Archive for September, 2009

The Reader’s Article

September 24, 2009

It was recently brought to my attention that the San Diego Reader, a local alternative paper has printed hate speech against cyclists as well as threatening, and in the message boards, planning of violence.

The article has been pulled from the web, but here’s a cached version. I encourage reading the whole thing, but I have taken out choice bits for comment:

Here are my feelings. The columnist is sitting and waiting for cyclists to go by:

“The light changed a few more times, and still…lots and lots of bicyclists.”

So he does the right thing, at first: “I asked a cop in his car why he wasn’t doing anything about it.”

He did realize that what the cyclists was doing was actually legal: “It looked more like they were escorting them, though.”

So they had a police escort. Just like a parade or a VIP. If important people were blocking the road, what would he do? He’d either turn around or he’d wait patiently.

What did our friend do?

“I took the gum out of my mouth and threw it at one rider. Then I picked a rock up off the ground and hit another.”

So he attacked them.

Why would he attack a group under police protection?

Because they are riding bicycles. Implicit in this is the assumption that bicyclists are beneath him. They must wait for him, they must get out of his way. He does not need to accomodate them in any way. NOT EVEN WHEN THE LAW IS ON THEIR SIDE. In fact, he still continues to believe that by riding bicycles, they are criminals. In fact, not only are they criminals, but he believes he can attack them with deadly force and “worry about the consequences later.”

“But I swear, next time I see a group like this, they better hope I’m not the first car. When the light turns green, I’m going. I’ll worry about the consequences later.”

So even though there is police protection, he still thinks that he has the law on his side. A law that only he knows about (this is not on the books). He so strongly believes in this higher law, a person in a car is so superior to a cyclist that they can kill them, he doesn’t even respect the police escort.

I’m glad he wrote this column because in doing so, he exposed a lot of hidden assumptions that people have about bicyclists. Before we change people’s minds, we have to realize how they think.

The next question is. Where did he get this idea? Who told him it was OK to attack people who were different?

I don’t know the answer to this question. Even when I owned and operated an automobile, I thought that it was horrible how people talked about cyclists and homeless from their automobiles. I would be embarrassed to express such selfish and hateful things.

Instead, it’s published in a column for all of us to see. And the San Diego Reader proudly put its title above the article. Until the legal department realized what a disaster the article could be.

I feel that they should apologize for the article, print a retraction, take a stand against violence against ALL groups, and fire the Crasher without compensation.

It’s one thing to write an angry column. It would have been OK to take a firm stand against Critical Mass. A few jokes would have been great; I love cycling humor.

But to write a column like this shows a complete lack of judgement that at this point, I don’t think can be learned at least not while on the job. This is a basic thing like brushing your teeth or leaving the house with clothes on that people should be expected to know before they take up journalism. If they have not learned it yet, there is something missing in their psyche.

Even to say it sounds like you are five, “You shouldn’t hurt other people.”

But I guess sometimes people do need to state the obvious.


Activism 101

September 23, 2009

I have been wanting, for a long time, to get involved in cycling activism. My ideas on this finally caught fire when I attended the first meeting to make Critical Mass safer and more enjoyable for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.

Below are some notes from the meeting:


1.There’s a web site for critical mass on myspace:
2.Bad idea to go on Coronado Bridge
– someone could fall
– not in the interest of advocacy or critical mass
– could spur crackdown like in NYC
– tasers were deployed when people tried to recross bridge

3.Perhaps CM could be used to petition to open the bridge.
– Not part of actual CM, could petition at fountain
– bridge is last part of Bay Shore Bikeway

4. What you do on CM represents all cyclists.

5. Crasher, in the Reader, threatened riders:

6. Need creative ways to advocate safety
– critical mass safety guide online
– peace patrol – positive -retro
– goal #1 stop people from getting hit by motorists

7. Last ride a rider hit a pedestrian at Centre Street in Hillcrest. They were both hospitalized.

8. corking
– communicate with motorist
– thank them for waiting
– sometimes it’s better to let them through
– WARN other cyclists if the motorist is going to drive through, but get out of the way

9. circling
– shouldn’t be aggressive
– should be used sparingly

10. police
– more or less invovement?
– Don’t wish to be co-opted
– police bike patrol involvement?
– Bike officers rejected writing on bike blog; police don’t do advocacy

11. speed
– some people go too fast at start which breaks up the mass
– vetren riders are left out—no leadership
– liquor store stops to slow things down—don’t stay too long, ride loses momentum
– circling is not the answer

12.information distribution
– flyer on internet
– comics are easier to understand and read
– need to make flyer valuable and entertaining
– sdbikecommuter
– flyering campus
– map back to the park
– list of places to go to and to NEVER go to
– “Do you have health insurance?” as a hook

13. listserv

14. bike kitchen 9 AM – 1 PM Saturday at 43rd and Whitman

15. petition ideas
– Balboa bridge is costly and not high priority
– Sharrows
– Center City/City Heights East of 805 needs more infrastructure-