Friday, March 27, 2009

Cyclist bashing on parade...again

And the ridiculous war between motorists and cyclists continues. Seriously folks, how do we keep missing the central point in all of this? Everybody has to obey the rules of the road, and nobody has any excuse to abuse, either vocally or physically, other road users. We all have the right to be there.

Some poor souls still can't seem to wrap their minds around the concept, though, and even get so twisted in their ignorance and anger that they resort to completely mind-boggling outbursts like the one aired on WJJO the other morning. I'll let the venerable Bike Snob of NYC take it from here, as he does a far better job of commenting on the incident than I could ever do:
Basically, some guy with a goofy Harry Shearer radio voice says he's sick of bicyclists, or "spandex cowboys." He then segues into some skit which is a parody of a hunting show, in which the host goes to the "Wisconsin Bicycle Trail of Death," where he kills bicycles instead of deer "because we feel they're flamers and they should be shot at!" He then launches into some weird homoerotic reverie in which he positions himself near someplace "gay and retarded" because that's where cyclists like to congregate. Once he spies some effeminate male cyclists, he then shoots them and excitedly declares that he "bagged me a nancy boy!" Then the host comes back and says that "if motorcyclists...if we did what bicyclists do we'd be in jail and our bikes impounded." Then they go to commercial.
You should read the rest of his response, because it's both spot-on and hilarious. You can listen to the actual radio broadcast over at

Clearly, we've all still got a long ways to go on this issue. Which is sad, considering we're talking about people's ability to be somewhat safe while traveling. This should all just be a given. But the same could be said of the homophobia so clearly on display in the radio spot, too.

Madison recently took a step in the right direction by passing a (long overdue, in my opinion) ordinance that "made it illegal for someone to open the door of a parked or standing vehicle into traffic without checking to make sure it’s safe." It also "makes it illegal for someone to leave a door open facing traffic for an unreasonable time."

Both requirements seem perfectly logical to me, but that didn't stop an absolute shit-storm of virulently anti-cyclist comments from cropping up in response to the article about the ordinance.

It's frustrating as all hell because the comments weren't really about the content of the article and ordinance itself, but rather people using it as an excuse to vent their spleens about the few cyclists they have (or maybe haven't) seen bending or breaking laws. But you know what? I see motorists doing the same crap all the time. Do I think it means they're all scum, not deserving of space on the roadways I share with them? Nope. It means I think those who break laws and put other people's safety in jeopardy, no matter their mode of transportation, should be held accountable. And I think the laws need to be better understood and enforced.

This kind of irrational hatred has no place in our society--not toward cyclists, not toward any group, period.


M Big Mistake said...

negotiations are under way with the radio station to do pro bike psas

Guess I need to write a dane101 about it...

Emily said...

Guess so! That's good news, if so.

Joe said...

Nice analysis! I hope both motorists and cyclists take note. I see a lot of bikers ignore red lights, which is frustrating for drivers on roads with limited passing opportunities (like Willy Street).

XedgeX69 said...

Looks like I'll have to add this ordinance to the small pack of bicycle laws i always carry with me. it always amazes me how motorists ignore people who have a lawful right to use the roadways.Williamson St. can be an exercise in alertness, especially in the afternoon. i have regularly had issues with people in parked cars who open their driver door, and then reach into the back seat, or putz around in the car. meanwhile, i have to hard brake to avoid flipping over the door, and they look at me like it's my fault.
i agree with the idea that regardless of the mode of transportation,people don't always follow the laws. on residential streets with little cross traffic, i don't always come to a complete stop ( in car or on bike ), but on a busy street when there are lots of things going on, my first thought is always for safety and being aware of my surroundings. i follow red light laws when there is traffic. if I'm alone on the street, then i sometimes cross. i treat it just like crossing as a pedestrian. if there's no traffic, then sitting around at the light doesn't make much sense to me. but if there's cars behind me and traffice crossing the intersection, it only makes sense to obey the rules of the road and give cars the right of way. 3,000 lbs of metal are > than a 200 lb rider on a 20lb bike.

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

I have to say that during warmer weather, particularly this last spring and summer when construction was making everyone grumpy, I saw some serious pedestrian-rage from bicyclists. A lot of my best friends ride bikes so I know it's not happening across the board, but I cannot tell you how many times a cyclist nearly tore my arm off, speeding past me with inches to spare on the sidewalk. At least once a week, I would see an all-out altercation between a cyclist and a pedestrian and in every case, I personally felt the cyclist was out of line.

It got to the point that, as a pedestrian, I caught myself feeling some combination of irritation and fear every time I passed someone on a bike-- probably similar to how many cyclists feel toward drivers.

I know there are many cyclists who are cautious and respect pedestrians, just as there are many drivers who are cautious and respect cyclists, but I do think there's some education that needs to happen on all sides to bridge those gulfs.

The Lost Albatross