[*BCM*] The movement that divides us

turtle turtle at zworg.com
Mon Jun 5 19:51:29 EDT 2006

Boston Critical Mass <list at bostoncriticalmass.org> wrote:
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> Anne and Turtle, I think you were picking at side arguments instead of the
> central one, that in order to create change it has to be cars first, bicycles
> second. 

In my experience, I've found that the easiest person to change is
myself.  It takes me a lot more effort to change other people!  So I
start with myself and then work from there.  In the process, I hope to
be a role model for others.  I've also learned that attitudes are
contagious.  Being grumpy frequently leads to people around me to be
grumpy.  Being happy frequently leads to other people being happy.  So
I do my best to be happy, especially in difficult situations, where I
really hope that others have a positive attitude.  My husband certainly
appreciates this, at least.

> The weaker of two parties has less chance of changing the system than the
> stronger does. In this case, cars are the overwhelmingly stronger and dominant
> party.

Ah, but I would argue that you are confusing political power with
horsepower or maybe popularity.  All major sociopolitical struggles
have eventually been won by those with the moral higher ground,
regardless of how many people or weapons they had on their side. 
Sometimes it takes a very long time, but eventually society always
moves UP towards a higher morality.  Why?  Because we are by nature
social animals.  We NEED others cooperation to survive and thrive.  So
any time an antisocial (immoral) behavior is in conflict with a
pro-social (moral) behavior, the pro-social behavior will win out in
the end.

And I believe that respecful biking is pro-social.  So I figure whenever
I bike respectfully: I win!

> The fact that those laws are rarely obeyed points to the fact that the system is
> broken. And here several people are telling you why, because they feel
> disrespected. Change that disrespect and you can change the system. 

Exactly!  And how best to increase respect?  Be more respectful

You can do a quick test to see if my theory works.  Try it next time you
ride.  Instead of yelling a the bozo who cuts you off or screams
obscenities at you, try smiling and waving like they are your best
friend.  I've found it does wonders for both my physical safety, and my
sanity.  It's not a magic pill or anything, but it's effective, in my

But maybe it won't work for you.  Maybe the "If you aren't with me,
you're against me." tactic is really working well for you.  All I know
is it didn't work for me.

And as far as how well the laws work for optimal flow, that is certainly
a matter for study.  But, as I mentioned, the effectiveness of any
traffic flow system is directly proportional to the number of
individuals working within the rules of that system.

> There's a lot of books out there on this "systems theory" stuff. I like Peter
> Senge's the Fifth Element. 

I'll check that out...

> I've interviewed the folks in Boulder that made that town a bike haven, like the
> ex-mayor Will Toor, the GOBoulder people and even the bike messenger co. where
> you can get fired for busting a red. The bikes obeying traffic laws came after
> the bike lanes, crossing signals, and paths. Not before. 

I imagine that there are many ways to encourage cyclists to be
respectful.  The ones I've seen work well include basic traffic
education that includes bicyclists and motorists as valid road users.


"One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we
seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal.  We must
pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means." - Martin Luther King Jr.

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