Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Seen in Rice Military

1 less car 1

Hmmm... How should this be interpreted? I guess you could take it to mean that if someone is biking instead of driving, then at that moment there is "one less car" on the road. That's a benign, positive message.


Unfortunately, the artist and the person who applied the sticker almost guarantee that the message will be received differently. The image of a car smashed by a giant fist (which looks like an old 1960s "Black Power" fist) is not very benign. The style of the graphic recalls radical posters from Paris May 1968 or those by Seth Tobocman. And the fact that it is stuck on a piece of public property also contributes to a basic "outlaw" vibe.

The thing is, I think it looks pretty cool, and I generally support the benign interpretation (even though I drive a zillion miles a day in my commute, alas). But I guess I'm an old guy now, and I see cyclists as citizens who, like any other citizens, want to carve a space out for ourselves within a society in which we are a minority who have to share public space with the majority. And the way to do that is through legal means and through increasing our numbers. That's what "power to the people" looks like when you get to be middle aged.

So I wonder what the intended effect of this sticker was? Who is it for? What action is it trying to provoke? Is it aimed at drivers? Is it trying to convince drivers to get out of their cars and onto their bicycles? Because I don't think a lot of drivers will come away from it with that message in their hearts. I think that what at least some drivers will get from it is confirmation of their opinion that cyclists are a bunch of scofflaws. Which doesn't help cyclists at all.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made those signs. They're for other bikers. They were placed on public property in places that primarily bikers would notice. The fist denotes protest. The border and font are supposed to mimic public information signs. Biking has become very big over the last two years in Houston. I'd like to daydream that I had something to do with it by these guerilla signs.

10:58 AM  

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