Saturday, March 7, 2009

I will not apologize for reckless cyclists

Update - good comment on the NY Times article from Richard Masoner via SFBike Listserv.

Seriously, when's the last time there was a 2300 word article in a
major paper exhorting drivers to drive lawfully? When's the last time
you saw a letter to the editor demanding that motoring advocacy groups
control their membership's behavior?

And what's with this bicycling author castigating cyclists based on
how they DRESS?

Richard Masoner
Katherine Roberts forwarded this article from the New York Times to the SF Bike Coalition list serv. It's an article from a daily NY bike commuter getting on his apologist shoes complaining that cyclists who cause whatever form of havoc are hurting the cause.

Actually, she posted a direct link to the comments and said "Have at 'em".

The comments sections of newspapers and blogs is of course where the "real battleground" is of course, whether on NY Times, on SFGate, or the ever popular Morgan Hill Times. In that last instance the anti-bike folk jumped down the throat of cyclists who "jumped to the conclusion" that Rita Campos was at fault. Campos was then charged with manslaughter which was not surprising, the aforementioned cyclists didn't have a hard time sleuthing with their knowledge of the area and a quick peek at Google street view to ascertain the chain of events (Note: I fully realize that Campos was negligent - not malicious - but I have a pretty dim viewpoint on negligence when it results in a fatality.)

The first comment in the article on the manslaughter charge?

I drive Uvas road quite a bit. It is narrow, curvy, many blind spots, and very little room for a bicyclist to ride. Why someone on a bike would risk their lives on this road is beyond me. Many bicyclists I encounter are also riding side by side which further complicates the problem. Talk about a dangerous activity! I read the comments of these bikers and they always bring up the fact that they have equal rights to the road. They may be right. Unfortunately, like Mr. Finch, they are "dead" right. There are many roads in this area that are safe to ride on. Uvas is definitely not one of them.

Even with a charge in place, the victim is blamed, much like what happened with Gough and Peterson.

Anywho - here's my thought on the NY Times article. The author has fallen prey, and this is easy to do, to apologizing for his perfectly legal behavior. What? Isn't he apologizing for the behavior of miscreant cyclists and urging them to shape up their act? Not in my opinion. My opinion - the fact he apologizes legitimizes the opinion that riding a bike to get from point A to point B - period - is an abnormal behavior that requires the participant to genuflect at the knee of the "normal people" who are at best tolerating his anti-social behavior.

STOP APOLOGIZING. Who cares if there is some helmetless hipster running lights as he whizzes across the Mission. This isn't your problem. Worry about your own riding. And one of the best things you can do is to not fan the flames of passion in the anti-cyclist crowd - you are giving them a platform to spew their crap. Ignore them and their platform disappears.

I'm only slowly learning this lesson myself given my addiction for trying to pick on Rob Anderson. He's impossible to back into a corner because he just redefines the corner. The only way Rob can be tweaked is by turning him int an apologist himself - by calling him a racist for example. Or to just say "You are probably right Rob, but I'm a selfish prick and I want the damn bike lanes and we're going to get them, and while you've done a fine job of being an obstructionist, your time is almost up".

I am doing a pretty good job on my resolution to not lash back on SFist, let alone the cesspool that is SFGate. There's a lot of noise there, but it's just like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News - it doesn't matter how loud they yell - yelling isn't votes and the Democrats won the election.

And in person? My tactic with anti-bike people is to put them on the defensive with the absurd. "These cyclists get in the way of traffic". Answer? "Well, do you run them over?". "No". "Why not? They got in your way, get them out of your way - run them over". 75% of the time the angry cretin starts to shift and look very uncomfortable, this was not the fight they were trying to pick.

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