Your Gilbert is officially annoyed at Councilmember Reuben Snipper. We would include Mayor Bruce Williams and Chief Ronald Ricucci, but they are healthy and strong, whereas Snipper is still in recovery from a nasty bike/auto mishap. We prefer to pick fights with people who are already knocked down, injured, and unable to chase us.
Besides, it is Snipper who repeatedly brings up the The Incident. Every time he sees Chief Ricucci, or every time the subject of bicycles comes up, he mentions The Incident. The Incident was this: shortly after he was elected to the council the chief pulled Snipper over for running a stop sign on his bicycle. The chief let him go with a warning, but not without a lecture. Bicycles, he said, have to follow the same rules of the road as automobiles.
Rules of the road? Bicycles must stop at stop signs the same as automobiles? Even when they can see there’s no danger? Brake a perfectly good coast for nothing?
What’s the point of bicycling if one can’t coast? Not only is it one of life’s most joyous experiences, it is essential to biking, especially when the bicyclist needs momentum to get up the next slope. Unnecessary braking for a stop sign is NOT sustainable, to use the council’s favorite buzz word. It wastes natural energy! Why should a sustainable energy source (a bicyclist) be forced to follow rules for a polluting, green-house-gas-producing, big, fat, smelly, size-15 carbon-footprint automobile?
Rules of the road, my sweet Mother Jones! The rules need to be changed! The stop signs should be moved! The cars must follow OUR rules!
Is that what Snipper, chaining himself to the police car and starting a hunger strike, told the chief?
NO! Snipper couldn’t say “yessir!” fast enough. He probably saluted, betraying all we Takoma Parkians hold dear!
But, let us not cast aspersions or call names. No, no! Your Gilbert is above all that. Why, we even have sympathy for the two-legged snake-in-the-grass, turncoat, running-dog quisling. It is possible that in his long minute of captivity he was stricken with Stockholm Syndrome, the condition in which hostages take on the beliefs and goals of their captors.
Yes, Reuben Snipper could be the Patty Hearst of Takoma Park!
We sincerely HOPE that is the explanation, otherwise we’d have to instigate official proceedings to have Mr. Snipper drummed out of the city- his “Question Authority!” bumper sticker stripped from his Prius, his bicycle pump snapped in two – and have him exiled to a whitebread suburb beyond the Beltway where nobody over age 12 rides a bicycle because they eat so much meat and fried foods they can’t perch their bloated butts on a bike seat without falling over.
Allow us a moment to catch our breath and imbibe some cool liquid, Dear Reader. Ahh, that’s better!
Snipper brought Your Gilbert’s abuse tough love on himself by bringing up The Incident to the city’s Safe Roads Committee at the council’s June 22 meeting. The committee members were discussing plans for bike lanes when Snipper, aided and abetted by Mayor Williams, brought up The Incident and the “Rules of the Road.”
In the pious tones authority figures often take when informing others of their alleged duties when said duties advance authorities’ interests*, they made the committee representative acknowledge the responsibility of bicyclists to follow the Rules of the Road. It was off the point of the discussion, but the representative played along, resentfully rubbing his twisted arm.
So, on one hand they say bicyclists must follow the same rules as motorized vehicles. On the other they say bicyclists must be in their own separate but unequal lanes: either in bike lanes or in the gutter.
Separate but unequal, eh? How far the “progressive” Takoma Park has fallen!
Well, do bikes equal cars or not? That’s the question we put to the city lawmakers. If bikes equal cars, then let bikes into the center of the driving lane and make drivers slow down to accommodate our speed – especially UPHILL after a FULL STOP. Better yet, put bikes and cars on totally equal footing by requiring drivers to turn their engines off inside city limits and push their vehicles through town.
Lawmakers and law-enforcers, if you have the good sense to admit that bikes are NOT equal to cars, cut bicyclists some slack and adjust the laws, or your enforcement of them, to reflect the reality of bike riding.
Meanwhile, Back at the Council
Other things, perhaps even important ones, happened at the last meeting. Your Gilbert will report on those in an upcoming post. The council is taking a break next week, so we have a while. There wasn’t anything THAT important.
*the same sort of tone the Committee of Public Safety (the French one, not the Takoma Park one) must have used when reminding victims of their duty to remove hats and neckerchiefs before placing their heads in the guillotine..