Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The Fool's Signal and Pedallers of Distraction
I've been listening to a lot of Slayer lately. Revisiting the older stuff like Show No Mercy and Reign in Blood. No real reason, my music preference goes in cycles. But, it does seem to fit well with the bulk of the urban guerilla commuting miles that have been stacking up. And you can't deny that when some jagbag buzzes a few inches from your handlebars, that Angel of Death lyrics don't satisfy just a little bit in some depraved way.
Mind you, it's only what I remember of the songs that run through my head, as I'm not one to tune out the world with earbuds and an IPutz while pedaling. Not even one ear like the halfsy folks that strain to hear the buzz of strings and beats over the traffic they think they're being attentive to.
Obviously, a fair amount of folks hold the opinion that music, riding, and traffic don't mix. And rightfully so. I'll go even further and say that even without the frenzy of urban traffic, it's a bad habit. An old pal once brought this up when I was a runner years ago and said "if you can't lose yourself in what you love doing, you're not doing it right." Or, at least something to that effect. Many won't agree, but to me, when you look beneath the veneer of exceptionalism, I think there is some truth to it.
I know a decent amount of riders, some really good friends, that roll with tunes in all manner. Some in a safer context than others. There are quite a few riders that I observe on the daily commute whom are clearly either vaguely aware of their own existence or, more ominously, have some kind of twisted fatalist streak.
I won't needle folks who think that wired riding is A-OK. Live and let live is my credo ("if you have to have a credo." as ol' Clark Griswold said). So, much like I never cared for the "Where's your helmet?" pretentiousness, I don't particularly feel the need to impose my personal beliefs on other folks. For me at least, I'm happy with my own thoughts, wind noise, and gears clicking away like that scene in Sunday in Hell.
One other thing I've noticed during the UGRCs (Urban Guerilla Recon Commute) is the curious decision by automobile manufacturers to, quite brazenly, discontinue the turn signal function on their new rides. And, near as I can tell, have co-opted the nerd community and developed a hack that electronically jams the formerly good signals on older models.
What was once a make-no-mistake-about-it flashing red beacon of intent is now reduced to a quick darting of the eyes to the rear view mirror or a clairvoyant merge/turn. Perhaps someone tired of the clueless blue hairs driving countless miles at five below the speed limit with the blinker incessantly signaling a lane change that never comes. Or maybe it's a corporate strategy (I haven't figured out how to blame BP or Obama for this yet, but obviously someone powerful is to blame) to squeeze every last bit of productivity out of the fine and upstanding motorized public.
Regardless, I'm calling bullshit on it. Like flicking cigarette butts out the window or using the bike lane as an exclusive, personal express lane, it's another all too common stupid de-evolution of mutual respect, personal responsibility, law enforcement, education, and public health. Alas, nobody cares until someone dies, and even then, they only care for a day or two.
Keep it safe two wheeled freaks.