Hi everyone! Happy holidays to all loyal PFN readers and agents still in the house. True, I've been remiss in keeping up my end of the conversation. Crazy times. Frankly, you've been a little passive. And passivity is infectious. So it's all your fault.
But I was shaken from my state of torpor -- maybe it was an egg-nog-induced stupor, now that I think about it -- by this article which is SO STUPID I DIDN'T EVEN READ IT. In fact, I think so little of this writer and what he thinks and I am so little interested in his opinion on any matter related to bicycles that I actually went through the trouble of digging up the following article, written by yours truly, something like 12 years ago.
[November 2, 1997]
Normally, talking about the weather is a sure sign of mental dullness or social deficiency. Old friends won't be surprised, though, to hear that tears of joy tumbled down our cheeks when snow accumulated on the ground this week, for the first time in months. This column has, from its very beginnings, been obsessed with the pleasures of winter. And now that there are clear signs El Nino won't rob us of our best season, we can relax a little bit.
Besides, the cold weather separates the men and women from the boys and girls. This is evident in more ways than we care to count, but it's especially true when it comes to bicycling. Minnesotan hardiness can be judged on a broad scale which factors in the date at which the bikes are parked in the garage for good. Californian transplants tend to winterize the old Schwinn just as soon as the mercury dips below 70 degrees; fourth generation Norskie idjits like myself seem not to notice the treacherous conditions until well into the new year.
With the return to standard time and nightfall dropping some time before 5 p.m., it takes a true moron to continue biking. Which brings us to the real point: Now that some of the passion has gone out of the Nicollet Mall debate, and the fairweather recreationists have moved on to inline skating at the dome, or whirpooling at the YWCA, or whatever else normal people do, we want to say for the record that bikes should be allowed to ride wherever they damn well please. More than that, they should be allowed anywhere their drivers want to go, anytime. The laws governing cars and pedestrians should not apply to bikes at all; bikers should be given full and free reign.
We're dead serious.
Here's why: The beauty of a bicycle -- aside from all the self-propelled, tree-hugging, hippy-dippy reasons -- is that it's so much faster than any other mode of transportation in the clogged arteries of the downtown district. Hell, even in the suburbs, where sprawl has loaded up our interstates with soccer moms in sport utilities, a bike may be the best way to get between points A and B. The main reason it's so much faster is that cyclists can and do fudge on the laws governing traffic. Blow through a red light here, jump up on the sidewalk there, down a wrong way, through a cab stand. It's no accident that there's a growing cadre of professional, year-round bike couriers: they get the job done faster than their motorized colleagues. Think it's because they cue up behind all the Mercedes and Land Rovers in front of City Center, dutifully waiting their turn? Wrong.
Spare us the self-righteous crap about observing the law like any other vehicle on the road. Minnesota car drivers are almost universally negligent of bikes, and rarely give them the space and respect that the law intends. Hostility is ubiquitous, and anyone who rides a bike on a daily basis can tell you that the only reasons they're alive in this city at all are a quick eye, dumb luck, and a dependable helmet.
That bikes should observe all the traffic laws governing cars is ridiculous, dangerous, and pointless -- especially since car drivers are genetically incapable of recognizing bikers as legitimate vehicles with whom they must share the road. Think it's a recipe for disatser? How many Minnesotans die every year in cars , compared to Minnesotans on bikes? Here's a clue: lots and lots more.
Well, we just consider it another form of natural selection. Go ahead and off yourself at 75 mph on the Lyndale bottleneck. We'll be jumping curbs and blowing lights well past the holidays. Just buckle up and try to keep it between the fenceposts, and we'll do the same. -- Hans Eisenbeis