“A freedom unrecognized and unexercised is not a freedom, but a fantasy.”
— Augustus Schömner
When there’s an incident or a crash involving a bicyclist and a motorist, invariably the following negative comments about the cyclist will be appended to news stories. This is certainly the case with Reed Bates and the city of Ennis, Texas, but substitute any other city news story about cyclists and the comments are the same. For instance, take a look at the comments following this story about an Oklahoma City cyclist who wants to promote a law outlawing texting while driving.
He is being foolish. He’ll be squashed like a bug and it’ll be his own fault. When a car and a bicycle collide, the car always wins.
This is almost always accompanied by the ‘roads are for cars’ statement that implies it’s dangerous to mix bicyclists in with motor vehicles. Consider this, however – cars are no match for big trucks, yet no one suggests the cars should be physically separated from truck traffic. We assume that all vehicle operators exercise due care. This expectation about the rights and responsibilities inherent in using the public road is common to all road users, even cyclists, pedestrians, and equestrians.
He could choose other routes. He has other options.
Like most other cyclists, Bates has other route options. But all commuters prefer direct routes to their destinations. A road or bridge closure isn’t a big deal to a recreational cyclist, but it can mean a long detour for someone trying to get to work or the grocery store. Besides, a traveler’s reason for being on the road is irrelevant. No one questions why a motorist uses a particular road. It’s the same for cyclists. We each have the right to use that public space. It belongs to all of us.
He’s going to mess up cycling for the rest of us. He isn’t helping advocacy.
This is an especially insidious complaint as it originates from other cyclists. In fact, one nationally recognized ‘bicycle’ advocate is alleged to have said that he couldn’t support an “extreme vehicular bicyclist” like Reed Bates. In pursuit of an all-bike-lanes-all-the-time agenda, such advocates lose sight of the rights of ordinary cyclists on our public roads. Hence that Schömner quotation up at the top.
Those curb-hugging surrender monkeys are too timid to insist they have a lawful place on the road. They simply cannot imagine it. They’re dominated by motor vehicle culture to the extent that they too have adopted that ‘windshield view’ of the world and their place in it.