Thursday, September 13, 2012

Again, Fuck Cars

In my previous rant against the evils of automotive bumper-murder, I noted:

1) Cars encourage solipsistic asshattery.
2) Cars are dangerous.
3) Cars are dirty.
4) Cars encourage shitty, anti-poor, inefficient infrastructure.
5) Car-centered infrastructure forces everyone to drive cars.
6) Car alarms.

I'd like to add here that car drivers, as a whole, aren't very good at driving cars. Rather in the same way that political office tends to attract candidates who embody the worst in humanity, or the way that middle-management unduly attracts domineering psychopaths, there appears to be an unfortunate self-selection wherein the people who drive cars tend to also be the people who ought to be physically restrained from going anywhere near the gas pedal of an automobile.

I'm referring here not only to the ubiquitous combo of WASP soccer-mom/working-dad + Suburban Assault Vehicle + cell phone, nor merely the perennial Stoned hippie  + station wagon/van, nor just the ever constant Tough manly mustached dude + Godzilla-sized pickup  + booming butt-rock + faux-drag-race driving style.

While these types suck and deserve to be ridiculed and perhaps assaulted, my grievance goes farther: to e.g. the standard-issue Cluelessly polite sedan driver, who slooooowly pulls into an intersection, hangs out there for several seconds, looks around in wonderment--like a baby seal seeing the super-aqueous world for the first time--and then pulls first to the left, then the right, then finally forward at 17 m.p.h. as the traffic light above them turns red. Maybe this is just because I live in the Pacific Northwest, but its my experience that the vast majority of drivers are not so much explicitly reckless (in the vein described above) as they're just pitifully incompetent. Wandering around, alternately confused and delighted, these infantile drivers' hiccups and false starts would be adorable if I didn't have to, y'know, share the road with them.

In a recent post, I re-quoted Margaret Atwood, who said, "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them." With the caveat that the cyclists vs. drivers opposition is not structurally identical to the women vs. men opposition (i.e. cycling is more peripheral and voluntary re: identity than gender), I'll venture the following observation:

Drivers worry that cyclists will inconvenience them.
Cyclists worry that car drivers will kill them.

This statement is true in way that's similar to (though much more literal and obvious than) Atwood's comment on gender relations. It's just a fact that every single time I go on the road on my bike, I hope that the people controlling the giant, powerful, heavy machines which surround me are at the top of their game. Drivers don't need to dislike me or oppose me or even feel anger toward me in order to kill me. They just need to let their minds wander for a few seconds.

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