Friday, May 02, 2008

Wheel Rage

Kevin Williams (bike commuter and Tribune writer) writes:

We're mad as hell, and it's all because of the wheel.

Cyclists are dropping [two Chicago cyclists killed in the last few days], and the whole bike-versus-car showdown has become a tinderbox...

"Those bikers had it coming. They don't obey traffic laws," says a motorist.

"SUV-driving pigs hog the road and waste resources as they try to kill me," says a cyclist.

Kevin's got a theory that's as good as anybody's:
Everybody's angry, and everybody's wrong. As a cyclist and driving enthusiast, trust me—both sides are being buttheads.

But why does this blind, festering, almost cauterizing rage seal off logic? Why does it make everyone as stupid as the day is long?

I repeat: It's the wheel. Wheels make life a race. If you are strolling 10 feet behind an elderly couple, do you break into a run to reach a spot before they do? No. Do we try to outwalk each other to work? No.

But put us in a wheeled conveyance, and it's competition.

And Kevin's thought a bit about a solution:
take these easy steps:

•Use wheels sparingly. You already know they're evil.

•Self-witness, as [psychologist Leon] James puts it. The psychologist recommends turning on a little tape recorder while driving. Verbalize all the invective you're feeling, and play it back later. Shameful, isn't it? Realization is the first step toward correction.

•Recognize that we're all vulnerable. On a bike, you earn the karma you might have spawned by buzzing a pedestrian or running a light. In a car, you buzzed a rider, now an SUV is crowding you. Is that 18-wheeler crowding you, SUV driver?

Good advice, Kevin. Or, in a word: CHILL!

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