Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Smog vs Smug

Rooting around in the drawer where I had stored all the tapes, I came across a photocopied version of this flyer, obviously unissued. I looked for a better version online and got this. Sorry if you have to squint to read it (click the pic for a better view)

Although I was then and still am a car driver, I remember shoving some of these under the windscreen wipers of various 4x4s around town hoping or expecting that, having been sufficiently enlightened as to the perceived error of their ways, the owners would take notice and immediately trade in their petrol guzzlers for some less offensive vehicle. A decade later as I cycle round town little seems to have changed.

This despite the efforts of those who have taken part in several Critical Mass cycle protest events where a group of cyclists take to the streets in an attempt to bring traffic to a near standstill to make a point about road safety, environmental health issues and the excessive use of motor vehicles. Unless there are at least 40-50 cyclists involved, enough to spread out and cover two lanes of the road in depth, and for the car drivers to notice that this is actually some sort of demonstration, then in my experience these events will often be doomed to partial failure. I would also suggest that if a group is going to do this, then the people at the rear of the pack should wear tabards displaying the purpose of the event. Otherwise there can be some violent exchanges of opinion between the cyclists and drivers (there will be anyway, but at least the drivers will know why they're being held up).

I walk and cycle round town and try to only use my car to make longer journeys out of town or to load up heavy luggage etc. I would dearly love to be able to cross a road without having to look to see whether I'm going to get mown down (yes, some cyclists are idiots as well), would love to see more green spaces and pedestrian-only areas in towns, but I'm afraid that the motorized vehicle is here to stay, whether it's fuelled by petrol or water (free energy argument saved for another time) - even if you converted them all there are still going to be loads of them.

People are lazy and used to convenience, their cars are extensions of their homes and personal space and they are fiercely protective and proud of these potentially lethal machines. (A 100+ year old infernal combustion engine - why are we still using this invention when technology has moved on so much since then? Again, later...) I remember Margaret Thatcher saying that the car was 'the single most liberating factor in most peoples' lives'. Wow, that was the sound of my jaw hitting the floor, unbelievable statement - not a philosophy of life or a way of thinking, anything like that, but your car...doh, time to give up.

Enough carping on about what others do, you can waste so much energy on this.
"Self-importance is man's greatest enemy. What weakens him is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of his fellow men. Self-importance requires that one spend most of one's life offended by something or someone."--Don Juan (from the Carlos Castaneda books)

Here's a well-observed episode of South Park dealing with the dangers of both vehicles and Smug. Hilarious.

South Park S10E02 - Smug Alert

No comments:

Post a Comment