Sunday, June 17, 2007

The right way, and the WNBR way

If you've kept up on current events--something not quite as essential for being an intelligent being as conventional wisdom demands (too much information can actually clutter clear thinking, but that's an issue for another place and time)--no doubt the World Naked Bike Ride day has caught your attention. I suspect that this is just a cheap stunt designed to draw attention to this organization's causes: the lack of bike-friendly roads, cities, and facilities, and, more ominously, the environmental degradation, they claim, caused by the automobile.

Let's take a look at the first cause. Yes, I have to agree that bicycles get the short shrift in most Western countries. Why? Because they are less efficient than automobiles in most cases, short trips through crowded streets excepted. The majority has spoken, and what they've chosen, right or wrong, is the car. That doesn't mean there isn't a place for bikes, and cities should recognize that for certain areas they can be a viable alternative to autos, and plan new streets/facilities accordingly.

The second cause, really, is a separate issue that doesn't belong anywhere in the organization's platform. If they are serious about getting better amenities for bicyclists in the Western world, pulling this dead-whale issue will only hurt and marginalize their quest. Those who might have looked with interest and sympathy at WNBR's concerns are going to be non-plussed by the environmental component of their agenda. Cars are here to stay, like it or not, so get over it.

But, in the end, this organization isn't actually serious about much of anything. If they were, a silly stunt like a worldwide naked bike ride day, which occurred on June 9, 2007, would not have happened. Serious people don't effect change like this, they use the political process. Sure, that takes years, lots of money, patience, and intelligence, but it's the only real way to do things, short of brute force. All WNBR has done with this act is categorize themselves as fringe wackos and alienate the very people they need on their side, the majority. Biking is a good idea in some instances, especially in the more densely populated areas, but with a yahoo organization like this speaking for biking, don't look for bikes, bikers, and biking to get the recognition and amenities they might deserve otherwise.

Take care,

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