Malicious Anti-Cycling Laws or Cycling Bullying Part III

It’s funny how comparing a workplace to the motorway has been such a useful too for me to pin point areas which I thought were wrong. Behaviors which are seen as socially acceptable (to motorists only) on the roads are revealed to show underlying tendencies for bullying.

I want to make things clear that I don’t believe that there are “motorists” nor “cyclists” as permanent being as most cyclists own and operate motor vehicles. The vast majority of us cyclists have active driver’s licenses whether or not we want them as the default identification for the US requires minimal knowledge of and profiency of a motor vehicle. Thus, if there’s a strange species of a hard core cyclist (who uses her passport for ID, I guess) then this is a very rare one. So when I say cyclist, you can search and replace with “motorist who happens to be riding a bicycle at the time”. I just don’t type this every time because it’s too much typing.

While researching my last article I found this one:

Identifying a Toxic Workplace (aka Toxic Road):

“Does your company confront aggressive people about inappropriate behaviors?”

Note how many police officers routinely fail to find a way to charge a motorist who has killed a cyclist? Definitely contributes to a toxic motorway.

“On the other hand, do they turn a blind eye to bullying?”

Notice how many states will even fail to pass a three foot passing law, something that will make some kinds of bullying allowed. Also, notice how many police officers do anything at all when people complain of an aggressive motorist. They wait till the situation escalates then fall over backwards to excuse the motorist.

“Even if you aren’t directly bullied, the fumes may get you. You may even conclude that finding a new job is the only viable solution.”

And it’s true that one of the number one reason that people don’t ride bicycles is because of the toxic motorway.

“The dominant culture of your workplace has a huge impact on your ability to effectively deal with a workplace bully. Don’t even think about fighting a bully until you get a handle on the larger environment.”

I totally concur.

Here’s an example where the motor way bully is protected:

“Tire slashing suspect held on $270,000 bail”


However, these are comparable situations. While motorists who have “sun in their eyes” walk, someone who fights back will be dealt with swiftly by the law. Not that a quarter million dollars is protecting a machine while little is done to protect human lives. Not hard to see who’s dominant in the eyes of the law.

Let’s deal with signs of toxicity:

1. “Widespread anger and frustration” aka Road Rage.

2. “Workplace bully is admired.” You only need to turn on a television commercial or watch a movie to see that cyclists are mocked while motoring is a sign of success.

3. “Scapegoats are always blamed” aka blame bicyclists first (BBF). There are whole papers dedicated to promoting this point of view as it sells classes ( and it makes infrastructure look less necessary:

4. “Dysfunctional processes: In a toxic company, processes tend to be dysfunctional, particularly if a workplace bully helps create them. In this situation, company procedures don’t make sense, making it difficult to get things done.”

Notice how it’s confusing when to ride on the road, the sidewalk, etc. Note how many people have gotten tickets for not putting down their foot at a stop sign or riding too far to the right.

“In order to create the impression that personnel issues are being addressed, upper management sets up a committee to investigate specific problems and suggest solutions. But the results are based on the premise that the employees aren’t very sophisticated and can be easily appeased. Input from employees is discounted or ignored and clueless managers rely on their own misapprehensions. Because the process is dysfunctional, the results are meaningless.”

This has happened many, many times.

“Since they must ignore the impact of bullying on morale, they instead turn to “creative” ideas. Perhaps they find some popular solution to “make employees feel better about themselves.” This could include a patronizing “Extra Special Person” award, meaningless interdepartmental competitions or irrelevant offsite training seminars…”

This is what results in brochures, “motorist education”, “cycling awareness”, yellow safety vests, and mandatory helmet laws.

“By pushing a meaningless, ineffective solution to morale, employees feel they are being treated like children, or as second-class citizens. Morale deteriorates even further, and high employee turnover is often the result.”

That is people stop riding bicycles.

5. “Dysfunctional relationships: How do employees relate to one another at your company? In a toxic workplace, everyone seems to struggle with relationships. Misunderstandings are common, leading to frustration, anger and inefficiency. Gossip and criticism are the norm, and cliques lead to favoritism and feuding.

Noticeably absent in a toxic workplace are clear and straightforward conversations. You rarely see a quick resolution of relationship issues, and bad feelings may linger for months, or even years.”

Note how often you hear things like “cyclists are ALWAYS running stop signs. And so on. We never see any resolution to problems of motorists attacking (either on purpose or due to malignant negligence) cyclists resolved with something that would actually work.

6. “Dysfunctional meetings: Do meetings at your company feel like a waste of time? Are they dominated by dull monologues and meaningless reports? Do they provide workplace bullies a forum to rant, rave and manipulate? Are reasonable people intimidated into silence?

In a toxic workplace, those who dominate meetings seem to prefer to discuss vague platitudes instead of underlying problems. They focus on theory rather than dealing with reality. By ignoring the real problems facing the company, they fail to accomplish anything of substance. The main impact of meetings is the loss of productive time from your day.

Bully is allowed to dominate meetings: A workplace bully tends to dominate meetings through his aggressive conversational style, including giving monologues, arguing, criticizing, interrupting and raising his voice.”

Hello Vehicular (Savvy) Cyclists. Hello people who bitch about Agenda 21 at planning meetings and silence people with the chants of “USA USA” as if George Washington drove a Hummer.

” He uses generalizations, innuendo and presuppositions without being challenged. He stifles open discussions and prevents any progress, except to further his own agenda. He may even use a meeting to embarrass, ridicule and humiliate his opponents.

In a toxic workplace, any complaints about the bully’s domination of meetings will likely fall upon deaf ears. In fact, his aggressive tactics are more likely to be admired by upper management.”

7. “Obvious hypocrisy in the company

A toxic workplace nearly always includes widespread hypocrisy. Executives are unlikely to acknowledge the serious problems plaguing their company, instead promoting the fiction of a healthy work environment run by enlightened management.”

This is very true if you read Sandag’s regional transportation plan.

“Management fads

Executives in a toxic company often overcompensate by adopting faddish management approaches, as if propaganda is an effective tool to overcome reality. The result may be aggressively promoted company values that don’t seem to match day-to-day events.”

Helmets, yellow vests, sharrows, and share the road signs.

“Clueless or evil management: Even when the hypocrisy seems obvious to everyone, upper management seems unaware of the contradictions between what is said and what is done. Maybe they want you to guess whether they are hopelessly unaware or utterly lacking in integrity.”

This is evident, again in Sandag’s RTP where they state that they want “more people on bicycles” but do almost nothing to make that a realistic choice.

8. “Overly restrictive systems for controlling people

A workplace bully usually thrives by controlling others. He prefers a workplace with dehumanizing systems, offering him more opportunities to tightly control their behavior.”

I covered this before when people want more tickets, licenses, and other restrictions for cyclists.

“Companies fall into this mode of operation by designing and implementing overly detailed operational systems. These include overly detailed policies, procedures and job descriptions and performance evaluations.”

Hello vehicular cycling as well as overly restrictive code such ASHTO’s Green Book which is used to prevent meaningful infrastructure from being built.

There’s a lot more and almost all of it applies so I suggest that one read the orignal article. I can only say a hearty “YES!”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: