Monday, January 21, 2013

The #1 Rule

The Deadly Nightshades have only one rule: Don't Die.

Basically any other suggestions we have stem from Rule #1. These Biking Rules Street Code from NYC's Transportation Alternatives are all about leading by example. Leading by example is pretty much the best system to help create a pleasant cycling culture in any city, AND help anyone adhere to Rule #1.

 photo BikingRules_zps9f74bd27.jpg

There are a few things in there that could be argued- going against traffic on small one way streets can be much safer then riding with traffic on very busy streets. While helmets are awesome and DNS is in full support of protecting your central processing system with a brain bucket, helmet laws can actually prevent people from riding, and that's lame. Everything else is pretty much spot on.

Since being back in Toronto I've actually been shocked at the lack of bike lights in this city. Vancouver can get so dark you end up needing lights just to see where you are going. In Toronto we have so much light pollution visibility isn't as dire, but lights in traffic are a great way to follow DNS Rule #1. You may not realize how vulnerable you actually are until you yourself are in a car or bus and are surprised by a cyclist without a light. Check out Cycle Toronto's Get Lit! program for more info.

Cyclists have a bad rep for causing bike accidents. (If you have Linkedin you can read this bizarre thread on Ghost Bikes and the odd turn it takes.) This is basically a BS perception based on... I'm not too sure. A few bad bike eggs? Car drivers not wanting to take responsibility? It's well known that when you demonize a group of people it makes it easier for someone to justify suppressing or hurting that group, as they become the dangerous "others". Old-as-time tactic in warfare. Gross, right?

don't tell me what to do

When campaigning for change, it's important to not take on the tactics of what you are trying to change. Albert Einsteing put it best: "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." There is definitely a demonetization of drivers in the cycling world. In return all individual cyclists can also be lumped into one big cyclist category. So let's drop it. It won't get us anywhere. Dave Meslin did a great piece of advocacy campaign called Drivers for Jarvis based on the misconception that in the streets it's "drivers" vs. "cyclists".

I digress. Leading by example is awesome. So is changing misconceptions, and breaking down walls. Let's make this city work for everyone so we can get down to more pressing issues like the latest nail art trends, feasting with friends and dance parties.

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