Monday, May 12, 2014

Meh Is National Bike Month

In case you didn't get the memo, we're currently living in the utopian transportation dream that is National Bike Month. Can't you hear the cacophony of bike bells and "on yer lefts" drowning out that one hapless motorist who must sheepishly abandon his car by the side of the road, unable to move amidst a month-long Critical Mass of human-powered smugness?

Lest my sarcasm-fueled title and introduction prove too subtle, I may be the only cyclist in the world who doesn't soil his chamois over the idea that we're given a whole month all to ourselves, capped off by the smugsplosion that is Bike To Work Week. Here's why: There are groups and causes in this world that deserve -- nay, need -- their own month. Black History Month? Sure. Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Yes. Don't Kick Puppies Month? Not a thing, but if it were, then it would need a month, obviously. But c'mon, folks. We are bicyclists. Our "burden" in life is that we choose to ride small, vulnerable vehicles on roadways inhabited by large, clueless, dangerous ones. Emphasis on choose. African-Americans didn't choose slavery. Breast cancer survivors didn't choose their tumors. Puppies don't choose to be kicked.

Don't get me wrong: Being a cyclist in an American city has its share of inconveniences, annoyances, and hazards. I can't always find a bike rack. People snicker at my funny shorts. And idiots surrounded by one-ton steel Viagra prescription supplements sometimes get hostile with me. Would I love to have those things magically disappear? Sure. But I'd be kidding myself to think that any of them (or all of them taken together, even) rise to the level of "injustice."

Now, the counter to all this curmudgeonism is, "But Jason, it's not about injustice or righting a historical wrong or ending a deadly disease or making sure all puppies go unkicked... it's about celebrating the bicycle!" Okay, fine. But if you really want to celebrate the bicycle, do it in June. Or January. Or on odd-numbered days. Or on days ending in Y. Don't spend a month singing Kum-bike-ya, bike to work for a day, pat yourself on the back, and hang it up until next May. Make it something you do. If enough of us make that choice, then the very idea of a National Bike Month will seem as silly as Breathing Air Month.

That's when I'll celebrate.

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