Cyclists on Sidewalks: Part II

Analysis of social phenomena can be a complicated business. Sometimes you look at behaviour patterns and you think: “That person is an idiot.” Then you look a little deeper and you see that they are behaving rationally, given the structural constraints on their choices. So, instead of criticizing the “idiot”, think about what needs to change if the choices available to them are going to change.

If you fail to see this, you can easily draw the kind of conclusions this well-meaning cyclist does when debating when, how, and why to ride on the sidewalk:

Urban Scrawl: Confessions of a Sidewalk Cyclist

One response to “Cyclists on Sidewalks: Part II

  • bgddyjim

    The attempt to understand the structural constraints of people who exhibit poor decision making skills, such as one who would choose to ride on the sidewalk, is almost as silly as riding on the sidewalk. One way or another you’re getting run over.

    To excuse someone for their stupidity, or perhaps ignorance would be a better term, doesn’t make the behavior less stupid (or ignorant). However, if we help our fellow out by explaining kindly that they are putting their life in jeopardy – and why – then we can excuse their stupidity next week when we find them being scraped off of said sidewalk with a spatula after they are sumarily dispatched and turned into a grease spot by an automobile because the driver didn’t think he had to pay attention until he got to the road, yes?

    Or would it be better to simplly shout to the fellow “Hey, your structural constraints are making you exhibit idiotic behavior”?

    The question is, would riding a bicycle on the sidewalk be stupid? The answer to that question is: why yes it is. To berate someone for said stupid behavior is just as stupid – I think that is what you were getting at in a much gentler, if aloof, way.

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