We all know that bicyclists are nice people. Well, most of us, anyway.
We’ll stop to help a fallen cyclist, or a total stranger. We’ll give directions to lost tourists, and hand our last good tube over to some schmuck who forgot to pack a patch kit. We’ll wave to let a driver know it’s safe to pass, or thank one for giving us the right of way. And the first aid kit I keep in my seat bag has been used more on people I don’t know than on people I do. Or on myself, for that matter.
But we have a real problem. Because that’s not how the world sees us.
On July 9th, Illuminate LA featured an excellent recap of how the local bike community sprang into action following the July 4th Mandeville Canyon incident. But what caught my attention was the comment that followed from the author of SoapBoxLA.
He tallied the number of anti-bike comments expressed on the LA Times Bottleneck Blog article about the road rage incident on the 4th. And let me tell you, it’s not pretty. Just a few samples:
- Cyclists break the law (27)
- Cyclists are arrogant, have feelings of entitlement (27)
- Cyclists should not be on the road; the road is for vehicles only (23)
- …If a vehicle/bike altercation happens, the cyclist must be at fault in some way (12)
- …Cyclists incite harassment from vehicles by not following the law (8)
And my personal favorite:
- Cars are bigger and therefore have more rights (1)
That, my friends, is how we’re perceived right here in the City of Fallen Angels. Don’t believe it? Just go to the local Rants & Raves section on Craiglist, and post a comment about bicycling. Any comment. Then see how long it takes before the hate posts and death threats start stacking up in response. (Granted, CL isn’t exactly a hotbed of credibility; the RnR section has long gotten my vote as the most racist place in cyberspace.)
The point is, we’ve got a problem. And we’re the only ones who can do something about it.
As my loyal reader (notice I didn’t include the phrase, “one of”) — Pops commented on earlier post, bicyclists need to do a better job of p-r if we’re going to make any headway in the traffic world.
And we need to do it fast. Because as the Mandeville incident illustrates, your life — or mine — could depend on it.