Are We Advocating Wrong?

Our type of advocacy is to ride bikes and blog about it. The blogs and websites that advocate are good at it and we mostly leave that topic to them. I waiver back and forth between covering bike advocacy more and then settle back on our social rides. I think we can do our best work at creative events where we ride bikes with other geeks. Riding the Strip in Vegas during Interbike is a good example. We also work hard at being another voice in the cycling media, an alternative to the papers and news. While we maybe missing the specific bike advocate editorial, it does drive much of what we do.

I’ve seen the recent anti-bike news, laws, and response from our community. This letter to the editor got my attention.

The following is an open letter to Mike Nozzolio and Gary Finch: The morning of Saturday, July 3, I had the displeasure of driving to Auburn on Route 34 amid a convoy of bicycles stretching for miles. Needing to buy gas, I had planned to stop at the Pit Stop Sunoco station on South Street. My right side turning signal was on in advance, and just as I started to turn the wheel, one of these suicidal, imbecilic bicyclists at full speed, passed me on the right, narrowly missing the front of my truck and passed in front of another vehicle waiting to enter the road.

If I had turned faster as I would have had the other vehicle not been there, that bicyclist would undoubtedly have died against the side of my truck.

I am still angry and upset that I was very nearly forced to participate in the senseless and unnecessary death of another person.

My advice and plea to you two representatives is to sponsor legislation to ban all bicycle races from all public highways.

Other than riding to the right, these bicycles racers do not obey traffic laws.

They will not slow down, stop or yield. When their events are held on county roads, they effectively convert the road to one lane for motor vehicles.

These bicyclists should be required to use a private race track.

Otherwise it is only a matter of time until one of them is killed and an innocent motorist is guilt ridden for life.

I think my reaction is based on the weekly deaths I see in my news feed. Not a week goes by without a car/bike accident and deaths. As offensive as Lee Gamlen’s opinion is, that’s what people think, they get that mad, and I’m wondering if the advocacy community is doing it wrong.

Maybe it’s a blip, but the car/bike hate seems on the rise. I’m no scholar, but wonder if there’s a correlation between the popularity of cycling and the backlash. I do know whenever Lance is on TV, I get yelled at more and it seems like more this year. Earlier this year, he said

To me this is all about a relationship. It’s bikes and cars. Both will be here forever. Awareness needs to exist as well as mutual respect.

There is a lack of respect and I think it’s tribal. People are sitting in their cars and we come whizzing by with bright plumage. We’re scofflaws, doing whatever we want on the bike, blowing signs, in between cars. For them, what’s to like about us? For us, their cars can kill us.

This post is based on dialogue I’ve been having with my colleagues on rides. I wanted to get your opinion about it, maybe we’ll reach some conclusion.