What Do Commuting Cyclists Hate More Than Cop Crackdowns?

Background Reading


What's that salmon doing in the bike lane? Leif Parsons for NPR

What’s that salmon doing in the bike lane?
Leif Parsons for NPR


After all the ‘bitch-slapping‘ that has been going on this week over the question of whether a cyclists should have to come to a complete stop when at a stop light or stop sign, it was refreshing to see a message from The Wild One.

I got to thinking that one of the nice things about the Urban Cycling Community is that more than cops who are cracking down on their scofflaw behavior and the instant attempts they make thereafter to adopt ‘victimhood mode‘, they have a far greater hatred for each other.

It breaks along ethnicity and race for sure. But the mode of conduct that brings all this venom out is something that they lobbied for and got the legislature to allow, ‘shoaling‘.

It seems that a scant year or so ago Ron Burke gleefully announced that the dumbass cyclists who barrel down the ‘sharrow-laden‘ bike lane (‘no-handed‘ in many cases) and found themselves colliding with a door (opened by a motorist who could not see them approaching) would not also suffer the indignity of getting a ticket for failing to ‘remain in line‘. Now that they have this new found freedom they cannot wait to ‘filter’ up to the crosswalk (slicing through pedestrians) as they seek to run a red light.

Now if they fail to run a red light then they congregate with other riders who have done the same dumbass maneuver and found themselves clogging up the pedestrian crosswalk as well. So to make things right for the pedestrians they move to the front of the line.

And of course this silliness repeats itself block after block! No wonder these guys are as kooky as they appear in print. They all hate cars and what’s more they hate one another even more. Welcome to the joys of Bicycling Commuting!

You get to slog it out with cars who want you out of their way, and then you have to use those homemade tasering devices to clear a pathway of pedestrians, joggers and motorized wheelchairs. Ugh! It’s enough to make a girl want to ride in her underwear and dare people to look at her.

But The Wild One does a wonderful job of calling out the riffraff in his midst. Thanks guy, you have been sorely missed! What he provides is an unvarnished glimpse into the underbelly of the Urban Cycling Scene. The owners of various discussion forums like to sanitize what goes on there by chastising or even chasing away anyone who ‘tells it like it is‘. About the only ugly things you can say on these forums are those that disparage automobile drivers. That is almost universally the case if the person is driving a German manufacture sedan.

But when it comes to the squabbling ‘between the misfits‘ everyone wants to keep that sort of thing ‘hush-hush‘. Now here is the ‘kicker‘. Because they are either too lazy or because they lack the technical savvy, their entire forum is capable of being visited and read by anyone.

If you are concerned about airing your dirty laundry, should you not at least put up a curtain in the ‘changing room‘? It makes me wonder what is going on here. If you want a vibrant discussion then do not try and force it down a ‘particular path‘ on the off chance that it will not reflect well on the group as a whole.

Instead take the discussion behind the firewall where every participant has to log in to both see and to participate in the discussion. Otherwise you attempts at being Big Brother expose your underbelly far more than you understand. And as for disrespecting the drivers of foreign automobiles it goes without saying that there is plenty of approbation that could go around (including to the operators of bicycles).

Until such time as the Urban Cycling Community and its forums look less like Tea Party drunk-fests and more like laboratories for serious and meaningful discussion you are going to be very busy trying to shape your image.

But frankly given the number of invitations to write for other blogs that I have had to decline in the past few months, it seems evident that people are eager to see and read an unvarnished view of what it really means to be both an automobile driver and a bicyclist.

They are more than a little tired of people who use their discussions and their cycle-commuting to ‘make a statement‘. We do not need either professional bicycle advocates or self-absorbed amateurs who dream of one day being the poster-child for The Movement trying to explain away bad behavior on the part of bicyclists or some of the arrogance on display when it comes to dealing with everyone else in the transportation landscape.

If Urban Cyclists could get over themselves just long enough to be self-critical and see themselves as the rest of the world does that would be helpful indeed.