Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bikes Are People, Too

[Mutual Commitments] Dave Iltis, editor of Cycling Utah, wrote and sent this e-mail yesterday. Note the date, please. (Holly Mullen)

Becker Proposes Commitment Registry

April 1, 2008, Salt Lake City--
After months of controversy and heated battles with the Utah Legislature, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker has worked out a compromise in what he believes to be one of the most important issues of his new administration. "Cyclists should have a choice of how they spend their time," Becker said. "And more importantly, who or what they spend their time with."

Becker was reacting to the previous administration's withdrawal of a proposed helmet ordinance that was then replaced with a loyalty oath--a vague attempt at getting cyclists to conform to societal norms. Former Mayor Rocky Anderson was determined that cyclists fall in line with Utah Values.

"We wanted family oriented cyclists--riders who wouldn't challenge authority and who would fall in step with what Utah families consider important," Anderson said. "Bikes that look the same, were well-tuned, and had brakes and derailleurs. The problem we had was with a subversive clan of individuals who were determined to buck our hometown trends.

"These extremists, these fundamentalist riders had no respect for convention, nor for proper gearing. All we were trying to do was to get them to sign a pledge to be D2 citizens [the D stands for Derailleur]. We wanted them to sign a paper acknowledging the importance of their bike to them and vice versa. This Domestic Partnership would have given credence to what most cyclists already know--their bike is the most important person in the world to them. While we obviously couldn't get the bikes to cooperate, the sad truth was that the cyclists wouldn't cooperate, either. So, in the end, the bikes suffered without proper maintenance, and the cyclists suffered without proper miles."

The Utah Legislature played its part, too, in killing this progressive policy--one that would have made Salt Lake City a trend setter in establishing the first-of-its kind registry to protect cyclists and bike rights. While in this year's session, legislators didn't shy away from controversy or stupid statements, they couldn't avoid playing the message card and passed HB217a,which allowed Salt Lake's registry to stay in place, but only if Salt Lake discarded the moniker "Domestic Partnership."

Becker, whose years on Capitol Hill have left him with skills to finesse his way through difficult straights, came up with the Commitment Registry. "We have been working on this for some time, until it was recently pointed out to us that cyclists and bikes may have been excluded. We want to make sure cyclists and bikes know that they will be afforded the same benefits as everyone else and have added an explicit mention of cyclists and bikes in the new ordinance.

"With the new name, cyclists and their bikes will have the same rights in the marketplace as others with their relationships. Cyclists can care for their bikes and their bikes will care for them.
Bicycle Commitment. It's that simple. Laminated certificates of the bike/cyclist relationship can be obtained from the business office on the second floor of City Hall and must be placed in the front spokes."

Harlan Hector, a longtime Salt Lake cyclist, was relieved. "I've grown tired of living in fear and worrying about what would happen if my bike was taken to the shop and I couldn't be with it while it was overhauled. I mean, what if they misadjusted the bottom bracket? Or misplaced a bearing? The shop wouldn't recognize my rights before, but they will have to now." His bike, a fixed-gear Raleigh, looked equally pleased, but didn't say anything.

Gitane (formerly Mark Smith) of PETB (People for the Ethical Treatment of Bicycles) ,was ecstatic. Said Gitane: "Bikes are people, too."

Sen. Chris Buttard, (R-West Jordan), was outraged and along with Layle Bazooka of the Cyclists With Family Values (formerly the Eagle Forum), vowed to teach Salt Lake a lesson next January with a new bill.

"They can have bikes loving cyclists and cyclists loving bikes, but where are they going to ride after we pass new legislation that will tear up all of the roads in Salt Lake and replace them with slick Teflon surfaces covered in bacon fat." Bazooka added, before disappearing down a dark alley: "Yeah, see if they can ride on Teflon! Bacon Fat is a family value!"

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