INDEX 2

Note that the following story has nothing to do with Evel (Mr Knievel's preferred spelling). It originally appeared in a British cycling magazine. If you're a motorcyclist, and you're going to read it anyway, please take it in the spirit intended. It may contain traces of hyperbole.

EVIL KNIEVEL
Some of my best friends are motorcyclists.

That's not really true. But it could be. It's just the sort of thing people tend to say when they're preparing to air their prejudices. As I am: I hate motorcyclists.

I hate their extravagantly noisy machines, the way they can effortlessly turn a quiet street into an acoustical nightmare, hammering it with thoughtless decibels. I am rendered speechless by their habit of coming up behind me when I'm cycling and almost knocking me off my bike with a showy sonic boom. I am not impressed by their ability to zig and zag at speed around obstacles (i.e., me) with devil-may-care intimacy. I am perturbed that they often use cycle lanes, advance stop lines and other cycling facilities as if to the manor born, and generally clog up the interstices in traffic meant for us. I have grave doubts whether, come the revolution, they will side with motorists or with cyclists, their worthy ancestors and closest living relatives. I pass unfavourable judgement on the fantastical shapes of the petrol tanks they hug between their legs, not to mention the often preposterous colour-schemes of their bikes. I am disturbed by the creaking of their leathers and the ominous storm-trooper quality to their helmets.

A motorcycle is, on the face of it, a great idea. Doesn't hog space on the road or in the parking lot. Abstains from greedily swilling petrol like a thirsty car. Fosters camaraderie, and sometimes more, when ridden by two; I can well appreciate the almost biblical togetherness of sharing a saddle -- the words 'cleave unto' always spring to mind. It places the rider out in the elements, closer to nature, which presupposes a satisfyingly vigorous constitution. The American folk singer Arlo Guthrie once wrote a lovely song rhyming 'motorcycle' with 'pickle', which was whimsical and brave. I could go on.

And of course, anything with two wheels has the stamp of God upon it.

I saw Easy Rider. I was upset when those rednecks in the pickup truck got out their shotgun and blew away Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda -- if only they'd done it before the acid-trip sequence. I do indeed have acquaintances who ride a 'cycle, apparently unaware that I'm currently in charge of the universe and am Not Amused. (Don't worry. We all get a turn.) One of them is a genuinely nice guy who runs an organic food shop. I don't contribute anything nearly so beneficial to society, aside from paying a healthy premium on organic food and therefore doing my bit to help the economy. Anyway, when this guy goes home at night after a hard day scraping mould from defenseless vegetables he straddles an absolute monster, hideous to the last detail and loud as Armageddon. He should therefore be my sworn enemy, no matter how nice he is. But he lets me bring my bicycle into the shop... so obviously he's not a good test case for my new regime of Draconian laws.

Yes, it's time to introduce a few of my amendments to the Highway Code. I'm sure you'll agree they're quite sensible, and should be implemented without delay.

MOTORCYCLISTS

MUST NOT rev their engine, unless they are about to be chased by the police, in which case it's understandable.

MUST NOT plug holes in traffic which were obviously meant for cyclists to worm their way through.

POSITIVELY ABSOLUTELY MUST NOT get in front of cyclists at the head of a queue. This is UNFORGIVABLE.

MUST stop at zebra crossings for pedestrians. There appears to be a loophole in the present law which frees them from this responsibility. Taxi drivers share the same immunity. It's really quite perplexing.

MUST NOT be investment bankers, stockbrokers, or have a similar calling.

MUST keep their ignition key attached to their person using a long curly fluorescent cord.

MUST NOT ride down the middle of the road, but MUST instead chose one side or the other.

MUST NOT assume that the throaty roar they find so sexy is universally appealing.

ARE POLITELY REQUESTED to refrain from polishing their chrome in public.

And finally, motorcyclists MUST NOT dress in a manner which is deemed frightening to small children, animals, bank tellers, or me.

Cycling Plus, November 2001

This wasn't an attempt to write a real hatchet job on motorcyclists, many of whom undoubtedly have a bicycle or two lurking in their garage. Nevertheless I got some hate mail when it was printed. (Do you think it was the 'I hate motorcyclists' that did it?) All I really said was their machines can be loud, and it isn't unusual for them to ride 'em a little fast and loose. It's the nature of the beast.