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“You Would Just Love to Lob Something at Their Heads”

The troubled relationship between cars and bikes is an old topic, but that hasn’t stopped it from being a hot one on the Streetsblog Network and around the web in general this week. And it’s not going to go away any time soon.

315234532_8217647d81.jpgWhat it looks like when everyone tries to do the right thing. Photo by bicyclesonly via Flickr.

This week the hostility that is so often simmering beneath the surface came to an ugly boil in Detroit. Deminski & Doyle,
shock jocks on local radio station WCSX, broadcast a segment in which
they ridiculed a new law in Colorado requiring that drivers give
cyclists three feet of clearance on roadways.

They seem to have gotten the idea to talk about this from a USA Today article that mostly portrays cyclists in Boulder County as overprivileged recreational road hogs (bike commuters in this often bike-friendly part of the world get nary a mention).

We first heard about the Deminski & Doyle segment from Bike Portland‘s Twitter feed, which linked to this conversation
about the episode on the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition
Google group, which in turn links to plenty of related material,
including ways to contact station management to protest. If you want
your blood pressure to go up pretty rapidly, you can listen to the
radio piece here. If you’d like to spare yourself the stress, here’s a choice excerpt:

How many people have seen a bicyclist and you would just love
to lob something at their heads. Because — no, seriously, I’m not
condoning it, I’m not saying that we do it, but I’m just saying, hasn’t
the thought gone through your head? Because seriously, how selfishly do
some of these people ride their bikes?

One
of the DJs also refers to wanting to "go Grand Theft Auto" on cyclists,
quickly covering himself by saying that, of course you can’t do that.
Unless, of course, you do.

You
can just imagine the drivetime crowd listening to this stuff while
they’re stuck in traffic, pounding the wheel and shouting "Hell, yeah!"
Dangerous stuff. And it’s nothing new — Bike Portland fought this battle a couple of years back. The same hateful rhetoric springs up on newspaper websites every time a cyclist is killed by a motor vehicle.

But it points up the reality that all cyclists — recreational and commuter — are increasingly having to reckon with. We are getting more legal protections. Our numbers are growing — to the point that we can create our own traffic jams occasionally. The absurdity of a petition drive like the one in Iowa calling for the banning of cyclists on farm-to-market roads is more evident. And as our status as outlaws and weirdos slowly changes, as more bike infrastructure is built, our riding habits are coming under increasing scrutiny.

The
hate-filled spew of Delinski & Doyle and their ilk is truly
loathsome. But we have to face the reality that bicyclists who ride
with reckless disregard for the law only feed the beast.