Sunday, June 13, 2010

Equivalence - SMIDSY = GOTFRA

So there's a saying the Aussies (and probably others) use when they accidentally nearly run a cyclist off the road or worse, it is SMIDSY which stands for "Sorry, Mate, I didn't see you." I've been thinking about what the American equivalent of SMIDSY is and, sadly, the best I can come up with is, GOTFRA which stands for "Get off the fucking road, asshole."

It is a sad commentary on the state of bicycling and bicycling acceptance in the US that this is my most recurring equivalent to SMIDSY which includes a sorry and a tacit recognition that the driver is at fault. But, as has been noted widely, SMIDSY still is no excuse for causing an accident.

When even a visiting dignitary on a bicycle tour of Washington to see how much has been done to improve bicycling there is yelled at by a cager to "Get off the road" it is quite clear that we have many, many miles to go before our country even approaches the levels of acceptance the Europeans have already.

The simple fact is that many (too many) Americans are overweight, lazy gluttons who see bicycles on the road as an impediment to them getting to the next drive-thru fast food poison dispensary. We are a fat nation, we are a lazy nation, we are an angry and reactionary nation and we love our bigger is better mantra. By the way, I saw we meaning the nation not me personally.

Personally I like small cars, I don't eat fast food more than once a month, I ride a bicycle at least a couple of days a week and I can see my feet without looking in a mirror or leaning so far forward as to need to hold myself up.

In the US, all too often bicyclists are seen as targets, as objects of ridicule because they are too poor to own a ginormous SUV. I wish there were a way of penetrating the lipid encrusted brains of my fellow Americans to get them to recognize that bicycles are not only fun, they are good exercise, they are "green" and should be strongly encouraged in every community. This means bike lanes everywhere, this means police enforcing laws to protect cyclists, this means prosecuting fully the jerks who throw stuff at cyclists. Until cyclists are treated exactly like other people on the road and not like second (or third) class citizens, bicycles will remain a fringe activity in this country.

And rather than a polite SMIDSY moment (hopefully) we will continue to have GOTFRA moments and clashes between cagers and two wheelers.
blog comments powered by Disqus