Austin Cycling News

Cycling in Austin

If the author of this article was not paid by GM or EXXON, he is missing out on some money.

By • Aug 11th, 2008 • Category: Bike Tips, Rants

It seemed like a good idea at the time, bike to work, but now it turns out the cyclist was an idiot.

Clear message: DO NOT BIKE THERE.

Moving Targets

Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times
…Save gas money, be environmentally correct, lose weight — just by biking to work. And so after two decades, Dan Cooley, 41, saddled up a silver 21-speed Raleigh in April to make the daily two-mile commute to his nursing job at a senior citizen center in Louisville, Ky. In four months, he lost 15 pounds. Way to go, Dan!…
BUT (there is a silent however here) some total jackass incited a hate crime against the cyclist. And beat the holy crap out of him. Lesson? Do not bike there. I wonder what the lesson is for gays that get beat up by someone who does not agree with what they are doing?

“The driver and his passenger cursed back. As Mr. Cooley pulled over to the sidewalk, the car turned onto a driveway, knocking him off his bike. In Mr. Cooley’s narrative, the passenger, swearing, jumped out and pummeled him. Then he got back into the car, which zoomed away. Mr. Cooley lay prostrate on the sidewalk, bloodied, with a concussion and a torn ligament.”

Oh this part is good:

“We’ve had a car culture for so long and suddenly the roads become saturated with bicyclists trying to save gas,” Mr. Cooley said 10 days after the attack, still feeling scrambled, in pain and traumatized. “No one knows how to share the road.” He doesn’t plan to bike to work again this season.

DAMN THEM, for trying to SAVE GAS. Don’t you know EXXON needs that money? And no one knows how to share the road. No one? Or just an isolated untouchable few. How about the article where the guy who beat the crap out of him did not even get a slap on the wrist? Where is that story of injustice? Oh yea, cyclists don’t get treated unjustly, they are just in the way of the important motorists.

Every year, the war of the wheels breaks out in the sweet summer months, as four-wheelers react with aggravation and anger to the two-wheelers competing for the same limited real estate.

Four wheelers are REACTING, while cyclists are COMPETING. You can’t blame someone for simply reacting, can you?

Like Mr. Cooley, the newbies are lured by improved bike lanes as well as the benefits of exercise, a smaller carbon footprint and gas savings. But talk about a vicious cycle! With more bikes on the road, the driver-cyclist, Hatfield-McCoy hostility seems to be ratcheting up. Cycling: good for the environment, bad for mental health?

Lured, into the EVIL CLUTCHES OF DOOM AHAHAHAHA [oops excuse me I was having a Dr. Evil moment] by these evil temptations, like a smaller carbon footprint, and saving money. But the bottom line is they need to all cut it the hell out or they will pay the price. Because simply by being on the road we are “causing road rage” it is a vicious cycle alright, it is a cycle of abuse. The goal of an abuser is control. They want you to behave only in the ways in which they want you to behave. They achieve this control with abuse.” i.e. if you do not do what I say (Get the hell out of *MY* road) I will hurt you. (By running you over or simply scaring you). The biggest problem the abusers have with more cyclists? They are less able to intimidate them. This is why critical mass brings out the worst in some people.

Last Thursday evening, at the peak of Manhattan rush hour, Howard Savery was crossing Broadway at 40th Street with fellow bipeds. Abruptly he reared back, just avoiding a crash with an impatient cyclist, racing through the red light.

“Well, that’s a first!” remarked Mr. Savery, a banker, who was heading home to Staten Island.

First time he’d nearly been knocked over by a cyclist in Manhattan?

No, corrected Mr. Savery: “That’s the first time one of them actually beeped at me. Usually they run you down silently.”

– And here we have one of the great literary weapons, vilification. Make sure you portray your enemy as evil before you leap to the attack.

Isolated, freakish events, certainly. Indeed, some cycling advocates say that as riders in their communities have become a customary sight, civility by motorists has improved. But overwhelmingly, on blogs and Web sites nationwide, drivers and cyclists routinely describe shouted epithets, flung water bottles, sprays of spit and harrowing near-misses of the intentional kind.

Note this very carefully, he actually admitted that cycling advocates say that more cyclists have led to more civil motorists. However when we skip down a few paragraphs…

Driver-rider hostility has become worse this summer because legions of cyclists are simply inexperienced. At least according to the drivers. “They say the cyclists are all over the road and don’t know the rules,” said Michele Mount, a spokeswoman for AAA of New Jersey

We find this gem. More cyclists are actually CAUSING hostility. Remember the cycle of abuse?

“They pull out without looking at traffic,” she said. “They don’t signal. I get that there is safety in numbers and they’re trying to protect themselves, but there’s barely room for cars on the road, let alone a bike lane.”

This one is priceless. There is barely room for cars, so let us convince the cyclists to start using them. Logic and reason have abandoned the author momentarily it seems. In there somewhere is a valid point that cyclists need to be educated, but it is lost in all the anti-cycling sentiment.

A pandemic of obliviousness — earbuds, texting — further ramps up the tension. Recently, Steve Diamond, ride coordinator for the Morris Area Freewheelers, a New Jersey cycling club, saw what he called a trifecta of irresponsible cycling: “A guy riding his bike without a helmet, talking on his cellphone, with his kid in the bike attachment behind him.”

You know recently I saw someone do all of these things in a car, I wonder if that person was considered safer to the general public. And what is with the helmet thing? It is now irresponsible to ride without a helmet? I would argue that it is more irresponsible to advocate driving a gasoline powered wheelchair everywhere.

There’s a whiff of class warfare in the simmering hostility, too. During morning rush, the teeth-gritting of drivers is almost audible, as superbly fit cyclists, wearing Sharpie-toned spandex and riding $3,000 bikes, cockily dart through the swampy, stolid traffic to offices with bike racks and showers.

And not only are the evil spandex clad cyclists fragile, they are also elitists. Vilification. Note such objective words as “cockily dart”. I also object to the use of superbly fit. I would argue that the average American is so out of shape, that just normal health seems superhuman to them.

AT the opposite end of the class spectrum are cyclists who can’t afford other transportation: often immigrants on clunkers, without helmets or lights, heading to work at dawn or dusk.

“We need to find some way to let them know what the rules are,” said Earl Jones, chairman of a bicycle task force in Louisville.

And now the people who are not spandex clad and riding $3000 machines are poor people who simply cannot afford to drive a shiny new gasoline powered wheelchair. We should educate them about the rules of the road, and give them all helmets first and lights second. (The order of importance was NOT lost on me).

To some extent, the hostility is a byproduct not only of the abdication of common sense, but of widespread ignorance of state and local laws. In every state, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motor vehicles. But in the particulars, state vehicle codes and municipal ordinances vary. Consider the frustrated driver who shouts to a cyclist, “Get on the sidewalk!”

In the sea of prejudice some truth can be found. Motorist education is important. Especially the fact that cyclist are not blocking traffic, we ARE traffic.

The anticyclist hostility even follows riders into court. Just ask a bike lawyer. For as surely as night follows day, with more riders on the road, there is a small but growing peloton of lawyers specializing in bike law, usually representing injured cyclists.

Gary Brustin, a cyclist and California bike lawyer, said anticyclist fervor makes jury selection daunting. “They are white-hot about us,” Mr. Brustin said. “They are seething.” In California, bicycle plaintiffs lose two out of three cases that go to trial.

Fueled by prejudiced articles such as this one in the media, and the lack of positive media for cyclists.

Therefore, said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, an advocacy group, the turmoil will abate when enough cyclists are on the road, so that everyone learns to share the space. As in Amsterdam. Or Davis, Calif., where nearly 15 percent of the population cycles daily.

I agree with this, the answer is to bike there as much as you can, with as many people as you can. And look more like a commuter than a recreational cyclist. That helps as well. In my humble opinion.

“Mention the noon riders to anyone in town and you’ll see the blood pressure go up,” said Susan George, Woodside’s town manager. One day, she said, she rounded a bend and came upon them: “I slammed on the brakes and they swarmed around me, screaming and yelling obscenities. My heart was pounding. It was very scary.”

Maybe this fine specimen of driverhood should have been driving SLOWER. (Scroll down to Basic Speed rule, which says: The Basic Speed Rule requires vehicle operators to drive at a speed that is reasonable and prudent. As a corollary to this rule, State laws usually provide that “every person shall drive at a safe and appropriate speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazards exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.” See Uniform Vehicle Code §11-801.”"). Perhaps that is why the cyclists were yelling obscenities, because her unsafe driving almost caused a wreck. And HER heart was pounding? Why because she might have scratched her paint with her gasoline powered wheelchair? (yes I like the term and am going to use it as much as possible, it reminds me of WALL-E).

Honor the Stop features a pledge card and a two-tone wristband: black, for those killed or injured on the road, and red, to represent the wearer’s commitment to obey stop signs.

Woodside will distribute 5,000 bands. “It’s not a campaign just for cyclists,” Mr. Evans said. “It’s for all road users.”

Does Ms. George, the town manager, have a fantasy that the noon riders will wear the bands and politely stop at intersections?

“I have fantasy visions of the noon riders,” replied Ms. George, “but it’s not necessarily about wearing these bracelets.”

And to conclude this story we are left of an image of this unsafe driver bearing ill will towards her fellow man. Why? Because they chose to bike there, on her road. My response? It is always a better choice to Bike There, for your health, for the environment, and especially for the US economy.

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5 Responses »

  1. > Four wheelers are REACTING, while cyclists are COMPETING.

    Heh, reminds me of the `black people looting’ `white people looking for food’ pictures that went around the news after Katrina.

    Though I suspect that his implication is that the cars were here first, and it’s the bikes that are encroaching upon the car’s space. Those poor cars …

  2. I think his deeper implication is that cars are REAL traffic, and bikes are not. And I think deep down he believes it.

    Remember car head?

  3. I read about the first paragraph of that article when it first came out and then lost interest, which is why Tim Grahl posted it to CommuteByBike instead of me. Like you note, it’s a FUD piece with no public interest value.

  4. But a great deal of the public read it. It was in the New York times. And I believe a rebuttal is important.


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