Wednesday, August 22, 2007

“Ya ain't from aroun' here, are ya?”...SATIRE

Some time ago, Kiril the Mad Macedonian and I had a discussion about the relationship between cycling and politics. I said that the act of riding a bicycle doesn't indicate one's personal politics, and I still believe that's true. However, in Ben Warner's posts on the same topic, he said that the two are inextricably united, if you look at it from the standpoint of cycling and government services. Sure, there's a role for government in encouraging more people to use bicycles for transportation and recreation, but this is unrelated to personal political views.

In modern society, though, nearly everything has a political connotation. I choose to blame Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove for this, but feel free to pick your own personal demon. So how is a cyclist with left-of-center political views best able to express those views while riding a bike? Now remember, I'm in Oklahoma where someone with moderate politics by east coast standards can be labeled as a wild-eyed liberal. The word is an epithet here. I've even been called a liberal in traffic, along with other, less endearing labels. Atilla the Hun would have been a leftie here.

With that in mind, I wondered just how a cyclist could demonstrate his political views without resorting to something as crass as a bumper sticker, not that there's space to apply one anyway, unless we stick them diagonally across our backs. Even MY butt isn't wide enough for that. Oh sure, we can blow through stop signs and red lights as a symbolic rejection of bourgeois middle class values and their arbitrary limitations on personal freedom. We can ride without wearing helmets in defiance of the encroachments of the nanny state. We can ride on sidewalks and terrorize all those plodding pedestrians with their straight-laced complacency. We can ride the wrong way, going against traffic in protest of our nation's current political and economic direction.

Nearly all cyclists do those things already. The challenge is to find something different, something that sets the truly committed liberal cyclist apart from the crowd of wannabes.

My friend Bert was sitting in a bar one afternoon, not an unusual occurrence, when another patron approached and said, “You're Ed's friend, aren't you? I gotta tell you, he ain't right.” Then it hit me. The best illustration of a cyclist's adherence to progressive, liberal politics would be to simply refuse to turn right! It was a flash of brilliance! In one bold sweeping turn, a cyclist can show his total contempt for those neo-conservatives motoring along behind the controls of the largest SUV the world has ever seen, if you consider our government as a gaudy, chrome-encrusted motor vehicle gobbling up the world's oil and loudly demanding ever-wider roads and parking spaces that accommodate it's enormous girth.

Just say NO to right turns! If we categorically refuse to turn right, we send a message to those honkin' neo-cons stuck behind us in traffic. But how do we manage to get anywhere by only turning left, you ask? It's easy! We make 270 degree LEFT turns!

Isn't it simple! Try this on your next ride and I guarantee your politics will be readily apparent to all those running dog imperialist lackeys! I've done this and found that motorists are astonished that someone would demonstrate their liberal credentials in such a positive, emphatic style. Many of them honk, yell words of encouragement, and wave their fists in the air showing their total agreement with our progressive agenda. It feels good to be at the cutting edge of a new movement in American politics.

Meanwhile, other left-leaning cyclists continue riding on sidewalks or against traffic. They routinely ignore stop signs and red lights as they've probably done since the invention of our two-wheeled conveyance. It's time they embraced the 270 degree turn as yet another outward sign of their inner politics. When our country stops its headlong turn toward the right, we'll resume making normal right turns. But until that golden day arrives, make your statement with a 270!

(An addendum to the above: I'm almost certain that some cyclists, when painted as left-leaning, neo-communists, will think to themselves, “Ah ain't gonna ride like no damn pinko liberal! Ah'll stop at red lights, stay off sidewalks, and ride with traffic rather than look like some damned commie bastard! That'll show 'em!” If that's the case, my job here is done.)

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Blogger Fritz said...

California bike commuter Doc Logan left his commentary on the issue also, recently. "those of us that choose not to utilize cars, be it for their gas-guzzling, or greenhouse-gas-belching, because they're too expensive or just because riding in cars is boring and anti-social; we're routinely classified as unAmerican, rebellious, or simply faggots."

7:19 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I've had the 'faggot' epithet thrown my way too, Fritz, as if the act of riding a bicycle in traffic was some unmanly thing to do. And it comes from people who wouldn't dream of doing the same - it's too scary. Someone please tell me - which is the 'masculine' one?

7:44 PM  
Blogger Dr. Logan said...

Citizen Rider said it best,
""Funny how I feel like less of a man when I don't ride, but the motoring public thinks I'm less of one because I do.""
In regards to no right-turns, I gave it a whirl today and didn't have a problem until I got to the steep, looping, bike exit off the bridge.

2:08 AM  
Blogger Jett said...

Ed, this is just too good.

Some of the guys I ride with ARE gay so these comments will make for excellent conversation.

10:09 PM  
Blogger barracuda06 said...

Hey Ed,

Those of us downunder here who ride/drive on the other side of the road see it slightly differently, as you might imagine.

Read about our Glorious Republik here:

Enjoy :-)

3:29 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Barracuda06...I liked that Glorious Republik piece. I didn't know that you guys indulged in Chinese communist murals or even spoke that much Chinese! (It's amazing what Americans don't know about their own country, nevermind the foreign ones. It's possible we have a teenage beauty queen from South Carolina wondering why you don't fall off the planet.)

A long, long time ago, I worked in Ireland for a few months. We Americans are conditioned to look the wrong way when crossing the street. That's dangerous, but driving was sometimes worse. All our conditioning is wrong. WE turn into the wrong lane at street corners, and roundabouts are completely bewildering.

The guys I worked with got a kick out of watching me get into the left side of the car, expecting to drive it away. I was particularly bad after a few pints. Then after I returned to the states, I had the same problem in reverse. My girlfriend - now She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed - was not as amused.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

Of course you do realize that not wearing a helmet to protest nanny staters is actually going against lefty policy. It's the wild eyed liberals who like laws requiring helmets and seatbelts, and no doubt will someday find a jurisdiction where they can require both at once.

That being said, I show my politics just by being on the bike, no turn restrictions necessary, but then again I'm in Baltimore where the demo primary for mayor is considered the actual election and I have a single road, straight commute to work, so turning is a luxury.

10:31 AM  

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