Sunday, January 10, 2010

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

As much as I hate to bring any attention to this, there are things to be said and I have a forum in which to say them.

Streetsblog SF has an article today about a Facebook group called "There's a perfectly good bike path right next to the road you stupid cyclist". As the name may suggest, it is not a pro-cycling group. There is a great deal of talk about whether or not FB should delete the group or not, I have my opinions about it. That is not, to my eyes, the meat of the issue though.

When people get on a roll about "outlaw cyclists" who "never stop at lights' and "never yield to pedestrians" they forget they are talking about people. Cyclists are equally at fault when they insist on talking about "fucking cars" and "ruining the environment" and "never stopping at lights". Again, the people in the situation are forgotten and the stupid machines are placed in their stead so that we can rally and rail against the "other".

Just to put this into perspective for everyone, this is what the "other" looks like

Start 'Em Young!

Family Bike! (6/100)

Family Gathering

Who Needs A Stroller?

Slow In, Fast Out

Nothing You Can Say Can Tear Me Away from My Guys

Two Brothers, One Bike

Picking Up Or Dropping Off?

Family Is The New Black (& White)

Nope.  No Junk Here!

Is Anyone Following Us?

Family Commuting

Panhandle Home

Good Thing It's A Bike Route

When groups advocate dooring cyclists or running them off the road or intimidating them to "teach them a lesson" this is who gets targeted. Either directly, as my kids have experienced to some extent, or indirectly by not being allowed to ride because there are people out there who think that violent, hateful, abusive language, images and actions are justified.

So, you can go read up on this silly group if you want. I feel very sorry for our Australian friends who must deal with this crap everyday (the group is Australian in origin). There is even a group that has been started to counter this, but I am not sure that that is the answer either. Behavior that is unconscious, from people who are not self-aware can not be countered with reason. So there is only one option really-

Keep riding! Smile at those you pass. Be patient with those who do not know. Keep your eyes on the road. But most of all, KEEP RIDING!


  1. No argument with this Adrienne.
    A very sound philosophy.

  2. Bravo, Adrienne - pictures like this are the most powerful tool we have in the face of the fear and the hate.

    Being a cyclist, it seems, is the new identity politics!

  3. Yes there is certainly a car culture wherever we go.
    One of the problems with the car culture here in AUS is the way our suburbs have become designed around our car lifestyles.
    e.g. Footpaths becoming smaller to create additional lanes. Here in Brisbane (Aust) our transit / car-pool / bus lanes were removed because the single person vehicles don't like being in traffic jams (go figure).
    In the meantime, my kids have been robbed of a safe space to commute by bike to school.

  4. In Ireland it is often terribly dangerous to use Cycle lanes. They are very narrow for the most part with only a few that are any way decent and there is no Gap between the Cycle lane and Car Doors. The Government do not like narrowing the Road to put in Dedicated Cycleways in case it upsets the Motorists. So there is a Fight between the various Councils and Cyclists Groups.

    Some on Councls are Pro Cycling while an awful lot are Pro Business and Pro Motorists and if something is proposed to improve things it is usually the Watered Down version that is applied in the End after all the haggling is over.

    The thing is Cars Kill Cyclists do not well 9999,000 per cent of the time they do not. Cars need to be controlled when in proximity of People. That means in the Urban Landscape which means narrowing the Roads make it safe for Cyclists and pedestrians.

  5. I like the thoughts here, Adrienne. I'm not sure that "putting a face" on cyclists work for the anti- crowd. I try to be an ambassador of good cycling, but to many I'm either 1) the exception to the (percieved) rule or 2) privately trying to change others behavior through my actions.

    Fact is, there is such an "us and them" attitude prevelant in many on both sides. How do we drop the attitude and go from "us and them" to Bob, Adrienne, Mark, Meli, etc.? We (all) share the communities in which we live. We all have to get from point a to point b. How do we co-exist safely and respectfully, regardless of our chosen/preferred/required mode of transport? I fear that after decades of auto-centric planning, we're looking at a rough road to to change transportation planning to enompass and embrace true multi-mode transportation.

    Gettin' Around

  6. Absolutely! The best revenge and the best weapon against car culture is riding well and politely, and having fun. Make them jealous. Val

  7. I am often greeted with smiles when towing my daughter in her trailer but on a couple of occasions motorists have taken the time to slow down and scream abuse at us. Not the best behavior in front of a three year old girl.

    The point they are trying to get across is that I am irresponsible to ride with a child on the road. This is the general attitude we face in New Zealand and Australia. If you were riding without a helmet they would probably just run you off the road and be done with it!

    My initial reaction is anger, I can't help that, but I try to smile back and continue on my way as this unsettles them to some extent.

    Attitudes are slowly changing but it will take a lot of work (and some time) to turn the situation around in the antipodes.

  8. Cyclists are certainly a diverse sub-population with many sub-sub-populations. I come from the "smile and wave, live and let live, que sera sera, ride defensively and politely" sub-sub-population. There's no changing stereotypes overnight, and jerks are jerks whether they are on two, four, or no wheels, but on the bright side, there are so few cyclists on the roads and paths here in the southwest corner of the North American autoplex that I feel like every positive gesture I make--a smile, a wave, a decisive stop at a stop sign, a clear signal to turn--can make a difference in a positive direction for the collective reputation of cyclist-kind. Life is short, after you, have a great day!

  9. Great visual argument. Smile and wave. That's the best response to poor (and dangerous) behavior.

    Weren't we all little children once? Let's think of that as we move through space carefully and thoughtfully

  10. Excellent post! A well presented aregument. Imagine all the people who have joined those hateful groups... How sad.

    I wonde how long it will be before Australians realize that we have lost just about all the virtues of our that we claim make us so special.