Monday, September 18, 2017

If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say About Cyclists Then You're Probably An Idiot

Cycling: it's the closest you can get to the sensation of flight without leaving the ground.  (Not counting the inhalation of spray-on deodorant through a bath towel, of course.)  Whether you're riding to work, riding to the store, or just riding for no reason at all, you feel like you're miles above the ground, and once you're seduced by the kinetics of riding a bike you need it to feed your soul.

Unfortunately, there's always someone in a car out there ready to send you crashing to the ground, either literally or metaphorically.  It could be a hurled invective, it could be a violation of your right of way, or it could be them actually hitting you, either on purpose or by "accident."  But of course you've got "the same rights and responsibilities" as drivers [insert wanking emoji here], so as far as most people are concerned that's just the way it is.

As infuriating as this is, it used to stop there.  What I mean is that once you finished your ride and came home (assuming you made it home) you'd shut your door, crack open a recovery beverage, and eventually whatever frustrations you'd encountered out there on the road would melt away.  Not anymore.  Now the battle rages on across social media and in the comments section of any article on the subject of cycling, no matter whether the article's positive, negative or indifferent.

The upshot of all this is that unless you've one of the very few people who have managed to remain totally disconnected into 2017 then the "Runnem inna dyyyitch!" never, ever stops.

Take this recent piece by Peter Flax, former editor-in-chief of Bicycling magazine:


Which itself is born of a Twitter exchange:

Surely my life would be more tranquil if I muted this acrimony, but when people threaten my way of life I find that watching funny cat videos or simply celebrating the awesomeness of cycling isn’t enough. I need to know what we’re up against.

Anyway, I had a Twitter exchange one early morning this week that really hit me hard. I had screenshot and then tweeted comments from four people, all expressing emphatically that they disliked bikes and wanted them off the road. (My favorite: “I hate when ppl ride bikes in the street like they cars…plz get hit.”)

Whenever I post this sort of stuff or share links about cyclists getting hit by cars, I typically get some pushback, sometimes genial and sometimes irritated, from people who feel like I’m being too dark. I’m used to it. In this case, a friend in the bike industry responded that my effort “seemed like a big waste of time” and that I should “go get a cup of coffee” because “we’re making progress.”

I think this idea of progress is at once empirically true and obvious bullshit.

It's a very good piece.  (Though I'd argue that when you're about to make a comparison to the Black Lives Matter in your cycling article it's time to take a deep breath and step away from the keyboard for a bit.)  But of course it wasn't long before the article elicited a new wave of toxic commentary:
I scanned some of this commentary, and it's the usual stuff about how cyclists feel entitled because their bicycles don't pollute, and how they're unfairly subjecting poor innocent drivers to their vulnerable presence, and that cyclists are somehow on the wrong end of Darwinism when anyone with half a brain can see it's the driver that's the plodding dinosaur and it's the cyclist who's the nimble and adaptable little warm-blooded mammal.

You know, bullshit.

Meanwhile, this past weekend Drunk Cyclist tagged me on another hateful exchange begun by someone apparently involved in something called "Barstool Sports:"
I was unfamiliar with Barstool Sports, but I looked it up and it turned out to be pretty much exactly what I suspected it was:


The site has received repeated criticism over content posted on Barstool Sports that critics of the site allege normalizes rape culture. Comments that have sparked debate include a post on a 2010 blog where Portnoy said "[E]ven though I never condone rape if you’re a size 6 and you’re wearing skinny jeans you kind of deserve to be raped right?"  Other elements that have received criticism include comments such as “we don't condone rape of any kind at our Blackout Parties ... however if a chick passes out that's a gray area”.

In light of this it was difficult to get too worked up, inasmuch as I've been defining myself in opposition to the American Sports Bro for pretty much as long as I remember.  I don't think there's every been a period of my life in which I haven't encountered people like this being hateful douchebags.  Given this, why wouldn't the people who hated me then not still hate me now?  It's hard to muster up the mental energy to waste on Kurt and Ram from "Heathers" when you resolved to stop doing so in elementary school:


Indeed, it's getting harder and harder for me to muster up the mental energy for any form of idiotic cycling commentary, inasmuch as it's so manifestly stupid that it sort of undermines itself.  At a certain point you might as well debate a flat-earther or a creationist.  At the same time, it's hard not to take inventory of all the hateful commentary with which we are now inundated, both cycling and non-cycling related, and wonder what it says about us and our future.  I mean surely the fact we have an internet troll for a president means we've hit some sort of intellectual low water mark, right?

Maybe.  Or maybe it's as simple as humanity's idiot quotient being sort of a universal constant, and all we're seeing is the digitization of that idiocy and the inevitable fallout.  Either way, from a strictly cycling perspective, here's the bottom line:
They can try to choke us out with our coal, but our victory is inevitable.

66 comments:

Cameron Murphy said...

Podio???

Anonymous said...

podiating yo.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post.

Anonymous said...

Me too.

Anonymous said...

Well done today Snob. You writed that good

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...insert 'two thumbs up emoji' here

N/A said...

One of the best dumb-ass comments that always seems to get trotted out: "but the cyclists don't pay road taxes!"

It's really handy to read that, because I know I can ignore anything that person ever says.

Grump said...

Whenever I see or read people's hate towards bikes, I have to laugh because saying this is just another form of masturbation. It makes them feel good to make others angry of fearful. It's just another form of Bullying. If it does scare some people off the road, it doesn't bother me. It's just one less person that I have to return a silly wave to.

Caleb Heidebrecht said...

Good article and good perspective that, when coupled with the good advice from previous posts, should help to keep us out of trouble, keep us safe and maybe try to convert some anti-cycling individuals out there with a dose of humility and generosity.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy. Can I be a cyclist and an idiot?

cdinvb said...

Sorry. Hurricane. Been gone. Did I miss anything??

Grumpo said...

Ooh.. Heathers! I'm going to have to watch that this evening.

Despair inc said...

Pretension

The downside of being better than everyone else is that people tend to assume you're pretentious

Andy Scherer said...

40+ years into it, the story hasn't changed. Only the players. Podio, I guess?

Spock said...

"If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say About Cyclists Then You're Probably An Idiot"

I have lots and lots of nice things to say about Cyclists, so i must be smart, well "Probably Not An Idiot" (logically). It is just the usual healthy, efficient, clean, Etc. So I wont't bore you with a list.

Skidmark said...

Hey Snob, do you think Ebikes will help open the roads to cyclists (here in the U.S.) Or that Ebikes will fair no better than we do now?

Unknown said...

Read this. Read the Outdoor thing. Both are good. But if I had to be a petty d-bag, you use "insomuch" to much. Is it a word of the day thing?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Unknown,

you use "insomuch" to much

I use it to much what?

--Wildcat Etc.

nscadu 9 said...

1. Don't read the comments. It has taken me a long time to realize that this only gets me angrier and more disillusioned about people's intelligence. You shouldn't even be reading this comment.
2. Don't speak to anyone through the window of a car. Never has an intelligent or logical debate ever taken place between someone inside a motor vehicle and someone outside.
Don't negotiate, don't retaliate, just turn up the volume, but don't be winy about it. Throw a leg over and go, don't put on special clothes, don't put on a helmet, put on a light at night. Keep riding, get your kids on a bike and get others on a bike. You don't have to be an advocate. Just ride as a wise cyclist once said. The more bikes on the road the better.

Bill said...

Well put Snobbie!

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...you use it 'to much' golf clapping?

Anonymous said...

I'll note that large (in statue and mass) cyclists don't get nearly as much harassment as the typical cyclist. Basically, if you look like a bouncer, bodyguard or ex-NFL player, they won't honk or yell at you.

Which confirms my opinion that the badly behaved automobile drivers are basically cowards.

bad boy of the south said...

That low watermark gets more fetid every day.

Skidmark said...

To much or not to much...that is the question.

RANTWICK said...

Love your closer tweet. Also Heathers has long been a character test movie for me. Those who like Heathers are OK. Those who don't require further investigation / training.

N/A said...

Anony @ 2:33 I am very large, and I was run over by a car. That felt pretty much like I was being hassled, if I'm being honest.


Although I will say that when merely honked or yelled at, I used to chase if I was able to. Funny how some tough guy/girl behind the steering wheel clams up tight when I knock on their window and invite them to suck my balls. Thankfully I'm older and wiser now. Well, older anyway. I quit worrying about it.

Joe said...

On a similar-ish note, one of the largest issues I run into with NYC non-cyclists is the "I tried it once and almost died" line. It's constant. I hate this complaint and have a hard time treating it properly. I've been trying "I'm not sure you almost died, I think you just didn't enjoy it."

JLRB said...

So under the new system of moderated comments, you actually have to read all of our bullshit?

Drock said...

Dark really dark. I'm riding

Unknown said...

One should always ridicule the typos of a blog's comments inasmuch as the linguistic stylings of a semi-professional bicycle blogger.

Now where's my Chicago Manual?

Anonymous said...

After a great weekend in the saddle, here are my favorite motorist comments.
1. "Get a life!"
2. "Look out for these bike pricks."
3. "Nice beard"

Anonymous said...

N/A@12:53...Agreed. Even if cyclists were to pay taxes on gasoline we don’t use so that some noble(?) automotive purpose is served (e.g., reducing drivers’ parking ticket fines), animosity wouldn’t disappear. It’s not the taxes they want, it’s that slight piece of road space.

Anonymous said...

I can't explain the expanding hate but long ago I adopted the response to angry drivers with a simple wave "Hi" and a smile. It throws them off, they don't don't know what to do.

Respond with the finger or a "Fuck off" and you risk getting run over or shot.

Anonymous said...

N/A @ 3:22 - I think that sounds like a pretty valid complaint. In fact, coupled with "...the driver was not charged..." I feel like that's about the most legitimate complaint we as cyclists ever make.

janinedm said...

@Joe, I once had a person from a neighboring office tell me she saw me almost die. I was like, "when?" She said, "there were cars all around you!" I actually think that it's not big guys who get the most respect. When I ride my Dutch bike without a helmet (please don't), I fully benefit from the Mary Poppins effect. Just a rolling ball of whimsy. Drivers wave! I shit you not. On my road bike, everybody hates me. (Which is fair).

BikeSnobNYC said...

Unknown,

Great syntax, you've got a real command of the language.

--Wildcat Etc.

Bryan Bracy said...

I'm disappointed to read that creationists and Trump supporters are the same as the biking hating public. I pedal as much as anyone that reads this blog.

Bryan Bracy said...

I'm disappointed but not surprised to read creationists are the same as the bike hating "cagers" of the world.

Bryan Bracy said...

Come on, Snob, creationists aren't the same bike hating "cagers".

Cyclists Lives Don't Seem to Matter said...

Bloggers in typographical glass houses shouldn't throw aspersions: "...I don't think there's every been a period of my life..."

But on to matters more substantial; I don't think Peter Flax was equating the injustices cyclists suffer to that of African Americans, just drawing parallels to the way two put-upon groups are using tech to fight their persecutors.

The bigotry, however, is the same. It's most pronounced here, (in your dystopian future), but I expect it's a global phenomenon (with the exception of the world's few cycling uptopias). It's as if cycling has been officially designated the object of Two Minutes Hate for bigots to release their pent-up furies.

It's no longer acceptable to discriminate on the basis of race or religion or gender or sexuality, but all that hate's gotta go somewhere — enter the humble, unassuming cyclist.

Given the bigotry directed at cyclists often seems to be condoned by authorities and prominent citizens and given our casualty rate... well, maybe comparisons to Black Lives Matter isn't all that fanciful after all?

BikeSnobNYC said...

Bryan Bracy,

Not what I said at all. I did say arguing with someone who hates bikes and arguing with a creatonist is similarly futile though, and I have a feeling that if we continue this exchange you will prove my point.

--Wildcat Etc.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Cyclists Lives...,

Congrats, you found a typo, pleas hold for your prize.

I agree people on bikes remain fair game in a world where there are fewer and fewer acceptable targets for hating people. (Though we appear to be regressing in thst respect.)

Nevertheless, bottom line is that when you're not on a bike you're not on a bike.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

blunchbelly said...

Today I rode around a beautiful Adirondack lake for the hell of it. Sublime. Even the pickups with assault rifle stickers gave me plenty of room when the shoulders were narrow. Some days life is too good to get mad.

Anonymous said...

May I just say, though it certainly goes without saying that the VAST majority of bicycle owner/operators are also drivers of 4 wheeled vehicles in other aspects of their lives, which completely mutes the point of us somehow not paying for the roadways. And the thought in my mind when taunted or nearly run into the ditch is that it is very likely the case that the cyclist so annoyingly taking the shoulder is probably your doctor or your mom's doctor, and you might want to think twice about viewing them as expendable

Cyclists Lives Don't Seem to Matter said...

"... bottom line is that when you're not on a bike you're not on a bike..."

I think I know what you mean by that, and fair enough. Also, I admit to using the term "cyclists" in the pretentious wanker's *lifestyle* sense, but nonetheless, even the casual infrequent cyclist for whom it is not the all abiding thing it may be for many of us, can transform into a "cyclist" in an instant, and with the proliferation of share bikes, in more and more places.

Bigotry has the same effect on riders-of-bikes as it does on other minority groups: you may feel inhibited to venture beyond the boundaries of your ghetto because of your race or you may decide to suppress expressions of piety because of your faith or you may feel compelled to curb your ambitions because you're a woman or you may decide it'd be best to mask your sexuality because you're gay or you may choose to deny yourself the simple pleasure of riding a bike because you're a "cyclist".

Vilification tends to oppress and diminish lives, regardless of who its target is. It sounds silly to say riding a bike is a fundamental human right, but given the lessons of history, perhaps we should have the audacity to assert it as such...?



As for the typogate scandal; you started it!

Bryan Bracy said...

I didn't mean to reply that many times.

Bryan Bracy said...

Snob, do you have to bless each comment before they are posted?

Steve Barner said...

If you're patient long enough, you can just look calmly into the portly 50 year old's pudgy, red face and simply say "I'm 62 and I've been riding bikes almost as long as you've been alive." That usually shuts them up, so you don't have to add "and from the looks of things, I'll probably still be riding long after you're gone."

BikeSnobNYC said...

Bryan Bracy,

Yes, I do now. I didn't moderate for 10 years but about a week or so ago I changed my policy. Go ahead and ask why.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Bryan Bracy said...

How do I get podiums now?

Old Timer said...

It is good to be an old bike rider. (75!) And lucky to have even gotten old!!! My lifelong old friend, the bicycle!

Not Bryan Bracy said...

You should have stopped at post #1. Now you're merely annoying.

Amazing post today Wildcat. Thanks for the link to the Peter Flax article. His point that our being on bikes is a civil rights issue is right on (and we're the second class citizen who has to take it).

Thanks for your advocacy.

Hugh Janus, Expert Motorist said...

It's really pretty simple, shit-birds: Wanna not get squashed? Stay off my highway. What you turds fail to grasp is that when you decide to prance around in the middle of the goddamn street on a toy, YOU are a fucken interloper. You are a selfish, ignorant twat who has encroached on my holy terrain. We see you and say "Fuck! Look at that turd! He has to be a brainless bag of monkey shit to be out here on a silly pedal-toy with his fat ass packed into those silly looking girly-shorts. I bet no one in the civilized world gives two shits about such a asshole. Hell, I bet his family would pay me to run his ass over and end their misery." Spare me he horse-shit about yer "rights" under the law. Anybody with half a brain knows that all those "share the road" laws are just a bunch of crap that state and local gubmints created for the sake of appearances. Nobody ever imagined that there would actually be legions of idiots that would take them seriously. Do yer self a favor, anal warts. Throw those bikes in a dumpster and get a muscle car. This will not help dorks like you get laid but it will be way, way more fun and it will do wonders for yer life expectancy. Yer Welcome.

ken e. said...

what (s)he said, and nice title.

Some guy from upstate said...

There are breaks in the gloom. Not everyone in a car is a dick. My experience is about 10% (mostly women) smile back when you give them a big goofy smile. As further evidence, I present this Facebook post from earlier this year:

Just so you know there are positive interactions with motorists, one morning this week as I was riding up the last bit of Everett road before turning left on Albany Shaker, standing on the pedals and doing my best Alberto Contador impersonation, a guy passed me on the right and said "hit it". Then as I passed him while he was waiting to make the right turn, and I swear I am not making this up, he said "respect to awesome". So thanks, guy on Everett road. PS: my best Alberto Contador impersonation is still not a very good Alberto Contador impersonation ..

Note: I don't even think he was a cyclist, since he was vaping and I don't think there's too much overlap. There is the possibility of sarcasm, but most morning commuters are too groggy to be clever.

rural 14 said...

Hey, they were yelling at me in 1975, and they're still yelling at me now.
My kid has been riding to school in our rural neighborhood, and he learned some new words
"Why would they yell 'Coxsackie' at me" (which is a town about 50 miles from us that he's been to)
A teachable moment.
I find if i behave like a drooling idiot (sorry) the people who yell at me come in conflict with their own feelings about mental defectives.
Sometimes I say to them, "I'm so sorry, I'm a mental defective and my grasp of the English language is tenuous" and it takes a beat.
But I don't take a beating.
Because luckily I am large, and as my wife says, 'look like a scary homeless maniac'
On the plus side, roads have improved since 1975.
And so have tires.
The general culture has gotten more oppressive, even as we pretend that hiphop has saved us all and liberal bastions of multiculturalism are truly liberal bastions of multiculturalism, not the fake Benneton magazine covers they actually are.
Scratch below the surface just a little and it's a binary:
a. people are evil
b. people will help in a crisis (at least here in our wealthy United States. In a refugee camp...that's where you can see naked human nature.
Why is it so hard to get to b.?

weasel said...

Wildcat,

Why didn't you moderate for 10 years, and why do you moderate now?

P.S.
I wish you had moderated all of TedK's comments.

rural 14 said...

Hey, they were yelling at me in 1975, and they're still yelling at me now.
My kid has been riding to school in our rural neighborhood, and he learned some new words
"Why would they yell 'Coxsackie' at me" (which is a town about 50 miles from us that he's been to)
A teachable moment.
I find if i behave like a drooling idiot (sorry) the people who yell at me come in conflict with their own feelings about mental defectives.
Sometimes I say to them, "I'm so sorry, I'm a mental defective and my grasp of the English language is tenuous" and it takes a beat.
But I don't take a beating.
Because luckily I am large, and as my wife says, 'look like a scary homeless maniac'
On the plus side, roads have improved since 1975.
And so have tires.
The general culture has gotten more oppressive, even as we pretend that hiphop has saved us all and liberal bastions of multiculturalism are truly liberal bastions of multiculturalism, not the fake Benneton magazine covers they actually are.
Scratch below the surface just a little and it's a binary:
a. people are evil
b. people will help in a crisis (at least here in our wealthy United States. In a refugee camp...that's where you can see naked human nature.
Why is it so hard to get to b.?

BikeSnobNYC said...

weasel,

Didn't moderate for 10 years because for the most part it was not necessary and I prided myself on keeping an open door.

Started moderating now mainly because of a racist Trump supporter who abused the policy when I mentioned those teens who were arrested for not wearing reflective clothing after they were hit by a driver. (Driver not charged.)

Oh, well, it was a good run. Sign of the times I guess.

--Wildcat Etc.

Touching Warm, Private Eye said...

Next asshole who plays 'Sweet Caroline' on the jukebox gets his lights punched out.

N/A said...

I apologize in advance for the need to read my bologna posts, Wildcat. Ain't nobody should hafta' do it.


I'm not going to stop, of course.

Anonymous said...

vsk said ...

Man, I go on vacation for 2 weeks and the whole world changes.
Moderated ?
Or should it be Modrated? Like some people say Litrally.

Sadly, I've been off my bikes for many months now. Family stuff, house stuff, work stuff.
Usually, being on the bike actually gives me MORE energy to deal with all the other stuff.
Not to mention being as fat as a frikkn apartment building now. Maybe I will work it in with the new ferry. There are plenty of times when the trains cause so much frustration. Plus waiting on line for a Citibike...

Negativity travels far and wide. Reading all these things from time to time about the road sharing wars does not help or inspire.
Maybe I'll put together something with some upright bars or something.

vsk

Chazu said...

New York City.

There, I brought all this verbiage full-circle, back to the the primary theme of the blog.

Now I'm gonna go cry because I'm a fly-over rube.

Vend403 said...

Rode to work this morning with the thought that I am not really enjoying my commute anymore, basically because of the challenges presented by clueless or distracted motorists. Yes, the clueless or distracted ones may be a minority, but it only takes one to screw up a lot of stuff. Now that I've read this dark blogosity my mood riding home this afternoon will be seriously depressed.

As always, BSNYC makes a good case.

JLRB said...

The days getting shorter always makes me rethink my bicycle ride to work habit - this year I am oddly looking forward to winter riding - don't let the danger and assholes get you down - ride safe - if your number comes up it's probably a better way to go then striking out somewhere

Caleb Heidebrecht said...

Winter riding is my favorite. Far less people on the bike paths and fewer fair weather riders. It feels safer. With the right gear, it's also as comfortable as a spring/fall ride.