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I almost got creamed by a car today. Again. I try not to post about this because I know it worries my friends and my family. I try not to pay attention to it because I know it's just my imagination that things are getting worse, that it has never been more or less dangerous than this and I'm just having an unlucky streak right now. I try not to worry about it. But man, sometimes I don't feel like riding my bike any more.

I was on the right side of the right lane, going along with city traffic, going about 16mph. Someone comes out of nowhere, in my lane, going real fast, misses my elbow by a fraction of an inch, makes a hard right turn into the parking lot in front of me.

Fine. I've been experimenting with not yelling and cursing at bad drivers lately, because frankly they're everywhere and I'm experiencing outrage fatigue. I simply do not have time to get angry at every fool driver who nearly kills me out of their bloated sense of entitlement, especially since I know realistically that their number includes some people I consider friends. The right to accidentally kill someone is a right Americans take for granted; I know that. So I pulled up to her, at the Hyde Park Gym no less, and (noting her California plates) said "Excuse me, but you almost hit me a second ago. I guess you're not from around here, but the law in Austin is that bicycles get a whole lane."

"Dude," she said, "I'm one of the people who wrote that law." And she slammed her door and flounced on into her gym.

I sat there and tried to think of something awesome to say. I wish I'd said some of the clever things I thought of a minute later, such as "Oh yeah if it's such a great law how come there are still jackasses like you on the road?" Or the more nuanced ones I thought of an hour later, such as "If physical fitness and exercise are so important to you, why are you trying to kill me with a car?"

You almost killed me with a car, but it's okay, because you helped pass a law to make it illegal to do that. You're still a good person. Your abstract honor is unsullied. I mean, you drove a fucking giant gasoline-burning automobile to a fucking gymnasium and almost killed a bicyclist on the way, but you're a good person because you helped write a good law.

Be the change you want to see in the world, right?

Me, I'm not a member at any gym. I don't ride my bike just for complicated philosophical reasons, I also ride it because I am poor. I am poor because I spend all my time making art and talking about politics on the internet. This is as it should be and I'm not upset about it, but the bike is not a prop. It's not about exercise. It's about simply trying to live in a country that demands you either become the oppressor or you fucking die. There's no reasonable way for a person like me to live in America right now, and I say that as clearly and concretely as I can tell you, there is no bicycle lane on Guadalupe between 38th and 45th right now. Maybe there could be some day, or maybe there used to be once. Maybe there should be. Maybe if you just consider part of the margin of the road the bike lane, and you consider certain hours, certain traffic patterns. From a certain point of view.

But the plain and simple fact of the matter is that there ISN'T. Look. Here is Google Street Views:


And maybe there's a law to protect you, maybe there's a law that says hey, you're a taxpayer, you live in this city just like everyone else and use practically nothing of what you put into it, I think you can have an entire lane on the city street so you don't have to worry about being killed, being mangled to death in the most grotesque ways possible, being suddenly and instantly blotted out of the universe by someone who doesn't even care, isn't even paying attention, is just trying to get the gym slightly quicker so she can be healthier, stronger, live a longer life, be more attractive to the people she's attracted to, whatever.

Sure, there's a law like exactly that.

And the people who wrote the law don't even follow it.

Now, is she a liberal? I dunno, I don't know who she was. But this is a liberal-as-hell town, so it's safe to make that comparison, or maybe just almost getting killed by a town councilman/politico/lobbyist who helped pass a liberal law makes me think she was. And I'm trying to draw a larger conclusion from an isolated incident in my particular life, so bear with me. Let's pretend she's a liberal. Anyway, it makes me think of liberals.

It was all so abstract to her. She's hurtling multiton chunks of equipment at unsafe speeds, but it's okay because she wrote a law. Not a law protecting her, a law protecting other people from her. She doesn't have to worry about killing someone with her poor driving any more, it is against the law and she is a good person who obeys the law so therefore it is impossible. This all makes sense in dream logic, it all follows from one to the other. Which is why we all need frequent, repeated doses of reality.

I know so little about politics. I know so little of what went into making that law, and I do sincerely appreciate that law -- it has made my life in Austin safer (though it does seem a little more dangerous here in 2011 than in 2010). I don't appreciate that woman thinks her power to write laws makes her above them. That was not a convincing argument.

For some reason it reminded me of liberals. There you have it.


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