Reality Does Suck for Cyclists

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by Byron on Oct 18, 2011 at 8:13 AM

After covering the Kevin Black death, I decided to let the traditional media do its job when local cycling deaths occur. We’re a small community and it’s hard to either stay objective or not get too close to the subject. I don’t need to be part of the story, or write about it from my angle, when the emotions of families and their lives are involved. I see more deaths in my newsreader than anyone should. Nearly everyday and that drives, in part, my editorial opinions to call for a #newadvocacy. Just last week, I had a different take on the GM ad because our reaction showed the PR problem we have.

I tweeted

There goes bike culture again, playing the victim, instead of spinning the @gm ad to their favor. Ads like that have ran since the Model T.

and continued on G+ with

We’ve got a PR problem, us cyclists, and responding like this to an ad indicates a good reason why people don’t like us. We most certainly can’t take a joke about ourselves either. Who’s next? Going to question Calfee for shilling Lincolns?

The larger issue than a stupid car ad is our safety, how people perceive us, and how a driver can get a $42.00 ticket when a cyclist died.

Stevil Kinevil picks up the $42.00 ticket story and while making himself feel better, he ultimately just shakes an angry fist at the end of a skinny arm towards the injustice.

Reality does suck for cyclists cause it’s us v. the rest of the world.

Last year I asked, Are We Advocating Wrong and after that wrote about Enthusiasts v. the Rest of the World.

Important Memo Dispatched

Repainted

Need more than signs painted on roads

So here’s my important memo to bike advocates, lobbyists, and politcial types, you did a great job getting us to this point. Now you’ve got an PR problem that you’re ill-equipped to handle. You figured out how to get sharrows and lanes painted on roads, but traffic engineers, are not media specialists. The bike backlash, a general dislike of cyclists, is real and manifests in $42.00 tickets for a traffic-related death. Cyclists are cute on the fashion runway and they make a good joke when buying shitty fixes from Urban Outfitters. It gets real quick when they’re negotiating traffic with cars.

A few years ago, on that same road in Kirkland where Przychodzen died, a woman tried to kill me in an SUV. I got arrested. That’s right, I was holding onto the car, trying to not get ran over, and it was determined by the prosecutor that I was the aggressor cause I was protecting myself. Me in my lyrca kit and light road bike were a greater threat than a woman in an Escalade rushing to Costco before dropping her kids off at soccer practice.

Again, a perception and PR problem. In caveman terms: Cyclist bad. Car good.

Check Byko’s column from Philly for trigger words about cyclists:

  • two-wheeled lawbreakers
  • bikeheads
  • pedalphiles
  • pedalists

and he concludes with, “The bicycle lobby is yappy about rights, not responsibility. It has been getting its way.” Byko is thrilled about the bike backlash. Is that because he’s a bike-hatin’ asshole? Don’t live in Philly, so don’t know, but he probably takes on any group that is seen as getting more than its share, pushy, and even worse wears provocative clothing with blinky lights, helmets, and funny shoes.

A few years ago, a Critical Mass in Seattle ended with a motorist getting beat up (technically he got the “shit kicked out of him”) with a U-Lock. There’s probably no better way to alienate and annoy your opposition than to mass in front of them doing what you do that they don’t like. See this piece from Steve Holt on how Critical Mass doesn’t work in Boston or here.

You are why people hate cyclists!

Well-timed for this post, is an article in Seattle Met magazine about Blake Trask. I don’t know Blake either, but look how he’s photographed as a bike advocate stereotype in a photo editor’s immature take on urban cycling.

bikes are toys

If bikes are toys, then I wouldn’t want them on the roads either

A mid-to-late-30s, white-male in a dress shirt, tie, with helmet, and mesh gloves. He’s making photo copies of a kids bike while talking on a cell phone; presumably cause bikes are toys, right? That’s the entire bike industry’s problem in the US, expressed in one photo.

Toys don’t belong on the roads. Just cul de sacs.

So What’cha Gonna Do?

I’m not a politician. I don’t roam the halls of city hall spending money or end up making money there like a director at Cascade Bicycle Club did. I don’t know what to do on that front. I do know how to push an agenda and communicate a message and it’s simply “cycling is good and so are cyclists.” I do publish a blog called Bike Hugger, so there’s that and we celebrate the bike here. That’s a positive, strong message.

So what are you going to do about this problem? Do you think there is one? Suggestions?

Just as I was saving this post, @bpsnyder shared this link to a Seattle radio personality’s latest effort to light up the switchboards

Want to save lives? Get the bikes off the road instead

Boom. Who’s the media’s whipping boy? Cyclists, of course, and when you have a Director of Policy for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington playing into their hand and reinforcing stereotypes, it’s no surpise at all.

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Comments: 10

Seems like the result of Traffic Collisions that are Car v Truck have very different conclusions.

$42.00 for taking a life is a shameful penalty for such a crime.

Today I saw on http://urbanvelo.org/ a very different outcome. It is reported at http://www.bikelaw.com/blog/s-c-driver-convicted-of-felony-for-killing-cyclist/

There is some justice.

the first sentence should read

Seems like the result of Traffic Collisions that are Car v Bike have very different conclusions.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

@digitalwalker got the sentence right and thanks for the comment.

Right on Tracy.

I’m the odd duck here. I’m an avid cyclist but I’m also a driver of a motor vehicle, both car and motorcycle. I have had many many issues with bicyclists on the road, and in general have to agree with the public that by and large, to me, about 60-70 percent of the bicyclists I encounter are rude and obnoxious.
I happened to be driving through Little Rock AR last Saturday and encountered a peleton of riders out for a club ride. They had no regard for anyone else on the road. Only themselves. I believe in sharing the road, not taking it over.
I fully agree that there are too many deaths involved with biking. I’d love to see it eliminated but it will take some portion of work on both sides to achieve it. Bicyclists have to “share”, motorists have to be aware. there will need to be some education for both. Not just finger pointing.

@wally when the Critical Mass incident occurred, Critical Manners followed and other efforts for us to behave better. We just don’t think how provocative we are and also drivers think we should ride defensively, when we should ride aggressively. It’s a complex issue.

I ride like I am invisible, look drivers in the eyes and never underestimate the distraction of a driver.  I am courteous and always yield right of way to a car.  If that means slowing my cadence or stopping, so be it.  I’d rather be alive. 

On my commutes and from my office window I see many cyclists who ride their bike like they are in a car and disregard road rules.  Thats a good start towards getting run over or enraging a driver.  Move over, yield, obey traffic lights and road signs, let cars pass you, never pass cars on the right and on and on.

For me the first steps toward improving cycling conditions is to educate other cyclists/drivers and set a good example.  The next cyclist a driver comes upon will benefit or suffer from your behaviour, you can be sure of it.

@byron - it is complex, but some times I wonder if we all don’t make it so. When touring, I find other states to be much more aware and bicycle friendly. Why? I take to the roads around here and ride being very aware and still I have close encounters with semi trucks and cars. I only ride single file, I obey traffic signs, signal and am as courteous as can be and still get yelled at by motorists, have trucks veer towards me and so forth. On the other side, while driving I’ve encountered bicyclists that ride 3-4 abreast while talking, just obstructing traffic. These aren’t training rides. I’ve seen almost every rider blow stop signs and lights, never use hand signals to turn and in seemingly not care. I see this and I am a rider so imagine what someone not in tune to the culture thinks?

I posted my comment on Seattle Bike blog and want to say it again:

U.S.A. WILL NEVER BECOME A BICYCLE FRIENDLY COUNTRY

I’ve been reading and hearing about this ongoing shit ( Cyclists vs. Drivers vs. Pedestrians ) forever ! And I’m sick and tired of your whining.

First you wanted the same rights as drivers, now you are bitching about being invisible on the roads.

Don’t want to be hit by a car ? Don’t ride on a road

Ride on a road, be ready to eat shit from everybody: cops, drivers, pedestrians, other cyclists…Just like the title says : ” Reality Does Suck for Cyclists “

@paul

I’d normally remove a comment like yours that shows up here, yells, rants, and is idiotic, but I’m leaving it up so you know and our readers know who we’re dealing with and that we’re coming for you. The PR challenges we face are because of you and they battle we have is with you. Where you’re mistaken is thinking, even for a second, that we fear or worry about you. I don’t expect to change your opinion, but show those around you how stupid you are.

Now go on and find the next bike blog to troll on. They’re waiting for you too.

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