It is now common for newspapers and TV news channels to have websites.
News stories and articles are published, and like blogs most allow comments from readers.
I find it disturbing whenever a cycling related story is posted, it is inevitably followed by a stream of anti-cycling rhetoric.
This usually draws counter comments from cyclists, often equally as venomous.
Still more anti-cycling bullshit follows, and so it goes on and on. Nothing good is achieved; if anything the two sides are driven further apart rather than seeing the other’s point of view.
Recently I read this post from a TV news station in New Haven, Connecticut. Strictly speaking this was not a cycling story, but a business story about a business that happened to be a retail bike store.
I was dismayed when it drew the same anti-cycling comments from the general public. One responding to the report that the bike store had been broken into, stated, “I'm glad those liberal enablers got burglarized.”
In this persons eyes not only should people not be allowed to ride bikes on the road but bike store owners are fair game for abuse, because they encourage and enable cycling.
To the credit of the website’s administrators, at least one of the more hateful comments was removed. I read it earlier and it advocated running cyclists down in order to, quote, “Take back our roads.”
Although every cyclist sees this type of comment coming from a viewpoint of ignorance and extreme prejudice, we have to realize our counter responces are probably viewed in exactly the same way.
One also has to realize the person you respond to will never see your point of view, but a carefully worded, intelligent response will win over more moderate readers. It might be better to make a general statement rather than a response counter attacking an individual.
Cyclists are a minority group and as such will be judged by the worst behavior in our group. I can practically guarantee whenever a cycling related article appears, there will be at least one comment from someone that goes something like this:
“Cyclists seem to think they own the damn road, they never obey stop signs and lights.”
To be fair, people do not make this kind of stuff up. People say things like this, and others will readily agree with them, because they have witnessed exactly this behavior from cyclists on many occasions.
I witnessed it myself just a few weeks ago. I was sitting at a light in my car at the end of a long line of vehicles.
A cyclist on a road bike, rode calmly up the outside of the row of cars, and with a cursory glance to the left and right, without slowing, rode across the busy six lane highway against the red light.
With assorted vehicles passing through at about 60mph (Speed limit is 55.) ranging from cars, SUVs, commercial trucks, and eighteen wheelers.
I'm sure like me, these drivers experienced a serious WTF moment as we watched this idiot on a bicycle, weave his way through traffic dodging between gaps in the flow. I wondered his reasoning, a death wish, or outright defiance simply because he could.
I might have chased him down to ask him, but he went straight, and I was in the left turn lane. Would it have inconvenienced this cyclist to wait in line for the green light like everyone else was obliged to do?
Sadly there were at least another twenty or more people waiting at the four corners of this busy intersection, also witnessing this brazen defiance of the law.
In an instant, one cyclist gave forty or more people a reason to hate cyclists.
I question whether we will see an end to this verbal and online beating up of cyclists, when there are those among us who keep handing our critics the stick to do it with.