Ideological bicycling advocacy makes for endless loop internet arguing, and it's useless on the street. Ideological advocacy has become a serious problem for real-world bicyclists: Notice how the future of bicycling in this country has in some ways been hijacked by fantastically clueless ideologues on either side of an ongoing debate over facilities. It's truly amazing. On one side there is a group of earnest, innocent fledglings who honestly believe that any new semi-separated facility will be good for bicyclists and good for America. They hold a precious vision of Amsterdam-izing the country which is dangerous in its simplicity. On the other side is a cadre of pompous, personality-challenged streethogs who offer aggressively insecure and selfishly uncooperative riding in the guise of law-and-order, rights-and-responsibilities cycling. Neither side is big on facts or details or listening to those who understand them. In these rather incestuous groups voices of real long-time bike experience seem to be few, as the churning stew of ignorance is the only atmospheric condition in which such groups can persist. Those striving for reasoned subtle thoughts are drowned out in an echo chamber of practiced answers, almost like a form of religious chanting. Each group thinks the other group is the Enemy, and beyond help. In fact they are both right. Let's start giving both these groups the respect they deserve, which is very little. If you're a member of one or the other, you're not going to like that. But we actual bicyclists need to deal with the world as it is, not how we hope or wish it to be. I think that's a direct quote from The Art of [Urban] Cycling.

I got a few notes this week from bike-riding opponents of the Idaho Stop who were concerned by my endorsement of it. What they seemed to be asking me is this: How can we gain Equality With Cars if we're granted superior freedoms to drivers? It does present a dilemma.

Each of these arguments against the Idaho Stop carried a familiar tone. Going back to the high-wheeler era, there has been a certain type of bicyclist -- lately a member of one of the groups above -- who assumes the mantle of victimhood and often expresses a desire for 'equality' on the streets. Victimhood is their default condition. This is strange because bicyclists already enjoy superior legal freedom of movement in addition to the widely accepted non-legal freedoms. If you think about it for a moment you'll realize it's true. It takes a real beginner or a particularly ideologically-addled rider to miss or deny such an obvious truth. The obligation to move right for faster traffic, lack of access to some streets, the much celebrated anti-bike bias that exists in our country, do not nullify that superior mobility as some seem to feel. Bicycling is already better-than-equal and legalizing the Idaho Stop would simply represent a continuation along those lines. Taking a massive step backward to 'equality' would not be a positive development for bicyclists in traffic nor would it suddenly conjure the respect which is the one true thing these deeply insecure riders are really seeking. That respect doesn't exist. It's a dream-thing.

Some of those who express fear of the Idaho Stop also seem very uneasy about the special legal allowances that bicyclists already enjoy. They seem to feel that a bicyclist's unique ability to switch between the vehicular and pedestrian realms, and to negotiate unused pockets of the street or other surfaces (part of what I call 'bicycular cycling') is in fact a bad thing in itself. In my opinion their comments betray not only a lack of appreciation for this very important side of bike transportation, but an outright disdain for it. It's a deeply flawed vision of what bicycling is. It feels to me like they would, if given an opportunity, take this special power away from bicyclists altogether, as if none among us could possibly use it wisely and safely. But this freedom is extremely important for urban cycling in America. And so I must say beware of 'advocates' who clamor for 'equality' between bikes and cars on the street, because instead of reaching for the stars they may actually be calling for a significant diminishment of your existing freedoms as a bicyclist.