Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Share the Road (and my high opinion of myself)

By Dallas Murphy

It has happened again. Sadly, it is no longer surprising.

Yet another cyclist has gotten punched in the face and thrown off a bridge by a 6-foot-4, heavyset Maori. This time it was a 63-year-old woman in Auckland, New Zealand.

But it could have been one of us, any of us, anywhere. It may have already been you. Or me. It has become all too common. The March 9 attack was at least the third time a Maori man has attacked a cyclist since January -- and that is in New Zealand alone!

Who among us who rides regularly hasn't come across a Maori warrior who has tried to hurl us from a bridge? How many times must we hear Tā moko-adorned 300-pound men say, "He came out of nowhere!" when police ask them why they toss bike riders into the water?

How many more times indeed? Give me a couple days with Google and let me go far enough back into the past and far enough afield, and I can undoubtedly string together maybe half a dozen barely connected conflicts involving cyclists and Maori, or other Polynesian aboriginals, in New Zealand, Australia and across the South Pacific. Then I, as a cyclist, will indulge myself in some logical fallacies and flights of fancy to lace together those tenuous commonalities, and extrapolate from them an ominous, oppressive and generalized specter that supposedly applies universally.

Having thus inflamed my grossly overblown sense of persecution, I'll puff myself up in outlandishly outrageous and indignant harrumphing and demand that the whole Polynesian world be subjugated until it begins to see me as I see myself: messianic, blessed and just plain better.

Yes, give me enough time and I will dredge up the anecdotal shenanigans to build any case I choose in favor of my fragile yet innately resplendent existence as a bike rider. I will then damn you all even as I hurtle up alongside a line of stopped traffic and get slammed by a right-turning curb-lane car whose driver really had no legitimate reason to look for a cyclist where no cyclist should have fucking been in the first place. I will scream until society commits virtually unlimited resources to building bike lanes (through communities where children suffer and die from an epidemic of lead poisoning because we haven't provided the resources to abate it). I will not rest until Maori and their smog-belching autos are forced from the roads -- or at least forced into the gutter as we sanctimonious cyclists pass, slurping a Starbucks and pulling a Clif bar from our messenger bags.

However, I have to admit: I don't really have time for all that damn Google work right now. I have to drill out my new bar tape to shave a few grams and file down all the links in my new chain.

After all, the Covered Bridge series is coming up. And to you Maori in Summit County: Share the bridge.

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