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.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.
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 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. :-(