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About Your Uphill Battles
(Maybe we need to be using lower gears.)
By Chip Haynes
This piece by first appeared in Mason's Wire Donkey Bike Zine. Subscription information follows this article.
Hello, I'm a bicyclist. No, I'm not drunk, mentally challenged or trying to save the planet one tree at a time. I'm an adult male living and working in America who voluntarily chooses to ride a bicycle from time to time instead of driving my big green pick up truck. I'm also a card-carrying Republican with a great collection of tropical shirts, and if all of that combined doesn't make me a minority in this country, I don't know what does.
Like so many other "hard core" cyclists (as opposed to those with the soft, chewy centers?) I'd like to see bicycles replace cars on our roads and in our lives. Sadly, I don't see how that's going to happen as long as the cars have the better ad agencies and killer PR guys working for them. It's tough to compete on their level. Where would we even start?
Me, I'd like to see them start with a little truth in automobile advertising. Make 'em show those cars in the TV ads in real traffic--not zipping down some freshly washed empty country road without another car in sight. Let's be realistic here: When was the last time you went driving and didn't see another car? If they'd had to show their cars in the real world, it would be a tough sell. Most folks would rather stay home. Or ride a bike.
Then there's the images in the movies and on TV. Cars can do amazing things--thanks to the wonders of editing and special effects. Remember the General Lee? Do you have any idea how many General Lee's they went through? Hundreds. There's a reason you can't find a '70 Charger any more--they wrecked them all!
Even if we got the entertainment industry to be more truthful about cars, the car's image is pretty much unshakeable. I've always said we stand a better chance of getting people to give up their firearms instead of their cars. How unshakeable is it? Consider this: NASA spent millions of dollars in the early 70s to send a car to the moon. Not a bicycle. A car. It's still there. One owner, low mileage. Probably could use a jump start to get it going, though. So how do you argue with a car on the moon? Your don't. You can't.
The automobile is so much a part of The American Dream that it's impossible to offer anyone a viable Plan B. Why bother? Most folks have let their lives get to the point that a car--and only a car--will keep their lives running at that speed and over those distances. Anything less would be a shock to the system, so I don't even bother.
At some point in the not-too-distant future, choices will have to be made. Lives will have to be changed--and the bicycle will, once again, come in to its own. Originally seen as the ideal replacement for the horse, the bicycle will eventually be seen as the ideal replacement for the car that replaced it. Whew. And when that day comes, yes, I will say, "I told you so!" Until then, I pedal quietly and watch for traffic. I've got a better chance of fighting city hall. Cars rule...for now.
So fellow cyclists, do not despair. Our day will come, and we will be ready; and hailed as heroes--if they remember us at all. Keep your bike tires pumped.
To subscribe to Mason's Wire Donkey Bike Zine, contact Mason St. Clair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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