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How to terrify a city by riding a bike

Nov 05, 2010
How to terrify a city by riding a bike

Editor’s note: just to be clear: this email is a satire and no one should actually follow the ideas suggested below…

[Remember this post on being terrified to ride a bike in the city? Well, here is a follow up response from guest post-er Craig Hollow]:

As a life-long member of the loose affiliation of bearded men in short pants often seen whizzing by at near-terminal velocities, a group that some might poetically refer to as the anarcho-cyclistas, I find myself uniquely qualified to share some of the wisdom gleaned from years spent rolling around Seattle on two wheels, and to provide you, dear reader and dearest rider, with valuable and true knowledge about the finer points of riding a bicycle in the paved paradise we call the city.

This information, gathered by the hard work of my very own thighs, will prepare you to wield the bicycle not as a mere tool for commuting to and from your soul-sucking job, but as a weapon against tyranny in the glorious fight for freedom of the streets. Brave rider, know that the bicycle, when properly used, may terrify the average citizen, accustomed as he is to quietly suffering his tragic automobile-induced Stockholm-syndrome, afraid to rise up and challenge the oppressive rules of the road that encumber and prevent us all from liberty.

A brief history of the Freedom Machine, commonly known as the bicycle

Since the invention of the ‘dandy horse’ in 1817 by the brilliant Baron Karl von Drais, the bicycle has struck fear into the hearts of those who prefer decency to democracy, order to exhilaration, and safety to speed.

Before this machine-for-freedom appeared, the average citizen rarely traveled farther than 25 miles from home. Thanks to hard work and lobbying of the brave membership of the League of American Wheelman in the 1880s, cyclists everyone of them, paved roads were constructed across America to increase the speed and pleasure of cycling, the same roads now plagued by the scourge of contemporary existence and enemy of freedom, the automobile.

Even Susan B. Anthony recognized the liberating power of the bicycle when she noted that “the bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world.” Responsible for the invention of the paved road, women’s liberation, and our freedom to travel, the glorious bicycle has never been a greater threat to status quo than it is between the legs of a bona fide anarcho-cyclista today.

Gravity, the only law we must obey

It hardly needs to be mentioned that the lowest rung of the great hierarchy of the cycling universe is occupied by the neon-clad, safety-conscious apologists for automobile culture mucking up the streets everywhere with the clattering of their shifting gears and clicking freewheels.

These lowlife ‘commuters’ represent everything wrong with society today. Always busy signaling turns or calling out their slogan, “passing on your left!”, these idolaters have grossly diminished cycling with their absurdist notion that ‘Streets are for All.’ HA! Fools! Streets are for freedom machines!

As anyone who has ever straddled a set of cro-moly steel tubes attached to pneumatic tires can confirm, the pablum these ‘commuters’ spew about following the ‘rules of the road’ and ‘sharing the road’ is an affront to the sole true, universal law to which real cyclists adhere: Gravity.

So, fellow riders, cast off your handbrakes and commit yourself to the glory of physics! Let gravity and gravity alone tell you when and where to stop your bicycle, not the low laws of your fellow man!

The fluid nature of language and the forward momentum of the bicycle

Addicts of the nanny state, brainless believers in the car-paradigm, and other enemies of freedom are commonly afflicted by the fantasy that words have constant, unwavering definitions, that “NO” never means “YES” and “STOP” never means “GO.” It is the heartfelt duty of every anarcho-cyclista to battle against this slavish addiction to certainty, and there is no territory in this war to liberate language more important than the four-way stop.

Cowed by the threat of being ticketed by that enemy of everyone traveling on two wheels, the police officer, most people arrive at a four-way stop believing that the so-called ‘STOP’ sign means that all vehicles must come to a complete rest. We know that the one true law, gravity, often dictates otherwise.

Cyclistas, do your part to prove the relative meaning of words for your fellow citizens by letting gravity dictate your velocity as you fly through so-called ‘stop’ signs. Keep in mind that this technique is much more effective if you glare menacingly at nearby drivers as you ‘slalom’ around their immobilized cars.

Millinery for cyclistas: a brief note concerning the proper usage of the bicycle helmet

While State-supported oppressors attempt to foist helmets upon our freedom-loving heads in the name of safety, the cyclista intuitively senses that the helmet’s real utility is limited to potting plants or as an accoutrement appropriate only for human battering rams in Jackass movies. To prove this patently obvious fact, our friend, Science, has subjected that horrid creature, the automobile driver, to a series of tests designed to discover precisely how their dim, animal consciousness responds when approaching a cyclist from behind.

Not surprisingly to the hirsute among hardcore cyclistas, Science discovered that hair is the key to real safety. When coming up behind helmeted but hairless cyclists, the tested drivers were tempted to run them down, leaving mere inches between themselves and our feckless heroes on bikes.

However, when the cyclists rode with their hair liberated from the evil confines of helmets, the drivers were cowed into leaving a wide berth as they passed by the frightening sight of hair riding freely in the street. It is good practice for all helmetless cyclistas to periodically shake their beards at drivers. One sight of the bold waving of this facial flag of freedom is often sufficient to cause a driver to abandon their automobile forever and commit themselves thenceforth to cycling only.

One-way is bad, therefore All-ways must be good

On the streets, as in life, limits are, simply put, evil. Sadly, the cowering dogs who write laws from the safety of their government offices, far removed from the life of the cyclista, consistently fall prey to the misconception that a few simple rules can accommodate the hurly-burly complexity of real life. Perhaps the most glaring example of this foolhardy conceit is the one-way street.

What is patently obvious to the cyclista never occurs to the legislator, that without warning a sudden need may arise to turn in an unanticipated direction. Perhaps a fellow cyclista is seen across the road or a band poster with illegible script is spotted on a telephone pole and requires immediate attention or a beard convention spontaneously breaks out in the middle of an intersection, whatever the cause the need is clear: a cyclista may need to turn randomly at anytime, to stop or go at any moment. The one-way street is clearly an affront to freedom, as demonstrated daily by the hordes of cyclistas who risk their lives by bravely riding contrariwise on streets throughout the city.

Our bipedal comrade, the pedestrian

Perhaps, while seeking shelter from a particularly incensed driver or merely diverting yourself from the quotidian labors of wheeling your way through traffic, you have found yourself leaving the street for the narrow strip of pavement set aside for the noble denizen of the city, our friend the pedestrian.

This marvelous creature loves the cyclista like a whelp loves his master, with a healthy mixture of fear and awe. It is vitally important for the cyclista to continue to encourage and inspire the lowly walker, constrained as he is to a meaningless and trite existence on the sidewalk, by entering into his little world from time to time. This gay and joyous rite transforms the dull life of the pedestrian, often eliciting leaps and shouts.

Never hesitate to take an opportunity to give our little friends a taste of real freedom by riding on the sidewalk at the greatest velocity you can manage, trying whenever possible to surprise pedestrians by weaving between them without warning from behind.

Your sacred duty, your only joy

Friends, fellow anarcho-cyclistas, now that your knowledge of the proper and right role of the bicycle and its operation in the city has been increased, I encourage you to go forth into the streets and share your new-found skills with drivers and pedestrians wherever there is pavement. May your beard wave freely as your bold techniques of bicycle liberation inspire the world by your example. The time has come to show us exactly what kind of a person you really are.