A Lesson From “Blue Bloods”

Summary

A few months ago the new series Made In Jersey showed a scene where a New York bike messenger (wearing earplugs) nearly ran down an attorney and a young boy entering the crosswalk on a green light. The messenger was running the red light when this occurred. The ugly thing about the scene was that he yelled at the two pedestrians for being in his way, despite the fact that he was in the wrong.

Blue Bloods Cast

Blue Bloods Cast

The tonight we watched a scene from Blue Bloods in which the daughter of the Chief of Police in New York is leading a family bike ride along a riverfront trail. She stops at the Brooklyn Bridge and gives some historic facts about it and then relates the story of their great, great grandfather who worked on the bridge as a stone mason. He was evidently the first of their family to immigrate to America.

Watch the actual episode here: http://www.cbs.com/shows/blue_bloods/video/JntVPpE65UW2ytlHte112TYEUhbF64q0/blue-bloods-fathers-and-sons

As the group of about four riders was turning to leave an adult male rider heading in the opposite direction (clearing riding too fast for conditions) careens around a corner and hits the youngest nephew squarely in the chest and knocks him to the pavement. The child suffers a severe concussion and is laid up in the hospital for several days before finally awakening from a coma.

The second thread in this episode is about an environmentalist who in a effort to “save the planet” decides to turn sniper and shoots three folks who are driving “gas guzzlers”. In the end he is captured because he hops on his bicycle and tries to elude the police coming to arrest him following his murder of a fellow environmentalist (whom he has framed) but is run over by an SUV. How poetic and ironic at the same time.

Neither of these series wrong depicted urban cyclists I have seen operating in Chicago. It is refreshing to see cyclists depicted in ways that are less than flattering because it is a more honest portrayal than is often provided. Motorists and pedestrians alike who watch these shows probably nod knowingly and shake their heads at the behaviors they took have seen firsthand.

Before long it becomes clear why scofflaw behavior in cyclists should never be tolerated by cyclists who care about increasing the popularity of the sport. It is a mockery of what we all know to be true when people who are supposedly the heads of advocacy groups provide verbal “cover” for such behavior. They often claim that such behavior is driven by a lack of adequate bicycle infrastructure. But that is a lie.

What is true is that far too many cyclists are legalistic bastards who are hellbent on depicting motorists parked in bike lanes or opening doors into their paths but are offended when the same sort of thing is done to them while also behaving badly on their bikes. It is high time that we stopped the Double Standard since it fools no one.

When you make the evening soap opera series you have in fact undeniable proof that the scofflaw cyclist has emerged from the realm of myth to a stark reality. And no amount of John Kass bashing is going to ever clean up our image. It will take a steady diet of humble pie for most urban cyclists to ever clean up their image.

Peter Moorman offered a good beginning in a recent ChainLink Forum thread:

Reply by peter moorman on December 4, 2012 at 10:47pm

  • Don’t assume that anyone driving a motor vehicle sees you.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Plan a “way out” if you cruise that red light or stop sign, because drivers will want to smash you when you pull out across their right of way.
  • Stop in line with cars at a red light, instead of riding around the shoulder in front of them.
  • If you show that you are obeying the rules of the road drivers will begin to show you respect.