Fresh from my latest foray to Melbourne I’m here to inform you that riding a fixie in Melbourne is something akin to a cliche. We’re lucky here on the Gold Coast that we’re riding the wave of fixies (and sorry for the almost mixed metaphor), we’re still a niche, it’s new and happening for us. In Melbourne there are gazillions of fixies everywhere.
It’s cool to look at Melbourne and see our future here on the GC, a future in which everyone owns 1.75 fixies. It’s also interesting to see the level of conflict riding bike is causing.
In my latest gripe about bike riding I whined interminably about how forsaken we cyclists are. We’re hated on the road and hated on bike paths. If we listened to our critics we’d hang up the bike and get a big car and coronary, settle down happily to our sedentary life with a fistful of fries and coke. But we’re not like that are we. As a rule fixie riders don’t listen, if they did they’d stop wearing those silly pants for starters.
In Melbourne however the bike hatred is no mere murmur, it’s a roar, and everyone has an opinion. To be fair, most of the flack seems to centre round those lycra clad morons who steam up and down Beach Road and sprint through red lights en masse. As cyclists they’re easy to identify and for many non-cyclist they represent cycling in toto.
There is however nothing like resistance to polarize people and especially people as hell-bent on being cool and having their own way as fixie hipsters. (Though to be trues, I’m not sure how much of this is a fixie problem. But I do like the idea of fixie hipsters getting all pissed off.)
One shock jock reported that he’d like to open his car door on cyclists. Man, I’d sure love it if he gave it a go. I’ve been terrorized by some real experts in my time, hoodlums by the car-load who reckon it’s fun to squirt me with a soda siphon, run me off the road, throw fruit at me…you name it. These guys were harassment pros stalking light night cyclists. You can’t tell me five guys in a Monaro just happen to have a soda siphon with them, see me, and think about how cool it would be to squirt me. A shock jock is a different kinda person and I’d love it for him to open the door on me. Should he actually get that door open I find it impossible to imagine him actually banging me with it. My mental image of a shock jock is some chubby guy who talks for a living, aggressive behind the mike maybe, but he’s got a wife, a family and a mistress to consider, and he’s got his career and reputation to consider, and he’s got his spreading mid-riff and impending coronary to consider…and this guy is going to open the door on me, the guy battle hardened and ready to explode? I’ve chased down truck drivers and cornered them on side streets. One shock jock with a moist hand on the door handle might just be the kind of therapy I need, a surrogate for all the jerks I couldn’t bash senseless, who were too fast, too mean or just a bit too muscley for me. (I get angry yeah, but I didn’t say I was brave or stupid.) Beating a shock jock might just release years of cycling induced tension. To this guy with the big mouth inciting violence against cyclist I say, bring it on!
Be that as it may, it’s interesting to see how Australian’s react when cyclist reach something approaching a critical mass. In short, with fear and hatred and loathing.
My guess is that as cycling expands in popularity in Melbourne it’ll break through the tension and reach something approaching acceptance. Perhaps not the Copenhagen-like utopia so many of us dream of, but a tolerance that will at least enable the average cyclist to ride from point A to nearby point B without ever needing to risk his life. Ahhh.