Owatonna Stand Up to Fear or get out of the Kitchen

Can bicycling be a positive experience if it is based on fear? This blogger says NO! See how one prairie town on-line writer views things. Former Mayor Pete Connor of Owatonna Minnesota wrote, in May 2011, his affection for bicycling, in a missive called Bike-ling. The word is his grandaughters way of saying bicycling. Mr. Connor has written a play by play of his cycling observations for National Ding -a- ling Bike Month. Now, we are coming from two very different places but I’d like to think it is easier to share similarities than differences. I agree with Mr. Connor that using a bike for in town travel get’s us out of our cars. It is the fear and insane rules that I don’t agree with Mr. Connor. Here is a sprinking of adjectives employed in this fear based article. Absolutely essential, terrifying experience, alarming, closing in be-hind, regulations, inconvienent, must be observed, less than desirable, traps for bike tires, dearly needs….etc. Please read for yourself.

cycling can be a terrifying experience, especially for the rider who is ill-prepared and unaware. Everything in life takes a bit of preparation. If you can boil an egg then you can ride a bike. But biking is more than just following recipes. Its about creativity and ingredients. Good times, good places are just like good herbs and good produce. What happens to the uninitiated rider as fear creeps into their conciousness is they never get the momentum to become regular bike riders. Because they don’t have the perfect recipe of gloves, mirrors, helmets,shorts etc. they demure into fear. I’ve posted recently about small town perceptions and the fear of “what will the neighbors think?”  The other side of the fear coin is what will other bicyclist think. Who Cares? Period. Both sides of this coin are concepts of an autocentric society. Fear big cars and trucks so keep your skinny A$$ bike off the street. Be your own expert Owatonna. You all live in a town surrounded by corn fields in four directions for miles upon miles. What is the problem with hopping on a single speed and going down to the store carrying your day-pack on your back for a lousy gallon of milk? What is keeping you from heading to Target on your bike? On Google Maps the town looks like an hour glass. Mostly a grid and framed by interstate 35W and secondary roads.

no one wearing a helmet is alarming. Mayor Connor, we live in Minnesota where motorcyclist have no helmet law. Australia has just about killed biking with their helmet laws. Helmets are a personal choice. It’s not like we were born that way.

 if vehicles are closing-in from behind.    I don’t recommend a mirror. Use your senses. Ears, so listen up and turn your head. If you are so old and deaf that this is unsafe behavior then it’s time to get off the bike and start brisk walking.

Google Map Owatonna

Regulations: Cyclists, as most people know, must follow the same traffic rules as motorized vehicles. Inconvenient as it may be, stop signs must be observed. Mr. Connor, I hope it is a cold day in HELL before I have to obey stop signs. Bike riding is not anything like a car. The more a bike rider is used to not stopping the more enjoyable the ride. Remember this is a small town. The real problem I bet is there are very few bicylist in Owatonna and automobiles are the choice method for running all over this small community. When if ever people start riding in Owatonna in mass then the streets will have a natural flow. Stop signs impede the flow. More bikes and less stop signs. Until then keep 100 percent aware and don’t be in a hurry.

Urban bike riding has general guidelines. If there are rules they were meant to be broken. Theo nly one responsible for your own preservation on the road is you. From there on you are pretty much on your own. Like we used to say in the 70’s “Keep on Truckin”



1 Comment

Filed under bike advocacy

One response to “Owatonna Stand Up to Fear or get out of the Kitchen

  1. Oh man, that online writer is one of those guys who feels like he has to appease to a certain demographic, while trying to enlighten another. His ideas are for the most part solid (and mostly true to current laws), but he’s trying to add padding to it so that drivers of Owatonna feel they’re being heard too. Cater to the majority (drivers) and open up, hesitantly, to the changing few (bicyclists) – it’s called being “neutral” and it makes for bad news.

    I can’t completely disagree with anything the man says, and to me that means this article is ineffective. His bike-ling lacks any substance, or urgency, to spark change. I doubt that anyone in Owatonna who may have been pondering bicycling more often, felt any sway to do so more. That’s a problem. My advice to Owatonna bicyclists, “do it because you care about yourself, not because others will care – but because YOU care.”

    One more thing… there are too many damn stop signs in America, in general. Every other block is a stop sign, and every 1/4 mile is a stoplight. The only kind of police force out there that is ticketing bike riders for not stopping at every stop sign are ones from small towns – ironically where there is less traffic flow, but not so ironic where there is less money coming in from other crimes. Minneapolis police don’t give a flying sh** about bikers going through intersections safely and aware – I’ve seen bicycle cops breeze through stop signs on many occasions.

    My challenge to anyone, ‘specially the folks out there who believe in the crock that bikers should stop at every stop sign, should go try it out… in both their cars and bicycles. Go for it: every 30 seconds be sure to completely stop for 3 of them – then look both ways, and behind you, and double check your blind spot… On a bike, this would increase your trip time, because of the time it takes to reaccelerate to normal speed, by a whole lot (potentially 10-15 minutes if I’m doing my math correctly here for a 5 mile trip). Drivers, get over it, and stop picking stupid fights that don’t actually concern you. I’ll admit that there are idiotic bike riders out there (fixed gears make no sense and should be outlawed), and ones that don’t exactly care about being safe – they ruin the good name for the majority of bicyclists. But drivers, you haven’t followed all the laws to the T since you got your license way back in high school. I have a similar complaint about motorists not stopping at all stop signs either… except you guys have thousands of pounds on me in this fight, so of course I’ll yield when your dumb ass comes up to an intersection.

    Just keep in mind, that when you drive everywhere – to get everywhere faster – to do things with more “efficiency” – you’re just adding to the American stereotype, that power equals money and that’s all that matters. Ride your bike more, save more – be a better American and save more: money (thousands of dollars per year by biking just a little more), your health (saving more money down the line when you WON’T be a fat slob), and the environment (this is not a hippie saying this, but we all know gasoline emissions create problems).

    Now is the time to create change as an individual… therefore being recognized as a whole that’s trying to make a change. The more bikers the better. Minneapolis already surpassed the rest of the cities in the country as the #1 bike riding city, so let’s make Minnesota the #1 state for it. Bike because you’re broke, bike because you think it’s sexy, bike because your car is too expensive, bike because you want to show drivers that you will not back down, bike because you find it relaxing, bike because you find it revolutionary… I don’t give a damn – just bike more.

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