I confess. It’s my fault.
That pothole you hit as you were riding home from work last night? My fault.
The bike lane that disappeared beneath you without warning, leaving you to fight your way through a swarm of angry drivers who really didn’t want you there — and let you know it? Yep, that was me.
That cop who gave you a ticket for leaving the bike lane to pass another rider — even though that’s legal here in California? I’m sorry. No, really, I am.
Because I didn’t do enough to elect government officials who were dedicated to protecting the rights of cyclists. I didn’t put enough pressure on the civil servants who work for those elected officials to ensure safe places to ride. And I didn’t write and call my local representatives, or attend legislative hearings and council sessions to support bills that would have expanded our rights, and done more to protect riders of all levels and abilities.
And neither did you.
Now, I’m not saying you didn’t try. Lord knows, I did. But the simple fact is, we didn’t do enough.
How do I know? Because we get the government we deserve. And you don’t have to look at our elected officials, and the people who work for them, very long or very hard to see that we clearly don’t deserve a government that gives a damn about cyclists.
Until now, anyway.
I’ve been thinking about this lately because Alex Thompson was kind enough to ask me write a post about the need for cyclists to get more involved in politics for the Westside Bikeside! blog. And I seldom have to be asked twice to pull out my proverbial soapbox and start pontificating about biking or politics. Or anything else, for that matter.
I won’t bore you with the same arguments I made there — you can read the full post by clicking here.
But allow me to quote from it, if only for a moment:
You see, the reason they (elected officials) think it’s okay to ignore cyclists is that they don’t think we matter. Yet, bicycle industry figures show that approximately 14% all Americans ride bikes. Which means that, out of the 10 million people who live in the County of Los Angeles, roughly 1.4 million are cyclists.
1.4 million people whose needs are not being met. And who can’t get the time of day from the people they elect.
Of course, we only have ourselves to blame. If that many people were to speak out and demand change, we could not be ignored.
There it is.
If you get involved, and I get involved, there is nothing that we can’t do. Nothing.
From passing the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights to getting a system of bike lanes and off-road paths that actually go somewhere. And an educated police force — even in smaller communities, like Santa Monica and Culver City — who understand the law and cyclists rights, and enforce them fairly and honestly.
So I’ll make a promise, right here and right now. I will never again vote for any candidate who does not fully support bicycling. And I will do everything in my power to ensure that our elected officials support and protect your rights, and mine, as cyclists.
And I only hope you will do the same.
One quick aside. See that graphic up in the corner? The one bout biking and voting? I threw that together a few weeks ago, using my extremely limited graphics skills. From now on, I will include that in any post I make about politics and voting, and every email I send to any elected or government official. Because I want them to know that my vote depends on their support.
I hope you’ll join me. Feel free to copy that graphic and use it yourself. Or if you’re a better graphic artist than I am — and let’s be honest, who isn’t? — make a better one, and I promise to use it. And post it here for anyone else who wants to use it.
Today’s reading: Gary continues his excellent series on Bicycle and Automobile Coexistence, discussing why riding on the sidewalk isn’t a good idea, despite what drivers yell at you. Mikey Walley discusses Bike Snob’s comments on the Swoosh’s new (?) line for fixie riders. A couple of Miami-area writers discuss the recent taxi vs. 11-rider crash on the causeway; I particularly like the 2nd letter, though that would never happen here. Or there, probably. A California city actually wants to promote riding. Go figure. An Iowa county has made it illegal for more than 10 cyclists to ride together without liability insurance. Interesting thread from Portland discusses whether helmets should be mandatory. And finally, C.I.C.L.E. suggests bikes and buses go together. And here I always thought those bikes on the front of buses were just from the riders that they’d run over.