Guess Who Needs a PR Make-Over?

Wine country has this image of rural farm land with sprawling grape vines, flower gardens spilling over with roses, lavender, and lilies. The scenery out here stretches on for miles, either through the low lying valleys, or up the side of mountainous hills that are voluptuously shaped dotted with flora and fauna.

Bring in a competitive sport, with testosterone at peak performance, and gone are the niceties and manners. Gone are the Sunday drives along back country roads where – if it weren’t a competitive sport – the bicyclists would hear the birds chirping, cars coming up behind them so they’d have plenty of time to share the road, and neighbors along the way who would have a welcome wave for the sightseers trying to leave the least carbon footprint possible.

I was just reminded of all this, when my husband came in from getting his hair cut. He told me about the never ending string of bicyclists on Arata Lane, and I was reminded of watching them last year at this time, while watering my daughter’s plants. She and her husband had gone camping, and I took over feeding their cats and watering their plants. Share the Road ~ It’s a Double-Edged Sword, People

[Notice how the bicyclist isn’t pulling over as the car approached from the rear. I heard and saw all of this, and couldn’t believe that the bicyclist didn’t pull over a lot sooner. It forced the car to come to about 10 miles an hour. I couldn’t help but wonder what the driver was thinking.]

I wrote about what I witnessed and here I am again, because my husband pointed out what he had just read in the the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, after experiencing a bit of frustration with the circuit in our neighborhood.

If you don’t believe that this demographic is in need of a serious make-over, just read these comments from the Press Democrat story: Cyclists head out on county circuit, By ROBERT DIGITALE, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT, Published: Friday, May 1, 2009, and then let’s talk.

bradpipal: Register the bikes in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County for the event. Collect taxes.

omg: Require them to stop at all stop signs and to ride single file. Yeah right. “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have” ~ Thomas Jefferson

ruthperson: Put the fear into them, Honk that Horn when you pass. Believe me it works. Do they pay a fee like parades? They should.

tan1662: This is a good time for More Rain and lots of it.

bryan: Oh my gosh! People riding bikes! scary! alert the police. Tax em! Scare them back by honking at them! Charge them money! Make them wet! Watch them roll 100 bikes through a stop sign! Quote Jefferson…yeah, that’ll fix it! Fix what? Is everything that happens outside scary?

omg: Bryan, When Y go on a cruyse with my classyc car enthusyast fryends we are not allowed to dryve 2, 3, 4 abreast, speed through stop sygns and otherwyse ympede the progress of the rest of the motoryng communyty. Thys is even though we pay taxes for the pryvyledge to dryve these vehycles on the road. Why should the byke communyty get preferentyal treatment? Laws should be enforced with equalyty. Y’m not scared of bycycles I am annoyed by theyr operators, theyr blatant dysregard for the rules of the road and then theyr whynyng when cars are too close to them. Afrayd of cars? Use the Joe Radota Trayl. Remember to stop at the stop sygns at the road crossyngs. Update for Einstein: The Jefferson quote posts after all my messages. Get a clue pal. “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have”
~Thomas Jefferson

20guage: Men in tights on bikes…yikes! Remember: When seconds count, The police are minutes away!

marimar: When I was younger, I used to ride with my spouse on a tandem bike built for two. It became unromantic and dangerous. We were mistreated by occasional drivers not wanting to share the road. We decided it was no longer a sport but a dangerous endeavor. I do not like seeing cyclists ride 2, 3, 4 or 5 abreast as I have witnessed many times. Cyclists: share the road, be considerate, follow the rules, so, that know one has an accident.

Forrest Gump: I love it when two cyclists nonchalantly talk to each other at 10 mph as they travel down a two-lane road side-by-side, holding up traffic behind them. Then they later wonder why so many bike deaths and why so much ire from those who drive cars. Many of them don’t have a clue as to the rules of the road, and especially who rules on the road….and it ain’t the bicyclists!

hanger: playing in the street is always a good way to get hit by a car. losers in super hero outfits why do these idiots demand to play in the street. there should be a law that is enforced against these losers.

hanoverfist: I was out on Arata this morning and, as predicted, they were riding two to three deep and spilling over into the roadway even though there is a well designated bike lane. Typical road weasels. If they tried riding like this on a mountain bike they’d learn real fast about the rules of the road when one of us ran them over coming down the trail.

bornhere: Ya ever notice that cars with bike racks on em are driven poorly and without courtesy, too?

This is not an doctrine endorsing the comments above. This is an observation of how easily people gravitate toward airing their anger over what they perceive as something negative that changes the quietude and regularity of their worlds… And, it demonstrates how easily stereotypes are born from a few misbehaved adult.

I’m a Survivor fan… Yes, I love it until they have to eat exotic bugs, then I have to look away. This year’s season has a player whose name is Tyson.  He’s about as rude and disrespectful as anyone who’s ever been on that show. His career is listed as a professional cyclist; he has the least amount of fans (there’s a list for each player). It’s also interesting that the Survivor Website opening refers to him as a “jerk.” I wasn’t surprised in the least to  find that out that he’s a professional cyclist, because he seems to epitomize the stereotype.

I’ve encountered many people on bicycles just out for a country ride. These aren’t the ones who are causing the problems within the community when they arrive. It’s the other ones who definitely could use a PR makeover, and it would be a pretty big job. I once had the job of changing a rock n’roll radio station’s perception of a group of hippie drops outs into a multimillion dollar business that was more involved in community service than anything else on their agenda. I pulled it off, and so can this challenge be met by someone hired to change such a negative image perception… And, we all know that perception is reality.

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