Friday, December 07, 2007

Quick, someone give Paul Soglin a bag of emoticons so he has some smileys handy to label his satire :-)

Blue Bike on Ice
Last year was a great year for winter bicycling in Madison. Believe it or not, I took this photo of my bike on Lake Wingra the day after Christmas. Still hard to believe, but that's what the file says.

This year, of course, it's very different. Not only have we had a number of snowfalls in quick succession, but there was a nasty hard freeze in between, so we have a lot of ice lurking under the snow. Just plain ugly -- and it's not even winter yet. Madison's bicyclists are a hardy bunch, however, and a substantial subset have continued biking on the streets, provoking the ire of former mayor Paul Soglin in his blog Waxing America.
The bicyclists who braved the week's second storm should be taken out and shot. Spare them and the poor driver, when they skid on treacherous streets and slide under the wheels of a truck delivering fresh vegetables.

I will give them a pass on the first storm. Not because it was not forecasted (it was), but because every one gets a little giddy and reckless with the season's first major storm.
Soglin's post started quite a tempest in a blogpot, going viral and attracting outraged comments from bicyclists as far away as Alaska, many of them urging a similar treatment for the former mayor. Soglin grouped the responses and replied to them in another very funny post the next day. And today the controversy ended up in the newspaper, as George Hesselberg of the Wisconsin State Journal interviewed Soglin about the flame war.

Soglin had a point. I love to ride my bike, but since I was a kid and sometimes tooled around my paper route in the snow on my big balloon tire Schwinn, I've stayed off the streets in the winter. The blogosphere can be a very literal-minded, humorless and angry place. Would a bunch of emoticaons have helped Soglin? Probably not. :-(


heetmyser said...

Wasn't it in or near Madison last year when a bicyclist had his head run over by a truck but was saved by his helmet? Perhaps the bikers think they're immune.

I saw a biker this morning on my way in, and this after four inches of snow overnight. He's riding on the busiest street in town, with no bike lane, at morning rush hour. I bike, and I would've had little sympathy for this guy had he been hit.

Wren said...

While we get a little snow each winter up here in my neck of the woods, I find driving in snow challenging enough without trying to ride a bike (!). Even walking on snow with ice underneath is risky. Bicycles just aren't made for snow travel -- unless they make chains for bikes tires? I've never heard of such a thing...

Anyway, Mr. Guy: Beautiful bike photo from last year. Your talent is showing.