Opinion: Cyclists Must Die!

Must stomp bicycle! STOMP STOMP STOMP

Ever since Russian drivers taught us the usefulness of never turning off your GoPro, the internets are blowing up with helmet cam videos of mid-ride encounters with  harassing,  threatening, and  plain crazy drivers. The news media has picked up on it, and, in a handful of cases, the authorities are busting the assailants, although sometimes the cops press charges for posting the video. Luckily, if The Man isn’t on our side the Russians showed us how to handle it.

The videos of people driving angry I don’t find all that shocking. I learned to drive growing up in downtown Boston, where we were taught to have our hands at 12:00 and 2:00, with the middle finger of our top hand permanently extended. We all know there are no shortage of people whose short temper, entitlement, ignorance, selfishness, sociopathy, and/or lack of hugs are going to make them a threat to whatever poor shmuck lands in their literal or figurative path.

I done posted this to the internets, yee haa!

I’ve long interpreted the Prime Directive regarding interference with less developed life forms to include, “Never read the comment section.” However, take a look at any YouTube video, news story, or facebook post about some cyclist who almost got killed, and you will find loads of people chiming in, “Damn straight. Kill ‘em.”

The folks at BikeLaw.com pointed out this phenonemon and asked, “Bike Haters, Born or Made?” They not so subtly suggest that the issue is that such posters are homophobic (we wear spandex), poor (socioeconomic status - bonus points for extra syllables), country folk (city mouse rides a bike, country mouse is actually a cat), who uphold the rule of law (running lights and riding two abreast is antagonistic!), and, duh, they are fat. MOST KIDS ride a bike, so where along the line do they end up hating it as adults?

Not surprisingly, a thoughtful commentator was quick to opine that that the attorney must actually be a member of some kind of barbeque special forces unit. At least, I presume that’s what a “rump ranger” is.

The hatred, and for that matter, the indelicate phrasing of the question, isn’t about bikes at all. Cyclists are an easily identifiable “other.” That thing you are riding isn’t a bike, its a giant sign between your legs saying you support everything they hate. It goes both ways, too: the comments on my Dating a Cyclist critique predictably degenerated into angry postulations about the sort of ignorant scum who drive dualies. Which then became a fight between earth-hating out-of-shape dudes who do shuttle rides, and the smug, leg shaving d-bags who ride recumbents with a helmet mirror. (Okay, I made up that last part, but, seriously, who isn’t tempted to squash a dude pedaling a hammock?)


Australian pros on proper fighting technique

Thus, all the bike hate isn’t about running lights (which I completely believe in) or wearing tight shorts (although it may cause my wife to maim me). It’s about how many people hate everyone who thinks differently from them, and are so angry about it that they need to scream into the void if only to crush one more soul. What’s more problematic is how these outbursts are rife even within our chamois cream stained, deviant subculture. Mountain bikers and roadies; racers, serious racers, and you know, REAL racers; cyclocross fanatics and non-alcoholics – you see it all the time. Somehow a discussion about electronic XTR turns into a rant about how much everyone in SoCal sucks. We are not having disagreements about anything to do with bikes, we are having disagreements about where your mom can put it.

This isn’t going to be fixed by riding like sheep or collecting a bazillion hours of GoPro footage and jailing every driver out there. We can’t make them hate us less. However, we could try, maybe even just here, to make a point of not screaming about how much we hate each other.

Comments

Joe - 06/07/14 - 10:44am

How about trying mutual respect.

Mat Arcand - 06/07/14 - 10:49am

Well said. I don’t think that following “if you don’t have something nice to say then say nothing” isn’t a bad idea. I totally agree that if we can’t stop all of our petty infighting about x, y, or z, then we can’t stand together and make real change for everyone.

skipdapbaddamarangdoo - 06/07/14 - 11:08am

Sir that’s my transportation unit you’re stomping there

Rico - 06/07/14 - 12:19pm

Great piece, loved it. (as I head out into cape cod summer traffic)

topcheese - 06/07/14 - 12:20pm

I just wrote about this subject earlier this week.
I used a little bit naughtier language though, as I harbor nothing less than contempt for the motorist.

http://lubeachainbicycles.blogspot.com/2014/06/motorists-worst-kind-of-people.html

fgh - 06/07/14 - 12:37pm

I wonder how many of us did not get into troubles.
I certainly had a few cars trying to run me over and “brake checking” me over the years.
and that’s just the “on purpose” ones

chasejj - 06/07/14 - 1:14pm

As a former roadie who turned totally offroad.
Your points are well taken.
I wouldn’t be caught dead riding road. One reason is it is so dangerous. I have had 2 friends killed by vehicular manslaughter, not politically motivated (that we know of) but criminally incompetent and ghoulish behavior (left them to die) due to being illegal immigrants w/o a DL.
In addition to this, the predominant political bent of most roadies (being decidedly left) makes them poor company for someone much more rooted in reality and common sense. This is socially incompatible with myself and all the friends I ride with.
Then when you see them arrogantly riding 2 or more abreast on the narrow country road you use to drive to your trailhead and they flip you off as you squeeze by when the road widens. It is pretty easy to see how a less than stable person in a car could lose it.
Combine that with the PR disaster that was Critical Mass here in the Bay Area of SF for years and years, and militant cyclists have created thousands of pissed off drivers running on the roads who probably hostile towards cyclists before but now see them as provacateurs trying to make a political point about their rights every time they block your vehicle from going by them.
Some times cyclists are their own worst enemy. JM2C
Go ahead and flame me , the truth is the truth.

m f - 06/07/14 - 1:15pm

they win….since i moved to south florida 12 years ago, i either ride in 1 of 4 parks with dirt trails, or if on pavement, ONLY on the sidewalk………i cannot understand the mentality of hating on bike riders, but, i will not chance a potentially life altering encounter with some angry, misguided a**hole….

chasejj - 06/07/14 - 1:17pm

correction “who probably weren’t hostile towards cyclists”

Androo - 06/07/14 - 1:23pm

@chasejj

I was really hoping that this particular comments section wasn’t going to prove the thesis of the article. Sadly…

chasejj - 06/07/14 - 1:27pm

Androo-Oh well…….then don’t run silly Op-ed pieces addressing the obvious.

Ripnshread - 06/07/14 - 1:40pm

I had a roadie girlfriend who’s dad was a special forces commander. She had been harassed so much that she road with a .357 in the back of her jersey.

Ripnshread - 06/07/14 - 1:41pm

*rode

ken - 06/07/14 - 2:09pm

Glad I am living in the Netherlands, everybody grew up on a bicycle so everyone lives together on our roads. Of course the bigger peloton of cyclist are one in a while a problem but stil no complaints when looking and reading at the stuff happening in other countries.

ScottB - 06/07/14 - 2:25pm

In what way is this article constructive to the conversation?
I completely understand the hostility we face as cyclists. I have been yelled at, honked at, had bottles thrown at me, shot with a pellet gun. I have seen a bit off it all. I have ridden mountain bikes, hybrids, cruisers, road bikes, a pedi-cab, and currently ride a Cross bike on our gravel roads to avoid traffic. I also am one of those d-bags that uses a mirror and rides a hammock. Seriously? We ALL face enough hostility out there on the road do we really need to have decisiveness towards recumbent riders in an article about road hazards? And no I have not lost my sense of humor, I refer to my recumbent as my dork bike (I know how I look on it), I just appreciate the challenge of riding something different, I wish the author was capable of the same.

Quickie - 06/07/14 - 2:39pm

I want to get warm and fuzzy on this, but the thought of recumbent bikes ride has me stomping-kitten mad.

alex - 06/07/14 - 3:56pm

USA needs more cycling infrastructure.

skeez - 06/07/14 - 4:18pm

@chasejj you and your cool friends that can’t ride with other cyclists (who is the elitist left-leaner now) must be in such a hurry to get to the trailhead to ride that you can wait a few seconds to make somebody elses day more pleasant. also try riding to the trailhead if you can make it happen…it is whats up. also thanks @andrewoo for the article. truer words have never been spoken

BikeHoarder6 - 06/07/14 - 4:24pm

Very interesting how Andrew Stackhouse (BR author of this piece) makes this long appeal asking us cyclists the famous Rodney King question “Can’t we all just get along”, then devolves into hating recumbent riders at the end.

Quote: “…leg shaving d-bags who ride recumbents with a helmet mirror. (Okay, I made up that last part, but, seriously, who isn’t tempted to squash a dude pedaling a hammock?)”

This is the exact same elitist attitude that I got tired of after 20+ years of surfing.
If you don’t live here, don’t surf here. Oh, you ride a longboard, or GASP! a boogieboard…
You are a subspecies/sub-phylum and you are to be hated, berated and shunned. The surf mags would spout the exact same vitriol. Let’s all get along/No, let’s all be “locals”.

Very sad indeed.

If this forum can be viewed as a small representative slice of the collective intelligence of humanity, then we are all in a lot of f*ing trouble.

Psi Squared - 06/07/14 - 4:26pm

Isn’t it interesting, chasejj, how a commenter perpetuates the hate discussed in the article by pissing all over roadies? Yeah, such comments just prove the author’s point.

Hotep - 06/07/14 - 4:39pm

@Stackhouse….super poor form harshing on the recumbent crew. Clearly you ever been been haulin’ ass and passed by a dude in a full fairing bike, like you were riding uphill? Look up the bio for Naked Bikes founder and multiple NAHBS winner Sam Whittingham….

Bicyclists Must Unite! All pedal wheels are good wheels.

falserider - 06/07/14 - 4:56pm

(deleted)

I ride every type of bike. My hometown of Pittsburgh PA went from the 3rd worst city to ride in to the top 20 List. If good people keep riding and contributing things will change for the better. Keep it up all you non trolls!

Clancy - 06/07/14 - 6:21pm

Chasejj – as a hardcore roadie I share your opinions about arrogant roadies who ride two up and flip drivers off. I make a point of waving thanks to every driver who gives me space as they pass and try not to act upset when drivers come too close. Road cyclists are often times their own worse publicity. However I don’t get the whole decidedly left leaning vs being rooted in reality. Some of my riding friends may have different political or religious opinions from me but I really wouldn’t know. That’s because we are cyclists that love cycling. We tend to geek out way too much about bike stuff to venture into that other boring stuff. I ride my bike to get away from all that diversive nonsense.

Captainsideburns - 06/07/14 - 6:50pm

Wooooooossssshhhhhh

chasejj - 06/07/14 - 7:07pm

Hey Clancy- I am with you. But if you should ever ride in the SF Bay Area you will see my point.
I used to consider myself a cyclist, now I could care less about cycling as a sport or group to self-indentify.
I find the most cyclists around here anyway, to be tedious bores driving the same cars, riding the same overpriced status bikes and espousing the same elitist attitude towards almost any subject.
Sum it up by the bumper sticker on the back of the SUV w/ $600 rack and $6000 CF Niner on the back. “Ride a Bike, Save the Planet” . Total bullshit.
When I talked to the guy, first thing out of his mouth was we should plant some trees in the lot to fight global warming. I looked at him and said, Really? He rode off. That was his comment of the day.
I have ZERO interest in speaking to someone like that.

topcheese - 06/07/14 - 7:12pm

I must say that in MOST cases, I get a lot of respect on the road. That doesn’t mean that I get that much ROOM on the road, but I like that I can at least feel safe (in most cases). That said, in a recent group ride a dude tried to box us out at an intersection and then yelled at me, while the tail of his SUV was out in the opposing lane. He yelled at me because I stated, “That was very rude.” Most times I just wave to the offender after wrongs me. Less conflict that way, and I can enjoy the rest of my ride. I just…
I don’t know man. What does it say about a society that lives and breaths hostility towards one another? I ride a bike, you drive a car… get over yourself man. Life gets a lot harder than bikes.

Psi Squared - 06/07/14 - 7:26pm

I’ll second what topcheese said. With the vast majority drivers I have zero problems. Sure there’s the odd butt head driver, but I figure the fraction of butt head drivers in the driving population is about the same as butt head cyclists in the cycling population. Hell, it’s probably the same as the fraction of butt heads in the general population.

“I don’t know man. What does it say about a society that lives and breaths hostility towards one another?” Whatever it says, it’s not very flattering for our society.

chasejj - 06/07/14 - 7:43pm

PSI-squared- Regarding those butthead drivers as you call them.
As my friend found out….it only takes one. Precisely why I ride MTB only.
I even gave up road Motorcycles for the same exact reason.

topcheese - 06/07/14 - 7:51pm

@PSI , personally, I enjoyed Your conversion table: 1 butthead driver = 1 butthead cyclist.
@chasejj , my heart belongs to MTB. But I have to ride when I can. Even if that means I just commute to work and back, at least I got to ride my bike.
I am certain everyone would agree with that.

topcheese - 06/07/14 - 7:54pm

…also, I am sorry your friend had to experience that end of it. Truly. I have lost a friend or two because of this senseless disdain for cyclists. I do not take it lightly.
As I am sure you do not either.

Rico - 06/08/14 - 12:31am

chasejj, I can see why you’d get off road. That’s terriblly depressing and scary to lose friends that way I’m sure. I ride both on and off road but started with bmx and then onto mountain bikes mid-90s. I do a lot of miles on the road now, but I think automobile awareness is an absolute must, and I see so many close calls out on rides. Sometimes the bikers cause them and a lot of times it’s autos and their lack of awareness. I’ve seen several casualties in my other sports when I was younger as both a skateboarder and snowboarder. I ended up in intensive care, close to death myself crashing at a race. The weird thing to me about road biking and safety is that it’s not presented as dangerous at all. It’s like the vibe of the sub-culture is sort of fu-fu. I swear it’s seen as almost sissy or like tennis or golf. I think that could end up making people take the risks too lightly. For another example, you really get to understand the dangers of speed in the woods, brushing past trees, same thing on a board. But on a road bike you can be hauling ass at like 35 and it feels like nothing… until you crash at that speed. It’s like a lot of road cyclists need a reality check.

On the other side of the coin riding road in europe is waaaay different. Anyone from the US – try it, you’ll like it. That makes me think the drivers and cyclist in the US have a lot to learn and that it is possible. The drivers in the EU usually respect cyclists, that’s all it takes imo. Over here in the US you get so many furious drivers, they just reach for reasons to blame you for f*ing nothing.

Andy - 06/08/14 - 1:34am

Chasejj– you say you don’t identify with the left leaning roadies with expensive bikes… Well I hope you aren’t a global warming denying right wing religious gun-worshipping conservative, you know, cuz that would be hypocritical, about the need to self identify and have elitist views on others and whatnot. I find cycling to be a far healthier religion than a hate-filled 2000 year old book and an invisible dude in the sky. I don’t imply that you would be any of those, just that people who love riding bike usually don’t fit that profile.

Ronin - 06/08/14 - 4:11am

Reading the comments here and on other websites, it’s clear why governments don’t promote cycling more. If 50% of the population became cyclists, there would be civil war.

Does the type of wheel you roll on really define who you are?

That’s why I don’t believe the “theory” of evolution applies to humans. It’s more the theory of how we can define ourselves different to each other to make ourselves feel superior in some superficial way.

This definition within the capitalist construct usually requires you to spend. Outside of the capitalist countries it’s usually based on ethnicity or class, or your access to guns or your ability to use violence against another human.

So you see, its not just about cycling.

He who knows not, and knows not he knows not, he is an idiot shun him.
He who knows not, and knows he knows not, he is a student, teach him.
He who knows and knows not he knows, he is asleep, wake him.
He who knows and knows he knows, he is a teacher, follow him.

bikermark - 06/08/14 - 7:31am

We do need more bicycling infrastructure. Those cycle tracks, bike lanes, shoulders. and multiuse paths don’t just happen–the public had to be convinced they were necessary and the funds had to be found for construction. I work in bike advocacy and I attend a lot of those public meetings. Guess what the number one objection is to building these types of facilities? (Hint: it’s not we don’t have the money.) The first objection is that because bikers behave like jackasses on the street, they don’t deserve new things. How do you talk your way out of that one? (Hint: not by pointing out that drivers are worse. Yes, there’s a double standard for us; acknowledge it; move on.)

The mountain biking community has long recognized that behavior on the trails directly affects access to the trails. The road community and regular bikers need to understand that flouting traffic laws and buzzing pedestrians is not a victimless crime. That stuff comes back on us by making it harder to convince the general public–we are still a tiny minority–that we need new on road facilities.

And regarding the author’s endorsement of blowing traffic lights? WTF. We are legally classified as a vehicles which allows us full use of the lane. How can we take that right, expect the full protection of the law, and then pick and choose which traffic rules we want to follow? Some of the best interactions I’ve had with drivers happen when we’re both waiting for the traffic light.

advcyclist - 06/08/14 - 10:49am

None of us (humans) are born with hate. It is a learned behavior and, as such, can be unlearned. Stackhouse didn’t do any of us any favors by sidelining ‘bent riders as any less in need of respect than any other cyclist. We (all cyclists) are in need of being valued on PUBLIC roads.

I ride all manner of bikes, though I have never ridden a recumbent; and can be found on my road bike most times. The drivers that buzz close annoy me and the ones that flip me off are responded to with a wave (being nice really throws them when they expect angry bird-flip retaliation). Don’t escalate an unnecessary situation into an un-winnable one. Take the information of the offender, record the situation and, if necessary, report it to the authorities with as much detail as possible. Devolving a roadside encounter with a shouting match or worse does nothing to further our cause to be valued as equals on PUBLIC roads.

Androo - 06/08/14 - 12:55pm

Am I the only one who took the jab at recumbents in the article as blatantly obvious sarcasm / irony? I’m not quite sure why people are getting up in arms about that…

(I say this as a guy who built his own carbon fiber semi-recumbent – which has got to make me the most vile of cycling’s half-breeds.)

Andrew Stackhouse - 06/08/14 - 1:09pm

Androo for the win! Unless he is responsible for this abomination, in which case he will be collected for re-education.

k - 06/08/14 - 7:18pm

peace on earth. hurt no one!

Ben - 06/09/14 - 9:11am

Far out you yanks bring up political positions, religious beliefs and then pass judgement on who you decide to whilst still claiming to be “fair impartial”…

Wasn’t this post about riding a bike??

Fds all that u ppl bitch about is detailed and exampled in your comments… your own mentality is more detrimental than the culture of “car drivers” will ever be…

Joshua Murdock - 06/09/14 - 11:21am

I agree with people being born without hate. I also think a lot of people are born without the ability to ever recognize sarcasm. Nice piece, Stack.

Ben - 06/09/14 - 12:20pm

Sheesh, here we go again. Opinion pieces always bring out the opinions don’t they?

Considering that for the most part (certainly there are exceptions) we all both ride bikes AND drive cars, why can’t people alternate between the two and maintain respect for the other? All I hear is “when I’m on my bike I hate car drivers, and when I’m in my car I hate cyclists”. You’re both, figure it out.

@Chasejj seems to be saying that he gave up road riding because he couldn’t handle being on the road with motorists, but then says that when he’s driving to the trailhead the roadies get in his way and piss him off. What????? He also says that he “I used to consider myself a cyclist, now I could care less about cycling as a sport or group to self-indentify”. Hate to break it to you buddy, but mountain biking is still being a cyclist. And you are reading a cycling website and commenting on articles.

Flip the switch everybody (to “less angry all the time”). And I do mean everybody. Cyclists in general seem to think that pissed off motorists are only pissed off at cyclists. Trust me, those people for the most part are just pissed at the world, including other motorists. This seems to be the sentiment when everyone is on a bike too. Stupid roadie! Stupid mountain biker! Stupid recumbent! SRAM! Shimano! Baggies! Plastic jerseys! Figure out what you like and just leave it at that. Other people can do what they like. It doesn’t hurt you any, so why all the hate for other people making decisions that are not the same as yours?

I’m a cyclist, I drive cars, I ride motorcycles, I like shooting guns, I like trees, camping, hiking, fishing… I do not go to church or identify with any particular religion. None of this is cause to label me a left or right wing gun loving irreligious hippie redneck whack job, though I do not automatically hate all who choose to do or not do any of the things that I do. Maybe the rest of us should do the same. Just sayin’.

KGr - 06/09/14 - 12:30pm

Bikermark gets it. Stackhouse’s endorsement of running red lights totally undercuts any merit of the article. Sure, some drivers will be sociopaths no matter what, but irresponsible riding doesn’t help us bridge public opinion for the rest.

puffy - 06/09/14 - 12:44pm

Your ironic/sarcastic recumbent hating is cheap, tired, and furthers the idea that the socially acceptable form of murder is from inside a car. It’s not funny yet; it is still happening. Give it a few years.

cyclingjh - 06/09/14 - 1:02pm

Pretty sure Androo is responsible for this thing of beauty:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Custom-3D-Printed-Carbon-Fiber-Bike-Frame/?ALLSTEPS

I am trying to build something similar, so some input would be greatly appreciated. Here’s a link to the project background:
http://www.bentrideronline.com/messageboard/showthread.php?t=103493

and my email is cyclingjh gmail

falcon - 06/09/14 - 2:53pm

The problem is not about anger. It is a instinctual reaction of males to put down the dominance display of other males that threaten to take away their females.

Out for a Ride - 06/09/14 - 3:04pm

Ronin – “Quotation marks” around the “word” “theory”?

That is all.

Bill - 06/09/14 - 3:44pm

Moo. Oink. Baaa. Quack. *horse sound*

Fred Zeplund - 06/09/14 - 3:58pm

Out for a Ride — quotation marks have two uses, one is direct quotation and the other is to show euphemism. I’ll demonstrate.

Lissette Llandigan has a new ring, and she tells her friend Rosa Reppelman. Rosa then goes home and talks to her roommate Edna Edgerton. She also texts her other friend Frieda Funkwell.

Lissette’s actual statement to Rosa: “I got a new diamond ring from my boyfriend.” Rosa quotes this in her daily diary of events.

Lissette talking to Frieda via text: Lissette showed me a new ring. A “diamond” ring. It’s not a real diamond.

Tough and subtle distinction, eh?

BigBear - 06/09/14 - 5:19pm

Aaaaaaaand this doesn’t help….

http://news.msn.com/us/thousands-of-naked-bicyclists-stage-festive-portland-protest-ride?ocid=fbmsnnews

World Naked Bike Ride REALLY?!?!!!!

Antipodean_G - 06/09/14 - 7:11pm

Funny (in the timing, not the topic), I just posted this on our blog: http://www.eleven.cc/road-raging/

This is my take on the whole thing as it stands at least here in Sydney.

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