The Streets as Obstacle Courses

I recently had an epiphany about road rage and why I, a bicyclist and occasional driver, had it.

Its usually about "limits."

When behind an automobile, I don't speed up and overtake or even bicyclist because I want to compete with them and show them whose boss on the road. 

I speed up because I hate being "limited" by anything in front of me.

It's the same story for a fast-riding recreational bicyclist/driver, and being in his car is where I had this epiphany.  He really hates being limited by anything in front of him, and so whether its his fixie or his stick shift Subaru, he's off to the races.

Urban Adonia used the frame of the "obstacle course" to describe the collective and individual mentality possessed by some automobilers and perhaps some bicyclists on the road.   "Obstacle course" meaning that there are objects in the road automobilers and bicyclists face, and the viewpoint the rushing automobilers and bicyclists adopt is that they must arduously get around them.  This frame is a contrast to the idea of the "livable" or "complete" street, in which speeds of automobiles are not so intimidating, but inviting to the idea of pedestrians walking, and biking is safe, even a preferred mode of travel. 

What makes an "obstacle course" an "obstacle course" is not just the difficulty of manuevering posed by the spatial arrangement of barriers but the expectation held by some entity of getting past those barriers within a certain period of time.

If you're a bicyclist on a four lane-road with little room for a bicycle lane and you're "taking up one lane" (as you're legally allowed to, and should be), you're not permitting automobilers to pass in their expected certain period of time.  If you the automobiler/bicyclist doesn't pass through in the expected period of time, they incur "lost time."  "Lost time" means lost opportunities.  In the context of bicycling, this means that time spent waiting behind a bicyclist and/or actually bicycling yourself means a whole lot of opportunities lost.

Having incurred a reptuation as a fierce bicyclist my 1st year of grad school, my professors would routinely tell me that they would bicycle, but they didn't have the time.  They had kids to take to school, other responsibilities, and commitments to fulfill.  Riding around Long Beach on a bicycle wasn't feasible for them because they didn't have time as a resource or "time on their side."  

If you on the road are not permitting automobiles whether you're on a bike or another automobile, you represent a "limit", "an obstacle". You are a micro-impediment to one driver's freedom, 'freedom' in the context of the road, meaning the ability "to choose" how fast you drive as if it were all a matter of human rights.

If you think about the road as an obstacle course and how fast you drive as a matter of freedom, we the drivers and bicyclists routinely limit each other's freedoms.  We are always in the way of each other's license to go bucwild.

To move beyond the view of the road as an "obstacle course", seems like we have to move to a point on more of our roads where either time isn't stressed and/or the expectation to move at speeds conducive to biking/walking becomes an asset rather than a liability.

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