do it, thereby becoming wealthy beyond my wildest dreams. It’s that or hit the Powerball.

As for side paths, bike lanes, multi-use trails and the like – there are myriad reasons to avoid them. Most revolve around safety. A sidewalk cyclist is roughly three times more likely to have a collision with a motor vehicle or a pedestrian as opposed to a cyclist on the street. Every doorway and driveway is an intersection, and the intersections are where the crashes happen. Paths and trails may be congested with pedestrian, skaters, and dogs, making rapid bicycle travel unsafe or impossible. Finally, and this is by no means an exhaustive list of reasons to avoid side paths, there may be debris or other material on a path that is invisible to motorists but provides a significant hazard to a cyclist.

I’m thinking of a local multi-use path that crossed under a street. Some yahoos broke bottles against the concrete and covered the width of the trail with broken glass. Would I ride there? No. Would motorists know about the debris? No. Would I care if they were annoyed at another pesky cyclist on the street? Do I have to answer that?

Finally, there’s the issue of cyclist’s rights. (Yes, I usually write about rights AND responsibilities, but this is longer than I’d like already, so I’ll save the responsibilities for another time.) Public roads are simply that – public. They are available for anyone to use regardless of their mode of transportation, subject to the laws defining that use. No one has a superior right to the road. No one. The idea of ‘same rights, same rules, same road’ really does apply to all of us on the public way. Some of those who bray loudly about individual rights when it comes to guns, or voting, or what we can read, watch on television, or listen to on the radio would gladly restrict our right to travel as we choose. These same hardy souls demand their rights. Why shouldn’t cyclists demand ours?


Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

You are a gentleman and a scholar. You have treated our banter with wisdom, humor and generosity.

Ride free. Ride Proud. Ride brave.

Peace and a good chuckle to all.

10:33 PM  

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