Hey Cyclists, The World Isn’t Your Enemy

By Andy Frye,
Monday at 11:44 am

Don't expect them to share the road and smile about it. ©Cartina Finland

Don’t expect them to share the road and smile about it.
©Cartina Finland

Must be hell to have to ride your bike in this beautiful weather. Or perhaps the lush and comfortable 67-degree fall in Chicago acts as a small consolation for the harsh and brutal realities that the cyclist must endure every day, dished out by the cruel wretches of the world who drive cars. Or, at least that’s what you’d think if you can read body language.

About a week ago, I found myself on a backstreet in Ravenswood, trailing a cyclist without a helmet riding on old-style ten speed with a courier bag slung over his back. It appeared to me that he didn’t know I was there while we were both approaching the upcoming stop sign. I say he didn’t know I was there because it seemed he was off in his own world, daydreaming while riding, and was clearly hearing-impaired from the huge Beats headphones he had on. Being the (sometimes) nice and courteous guy that I am, I figured I’d just give him a heads-up that I was there. So I tooted my horn lightly.

Guess I should have known better. Not that I expected a waive from the cyclist, nor did I expect him to stop and say thank you, but I didn’t expect him to give me the one-finger salute in a long, protracted, five-second long flip-off accompanied by a scornful face.

Suddenly I was the bad guy, and apparently an archetype that embodied everything that is wrong with society, at least in the eyes of this self-proclaimed roadhog radical. I had become “The Man” and perhaps a symbol of an oppressive oil-oligarchy, hellbent on usurping all that is good by bumping this free-spirited city cyclist off the road.

All I did was try to be safe and tell this pedantic, pedaling nitwit I was there and that I had safety in mind. I wasn’t being a bully. And I wasn’t trying to crush Che Guevara’s hard-fought freedoms into the abyss of suppression. But that didn’t matter. Frankly, I wanted to take the extra large cup of hot Dunkin Donuts coffee I was sipping and lob it out the window at his greasy, pointy little head.

Sure, I am overreacting a bit. And probably so because this isn’t the first time I’ve been flipped off by a self-righteous bicycle rider who was not sharing the road. For as tolerant and supportive the City of Chicago and its residents have both become of cyclists –installing bike lanes, and vocally advocating bicycle use throughout the city– sometimes I wonder if the most avid bicycle users here have ceased to be tolerant of everyone else who uses the road, regardless of their means of transportation.

Believe me, I get it. I'm not trying to kill you. Or worse yet, suppress you.

Believe me, I get it. I’m not trying to kill you. Or worse yet, suppress you.

Believe me, I get it. I own a bike. I know how good bikes are for the environment, and I know safety is on every bike rider’s mind. Within reason I try to get around the city as much as possible by foot, bike, or public transit every day. But I do own a car and use sometimes I use it. And, believe it or not that doesn’t make me a bad person. Sounds silly, but I feel like I have to say to both the professional bike messenger and the dedicated amateur user the following: I am not your enemy.

Regardless of what reason, now I’m reminded that certain bicyclists have it in for me every time I get on the road, whether it is in the car or while dodging them in trying to cross the street by foot. We’re lucky, I suppose, that Che Guevara the Cyclist and his ten speed aren’t exactly a danger to me in my Honda Pilot. It’s unlikely that, were he to take out his psychological aggression with force and ram me into the curb, that I’d sustain injury. That is, unless these mutineers-on-bicycles are harboring some secret counter-suppression weapons that I don’t know about.

That said, Cyclists of The World, I’m not asking for much, so let’s make a deal. Tone down the animosity against drivers like me, I’ll remember not to disturb you when you are riding your bike, jamming to a great song with your headphones on. Better yet, don’t flip me off, and I won’t fantasize about throwing hot coffee at you.

Andy Frye writes about sports and life here and for ESPN.com. He sometimes rides a bike and hasn’t ever killed anyone.


Bike Snobs Response

Must be hell to have to ride your bike in this beautiful weather. Or perhaps the lush and comfortable 67-degree fall in Chicago acts as a small consolation for the harsh and brutal realities that the cyclist must endure every day, dished out by the cruel wretches of the world who drive cars. Or, at least that’s what you’d think if you can read body language.

Firstly, the world actually is our enemy, and we are forced to deal with “harsh and brutal realities” pretty much every day, you fucktard:

Mandy Bike

Mandy Bike

Secondly, you’d be pretty annoyed too if every time you headed out out to enjoy some “beautiful weather” idiots kept honking their car horns at you for no reason:

About a week ago, I found myself on a backstreet in Ravenswood, trailing a cyclist without a helmet riding on old-style ten speed with a courier bag slung over his back. It appeared to me that he didn’t know I was there while we were both approaching the upcoming stop sign. I say he didn’t know I was there because it seemed he was off in his own world, daydreaming while riding, and was clearly hearing-impaired from the huge Beats headphones he had on. Being the (sometimes) nice and courteous guy that I am, I figured I’d just give him a heads-up that I was there. So I tooted my horn lightly.

Oh, spare me the white man’s burden crap.  It appeared he didn’t know you were there?  Why?  Because he had an “old-style ten speed” and a “courier bag?”  Because he didn’t have a helment?  (Like that even fucking matters.)  Because he was wearing headphones that may or may not have been playing music at a volume completely unknown to you?  He could have been listening to “News from Lake Wobegon” for all you know.  “Appearances” don’t mean shit.  I mean, when I see a mushy putz driving an SUV like the guy who wrote this article, it “appears” to me that they couldn’t possibly achieve or sustain an erection (much less hear or see a thing what with his radio and cellphone and cabin insulation and climate control and blind spots), but that doesn’t mean I attempt to have sex with their spouse or life partner for them.

Anyway, so what if he didn’t know you were there?  He doesn’t really have to know you’re there.  You have to know he’s there because you’re the one approaching from behind.  So wait until it’s safe to pass him and then do so.  Don’t honk at him, especially as you’re approaching a fucking stop sign.  It’s irritating enough when people honk at you for no reason, but it’s quadruply annoying when they do it at a stop sign or red light, and if you want to know why sometimes we’re inclined to roll those things then there’s your fucking answer.

And for fuck’s sake, how do you honk your horn “lightly?”  Horns don’t modulate–it’s on or it’s off, you twit!  Nobody can detect the nuances in your car horn.  We can’t even detect the nuances in your prose because you’re such a shitty hack.

So, unsurprisingly, the hack gets the finger:

Guess I should have known better. Not that I expected a waive from the cyclist, nor did I expect him to stop and say thank you, but I didn’t expect him to give me the one-finger salute in a long, protracted, five-second long flip-off accompanied by a scornful face.

Hey moron, maybe he was just flipping you off “lightly”–you know, just so you knew that he was there.

But of course Hacky the Putz thinks he’s allowed to judge cyclists because he owns a bike:

Believe me, I get it. I own a bike. I know how good bikes are for the environment, and I know safety is on every bike rider’s mind. Within reason I try to get around the city as much as possible by foot, bike, or public transit every day. But I do own a car and use sometimes I use it. And, believe it or not that doesn’t make me a bad person. Sounds silly, but I feel like I have to say to both the professional bike messenger and the dedicated amateur user the following: I am not your enemy.

If I buy a tampon it doesn’t mean I know what it’s like to menstruate.  Anyway, don’t worry, your car doesn’t make you a bad person.  It’s the fact that you have your head up your ass that makes you a bad person.  And of course it wouldn’t be a real anti-bike screed if he didn’t feel the need to remind you that his car is more powerful and dangerous than your bike:

Regardless of what reason, now I’m reminded that certain bicyclists have it in for me every time I get on the road, whether it is in the car or while dodging them in trying to cross the street by foot. We’re lucky, I suppose, that Che Guevara the Cyclist and his ten speed aren’t exactly a danger to me in my Honda Pilot. It’s unlikely that, were he to take out his psychological aggression with force and ram me into the curb, that I’d sustain injury. That is, unless these mutineers-on-bicycles are harboring some secret counter-suppression weapons that I don’t know about.

Right.  He thinks we’re supposed to respect him for the stupid Honda Pilot that he leases, but it really only makes me think of this:

And then he confirms he’s just a tiny, neutered Willy Loman with this quip:

Better yet, don’t flip me off, and I won’t fantasize about throwing hot coffee at you.

What is it with people who fantasize about hurting people who are more vulnerable than they are?  I sometimes see cyclists doing dumb shit while I’m driving (and, I should add, this particular cyclist didn’t even do anything dumb), but I never fantasize about, you know, hurting them.  Like, “I hope that guy salmoning on the department store mountain bike gets scalding hot liquid thrown in his face.”  That’s actually kind of sick.

(Of course, it’s perfectly fine if it’s the other way around, and if someone almost kills you with a two-ton vehicle it’s totally acceptable to fantasize about stuffing their genitals into a coffee grinder or stuffing starving kittens down their pants.)

Anyway, I wanted to know more about this putz, and it turns out he’s a “marketing executive” playing at being a writer in his spare time:

Douche

Douche

Financial services, eh?  Well, service this you schlemiel.  [Indicates crotch.]

Meanwhile, yesterday I was in Onion Square in Manhattan, and I was amazed to see fixie riders that must have been transported through a wormhole in time from the year 2007:

Fixies

Yep, it’s all there, right down to the fanny pack:

More Fixies

More Fixies

I actually suspect they’re wearing Halloween costumes–and speaking of Halloween costumes I was searching for a Roger De Vlaeminck costume for my kid (incredibly nobody carries one) when I spotted this:

Costume

Costume

That’s just disturbing.

Anyway, if the fixie riders weren’t in costume, then I guess nobody told them they’re supposed to be buying cyclocross bikes now–and if you have a cyclocross bike you’ll want some really bad art to go with it:

EBay

EBay

This was forwarded to me by Klaus of Cycling Inquisition, and it looks sort of like “The Scream” if the screamer was riding a cyclocross bike and wearing a helment:

Trebon

Trebon

Just make sure to buy a spare for the pits.


ChainLink Forum Comments

Reply by globalguy 31 minutes ago
But unfortunately, none of the 14 great bike advocates mentioned in Bicycling Mag’s While You Were Out Riding, Bike Advocacy Became Cool are from Chicago. WTF?

Reply by BruceBikes 28 minutes ago
For those of you desiring to read the BSNYC article, rather than clicking through to the ChicagoNow drivel, here you go:
http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2013/10/even-after-three-day-weeken…

Reply by Sarah D. 1-3.3 17 minutes ago
Thanks Bruce. Blood pressure dropping.

Reply by Charlie Short 11.5 5 minutes ago
Yeah, read the BSNYC article first.

Reply by Anne Alt 38 seconds ago
Well done, Bike Snob! Bwahaha!

Reply by JeffB (7+ miles) 6 hours ago
I thought the comments section on the ChicagoNow link page did a WAY better job of “deconstructing” this guy than BSNYC did. And the author’s responses further revealed what an a$$ he was. BSNYC just came off as unhinged, slipping right into the stereotype the author imagines.

I would agree. It just sounded more like the kind of thing you would post for the benefit of a nightclub crowd waiting to hear Redd Foxx or worse yet something you might text or tweet to your High School buddies. What bothers me most is that there appear to be ChainLinker Forum members who are old enough to know better that actually found this likable.

Reply by Duppie 3 hours ago
Yeah, there was a time when I thought that BSNYC could become the next great writer with his inventive word use and just the right amount of snark, but over the last year or so he has descended to a level of anger and pottymouth that I do not care for.

But we really should not blame the Bike Snob for “playing to us“, his audience. He knows what will be warmly received and what will not. This reflects more on who we are as a group than on him alone. That means that there is a more than nascent hatred of motorists that we have to deal with or there really is not hope. I fear for motorists and cyclists alike once the Concealed Carry Law is fully implemented. Hot heads on the streets who are armed will be doing more than just thinking about harming one another and the least we will have to fear is that they will be handing out one-finger salutes.

Reply by Lisa Curcio 6.5 mi 1 hour ago
Not so much inventive word use anymore and a lot of pottymouth. Wonder why his vocabulary has degraded so much–maybe just laziness?

Again the problem is with his audience. We are like Tea Party members of the GOP who are so bent on hating Obama that we are more than willing to have the country default on its financial obligations than deal with one another. If we allow ourselves to be deluded into thinking that the Urban Cycling Community is not equally hateful of motorists then nothing in the Bike Snob NYC article offend or surprise us. But if we think for a minute that we can sit on the sidelines and allow this kind of overtly aggressive and potentially destructive sort of sentiment to allow us to shout cheers of encouragement to him, then shame on us!


TakeAways

The big problem here is that Urban Cyclists are bound and determined to maintain their stance as the “down trodden”. As the Bike Snob says ” the world actually is our enemy“. At that point you can stop reading to save yourself the agony of hearing a guy who rides a pretty nice bike and has two legs whine about his condition. I’ve ridden alongside guys I would have been proud to have served with in Vietnam who had no legs. And yes in the initial phases of their recovery there is always the part about “why me, Lord?” But you cannot stay sane and live that way if you ever want to get back out there and “mix it up” with the rest of the world.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

To hear Urban Cyclists tell it their plight makes them candidates for the kind of attention that Malala gets. But frankly anytime a cyclist simply cannot be convinced that he is safer on a bicycle than he would be driving a car or even walking then he should check out the statistics which bear witness to his relative safety.

Does this surprise you?

Does this surprise you?

If we continue to claim victimhood as our birthright it ends up having the exact opposite effect we intend. Every ghost bike that is meant as a loving memorial has the opposite effect we intended when a sorely frightened rider thinks about getting out on the street.

And I would certainly not hand them a copy of the Bike Snob article because depending on their assessment of his trustworthiness as a writer and bicyclist he has just confirmed that they are indeed “out to get you“. This level of paranoia cannot be healthy.

Nothing quite so extreme accompanied the opinion piece from People4Bikes but I was holding my breath on the off chance that it might. Urban Cyclists have a way of attacking people and ideas that clash with their Collective Narrative that is snatched from the playbook of 8th Graders who are ready to launch their careers as mean kids in High School but still have to sit alongside 7th Graders on the bus home.

No wonder we are being told there is a Gorilla in the Room. I have no problem with great apes but would have found the idea of an elephant less “loaded with meaning“. But either way our lack of compassion for motorists is appalling. But it should not go unsaid that among those responding on the ChainLink Forum at least two are either employees of or volunteers with the Active Transportation Alliance which is, “wait for it” a group dedicated to bicycle advocacy.

My only response to this fact is that there is little hope that car drivers and bicyclists will ever reach a greater accord on substantive issues than the Tea Party wing of the GOP and Barack Obama. There is as much animus (for certain) on the bicyclists side of the equation as you could possibly hope to ever find. My guess is that most motorists are clueless about the way in which they are viewed by cyclists. What they do see and know however is that bicyclists have no use for traffic controls and that there is no way of sugarcoating that fact.

So I guess at the end of the day we are once again stuck with performing a virtual scene from Lord of the Flies as cyclists and wondering when we will ever be taken seriously.