One instance that leaps to mind is Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy's infamous "Bicyclist Bullies" story:
That's the one in which he said he could relate to wanting to pay $500 to run down a cyclist with your car:
It’s a $500 fine for a motorist to hit a bicyclist in the District, but some behaviors are so egregious that some drivers might think it’s worth paying the fine.
And in which he referenced both "The Muppets" and terrorism in the same paragraph:
On Wednesday, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s Bike Ambassadors will ride to the NoMa Summer Screen viewing of “The Muppets” “to hand out surprise goodies to people who biked.” There’ll be kids and bikes and Muppets, as if Kermit is supposed to make us forget about the biker terrorists out to rule the road.
Yes, when I think kids and bikes and Muppets the first thing I think of is terrorism:
Though Kermit isn't wearing a helme(n)t, so maybe Courtland was onto something after all.
Our nation's capital isn't the only city under siege from "terrorists" either, as this Chicagoan can well attest:
While leaving the Printer's Row Lit Fest last week, I was almost run down by three two wheeled terrorists riding their personal weapons of destruction (PWDs) on the sidewalk, weaving between several pedestrians.
I exclaimed, "Look at these F@#$ing morons."
Who talks like that at a literary festival!
Cyclists may be "terrorists," but you, sir are a vulgarian!
Then again, I can understand his anger, because he did witness the cyclists causing injury to innocent pedestrians.
Oh, wait, no he didn't:
It is surprising they have not injured people while weaving in and out of that heavy pedestrian traffic.
Even worse than simply calling cyclists terrorists is when an actual cyclist does it and takes the analogy way too far in the process:
CRITICAL MASSHOLES ARE NOT CYCLISTS:
Critical Massholes are to fundamentalist terrorists what Islam is to cycling. I love cycling but I am not a Critical Masshole. Likewise, many of my best friends are Muslim, but they are not terrorists. However, in the “profiling” era we live in society no longer takes the time to assess what one individual is doing. Instead society judges based on what they’ve seen recently with their own eyes. Every afternoon on the last Friday of the month thousands of Critical Massholes take over the city streets and ruin people’s daily routine.
There really needs to be a function in autocorrect that warns you when you're typing the phrase "many of my best friends are..."
Maybe that would have stopped him from saying that terrorists are people who "take over the streets and ruin people's daily routine."
("There goes my daily routine! The terrorists have won!")
Yes, when it comes to bicycles, the bar for terrorism is astonishingly low:
Bicyclists should be grateful that Madison's alders cared enough about their safety to allow them on sidewalks designed only for pedestrians ("Bad Madison Bicyclists," Tell All, 4/4/2014). They have obligations to give pedestrians the utmost safety. Anything less is terrorism and negligence and being a taker. No walker deserves to be frightened. Those who blame the victim display a callous uncaring for their own behavior's harmful impact to the extent it causes fear or worse.
Susan Michetti, Mount Horeb
If "being a taker" is terrorism then what does that make the typical Olive Garden diner?
This isn't to say that cyclists don't hurt or even kill people, because once in awhile they do...and this obviously makes them terrorists:
They’re terrorists on wheels. Assassins in Spandex.
The bicycle menaces must be stopped.
Though beware the law of unintended consequences, because if you get rid of the cyclists then what excuse will taxi drivers use for running over pedestrians on the sidewalk?
"This is what cab drivers have to deal with every day.
"It could have happened to any of us."
Mr Himon, who launched the fund for Ms Green with the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, claimed the cyclist had pounded on his car and yelled at him.
Speaking of taxi drivers, earlier this year London's taxi chief famously called cyclists the "ISIS of London:"
"The loonies out there in the cycling world, they're almost the sort of ISIS of London," McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, told LBC Radio. "Their views and their politics — if you are not with them — and we are with the majority of it — then nothing is too bad for you. These people are unreal."
And of course with cycling and terrorism so clearly linked, anti-bike lane forces have done their best to use this connection to cause mass hysteria. Remember back in 2011 when CBS News predicted doom because a bike lane was going to pass by the Israeli consulate?
“It was bedlam,” Silberblatt said. “Anybody trying to ride a bike is taking their life in their hands. It’s that dangerous.”
CBS 2 scoped out the area and spotted other potential dangers. Buses come down 48th Street and travel one block to 49th to turn around. They have to cross the new bike lane twice within one block.
A Second Avenue bike lane is next to the Israeli consulate, leaving many wondering what would happen if a man on a bike were a terrorist.
Because of course none of the cars, trucks, or buses streaming by as she spoke could possibly have contained terrorists.
And more recently, in suburban London:
Terrorist attacks, undiscovered unexploded bombs and a potential to poison the London water supply have all been listed as reasons against a proposed cycle path between New Malden and Raynes Park.
So there you go.
The above notwithstanding, it's important to keep in mind that the terrorism references work both ways, and cyclists themselves will invoke it to portray themselves as martyrs and feed their own persecution complexes. Consider celebrity bike salmon Alec Baldwin:
Alec Baldwin is still berating the cops who arrested him for riding his bike against traffic, joking to Page Six, “There is only one crime more serious in New York than riding a bike the wrong way down the street, and that’s terrorism.”
The actor, smarting after he was busted for riding his bike the wrong way against traffic on Fifth Avenue on Tuesday, said he believes he was targeted by cops who acted far too heavy-handed over his cycle crime because of his celebrity status.
This is obviously not true, because obviously you can easily slip "selling loose cigarettes" between the two.
Of course, if we move beyond newspaper columnists and indignant celebrities into the sordid world of tweets and internet comments it's almost too easy, since at this point there should be a corollary to Godwin's Law stating that any mention of cyclists will eventually attract a comparison to terrorists. This graphic illustrates this rule to great effect, as does the following tweet:
They should be so lucky.@GardaTraffic Should not have let him off!Cyclists are terrorising pedestrians in Dublin worse than ISIS ever will!— Siddy Coffee (@SiddyCoffee) August 10, 2015
Still, even though finding cyclists=terrorists on the Internet is as easy as finding chainring tattoos at a charity ride rest stop, it's still noteworthy how even the most benign behavior can inspire such rage. Consider this video:
I don't know, that group looked pretty civil and considerate to me. Even so:
By the way, it just so happens that while browsing the Internet this morning on the subject of cyclists and ISIS, the following tweet popped up:
Toss up between ISIS and New York City cyclists on who's worse.— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) November 4, 2015
I wouldn't have even thought anything of it, except it turned out the tweeter was a writer for the "Tonight Show:"
So I tweeted what I thought was a fairly benign dig in comparison, though the tweeter was indignant, pointing out he'd crafted the bon mot before the events in Paris. You know, back on November 4th, before we knew ISIS were so bad:
@MikeDrucker Ah, right. Because ISIS hadn't done anything horrible before then.— Bike Snob NYC (@bikesnobnyc) November 16, 2015
Indeed, I really seemed to get under his skin:
If nothing else, it's interesting and perhaps worrisome that a written expression less than two weeks old is now considered "old" and "forgotten."
Of course, as (presumably) non-cyclists, people who make these sorts of jokes can be forgiven for not realizing how many other people out there express these sentiments with sincerity--and often back them up with physical intimidation out there on the road. Instead, they deflect any criticism and instead characterize cyclists as humorless. We all know this isn't the case, and we also know there are about a million ways to laugh at us--but saying the same stuff as people who try to run us off the road and occasionally kill us usually isn't one of them.
At the very least, joke writers aside, if column writers and policy makers have any sense they'll expunge the whole terrorism thing from their repertoire and find other ways to negatively characterize us.
Which I suppose means they won't.