by Aaron Bialick
Monday, August 19, 2013
KGO 810′s “The Monty Show” was kind enough to invite me to speak this weekend as host Tim Montemayor took on the topic of bike/car relations in light of the recent truck crash that killed cyclist Amelie Le Moullac, the sentencing of Chris Bucchere, and confusion about right-of-way laws in bike lanes.
You can listen to the hour-long segment here — my interview goes from about 30:00 to 38:30. I touch on the lack of accountability for motorists who kill, the dangerous design of city streets, and the perception of people who bike as a monolithic group. Montemayor sets up the interview by quoting from my article covering Le Moullac’s crash.
The show got off to a decent enough start, as Montemayor seemed to be genuinely ready to probe matters of street safety as he discussed Le Moullac’s crash. “I’m not sure how you fix this problem,” he said. “I’m not sure how we, as a society, go about figuring out how to work together as motorists and cyclists, but it’s something we need to figure out because again, we had a horrific incident right in the city of San Francisco.”
But the tone of the show took a dark turn, especially after I got off the air, as Montemayor cheered on anti-bike rants from listeners who called in and let loose with misinformation about the Bucchere case and bicycling.
A couple of basic facts in need of checking: Montemayor spent a good amount of time repeating the claim that Bucchere rode a fixed-gear bike without brakes, which was false. He also egged on a ranting caller who claimed bicycle riders don’t pay for bike lanes. Not true — city streets are mostly paid for with general taxes, so drivers are subsidized by non-drivers.
There was also a stark difference between Montemayor’s assessment of the truck driver who killed Le Moullac — saying it doesn’t feel right to put him in jail, but doesn’t feel right to do nothing — and his judgment of Bucchere. “Cyclists have a massive sense of entitlement,” he said. “This guy Chris Bucchere is a perfect example… Nothing will change until you put a guy like Bucchere in prison — not in jail, in prison.” While Montemayor gave a knowing laugh later on when I pointed out that no one would judge everyone who drives based on the behavior of one motorist, he resumed the sneering about people who bike as the show reached its conclusion.
Take a listen through the call-in segment toward the end to hear Montemayor let the turn the show into, basically, a bike-hate fest bemoaning everything from the “capital offense” of removing car parking for safety improvements, to the lack of mandatory registration for bicycles (yes, this awful idea still comes up), to the baseless perception that police never ticket people on bikes.
One of the reasons that people get the idea that cyclists never get ticketed is because cyclists are sometimes glad to admit that they have been running red lights in front of cops for years without a single ticket or accident. So on both counts they judge themselves to be ‘safe‘ while at the same time ‘immune‘ from law enforcement. A recent thread on the ChainLink rehashed this notion since the owner of that forum recently did get a ticket for running a red light.
Cyclists are indeed blessed with an over-inflated sense of their own importance and entitlement. This is not something that anyone has to struggle to prove or understand they talk about themselves in terms that always show that where motorists are concerned the ‘book should be thrown at them‘ while discussions of situations like that presented by Chris Bucchere seem to gain little traction.
Here in Chicago a woman was run over by an 11-year old boy and nothing of consequence made the news from places like Active Transportation Alliance. In addition cyclists openly admit that they drive their bikes drunk. And yet when a motorist take the same caviler attitude a sense of outrage envelopes the cycling community.
At the very least the Urban Cyclists in our area should have held as big a memorial for the lady in Arlington Heights killed by a cyclist as they did for a cyclist killed by a drunken motorist.
As for registration for cyclists, the idea from my point of view is superb. We are registering not so much the bicycle but rather the person. I want to know that should a policeman discover a thief in possession of a bicycle that he can verify (on the spot) whether the bike belongs to that individual. We live in a society where cyclists are likely to lie to a cop about their identity when caught breaking the law and not carrying a drivers license. There have been instances of this behavior caught on video on San Francisco by news organizations.
Time for us to get the chip off our shoulder and man up to the reality of what is going on in our midst. We cannot afford to let a selective group of thugs on two wheels either represent us or misrepresent us at any time. I for one will not stay silent when I know that there are violent, law-breaking individuals who are hiding behind a ‘good idea‘ in making cities more bike friendly just to continue to misbehave. They are dangerous and should be ‘cut out of the herd‘.