One of my favorite sayings, and an axiom for most of my decision-making, comes from Gore Vidal: “Never turn down an opportunity to have sex or be on television.” About a year and a half ago, I had one of the rare opportunities to put this heuristic to work. Days before the financial system melted down, I was going to get to play the part of “bicycle geek” in KCET’s “SoCal Connected” episode about LA traffic. Granted, KCET isn’t exactly Lopez Tonight, but one has a better chance of maintaining dignity after one’s appearance on TV.
It was a fun day being filmed, and enlightening for me to hear the ideas non-cyclists have for why I, or anyone, would ride a bicycle. At the time, the focus was on the savings I accrued by not paying for the premium-priced gasoline. To the crew’s dismay, this was not my motivation; I was riding my bicycle even when gas was $1 per gallon. I also do not ride my bicycle because of a passionate environmentalism. Don’t get me wrong: I sort my trash and use CFLs, but I can’t shake my love for cheeseburgers and pulled pork. Besides, there are plenty of options now for one to drive a car almost guilt-free.
Considering this seemingly common logic amongst non-cyclists, I have been surprised by two circumstances I have had this week: folks yelling at me when passing in their car.
The first reason you do not want to yell at a cyclist is because the most common demographic that yells at strangers in public are homeless people. I put forth special effort to ignore whatever it is that homeless people may yell at me. Second, if you yell at a cyclist, you are likely going to have to talk to him or her at the next stop light. Some are more diplomatic than others, so be selective when deciding when to yell out your window. Finally, who wants to disparage someone who is either putting forth their best effort to preserve the environment, promoting their personal fitness, or being fiscally-minded? I will venture to guess it is a person who spells his or her name with LOTS of doucheclamation points.
If you come across me, who rides a bicycle due to an array of efficiencies I have found over the years, know that I am far too pragmatic to change because of your drive-by advice. It was transportation trial-and-error that has led me to choose cycling as my primary mode of transport, and I suppose it will be the same method that will get me off the bike. Until I find another solution to the traffic puzzle of Los Angeles, I will stick to my current solution.
Now, put some cookies to bake in the oven, and enjoy the clip below. It is impressive to see all that goes into keeping cars moving in LA.