Then a funny thing happens. As we continue to live with the graffiti (the building's manager has not had time to clean it up), the initial feeling of indignation recedes and we begin to take the message literally - to respond automatically to the word's actual meaning, instead of responding intellectually to the symbolic meaning of it having been spraypainted there. Smile! The vandal (artist?) has managed to elevate our mood in spite of everything.
too easily dismiss. But look at it this way: If after some time a vandalised wall can make us smile because of its sunny message, then surely the fun of cycling can be contagious enough to override any hostility toward it as well.
Along the main street around the corner from our house, from 5 pm to 6 pm on any given weekday there is a continuous parade of cyclists traveling home from work. They are all sorts, and most wear their regular clothing - including women in colourful dresses and crazy footwear. Two years ago, not nearly as many cyclists rode through that street - a quarter of the number I see today, at best. There was also a lot of honking from drivers, hostile insults exchanged as a matter of course. Now it hardly happens at all. I see business owners sitting on the front steps and watching the cyclists as the sun sets. It really is a sight when so many different people pass through on their bikes; there is a festive feel to it.
Maybe our neighbourhood has internalised the bicycle as part of its character, as opposed to thinking of it as a hostile foreign body. Maybe drivers and cyclists both have decided to lighten up and smile.