Sunday, May 17, 2009

Flip Shelton, Cyclist Registration, Road Rage, and a potent plea for understanding

We very rarely make room in loon pond for those of an alternative, indie frame of mind - but then studying Phillip Adams would be like taking an interest in an ancient Egyptian artefact (arte factum), while to get close to Bob Ellis, you first of all have to remove the hamburger juice and egg stains from the front of his shirt.

Even so, Flip Shelton's Allan Ginsberg-like Howl at the despair, anger and horror of being a bicyclist in one of our fair cities is worthy of note. And her desire that we all suffer in the way she suffers is so ... well, Victorian. (Why bicycle registration is a must).

All road users should have to do 100 hours on other modes of transport.

As a cyclist, I say bike registration is a must — but not so narrow-minded car drivers can ensure that the few cyclists who flout the law can be held accountable. No, so we can be paid by the State Government for contributing to the betterment of our city and our own health.

Do tell, oh flipping Flip. Few cyclists flout the law? 

A hundred hours on other modes of transport? Does a nightmare alley ride through the back streets of Redfern in a bus count? Does a Segway Personal Transporter count? I do so love them and remain outraged that cyclists have helped ban them from the roads. Or is that just mad Harold Scruby and the Pedestrian Council of Australia?

Can I count off-road mileage on a Segway PT? What about travel by skateboard? Or boogie board? Or perhaps Hawaiian long board across Sydney harbor? (Surely avoiding Sydney ferries counts for something?)

Or perhaps by extreme skating? Or tricycle? Or what about roller blades or a micro scooter? Hang glider, man from Hong Kong style? Or motorized wheelchair, which gets me classified as a pedestrian? Or - responding to demands for actual science in these pages - my soon to be patented way to travel by using hula hoops to create a kind of anti-gravitational force field?

But go on, I understand the state government should pay you for bettering your health, in much the same way as I've been demanding the local council fund my alcoholism and an early decline into the grave, thereby sorting out the overpopulation problem. Meantime, let's see how punitive and righteous you can get:

Cyclists are killed by cars and trucks, so car and truck drivers who don't ride a bike should pay more on their registration to cover this cost.

The Government should be actively looking at ways to encourage people to ride for both commuting and leisure. Stinging riders with a registration is ridiculous and short-sighted.

Ah now I get it. Cloud cuckoo land punitive political suggestions - don't ride a bike, pay more, don't ride a bike crawl away and die - with a sting in the tail. You actually don't actually want any registration. You just want to rant about how life is unfair, and how the biggest problem for cyclists is a lack of understanding on the roads. 

Every day there are stories on the radio, TV and newspapers about trucks, taxis, cyclists, couriers, motorbikes, car drivers and pedestrians all doing the wrong thing. We are all pointing the finger at everyone else's mistakes on the roads.

Indeedy, why can't we all just get along? Surely it's not because everyone on the roads is daily doing the wrong thing?

I believe the only way to reduce injury and death on the roads is to make it compulsory to have a minimum number of hours riding on the road on a bike, scooter or motorbike and driving a car, bus and truck. And we should all experience what it is like to be a taxi driver or courier.

Ah Flip, I know you mean well, but exactly how are we going to police a hundred hours riding a bike? Does it have to be on a tandem, with a certified registered bike rider witnessing the form or perhaps even filling out a stat dec regarding the hours? Or can I just say I done it?

And can riding as a passenger with a Sydney taxi driver count? I've been in taxis in Shanghai and Beijing and Paris, but I can say with absolute certainty that a ride with a Sydney taxi driver is the surest approximation to a trip across the river Styx to Hades. You learn not just about driving but the whole of your life flashes before your eyes.

And if I drove a bus, would it count against me if I clipped the odd tree, car, pole or street awning, and terrified sundry helpless hapless passengers as I toted up my hundred hours? Seeing as how Sydney bus drivers do their training on Humvees in fire zones in Afghanistan?

But all that said and done, I'm still not sure how adding the extra hundred hours will help with those trying to get a license in NSW where they already have to complete 120 hours of supervised driving, including 20 hours of night driving.

I know you're aggrieved - after all in Sydney bicyclists are generally treated as a form of life lower, but more dangerous than, the humble cockroach. But settle down. The truth is that when I ride as a cyclist I hate cars, and when I drive as a motorist I hate bikes. And when I walk as a pedestrian I thump cars that intrude on my space, and then when I drive go into a rage when people thump my car for intruding on their space.

Yep, I'm a happy, contented road rage citizen of Sydney.

Schizophrenia (with a touch of paranoia) is just the way of the world, and shouting at people won't make it right. Nor will strange punitive suggestions punishing young folks seeking a driver's license, when we already know that young people are guilty of everything, especially the crime of being young (curse them) while others are old (sob):

Experience is the only way we can understand what it's like to be in someone else's shoes. So let's introduce the Law of Understanding, which would mean anyone wanting a licence of any kind has to notch up a minimum of 100 hours riding and driving other forms of transport.

Only then will we be able to reduce accidents and injuries on our roads because only then we will be able to see ourselves as the person we are approaching or overtaking on the road.

The law of understanding? You mean some kind of cosmic embrace where I see you and you see me, and I become you and you become me, and we become three, or is that one, in a mystical union. Steady, I'm not sure I'm ready for that level of intimacy, either on the road or in bed.

Maybe it's some other law. Would it be the same as the law of pacifism? Or the law of hysterical resentment? Or the law of stewing in juice until nicely pickled?

Well here's my law of understanding about life on the roads. Every single road user is out to kill me, and I act accordingly, avoiding them as much as possible. I particularly avoid cyclists, fearful of somehow getting involved in a Rex Hunt road rage incident. But then he kisses fish and likes AFL football, so he's clearly in a world of his own (Rex Hunt found guilty of cyclist attack charge). But as Dustin Hoffman would say about Rexie's finger cracking ways, that's nothing. Up here crime lords are fond of a screwdriver in the eye socket if a road rage argument gets a little personal ...

Ah Melbourne, such a sweet, strange world. Don't you just love the brisk chill and a quiet coffee while reading the very best loons rabbiting on in the Sunday Age. It's the tragedy of Sydney-siders never to know or enjoy this sweet, quiet ecstasy, and the howling of the finest minds of this generation, lost in the streets of Fitzroy, Smith Street and St Kilda:

I saw the best bicyclists of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at
dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient
heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the
machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high
sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of
cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities
contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and
saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene-
ment roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool
eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy
among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy &
publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn-
ing their money in wastebaskets and listening
to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through
Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in
Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night
with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al-
cohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and

lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of
Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo-
tionless world of Time between ...

(You can catch the rest of Howl, minus my typo, here. And perhaps below, this is the ultimate solution? )


Anonymous said...

Even so, Flip Shelton's Allan Ginsberg-like Howl at the despair, anger and horror of being a bicyclist in one of our fair cities is worthy of note. And his desire that we all suffer in the way he suffers is so ... well, Victorian.Flip Shelton is female with an extensive Australian TV and radio career.

Michael Duffy proving yet again he is indeed a brainless fuckwit. Unless of course, this entire blog is parody.

dorothy parker said...

Thanks for the tip dude and amended accordingly. But really you should watch your rage, and note that the posting was by Dorothy Parker, which is to say not Michael Duffy.

But then we all make mistakes, even the brainless fuckwits. Unless of course your entire comment was a parody.

By the way, do you ever wonder what it might say about someone apparently trained to be a driver that they didn't realize there were other road users out there?

Anonymous said...

I think when he said extensive Australian TV and radio career he actually meant an extensive career in Melbourne, in particular RRR and the Herald Sun, home of Andrew Bolt, which is apparently after all Australia, unless you count turning up at 7.40 am on Thursdays with Kochie and the gang on Sunrise AllStars on Seven as an extensive Australian career.

Touchy down there.

Anonymous said...

How do you know he's a he? S(he)'s anonymous.