Tag Archive for otherness

Examining bike riders as two-wheeled others, Calbike reveals 2021 legislative agenda, and a busy day of virtual events

We’re halfway through the 6th Annual BikinginLA Holiday Fund Drive!

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It only takes a moment to donate. So give now, and avoid the last minute rush!

And happy Chanukah to everyone lighting a candle tonight.

Chag Sameach!


Good piece on Medium, where a British author says it’s time to stop maligning bike riders as “the two-wheeled other” and get on our bikes, because as a society, we can no longer afford to keep using cars for short trips.

The othering of people on bicycles was already a well-known phenomenon. For some years people on bikes have been perceived as members of a different, lesser species, not deserving of the basic consideration or courtesy one would usually extend to an equal. An article in Transportation Researchlast year revealed that more than half of car drivers think cyclists are not completely human. Seventy per cent of cyclists have experienced some form of aggression. Recently the phenomenon has become critical. A Labour councillor hit by a car recently reported on twitter: “A man … hit the front of my bike… he carried on driving to push me out of the way. I wasn’t a human, I was [an] obstacle.” Last week as I pottered inoffensively along, not blocking any roadspace, a man in a sports car shouted at me ‘You piece of shit, get back in the cycle lane’ (which was closed); face to face he would never think of screaming this at a passing woman…

People on bikes are often accused of association with crime. Not only do they regularly run the lights and terrorise pedestrians, but (according to the Conservative councillors’ official submission to a TfL consultation on bike lanes in West London) they ‘increase local crime [by using] cycles for snatch thefts and for planned heists from high-value retailers such as jewellers.’ In south London cycle lanes could enable terrorists to attack London’s water supply, and in West London the local Catholic priest wrote that these ‘state-sponsored, tax-payer-funded plans [for a cycle lane] would do our community more harm … than the Luftwaffe managed with its wartime bombs.’

At the very least they threaten the village atmosphere of urban enclaves; John Major may have mused nostalgically about ‘old maids bicycling to Holy Communion through the morning mist’ but providing cycle lanes for today’s spinsters in London leads inexorably not only to the death of Christianity (according to Catholic priest Richard Dunne), but to the death of the village itself as GLA member Tony Arbour claimed in a much-derided interview where he was drowned out by the sound of passing traffic from large urban SUVs and trucks in a London village.

Seriously, it’s a quick, entertaining and smart piece, well worth the click to to read the whole thing.


If you missed last week’s unveiling of the California Bicycle Coalition’s 2021 legislative agenda, you can catch it all on video.

However, here’s what they revealed as their top priorities.

  •  Get state to incentivize whole network bike improvements
  • Affordable bikeshare and other last-mile transport as part of public transit systems
  • Complete Streets work with Caltrans
  • Improve design guidelines in Caltrans Design Manual to create safer facilities for bikes
  • Decriminalizing biking and walking
    • Eliminate “jaywalking” as a crime
    • “Idaho stop” – bikes treating stop signs as yields

Unfortunately, once again, there’s nothing there about stopping hit-and-runs and eliminating the deadly 85th Percentile Rule that lets driver set speed limits with their right foot.

Or providing rebates and other financial incentives to buy and use bicycles, electric or otherwise, to replace car trips.

But still, there’s some good stuff there, especially encouraging the state to finally legalize the Idaho stops that most bike riders already use. And most drivers, too.


You may still have time to catch today’s webinar on Delivering Quick-Build Projects hosted by Calbike and Alta Planning at 11 am LA time.

That’s followed by PeopleForBikes bicycle policy webinar at noon Pacific time today.

But wait, there’s more!

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is hosting their virtual open house and potluck at 6:30 tonight, if you’re not already burned out with the virtual world by then.

And as long as we’re living our lives online, planning firm Sam Schwartz Engineering is hosting a webinar on Covid-19 and the Need for Resilient Streets on Tuesday.


Take a few minutes to support the proposed San Gabriel Valley Greenway Network.



A seven-minute video somehow follows a New York bike messenger as he flaunts traffic laws and common sense.

Which isn’t exactly something to celebrate.




KABC-7 profiles Ken Thomason, who took on the persona of the bike-riding Chicken Lady after losing a close friend during the AIDS crisis; he’s done the AIDS Lifecycle Ride in character to raise funds to fight HIV/AIDS for 25 years.



The mother of Noel Bascon, the 12-year old autistic boy killed by an alleged repeat stoned driver while riding with his dad, says the man who killed him should spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Irvine, Orange and other OC cities are using bait bikes to fight the rising bike theft epidemic. Yet somehow, the LAPD can’t, after the City Attorney’s office worried it could be seen as entrapment.

Nice. San Diego approves plans for a $2.6 million regional bicycle transit center, which supporters describe as a community gathering place “for all things bicycle;” the long-fought for center, which will be built without city funds, will be housed in an abandoned Navy warehouse in Liberty Station’s Naval Training Center Park. You can also read it on Flipboard if the Union-Tribune has you in time out. Thanks to Phillip Young for the heads-up.

San Diego firefighters rescued a man who suffered a major head injury after falling off his bike while riding in Florida Canyon; the helmet-less man was discovered by others riding on the Balboa Park trail.

Stockton kids are being victimized by four armed robbers in a white pickup on a bike theft crime spree targeting boys riding BMX Bikes made by SE Racing, which are in short supply due to the coronavirus bike boom; one kid was pistol whipped before he was even given a chance to turn over his bike.



Glucosamine and chondroitin may help with more than arthritis; a new study shows taking the supplements for a full year can cut your risk of early death by 39%, and reduce the risk of cardiac-related death by a whopping 65%. As usual, you can read it on Yahoo if Bicycling blocks you out.

Milwaukee has released a low-stress bike map, allowing bike riders to plot their route based on the level of stress they’re willing to endure. Maybe we can get that here in LA. Although virtually any route longer than a few blocks would likely fit in the high stress category.

That’s more like it. An Illinois driver got 20 years behind bars for the hit-and-run death of a man riding a bicycle.

‘Tis the season. Massachusetts’ Bob the Bike Man took a break from donating bikes to kids to provide local police departments with backpacks stuffed with new coats, blankets, hats and gloves, among other items to distribute to homeless people.

Good question. A DC website wants to know why people keep treating Slow Streets signs like the Kool-Aid man treats walls. Which seems to be a pretty universal problem these days.



Road.cc recommends their favorite urban commuter bikes.

Buenos Aires is expanding its bike network in response to the Covid-19 induced bike boom. Unlike a certain SoCal megalopolis we could name.

The British government took a two-wheeled U-turn, and agreed to maintain the European Union’s anti-dumping rules for Chinese-made bicycles and ebikes in a post-Brexit world.

My hero. A London bike rider prints up his own parking tickets, and leaves them on cars parked illegally in a bike lane across from a school. Then gets told to fuck off by an angry driver for his efforts.

Police in Kolkata, nee Calcutta, are warning people on bicycles to stay off 62 major thoroughfares, where they have been banned to avoid annoying people in cars.

Former pro wrestler Killer Khan was busted for the hit-and-run that injured a Japanese woman riding her bike, telling police he was sorry, but had to get to his Tokyo restaurant; Khan gained fame for bouts with the legendary Andre the Giant back in the ’80s.


Competitive Cycling

There is still no internationally agreed-on assessment for diagnosing and treating concussions in pro and amateur cycling, putting it far behind other sports and needlessly putting cyclists at risk.



Your next ebike could be made by Mercedes Benz, and not look like one — unless you prefer a Harley Davidson that kinda does. If you’re going to ride your bike carrying a sawed-off shotgun, put a damn light on it; the bike, that is, not the gun.

And don’t forget to express your gratitude to those you share the road with.


Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a mask, already. 

A not-so-brief thought on otherness to start the week

Yesterday my wife and I were driving to meet some relatives for breakfast.

As we drove, a car pulled up at the next intersection, paused briefly, then made a right turn onto the street we were on. The car behind him followed through the light without stopping, then tried to pull around the other car while he was still finishing his turn. And both cars ended up trying to occupy the same space in the left lane at the same time.

The second car reacted by swerving onto the wrong side of the road, driving head-on towards oncoming traffic. Then he cut back to the right lane, and proceeded to weave in and out of traffic as he sped down the road.

Yet as I watched that unfold, I didn’t mutter anything about “aggressive, arrogant drivers.” And I doubt anyone else did.

Because I’m a driver myself.

I don’t drive like that, and simple observation tells me that most other drivers don’t, either. So why is it that so many drivers may see a cyclist run a red light or cut across traffic without signaling, and assume that we all ride like that — or worse?

It’s basic human nature to define people by their degree of otherness. That is, to look at other people, and notice the ways in which they are either “like me” or “not like me.”

To a driver, for instance, other drivers are “like me.” They share a number of the same characteristics, as defined by their mode of transportation, so he judges their behavior as individuals rather than as a group. If one acts like the driver at the beginning of this post, he may consider that driver a jerk, but he doesn’t assume all drivers are jerks.

But if he sees a cyclist do the same thing, his mind makes a mental calculation that the cyclist does not share those same defining characteristics, and therefore, must be part of some other group. Then in a subconscious attempt to define that group, he ascribes the actions of the individual to the larger group.

So if a cyclist runs a red light, he concludes that’s what cyclists do; every time he sees a cyclist run a red light, it reinforces that prejudice. But he may fail to note all the cyclists waiting patiently at the intersection for the light to change, because that doesn’t fit the mental image he’s already drawn.

Don’t believe me?

Ask yourself how many people you know who don’t like blacks, or whites, or Mexicans, or foreigners, or Jews, or Muslims, or Christians, or Republicans, or liberals, or gays, or straits. Or any other narrowly defined group.

Or short people, for that matter — or did you miss Randy Newman’s point?

Or cyclists.

Or drivers.

They see a few members of some group, and assume that every member of that group is like that — ignoring the countless others who aren’t. Because those don’t fit the mental image they’ve already created.

And it’s human nature to discard any data that doesn’t fit, rather than modify the hypothesis.

It took me years to shift my focus to the thousands of drivers who didn’t cut me off or pass too close when I ride, rather than the few who did. And to accept that not all drivers are jerks, no matter how some people may drive.

As J. Haygood wrote on his blog the other day:

I think we riders that try to cooperate with cars on the road need to make our numbers known, highlight our good citizenship, otherwise all people remember is that guy flying through a four-way stop filled with cars, salmoning up the wrong side of the road, and acting like the inevitable near-miss is the car driver’s fault. Smart money says those riders are probably dicks when they get behind the wheel, too.

And that, I think, is the bottom line. An LAPD officer put it best a few weeks back, when he stopped after a pedestrian tried to chase me off a Class 1 bikeway.

“Some guys,” he said, “are just jerks.”


A Big Bear cyclist was killed when the wind blew his hat off his head, obscuring is vision. Mikey Wally runs into RAGBRAI, which kicked off yesterday, on his ride across the country. California drivers are not allowed to pass a car on the right if it means driving in the bike lane. Seattle is being sued by a number of industrial groups and companies who fear a bike path extension may ruin their environment. S.F. commenters argue whether bike helmets are unsafe. Fix a man’s flat, and he’ll ride for a day; teach a man to fix his own flat and he’ll never bother you again. In Montana, drivers are required to stop for cyclists in a crosswalk. Two cyclists were shot as they competed in the Tour last week; one fished the bullet out himself while he rode. Finally, a triathlete was injured when a tree fell on his bike during yesterday’s race.