CIC

July 13th, 2009

Cyclist Inferiority Complex (CIC) refers to the manifestation of fear and self-loathing exhibited by many novice or inexperienced cyclists when confronted with operation as a vehicle on the roadway. The term originates with John Forester, who is largely responsible for the development and promotion of vehicular cycling principles. The inferiority usually derives from one of two sources; perhaps both.

Many novice cyclists are intimidated by the prospect of sharing the roadway with motor vehicles. The disparity in mass and the differential in velocity result in the perception that death is the inevitable result of daring to assert one’s right to travel by alternative means on the rodway. Nothing could be further from the truth.

During the recent legislative session, the Texas Bicycle Coalition was spreading the bald-faced lie that fully forty percent of fatal crashes are the result of motorists overtaking cyclists. The truth is that this number is closer to four or five percent. Was this a mistake of degree – being off by a factor of ten – or conscious fabrication to garner support for an otherwise specious revision of the statute? My views are well-known on the subject.

Another often cited derivation is that novice cyclists are concerned they will inconvenience motorists by their presence on the road. This is a ridiculous anxiety. The relative infrequency during which a motorist is likely to encounter a cyclist is so modest that such worries border upon folly. Competent, experienced vehicular cyclists are quite adept at asserting their right to use the roads and, by and large, enjoy the respect of their fellow travelers.

Though not a clinically defined phobia, Cyclist Inferiority Complex presents all of the hallmarks of a manic disorder. As such, it is very treatable. In order to be addressed, however, it requires recognition of the condition by those suffering from it and a willingness to be freed from its potentially debilitating effects. Confidence is the key. Self-assurance comes from knowledge and the proper application thereof.

2 Responses to “CIC”

  1. pmsummer says:

    Sadly, like too much of our culture, we tend to look for “instant” fixes to our problems, even if they don’t work (which then provides a built-in excuse for failure… “Well, I tried, and it didn’t work”).

    In the case of bicycles as “transportation” devices, the “EZ Fix” is to either get someone else to build me a linear playground (MUP), or to honor my presence by giving me my own “special place” on the road where I can “feel” safe. In both cases, with highly dubious results, the burden for responsibility has been shifted off of my back unto someone else.

    Freedom and responsibility use to be idealized hallmarks of the American character. Now, they are in danger of being seen as elitist by enablers and panderers.

    Too often when discussing CIC, we focus on the self-loathing aspect of it as it relates to cyclists, ignoring the alpha-dominance aspect as it relates to motorists. The fact that many people are afflicted with both representations of the syndrome is too easily ignored.

    As I have quoted before, one of the benefactors of The Friends of the Katy Trail (apparently neither a runner, cyclist, or skater, to make a rash judgment based upon appearances) stated at a public meeting regarding the proposed cycle-track/sidepath through the Arts District, that “one of the best things about the Katy Trail is that it’s gotten bicycles off the road” (which isn’t true, I’m happy to report).

    The SMU Law School professor who intentionally ran into a cyclist at White Rock Lake to teach him a lesson, even as she was carrying her bicycle on her VW Jetta to the lake to ride it, clearly showed someone exhibiting CIC in both kinds.

  2. [...] CIC « North Texas Vehicular Cyclist by Herman During the recent legislative session, the Texas Bicycle Coalition was spreading the bald-faced lie that fully forty percent of fatal crashes are the result of motorists overtaking cyclists. The truth is that this number is closer to … [...]

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