Humor: Are Backlash Drivers Crazy? Maybe It’s Dissociative Commuter Disorder

No Exit comic by Andy Singer
No Exit comic by Andy Singer

Today SBLA features a guest post by an L.A. safe streets advocate who prefers to remain anonymous. This piece grew out of a private discussion that took place on social media. The question was just what to call the folks spewing so much damn-the-facts bile against Vision Zero, road diets, cyclists, pedestrians, buses, safety, and pretty much anything other than unfettered cars on L.A. streets.

Are all of these folks really crazy? No, but sometimes humor can help livability advocates get a respite from the venom. 

TO: Dr. Jane Jacobs
FROM: CDC Task Force on Urban Mental Health Crisis
DATE: January 4, 2017
RE: Dissociative Commuter Disorder

Recently Los Angeles has experienced an alarming spike in residents suffering from Dissociative Commuter Disorder. Primary care and mental health professionals are being asked to screen patients for the following in hopes that early intervention will lessen the burden on transportation professionals.

Dissociative Commuter Disorder: a mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct and relatively enduring identities or dissociated personality states (formerly known as Multiple Personality Motorist in DSM IV).

The behavior most commonly observed for establishing a diagnosis of DCD is the patient decrying local public officials on NextDoor for not slowing traffic by installing speed “humps” on the street running directly in front of the patient’s home. However, when safety measures are installed on streets between the neighborhood in which the patient resides and the patient’s workplace, a second, distinct personality emerges decrying any and all traffic safety measures. In extreme cases, patients have been observed foaming at the mouth while spouting erroneous facts about “road diets.”

Note that the disease is almost always accompanied by a severe allergic reaction to new housing. Other somatic symptoms include blindness: to people of color biking to work, low-income children living next to freeways, pollution maps, global climate change, regional rental apartment vacancy rates, peer-reviewed scientific literature, facts, reason, and the like.

High functioning patients have been known to suffer from sudden onset mutism. In one case study, the mayor of a major American city lost his voice after holding a large press conference announcing a Vision Zero campaign.

Patients often suffer from the following delusions:

  • the belief that all cars with the exception of the one that the patient drives is “traffic”
  • bikes and public transit worsen air quality
  • the patient would be able to drive from Venice to Pasadena for dinner with friends at rush hour if it weren’t for a half-mile of protected bike lanes.

One odd manifestation of the disease is an inability to count. For instance, believing four signatures to file a recall notice of intent is equal to five or crossing a three-lane road as a pedestrian is somehow more dangerous than crossing four.

Dementia has also been observed in some patients who demanded multiple signalized crosswalks at $250,000 dollars per signal when a road diet could achieve much greater safety improvements for free when combined with road resurfacing schedules.

Paranoia is a common manifestation of the illness. The patient may become obsessed with the “all-powerful bike lobby” or the belief that LADOT is “lying” about crash statistics that are publicly available on databases maintained by the California Highway Patrol.

DCD checklist questions:

  • Does the patient announce how long they have been a resident of a specific neighborhood prior to introducing him or herself?
  • Does the patient use the term “zero vision?”
  • Does the patient write rambling, incoherent screeds on a Los Angeles based blogging platform called CityWatch?
  • Does the patient issue pedantic corrections to transportation/public health officials such as reminding them that the official term for a speed “bump” is “hump” in order to establish that he or she has superior knowledge derived from an advanced degree from the University of Google? (Note that these corrections are issued overwhelmingly to women with far more years of training and professional experience than the patient.)
  • Does the patient believe bicycles are toys that belong on recreational paths away from work, shopping, schools, etc?
  • Is the patient a mid-city councilmember who writes scientifically indefensible surveys asking constituents whether they’d like “safety improvements or a road diet?”
  • Does the patient form a “street safety” group that advocates against rigorously studied best practices in the field of traffic engineering?
  • Does the patient believe that buildings between 45 and 85 feet high along transit corridors are the same height as the 2,000-foot Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai?
  • Does the patient live in Manhattan Beach near a calm, safe two-lane road while insisting that the same exact road be four lanes within the borders of Los Angeles?
  • Does the patient say “Los Angeles is full”?
  • Does the patient have grandiose delusions such as a God Complex that manifests itself in believing the property line of his or her home encompass entire cities, so he or she should have veto power over all new housing on his or her “property?”
  • Does the patient claim to be an environmentalist while arguing against infill housing?
  • Does the patient claim to be defending poor people from congestion pricing?
  • Does the patient claim to be a “Berniecrat” while consorting with racist, xenophobic talk show hosts and raising 62 percent of his cash from registered Republicans in an amateurish attempt to launch a recall campaign against one of Los Angeles’s most beloved, progressive public servants?
  • Does the patient sputter the words, “Los Angeles isn’t Amsterdam.”
  • Does the patient dig tunnels for electric cars under Los Angeles with a pre-owned sewage pipe boring machine while claiming to be “disruptive?”
  • Is the patient incapable of being civil online or at public meetings?
  • Does the patient write a “science-based” advice column while ignoring science?
  • Does the patient insist that more free parking spaces are needed because they will lessen traffic congestion?
  • Does the patient call parents who bike with children “assholes?”
  • Does the patient personify the term “elite projection?”
  • During the physical examination is the patient holding the balls of three-quarters of the city council and the mayor in his or her hands even though the patient represents the views of only 29 percent of the city’s voters?

TREATMENTS

During a time of global climate change, wars, massive income inequality, an overgrown toddler controlling the nuclear codes, homelessness, hunger, and racial inequality, remind the patient that his or her time on this planet is short. Advocating for other people’s neighborhoods to be less safe is not a good use of that time.

  • dexter

    my favorites:

    Does the patient believe that buildings between 45 and 85 feet high
    along transit corridors are the same height as the 2,000-foot Burj
    Khalifa tower in Dubai?

    Does the patient live in Manhattan Beach near a calm, safe two-lane
    road while insisting that the same exact road be four lanes within the
    borders of Los Angeles?

  • Nancy Johnson

    Dissociative Road Diet Activist Disorder:

    Does the patient propose removing the entire 101 freeway in Los Angeles?
    Does the patient believe that Los Angeles has an adequate public transportation system?
    Does the patient believe that cycling is a feasible means of transportation in a county that is 4,751 square miles?
    Does the patient believe that Los Angeles is the same as Oslo, Amsterdam and Seville?
    Does the patient believe that cyclists obey all laws and are never at fault for accidents?
    Does the patient ignore LADOT recommendations regarding the installation of signals at crosswalks which results in multiple fatalities, then exploit those deaths to advocate their own personal opinions?
    Does the patient advocate for policies that only benefit the privileged elite who can afford homes close to where they work?
    Does the patient try to force their own personal agenda on residents of other neighborhoods?
    Does the patient not have a real job and instead works as a freelance writer who is privileged enough to ride their bike to the local Starbucks two write for their blog?
    Does the patient engage in bullying tactics like posting this article?

  • bradwagon

    You just checked many of the boxes for DCD. Amazing.

  • Dave S

    IIt is totally dumbfounding to me when people from a minority position, like some bike advocates, think that it is a winning strategy It is totally dumbfounding to me when people from a minority position, like some bike advocates, think that it is a winning policy to insult and disrespect the very people, commuters, you NEED to win over. Even if the insults are cleverly disguised as humor, that kind of logic ever works. … but if it makes you feel better go ahead and keep insulting and disrespecting the majority of the commuters and residents and we will see how that works for you.

  • Dave S

    It is totally dumbfounding to me when people from a minority position, like some bike advocates, think that it is a winning strategy to insult and disrespect the very people, commuters, you NEED to win over. Even if the insults are cleverly disguised as humor, that kind of logic ever works. … but if it makes you feel better go ahead and keep insulting and disrespecting the majority of the commuters and residents whose support you need and we will see how that works for you.

  • Nancy Johnson

    Does the patient believe that DCD is a real thing?

  • bradwagon

    lol, brilliant

  • Corvus Corax

    Wonderfully funny yet disheartening article. Funny because it is so true, disheartening because it is so true.

  • jennix

    hintern schmertz

  • Greg Voevodsky

    LOL – I think the writer suffers from Bike Culture, Diet Roads, Bike Lane Binging, Zero Vision, Passive Aggressive Disorder, Bi Polar Disorder, Delusional writing, car anxiety disorder, biker delusional intelligence disorder, narcissistic biker disorder, narcissism, pessimism, street anxiety and in general LA LA Land Blog disorder. Need I list more?! LOL. File Under: Mental Illness, biker rage, car hatred, blind vision, delusional thinking, narcissistic writer, bonehead, Bonin, Garcetti, #recallBonin.

  • Greg Voevodsky

    You guys must go to the same bike therapist for your delusional, anxiety, mental, narcissistic disorders. I hope you ride a tandem bike to your appointments. LOL.

  • Wait, so you were actually willing to be won over? When did that happen?

  • Photos

    Since when do so many anti-urbanists read streetsblog?

    This is comedic gold – a welcome relief from having to deal with the same tired logic in online newspaper comment sections.

  • Photos

    I’m honestly confused – how is someone both the privileged elite who can afford a house close to home and someone who does freelance blog writing at their local starbucks. Because I’m pretty sure writing for streetsblog isn’t very lucrative. As for the rest of your comments, ¯_(ツ)_/¯. But in particular – I don’t think any advocate for people who bike would claim that all cyclists follow all rules – but the majority of bike-car crashes are the fault of the drivers and it is really a stretch to think that someone driving a 3000 pound vehicle should be held to a slightly higher standard than someone driving a 20 pound bike? The whole problem is that traffic laws generally try to treat them the same.

  • David Holmes

    Definitely a case of bicycle-enthusiast passive-aggressive road rage.

  • SoCalDave

    Precisely the level of maturity I expect from someone that proposes a bicycle as a practice mode of daily transportation for everyone.

  • Brian Howald

    This coming from the man who liked his own comment (above)?

  • Greg Voevodsky

    You must hate your own comments.. no wonder you need a therapist. I thought self love is the road to a happy heart. ;-) Oh, and driving a car to commute. Keep them bikes for safe exercise on the beach. Or better yet, work at home ride every day safely on the beach. Sorry, roads are for cars first – ie 99% of commuters and then 1% for bike riders. Walkers stay on the side walk safely behind parked cars. Closing car lanes for bike riders is economically stupid, adds to pollution, gridlock, bankruptcy, and less time spent for friends and family – because of few self righteous arrogant bike riders want a lane for them?! LOL – I look forward to horse, camel, you name it lanes taken from cars…NOT!

  • bradwagon

    Such a well articulated opinion on the subject.

  • Greg Voevodsky

    Spoken like a true Alt Right Bike extremist. I hope you never have to drive or use a car. I hope you never need cops (should they ride bikes?), emergency vehicles stuck in lane diet gridlock as you die from a medical emergency (we have tons of videos online) and other crazy utopian bike riding community delusions??!. Should garbage, UPS, Fed Ex, School busses, busses, etc all move to bikes that are less than 1% of the commute to justify lane diets – that pollute more, bankrupt businesses more by 30% lost in income, increase accidents – up 300% – see PDR and Venice road diet facts, create gridlock and waste time and money for some commuter bike riders? Insane… luckily you lost in Playa del Rey…. yet Bonehead Bonin #recallbonin – takes credit for listening to reverse himself (while ignoring Venice who want it restored as 4+ business have gone bankrupt) + gridlock, more accidents, ect… LOL – Bonin was going to loose to our lawsuits. The proper solution was the original idea – speed signs, cross walks, speed bumps… not lane diets. But hey, stay away from riding now that the lanes are back. Please be safe… not sorry. ;-)

  • bradwagon

    Ahem, that’s Alt LEFT Bike Extremist to you.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

City Hall Vision Zero Forum Foreshadows Culture Change for L.A.

|
Last night, the city of Los Angeles welcomed national safe streets advocate Leah Shahum at a forum discussing what Vision Zero will mean for Los Angeles. For the uninitiated, Vision Zero is a road safety policy that adopts the goal of zero traffic deaths. That zero applies to everyone: people walking, driving, riding, etc. Vision Zero stems […]
Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker (6) participates in organized team activities at the team's practice facility on Monday, June 5th, 2017 in Thousand Oaks, CA (Rams/Hiro Ueno),

New PSA Puts Friendlier Foot…errr..Face on Vision Zero

|
It’s been a rough ride for advocates’ of safe streets the past six months. From the blowback on Vision Zero road redesigns on the Westside, to the politicization of road diets from conservative talk radio hosts demonizing anyone who dares suggest that maybe our transportation system needs to be made safer. Yesterday, the City of […]