Tuesday, July 29 2008 @ 08:31 AM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
By BEN FISTLER, Mason City
I have always had an affinity for all things counter-culture and rebellious.
I would watch James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” with awe. The way he could put on his red jacket and scare the “squares” with his lawlessness has always been intriguing to me.
I bought an old and loud car, tried to race around, but instead of scaring elderly women I was waved to and given the thumbs up by people on the street.
I like motorcycles, too. I liked to read and watch shows about gangs like the Hell’s Angels, seeing parents hide their kids’ eyes from the outlaws in odd clothes as they turn the towns upside down speeding through the streets on their evil machines. I even bought a motorcycle, a real loud Harley-Davidson with a crazy paint job and load exhaust.
Once again I failed in my rebellious ways. I was waved to even more, no matter how loud my bike was. I couldn’t even get any attention from the law. I never received a single traffic ticket for loud pipes or otherwise on that motorcycle. It’s locked up in my shed.
I thought my dreams of being a real, scary rebel were over until I really crossed the line: I started riding a bicycle.
Immediately I was treated with the kind of disrespect from the general public and law enforcement I had been searching for.
Just this morning my wife and I were out riding our bicycles and a respectable citizen yelled obscenities at us from his pickup truck while his young son sat beside him. Yes, I have made the passage into true outlaw land: I am a cyclist.
Since I started riding a bike, the money I’ve spent on fuel has dropped enormously. I’ve lost 25 pounds and made other crazed, outlaw friends, as well. We do wild things like ride our bikes to work and to our children’s sporting events, and wear odd clothes. Sometimes, we ride just for fun.
I heard about another wild man out on a bicycle who was cited for riding his bike on the sidewalk of our fair city and riding his bike without a light. True trouble indeed, riding his bicycle on the sidewalk. I applaud him for his audacity in such an unlawful act.
Earlier this summer, I was riding my evil machine with my gang through the streets and stopped at a red light, looked both ways and went ahead through that red light when I saw no cars were coming. A man sitting at the light on a Harley and full leather regalia cursed us “damned bikers” for our unlawfulness. If you don’t see the irony in that, you have missed my point.
Instead of cursing people on bicycles, thank them. For every bicycle on the road there is one less car. Besides the obvious environmental impact that brings — the shorter wait at the stop light, the slight drop in demand for oil — think about your children on their bicycles and the first time you learned to ride.
Think about the countless people whose health has been positively impacted by cycling.
You might even want to give us a thumbs-up.
But for goodness sake please just look out for us. After all, we don’t have loud exhaust pipes or scare your grandmother, do we?