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OMG: Bicycling Backwards On Bancroft Avenue!

A San Leandro neighborhood email list mulls whether backwards behavior can be forward thinking.

 

One of the fun things about being subscribed to an electronic chat group is the glimpse it affords into the collective mind.

Today, fan exchange on the Broadmoor email list provides food for fun.

We begin with this message from a correspondent who prefaced hs remarks with "A candidate for the Darwin Award."

"This morning while driving to work, I saw a young man riding his bicycle backwards on Bancroft. Specifically, he was facing backwards on his bike (it must be a special build) and peddling, and occasionally looking over his shoulder to see traffic in front of him.

Of course, he couldn't see everything happening in front of him.

Is this a new trend? Is this kid particularly foolish? I kept thinking that it was such a stupid choice; he could so easily hurt himself, or cause an accident.

I also thought "there oughtta be a law," but I guess there is no outlawing stupidity."

The electronic realm of shared human consciousness is often called "cyberspace" but it adheres to many of the same rules of the physical universe, specifically Newton's Third Law: every action produces an equal and opposite reaction (which is mirrored behaviorally by the Law of Karma).

Unsurprisingly, therefore, another list member rose in defense of backpedaling:

"People do interesting and creative things. They stretch their boundaries and experiment. They play and amuse themselves. There needn't be a law for every behavior others don't see the sense of; if there were wouldn't have rockets in which to go to space; we wouldn't have authors who can draw on memories of childhood days at loose ends to experiment in the world and explore; and we wouldn't have circuses and artists to create and inspire us to have fun and LIVE in the world, not just survive through it."

To support his point, this writer did a search for images under "riding a bicycle backward" from whence is derived the collage above.

That made me think. Was there any mode of travel in which backwards propulsion was the norm.

Of course there is. When we row, row, row the boat, gently down the stream, we do it backwards.

Why?

Because "this is how pre-industrial English river men rowed," according to FrontRower.com, which promotes a front-facing rowing system.

Needless to say, FrontRower is paddling against the tide of convention.

I suppose this backwards business struck a chord with me because I posted a story today about a man running backwards from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

At the time I posted the story I thought it would get a laugh.

Now I'm just grateful that he isn't running backwards down Bancroft Avenue.

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Fortunately, he isn't backing down Bancroft Avenue.

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