Given the robust discussion about our comment section last week, I figured it was time to bring back “Comment of the Week” as a more regular feature. This is where we take a look at a previous week of comments and highlight a particularly good and/or notable one.
In the past I’ve used this to model good commenting behavior. But sometimes I think a comment is just plain interesting and deserves a wider audience. This is one of those times.
The comment comes from reader SD and it was written in response to Monday’s story on the gravel mess left in many bikeways after the storm:
“Trash, snow and gravel in the bike lanes is a poignant representation of the strengths and perceived weaknesses of biking. Gravel can’t be left on the street because a windshield might be chipped and drivers will complain, it can’t be swept onto the sidewalk (usually), so “let’s pile it in the bike lane.” Bike riders can be flexible and either take on the dangerous conditions, drive or walk. Similarly, biking, in general, exists in this middle space where it can be ignored or trashed depending on the mood or time of day.
Biking is both too fast and too slow. It is easy or it is so hard it takes years of practice to do well. It is cheap and accessible or it is only for wealthy elites. It is good for people who can’t drive or it is only for the able-bodied and athletic. It is for friendly inclusive people or it is a special club full of mean people that yell at everyone. Bike infrastructure is too expensive but not expensive enough for DOTs to be interested. It is an equalizer across socioeconomic groups or it only furthers the desires of old white males. Bike infra increases revenue for businesses or it kills them. It energizes wannabe progressive politicians, but they can’t be initiated into a career of public service until they murder a bike lane. It builds community or it divides us all. It energizes a grass roots base or it sucks all of the oxygen out of the room and we should stop talking about it. Bike use is increasing on it’s own and doesn’t need prioritization or it is decreasing and should be abandoned by cities as a mode of transport. Bike riding is an environmentally sustainable transportation mode, but somehow causes cars to idle, which increases pollution. It is safer than driving, but it is so dangerous that we need public campaigns to constantly remind people to ride safely. Bike riders are invisible, but they are everywhere and always in my way. The bike lobby is all powerful and too loud, if only they advocated enough for themselves, city hall would be able to help them.
Also, biking is adaptable enough to be squeezed into existing infrastructure without resources because bike riders can be car drivers, bike riders and pedestrians all at the same time. So, if a person wants a safe place to bike they should file a complaint every time something needs to be fixed, and they should stop complaining all the time, because it’s not all about them.”
SD gets to so many of the tricky dichotomies that plague bicycling in Portland (and America). As you read it, ask yourself: Why do these contradictions exist?
Thanks for the comment SD. You’ve got a prize pack on the way.
I’ll try to do this every Tuesday from here on out. You can help me find good ones by replying with “comment of the week” to any comment you think deserves attention.
(DISCLAIMER: This comment does not necessarily reflect the personal opinion of Jonathan Maus or BikePortland.)
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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