Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Laneism and laneists—who or what are you?

In the late 50s and early 1960s motorcyclist were discriminated against much like bicyclists are today. They were seen as not wanted roadway users and often suffered serious injury with little recourse for accountability from the driver or court systems. The Hells Angels formed directly from this issue with a one for all, all for one mission. If you injured an Angel all the Angels would come together and disturb that reality wherever it was. It went from disturbance to severe violence against drivers including physical beatings, shootings and death of the deemed guilty drivers that hit or killed Angels. 

Auto drivers during this havoc, began to notice motorcyclists and were scared to death of this mission and of the Hells Angels. Other motorcyclists took advantage of the opportunity and became some of the badasses of the lane. Until then motorcyclist had a very small percentage of ridership and this was mainly on the west coast.

Some brilliant minds were working in Japan and they noticed the motorcycle backpressure building, Hell Angels work also started to make being a motorcyclist cool and safer and the general public was noticing this too. Ridership was increasing and so was the amount of press associated with riding them. Honda motorcycles created the slogan “ You meet the nicest people on a Honda” This split the ridership but preserved and accelerated motorcycling.  The American Motorcycle Associated (AMA)  formed and now riders could be cool on a motorcycle and nice too.

It was 1965 and my nickname was Hondaman, I lived this transition first hand and carry the experiences of being the nicest person. As a young child I saw motorcyclists abuse drivers first hand and it disturbed me, at 15 as a cyclist I understood, but still it disturbs me.   I am also a bicyclist and have been since that time too, we need the ump that Hells Angels gave motorcycling for bicycling. Lanism,  the abatement of this practice can do this without the violence.  

I have never cared for biases they get in the way of the observable reality.  The LANE the public utility we all depend on for travel is a place to move people and goods. The lanes beginnings go back to game trails in the forests, then hunters trails pursuing game. Later travel routes for trade and travel. Game is killed in the lane still, we hunt stores and places and of course we move goods and some bads. Biases and isms too travel, they sail oceans, cross mountains and effect realities sometimes in intolerable ways.

Historically blacks in this country received scraps on a good day, whips, chains, verbal abuse on most days, few whites ever thought it wrong. Blacks had a place in America and it was as slaves. What a sorry bunch of ignorant and intolerant people we were. Well many are still racist and being from the south I still see it almost daily.

Now just to make a point let’s call cars whites and bicycles blacks. Let’s use the lane as the mixing ground for community. The lane is the public utility that works on a first come first served basis and services the needs of people to get around. This is all people period. Some of these people use devises or vehicles to get around and have since they were born into this culture, the main devise is still the motorized automobile. Main devises have changed often over time some were even animals.

Most of us were born into being laneists, the car and its dominant place in our lives along with a life long memory of being in it combine into a rigid attitude of entitlement to it and its lane. I am one of those people but I also found enlightenment well some reason anyway to rethink this madness.

Bicyclists ride on the side of the road where all the debris is blown by traffic. Everything that falls in the lane ends up on the shoulder, everything, glass, bolts, car parts, tree parts, gravel, sand, on and on. As a cyclist you must navigate, why navigate? That is a naval term, well navigate the debris fields on a devise that is articulated, requires balance, and has little tires, little suspension and the ability to quickly crash if you make any mistake and it will toss you to the ground hard if you make the smallest of error.  You are also at the same time being diligent of safety concerns, meandering around 3,000 pound or bigger vehicles while they relax in their easy chair like devises with air conditioning, cell phones, radios using a finger to steer and a toe to go faster.

They have seat belts, air bags, metal cages of protections all of them, they are protected from cyclists and each other. All of these people are laneists, just like our forefathers were racists. It is so deeply ingrained in all of us we do not see it. We were born in cars some of us. Our earliest memories are of cars and families, new cars, first cars and cars and dating. We are biased, bigoted, arrogant, intolerant and just lost in our own delusions of right and wrong.

Ok take a breath and smile now, I am not a radical crazy person just one who worked many crashes, rode motorcycles, drove many cars and has ridden a bicycle often too. I am the boomer who grew up car crazy, I just found a way to have economic freedom and health and it includes bikes, walking and talking sense.

We are more than not, under-active, unhealthy, obese, unsustainable, and mean as hell to others. We are on the road to hell and driving the car that will take us there the fastest.

We, all 200 pounds or so of us jump into a 3,000 pound devise and go a mile, pick up a couple pounds of food and go a mile back. We are the slaves and the car has made us this. We are afraid too of the bicycle, of walking, of being unprotected. We have had this 3,000 pounds of protection our entire lives just like our great grandparents had black laborers to do the work. Cars did our work and protected us too. Laneism is much more powerful than racism.

The lane is a public utility with different types of vehicles and devises using it.  All these devises are operated by the same species of animals, a species that breeds, loves and thinks. A species that is lost somewhat now as the culture changes from oil empowered to brain empowered. A lot of thinking has to go on if we are to prosper and survive this depression. Yes it is a depression and the price of driving will continue to rise, the cost of healthcare will continue to rise and the cost of ignorance and intolerance if left in place will rip our communities to parts never to be reassembled.

Health displaces healthcare, activity provides health, the bicycle has many forms and anyone even with most disabilities can be comfortable, sustainable, and reasonable while using one. If each one of us used a bike for trips under 30,000 feet 50% of car use would disappear overnight. I would not doubt that 50% of our healthcare cost would too over a year or two. I would also guess that 90% of our inability to get along would vaporize as we rode together unprotected side by side in conversation each day.

There is a bike waiting for you and skilled lane taking cyclists have the skillsets and training programs to train you. Upright bikes, tandems, recumbents, trikes that go fast, electric assists on and on. Sure they make you feel like a kid again, but that is the best part besides being healthy, being happy and being sustainable and well adjusted.

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