Drivers who intensionally and maliciously try to distract cyclists are the targets of new American laws, that really aught to be adopted here in Australia. I have just spent a Summer riding bicycle rickshaws, in one sense to put myself at the front line. For eight hours every Saturday night I have been mercilessly harassed by taxi drivers, yelled at by every car passing, and pelted with cups filled with ice, or with eggs, or with peoples rubbish. Two nights ago I was almost hit by a brick.
Last night I was hit on the leg by something thrown from a car, that I was able to pull up beside at the next set of traffic lights. A rear seat passenger (the obvious culprit) was hiding her face in her lap. I reached in, turned off the ignition, and demanded to know what had been thrown at me. Very quickly, people started gathering at the intersection, clearly more keen to learn what gave a cyclist the right to interfere with motorised traffic, than to know what might have outraged me. I knew very well the police would take a similar view, so rode off, leaving the driver with a car they couldn’t restart.
I have said before on this blog, that bike riders are a persecuted minority, only without the legal protection given to similar groups, who are persecuted because of their race, colour or sexuality. I’ll say now as well, that city dwellers have given up their humanity, by allowing machines to rule their streets. Those machines aren’t driven by humans. The human occupants are driven by the machines, and a machine order. The machine order demands minimum speeds, regardless of the presence of cyclists or pedestrians. The machine order says “go on green”, no matter if pedestrians are still trying to cross. The machines are happy to yield to each other, but not to people on foot or on bikes. The machines are psychopaths, and make psychopaths of the humans inside them, who become machine parts. The eggs, cups, detritus and bricks, aren’t thrown by humans, but by people made into parts of machines. They throw things, because subliminally, they are fighting the machines’ territorial battle to maintain their control of our streets: to keep streets functioning as machines. Franklin D. Roosevelt said it like this:
The machine in the hands of irresponsible conquerors becomes the master; mankind is not only the servant, it is the victim too.*
Should I stay at the frontline riding rickshaws in the city at night, fighting on the side of the humans? No, I only went there to see what it is like. My philosophy has always been to retreat, to safe places I know as my cycle-space. That’s a pity for everyone, really. The hundreds of people who make use of bicycle rickshaws, could all be bar-hopping on bikes, if drivers were made to behave more like humans. But when police, politicians, and most people who vote, have divulged their will to the will of a machine order, that seems unlikely. I’ll leave you with an encouraging, and rare piece of footage, in which a bus driver uses his bus to stop flow of traffic, until police can apprehend a hit and run driver who has just struck a cyclist. Thank goodness for at least one bus driver, willing to work on the side of the humans.
Thanks to my Twitter saint Brian Jones for finding that clip.
*Franklin Delano Roosevelt, My Friends — Twenty-One History Making Speeches, eds. Edward H. Kavinoky and Julian Park (Buffalo: Foster and Stewart Publishing Corporation, 1945) 63