Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ridiculous anti-bike rants

Every time the online edition of the Louisville Courier-Journal includes a story about bicycling or bicycle facilities, or even about a bicyclist injured or killed by an incautious or inept motorist, some online readers will post vitriolic anti-bicyclist comments. In addition to malice and ignorance of the law, these comments often make ridiculous assertions that violate all available evidence.

A good (?) example comes from the comments to today's 2-paragraph news bite in the C-J about the mayor's admonition to motorists to watch for bicyclists tomorrow during Bike-To-Work day. One person who frequently posts nasty comments about bicyclists wrote, "If you ride a bike to work then you are a loser. The only exception is a kid under 16 doing a paper route or if your name is Lance Armstrong...any other person is a loser. Put down your huffy and find a real job so that you might be able to actually afford a car."

A typical bicycle commuter in greater Louisville saves about $1000/year in commuting expenses and $1000/year in health care & insurance costs, while improving her or his quality of life. Many bicycle commuters enjoy the ride to & from work, and miss it if circumstances force them to take another mode of transportation for a day. How many motorists can say that? If saving money, feeling better, and having fun while commuting makes me a loser, than I'd rather be a loser than a winner.

Perhaps it makes more sense to ask, what game do I want to lose or win? It sounds as though the comment-writer seeks prestige above all else. If so, at least for a few more years, commuting by car will provide more prestige than commuting by bicycle. I would prefer to win the game of health, happiness, environmental stewardship, and household economics. For that, commuting by bicycle scores a big victory over commuting by car.


Steve Magruder said...

Hear hear!

I wonder if the comment writer didn't seek the public prestige of using his real name. I'm thinking it's a safe guess he played the anonymous coward.

JoeTally said...

Barry. Nice job. You capture the essence of a battle that is taking place worldwide between motorists and cyclists.

I think most cyclists will agree when I say that most motorists are courteous and respectful of our need for space. But there are a large number of motorists who just don’t get it. They don’t get the fear that sweeps over us as they pass within inches of our bodies. And they don’t get how hitting us would change lives---theirs, ours and our families. Their unyielding, sometimes malevolent, carelessness to the safety of cyclists is why we need to be extra vigilant.

Granted, there are some cyclists who also don't get it. We need to educate them and hold them accountable as well. But for the great majority of cyclists who follow the rules and seek to coexist with motorized vehicles there must be greater enforcement of the laws against potentially lethal driving and greater public awareness campaigns.

I truly believe there are only a few real idiots out there who would actually, purposefully target cyclists for a hit and harm...idiots like the one you mention, who might be more talk than action, but, either way, surely forces us to be more alert when riding (I think of them as cycling terrorists).

Look, for the most part cycling is very safe. But we all have to be responsible for making this thing we all love to do even safer...that includes dealing with the jerks outside our circle and within.

Thank you Barry.

Joe Mizereck

Tex69 said...

Agreed! Trolls are an ever-increasing part of the online world. Hopefully they're stuck on the computer at home and don't come out of their caves. Keep up the good work Barry.

Kris said...

I appreciate you blog and posts. I have been an avid recumbent trike commuter for over 4 years now, on a trike that I designed and built. I have had a number of close calls, but have been vigilant in my defensive riding and so I have escaped injury, or serious trike damage.

I am moving to your fine area in a matter of weeks, and plan on having my main mode of transportation be my trike, or another one that I am planning on purchasing when I arrive there (I have already made arrangements with someone wanting to sell a used pedal only version.). I wonder if you would post a poll to your readers to see where some of the best areas to live in, that have good access by bike to downtown, but are also family friendly. After reading a number of the posts you have placed, I am a bit apprehensive of the situation in driver awareness to bikes, but Utah is also an area that has frequent vehicle/bike accidents, so I am familiar and use to some of that problem. I appreciate it, and look forward to meeting all of you on one of the "bike to work days" soon, or seeing you on a friend;y ride in and out of downtown.