A Guide to Your Next Suicide

About once a year the considerate and apolitical police force here in NSW Australia hold Operation Pedro, where officers are sent onto the street to fine 13 year olds for riding on footpaths, ping conscious objectors to helmet laws, and fine people for riding wide of door-zone bike lanes as well as people riding within the door zone bike lanes, because it’s also an offence to ride “dangerously”. They can pretty much fine you for breathing. Non-cyclists love it and say we all have to play fair, but of course, as any transport cyclist who has stayed alive can attest, you can’t go fifty meters on a bike in Australia without having to choose between your life or the law. It’s the same in most countries.

This plays well for the suicidal among us, and let’s not pretend it’s not an option we haven’t all considered at some time. We’re stopped, of course, by the waste—the sense that something purposeful may be awaiting. But what if suicide, itself, had a purpose?

When I knew operation pedro was on, I spent much of the day on my bike, riding around in the city, obeying every road rule and making lots of right hand turns across traffic (the equivalent of left hand turns if you live in a country where they drive on the right). There’s nothing quite like the feeling of inner calm that comes from sitting in the middle of the road, signalling your intension to turn, knowing drivers are hurtling toward you from behind sending text messages and toying with gadgetry on their dash boards. I imagine it’s like the feeling of calm that many report after near drownings.

I’m not quite ready to pop myself, yet, but appreciate that you may be. Don’t waste the opportunity to die doing something you love, cycling, on the stage that is the city. and for a purpose: to draw attention to the murderous road rules adopted by our state to kill cyclists.

It’s very important when planning your death that you make yourself intimately aware of the road rules. The good news is that, unlike recipes for arsenic that can be hard to find on the web, deadly road rules for cyclists are openly promoted by government and pro-suicidal-cycling groups. I’m especially fond of this guide to getting yourself killed provided by an online bike store, with their emphasis on bright clothes they can sell you to die in.

Less clear are laws regarding hand signals. Since your intension is a righteous and blameless death, my suggestion would be that you learn and use all eleven (12 if you add the Nazi salute for motorists wanting you off of the road.)

And that’s about all there is to it. You should be hit within roughly two months, and struck fatally within your first year. May your last one be swift. If you’re under forty or still raising kids, there are pills that can sustain you for now. Leave legal cycling to those who have lived a full life and want to make a positive contribution in parting.

7 Comments

  1. Brian Glover says:

    I get your point, but this post is just irresponsible. Yes, the world deserves much better designs for cycling (I’ve read your newest book and admire it). But in the real world, right now, VC techniques work very well for the minority who are willing to use them. If an expert like you disparages them, people who don’t know much about cycling are likely to try riding without them, which will not end well. I’ve used VC for daily transport cycling for a decade now; unlike the preceding decade (during which I was hospitalized once and totaled my bike on a different occasion), I have not experienced any problems with car traffic. It’s irresponsible to suggest that VC cycling is dangerous or suicidal. Under current US/AUS conditions, untrained riding is dangerous. Until Velotopia arrives, we’re going to need lane control and signals (by the way: the diagram above is misleading to new cyclists. You only need three signals: left, right, stop.). I hope to see the day when VC is unnecessary, and am working to make it so, but that day is unlikely to arrive any time soon.

    • Steven says:

      I read Effective Cycling in 1992, and anyway was given rider training according to those principles at age 9. I stayed alive by deviating from the road rules. Even BikeSnob, who leans toward vehicular cycling, says near the start of his first book, that the advantage of cycling is most people don’t know which laws apply to you and when (unless they’re cops briefed for a blitz) so you can take driving and pedestrian laws as your own. If you’re tired of life, sure, follow the road rules to the letter, but please don’t encourage others to do the same.

  2. Ian S says:

    The only three rules you need to adopt are:
    1. Everyone else is an inconsiderate idiot that is trying to run you down.
    2. Make controlled and obvious moves when you need to.
    3. If in doubt, refer to rule #1.

    • Steven says:

      I think we’ll make that the back cover of “Vehicular Cycling—the revised version”. While i think Brian’s comment was more about his own present concerns than my blog post, I will say, he has gotten me thinking. My 13 year old had a new BMX and has just started cycling to school by himself. If I could describe his style (in fact my whole family’s) I would have a better book than Forrester’s. Compare my son’s to the poor council officers’ who had to ride around the city with me recently, under orders to follow road rules. Poor guys had to walk their bikes half the day, leaving me to wait for them constantly. There is no sillier sight than a cyclist reduced to obeying the “law”.

    • Brian Glover says:

      Steven, please give an example of a current law you find “murderous”? I can’t say I’m aware of any. Nobody likes unprotected turns across oncoming traffic, but the legal method (using the turn lane) is much safer than the illegal alternative (trying to make a turn from the through lane, across several lanes of same-direction traffic). If you don’t like it, make a 2-stage turn — I know that’s legal in the US and suspect it’s legal in Australia, as well. Current road designs are murderous indeed, but given that the current designs exist, and there is no way to avoid them, it is always safest to use them according to the rules they were designed for. It is much less safe to make up your own personal rules and expect everybody else, operating deadly machines, to guess what you’re going to do (least of all when you’re 13 years old!).

    • Ian S says:

      I’ll give you the first one: turning right on a multi-lane roundabout.

    • Steven says:

      Brian, still with us? Here’s a suggestion, to go with your plan of being noticed by drivers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2esw8U2NENo

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