I’m serious, somebody, please ring a bell, sound alarm, let off some fireworks, or whatever one does. By Christmas 2011, so many people all over the world were riding bikes with mudguards and cargo capacity, treating footpaths as infrastructure if no better existed, and not wearing helmets if they couldn’t be bothered, that everyday-cycling had become as noteworthy as walking the dog. Two years ago, I could drag an interesting blog post from a ride about town on my upright Velorbis. The fact that a post about stylish slow cycling, in 2012, does not belong in a blog concerned largely with future needs, alone stands as proof—at least to my mind—that a war is now won.
I was riding up a one-way street in my neighborhood last week, on my upright bike, wearing a hat not a helmet, when I saw a roadie coming toward me. Expecting him to recognize me as the captain of Kooragang Open Cycling Club, and winner of some races in B-Grade over the years, I felt a smile of greeting brewing within me. Given the road in question has officially been blocked to vehicular traffic for 8 or 9 years, I was ready to stop in the middle of the road, and have a chat. Imagine my astonishment, when his hand left the bar, not to give me a wave, but to gesture that I turn back. “One way!” he moaned.
“One way?” I thought. “WTF!?” Had I really been spoken down to, by someone thinking he was a high priest of the crank, just because he wore lycra robes? Surely not, in this day and age. Perhaps he was having a bad day, or had just moments earlier avoided some serious collision, and was thus feeling edgy. No, I doubt it. More likely, he is the last resistance fighter for a system that gave cyclists responsibilities commensurate with drivers’ rights, during a period when cycling for transport dropped to levels I’m glad my children will never know of.
But as recently as 2 years ago, I suspect a jury of our bike riding peers, might as easily have judged in his favour. Lines buried in road laws, about bikes being vehicles, seemed vaguely axiomatic back then, as though Moses had brought them down from Mt Sinai. Today we group holders of such quaint beliefs, with those who would razor a baby boy’s foreskin. Had this pillock not been to the city center, or any city center, to see The New Chaos? When had he last been to Sydney? Had he ever been overseas? I felt toward him as I would any poor pleb, struggling with change. I felt toward him as I feel toward the C,D,E, F and no-grade road racers, among whom I know for a fact he must rank, for if he were any good at the sport he was masquerading to have been training for, I would have known who he was. (Best I keep private, how I do feel toward slower riders, since so many of you are my friends).
The war against pea-brains like “Mr One Way”, was not won with a nuclear bomb, but with thousands of pins placed by each of us who use bikes for transport and to look fuckable. It was won with hundreds of blogs such as this one and this one, by treadlie magazine and the likes, and by people like these and these who took the gamble and ordered bulk shipments of unfamiliar bikes out of Europe. It was won too, by millions of subversive acts performed by us all. Nonetheless, we aught to dance in the streets. We made non sportive cycling mainstream.