Thursday, January 28, 2016

Everywhere You Go, You Always Take The Weather With You

     I've been rethinking the term "fair-weather cyclists," it gets thrown around a lot to refer to people, and lets be honest, most are inferring women in the idea, who only bike when the weather is "nice," usually defined by sunny skies. Weather is something we all deal with, whether we acknowledge climate change or not, seasonal changes are something that every cyclist faces. I know someone who is literally allergic to the cold. Is it fair to ask this person to bike in December? or wait a prolonged period outdoors for a bus?
     The weather is never "fair" in my opinion. Fairness is derived from human action, it is a gift we give by our cognoscente capacities. We can discern when a situation is fair or unfair, usually by its negative in that some situation is "unfair," but we never apply this beyond, merely the word.
     Is it "fair" to have me cycle in the sun? I am quite allergic to the opposite conditions applied to the other person. I can never do a century ride simply because the sunlight exposure would do me irreparable injury it would not cause another. To another the weather is "fair" because it is "nice" and thus, I am a "poor weather cyclist," simply because that is the condition in which the skies are favorable to myself.
     But as cyclists do we recognize that the terms we are using are somewhat misapplied? Regular cyclists sigh as the summer months make finding decent parking a challenge. Those who would never lock their bike to a sign find themselves with no other option. There is also the propensity to blame the "fair weather cyclist," for their inconsistency that perpetuates the idea there is usually enough parking for cyclists. The whether or not is comfortable to ride has shifted with the weather, but we usually focus on the wrong one.
It is unfair to ask others to cycle when its either uncomfortable for them, or downright impossible. We focus to much on the 'whether or not' conditions rather than the 'weather is not' conditions. We look at bike lanes unused and think its the 'whether' conditions, not that the bike lane is flooded and uncomfortable for even the hardy cyclist, and thus a 'weather' condition.
We need to look at whether it is safe to ride, comfortable to ride, yes, but we also need to consider weathers impact on those same questions. We need to accept that some people will never be able to ride, we need to accept that the conditions that make it acceptable for one person to ride will make it harder for another.           And we need to take "fair" out of weather altogether.
The weather will never be 'fair' or 'unfair' but we can give the weather fairness. Proper drainage and bike lane maintenance would be a fantastic start.