Monday, October 27, 2008

Mimesis, time, change

Being involved in cycling advocacy it is often easy to feel very glum about the current state of things in this city. This blog is no more than a symptomatic account to such thoughts of which I stand guilty as charged. Sydney is not a very easy city to cycle around. The NSW government is the lowest spending state government on cycling in Australia. The political culture is dominated by the twin-engines of cab-charge elitism and petrol-headed popularism. It takes a lot of personal motivation to want to cycle in this city, to overcome a fear of traffic, to create a disjointed cyclists’ street directory in your head, and to find somewhere to lock up your bike. But then once you work it out, it’s hard to imagine any other way of getting around. Cycling is a source of joy and happiness in my life, although sometimes it’s easy for me to labour on all the bad things that happen like that former Roads Minister who said cyclists should ‘avoid peak hour’, that jerk in the ute who cut me off, and that deranged Daily Telegraph reader who likes to spread hatred. In such an environment, its easy to burn with resentment and indignation if that is all one sees in the world. But is that all there is to see?

This morning I went for a ride to Centennial Park which was packed with commuters and training cyclists. Cyclists were blooming like flowers coming out after winter. As I crossed back over Anzac Parade I saw panniers galore and a mini-peloton of cyclists had formed at the lights. I ride through Centennial at least twice a week and I see the park becoming busy with more people turning to bikes. Of course, such random observations have no validity and my own exposure to seeing more cyclists could create my own delusions of progress. But then again, counting the number of people who cycle on one day in August every 5 years is a rather static and hardly rigorous methodology for measuring the levels of cycling in a society. Seeing a crowed park of cyclists, I am drawn to think more positive thoughts. While cycling numbers may slowly crawl out of that mystical and abstract 1%, small changes of which have been noted can be very significant in shifting things over time. Exposure, multiplication and mimesis all reveal the tautological truism that when more people cycle, more people cycle.

According to Don Watson indignation is a ‘tiring emotion’. For those who want to battle the 'forces of evil', Nietzsche once wrote that one has to be wary of becoming a monster when fighting a monster. As people who want to see Sydney become a better city for cyclists, sometimes its important just to take a broad perspective and enjoy the positive changes that are slowly unfolding around us.


Anonymous said...

Must be time for a party!

yogi said...

dont give up... keep on trying
"famous words by "Yo Gabba Gabba"