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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Amidst the motorized mayhem of our roadways lies those people who shun the conventional. We choose a gentle form of transportation that suits our needs whether it is economical, environmental or quality-of-life justifications. Yet by making this decision, one must accept the grave dangers of becoming a cyclist. But why is this decision, simply choosing a certain means of conveyance, such a dire one? The answers to that question are central to this piece: the cyclist’s manifesto.
Motorists exhibit feeble thought on the subject, based primarily on impatience, small-mindedness and (most egregiously) a certain lack of humanity. It always leaves me dumbfounded when the average motorist talks about cyclists as if they are subhuman. Somehow, we are obstacles. We are but impediments to your important journey. We have no destination or sense of urgency. We are insistently trying to anger you. We can’t afford a car. We are lawless. We are godless. But most of all, we should ride on the sidewalk (which in San Marcos is non-existent or exasperatingly partitioned). These are but some of the asinine claims I’ve listened to. To those who believe and perpetuate these stereotypes, I hope to vanquish their ignorance. To those who understand the plight of the cyclists, I hope to galvanize our resistance.
A cyclist is a person — that’s important to remember — riding a bicycle in the road. A cyclist is not a person riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. People who ride their bicycles on the sidewalks are annoying pedestrians. The double meaning is intentional. But, as I will endeavor to explain to you, bicycles on the sidewalk are one of the outcomes of misconceptions that crystallize into misguided policy. That leads to bicycles on the sidewalk or the renegade behavior that produces those misconceptions. I hope you’re picking up on the “cyclical” nature of the problem.
To understand the manifesto, one must see the road from a cyclist’s perspective. Although cyclists and motorists use the same roadways, the shared experience could not possess a starker dichotomy. Even the smallest car poses a deadly threat to any cyclist. The slightest act of vehicular aggression (i.e.: tailgating, honking, close passes, etc.) is felt tenfold by the cyclist. And since we are in the God-blessed land of Texas, where everything is bigger, we all know there aren’t small cars or “slight” aggressive acts here.
The protection motorists are afforded, by their sheer power and size, is coupled with the protection they receive from bias within the law and its subsequent enforcement — or lack thereof. To explain this phenomenon, one must understand the real-world application of the current laws, which are vague about key aspects of cyclists’ safety. A prime example is the simple, but dangerous maneuver of passing. Thanks to Rick Perry and his veto of the law requiring drivers to give a cyclist 3 feet of space while passing (Bill White anybody?), many cities in Texas, San Marcos included, do not state a defined passing buffer. Instead, the law leaves cyclists’ safety at the discretion of drivers and police, both of whom (most typically) are in cars. I can tell you from experience, allowing motorists to define (on the fly, no less) a standard of safety for cyclists is foolish. Countless cars have passed me at 40+ mph with less than a 2-foot passing buffer. To them, that was a “safe” distance. Sadly, most police officers would probably agree. This translates into an extremely hostile environment for the cyclist; where laws are irrelevant because of a blatant disregard for safety or a lack of enforcement.
In the absence of law, to what does one abide? The rules, and they are quite simple. A cyclist can be in the road because of motorists’ most base acknowledgement of the law and human rights. However, a cyclist mustn’t impede, in any way, shape or form, a motorist’s journey. If cyclists do not adhere to these rules, their safety will quickly and drastically be put in danger. In a rule versus law situation, the cyclist is forced to obey the rules rooted in actual roadway experience.
The cyclist’s manifesto is based on the moral imperative to survive. I will not endanger myself to abide by laws that are one, not enforced, and two, meek in construction and shallow in thought as to render them useless. My advice to cyclists is not to abide by the laws but to live by the rules. And where the rule of the road is “get out of my way or allow me to put your life in jeopardy,” a cyclist’s best chance at self-preservation is to do all they can to maintain safety. “Safe” is a relative and ambiguous term that when applied to cycling says little. Lawful riding is clearly defined but will do little in the way of preserving your safety. I refrain from professing arbitrary and dangerous clichés like “Ride safe” or “Obey traffic laws.” Put simply, the cyclist manifesto is this: “Stay upright.”

http://star.txstate.edu/content/cyclists-manifesto
 

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um, exactly what do you aim to achieve by publishing this 'manifesto?'

it won't change the behavior of motorists and most cyclists already understand that they need to ride defensively.

oh, delete the 'God-blessed' descriptor of the state. I live in TX too and don't consider it 'blessed' by anyone. it's just one of 50 other similar entities. larger than most, but nothing divinely special about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
has any piece of writing ever directly changed people's behavior?

oh, and the "god-blessed" part is sarcasm.
 

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Try harder.
 

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rcnute said:
Try harder.

Your manifesto is weakened when it ends with a pair of consecutive contraditions.
"...a cyclist’s best chance at self-preservation is to do all they can to maintain safety. “Safe” is a relative and ambiguous term that when applied to cycling says little.
In other words, the manifesto advises cyclists act in accordance with an ambiguous term that says little.

"I refrain from professing arbitrary and dangerous clichés like “Ride safe” or “Obey traffic laws.” Put simply, the cyclist manifesto is this: “Stay upright.”"

"Stay upright" seems pretty arbitrary. If you're not upright, you're not cycling. You can stay upright as you ride the wrong way on a superhighway. You can stay upright as you cross in front of oncoming traffic.
 

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This is why people in cars hate cyclists.

For someone who is upset about people stereotyping cyclists, you sure do a lot of the same with drivers.

Your manifesto reeks of the kind of self-importance that one gets after a couple years of college- we've all been there. It's cringe-inducing. Like all those manifestos about how we should never get married, how we should never submit to the corporate world of suits and ties, etc.

Like most manifestos, it is suitable for bird cage liner and wrapping fish, not much else.

Why not try to start an intelligent dialog with drivers and try to see things from their side- I'm a dedicated bike commuter and I will tell you that on the days I have to drive, I see cyclists do stuff that makes ME want to run them over.
 

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I didn't make it very far.

I pretty much quit after "It always leaves me dumbfounded when the average motorist talks about cyclists as if they are subhuman."

Picking a fight that you will never win by starting off with questioning the oppositions intelligence wont' get you very far. US vs. Them. :rolleyes:

You might be better off focusing on the virtues of cycling. Go mainstream with it and tell us how green it is, how healty it is, how responsible it is and you'll fit right into the main media cookie cutter crap.
 

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yup

I would also put more of a positive spin on it.

For example, I have commuted by bike for over 4 years. I love every minute of riding to work, and now look forward to my commute, rather than driving and being stuck in traffic. I love the fresh air, exercise, and at time challenges of the weather. I love meeting fellow commuters along the way. I have learned how to be safer, with excellent lighting, bright clothing, and my strategies for dealing with traffic. It makes me a happier person. Also, over the 4 years, I have saved over $3,000 in fuel and wear and tear on the car.



Chain said:
I didn't make it very far.

I pretty much quit after "It always leaves me dumbfounded when the average motorist talks about cyclists as if they are subhuman."

Picking a fight that you will never win by starting off with questioning the oppositions intelligence wont' get you very far. US vs. Them. :rolleyes:

You might be better off focusing on the virtues of cycling. Go mainstream with it and tell us how green it is, how healty it is, how responsible it is and you'll fit right into the main media cookie cutter crap.
 

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If you want to have any influence over the reader you need to endure them to you early in the piece. Agree with all the other comments!
 

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more...

A few more observations:

There's too much drama, too much hyperbole, and more simply too many words. Do some serious editing.

I suggest "interviewing" some people who have commuted for years and then quote them in your article. Tell their stories. I'm sure those here would cooperate.
 

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DP1112 said:
has any piece of writing ever directly changed people's behavior?

oh, and the "god-blessed" part is sarcasm.


you're not seriously asking that question, are you...???

thanks for identifying it as such...wasn't obvious.

overall, the writing style is stilted and the tone is annoyingly self-righteous.

your intentional alienation of motorists is detrimental to any logical argument for cyclists' rights.

as written, it's a tentative C- submission...with significant revisions, you might edge it into C+ territory.
 

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Heck, skip the whole manifesto thing. It's easier to get a cabin in the woods and to mail bombs to random drivers. It'll get your point across quicker and you'll be known for decades to come.
 

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Daniel - Who is your target audience and what is your message?

I sense you have a lot of passion in the subject that you write about, but am uncertain what effect you hope to achieve and how.

My argument is that your target audience should be 'me' - I am the casual cyclist who sometimes commutes to work by bike, but... more often than not, I get busy or must travel between business meetings and wear clothes that don't do well on a bike, especially when it rains. I get turned off by self-important riders, but get encouraged by seeing or hearing about people like me ride to work. I just need a nudge every now and again. I think there are a lot of people like 'me' out there.

By the way - I rode my bike to work today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Jesse D Smith said:
Your manifesto is weakened when it ends with a pair of consecutive contraditions.
"...a cyclist’s best chance at self-preservation is to do all they can to maintain safety. “Safe” is a relative and ambiguous term that when applied to cycling says little.
In other words, the manifesto advises cyclists act in accordance with an ambiguous term that says little.

I didn't effectively communicate there. What I was trying to get across is that you, the rider, must determine your own safety regardless of laws. That was definitely a mistake.

"I refrain from professing arbitrary and dangerous clichés like “Ride safe” or “Obey traffic laws.” Put simply, the cyclist manifesto is this: “Stay upright.”"

"Stay upright" seems pretty arbitrary. If you're not upright, you're not cycling. You can stay upright as you ride the wrong way on a superhighway. You can stay upright as you cross in front of oncoming traffic.
You can stay upright when you ride the wrong way on a superhighway or against traffic, but you WON'T stay upright for long, and that's my point. Do whatever you must to stay upright because as you said, if you're not upright, you're not cycling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
buck-50 said:
This is why people in cars hate cyclists.

For someone who is upset about people stereotyping cyclists, you sure do a lot of the same with drivers.

Yeah, I do, but I'm trying to tell this from the cyclist's perspective and where I ride (San Marcos, TX) a lot of the drivers really do see cyclists this way.

Your manifesto reeks of the kind of self-importance that one gets after a couple years of college- we've all been there. It's cringe-inducing. Like all those manifestos about how we should never get married, how we should never submit to the corporate world of suits and ties, etc.

Sure.

Like most manifestos, it is suitable for bird cage liner and wrapping fish, not much else.

okay.

Why not try to start an intelligent dialog with drivers and try to see things from their side- I'm a dedicated bike commuter and I will tell you that on the days I have to drive, I see cyclists do stuff that makes ME want to run them over.
Now you sound like the idealistic college kid. Believe me, I've tried to have intelligent dialog with MANY motorists, why do you think I sound so pissed off in the column? Lastly, what makes you think that I've never thought about it from a driver's point of view? I have. And guess what, I simply lift my foot off the accelerator and I sometimes even tap the brakes when a cyclist is in the road. Because I've been there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I really appreciate all of your criticisms. It is too wordy. Like I mentioned, I published this in my college newspaper, so I'm still learning.

I'm a little curious to know where y'all ride. I feel as though there might be a very different riding experience wherever that is.

One thing is kind of bothering me though. I'm not necessarily trying to influence anyone. I'm trying to inform motorists of the condition of the roadways, from a cyclist perspective. Now, obviously this perspective is not shared here on these forums, but nevertheless the assertions I make about riding a bicycle are true. In fact, I invite anyone to ride with me in San Marcos, Texas and I think you'll agree. Sure, I did take swipes at motorists and make judgements about stereotypes, but I'm not above it. Most people do both those things. That's just honesty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
What's wrong with gentler? The bicycle isn't a more gentle form of transportation than the automobile?
 

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DP1112 said:
You can stay upright when you ride the wrong way on a superhighway or against traffic, but you WON'T stay upright for long, and that's my point. Do whatever you must to stay upright because as you said, if you're not upright, you're not cycling.
So if someone cycles blind-drunk, manages to make it home after several near misses, and stays upright thanks to alert drivers with fast reflexes, he's fulfilling your manifesto?
 
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