Nutter Butter

Dear Mayor Nutter,

You sure know how to butter us up over here at FH. More bike racks, you say? Not just like, 10 more, but 1,400 more bike racks? That's one for probably every person I've ever met in my life, times 2. Way to go.

Just so we're clear though, these bike racks aren't going to work like hush money. We're not going to stop bringing up all those other issues plaguing Philadelphia's cyclists. We're not going to apologize for taking up lanes of traffic. We're not going to just ride behind the SEPTA bus when it stops at every corner. And we're not going to obey every traffic law until off-duty Philadelphia cops do too.

Look Nutter, you're doing a pretty good job. It's mostly these other fiends I'm worried about. Drivers who pretend to be okay with bicycles. And even some cyclists who get power crazed, identify the good cyclists from the bad cyclists and make up rules about etiquette unfounded in reality as they go.

The beauty of urban bicycle use is its democracy. By democracy, I mean that this city's cycling citizens are free to interpret how to ride in Philadelphia based on their own experiences with the streets of our city and the people who fill them. Not based on some self-righteous middle aged lawyer-type's idea of orderly conduct. If such a guy wants people to keep a straight face at his reflective pant strap and helmet mirror, that means no lecturing folks without helmets, no condemning riders who run stop signs and no villainizing bike messengers.

As long as we share legitimate space with city buses, as long as pedestrians walk into bike traffic without regard for mutual safety, as long as people get away with bolt cutting bike locks for their creating "unsightly clutter" and as long as the bicycle as a means of transportation cuts down on pollution, obesity and our demand for petroleum, we have nothing to apologize for.

Thanks for the bike racks. We'll take it. But respectfully, we concede nothing. There's too much room for improvement between the atmosphere of now and the one where we have so much respect in the street that we can afford to cede any privileges.

Cruisin in Philadelphia

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