Cyclists gain an unlikely defender against the backlash

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After yesterday's media pile-on – with the Examiner's cover story and the Chronicle leading both its front page and Bay Area section with stories bashing bicyclists in the wake of a pedestrian death – it was refreshing to read today's level-headed Examiner editorial “Rare pedestrian death exploited by bike foes.”

When I posted last week on the fatal cyclist-vs.-pedestrian collision (one of the first to report disturbing new details of the incident), I noted that the cycling community was braced for a backlash. And it came in the form of calls for police crackdowns, angry anti-cyclist diatribes, proposals for elaborate bike regulatory and re-education programs, and other opportunistic jabs.

The Examiner – which, under new ownership, has abandoned its nutty old right-wing stances – not only called out those critics as predictably lacking in perspective, but the editorial even took that next step of tying them to the pro-car reactionaries who get so lathered up about paying for street parking or losing any street turf they now control.

“There is an audience out there — mostly older, mostly cranky — that loves to marinate in the notion that drivers in The City are victimized by political correctness run amok,” the Examiner wrote. “This idea of two-wheeled liberalism is an attitude that is pandered to by the likes of curmudgeonly columnists at San Francisco newspapers.”

Yeah, git 'em, Ex 2.0! It's amazing how the most privileged and entitled members of our society – such as rich white motorists – are so quick to play the victim card these days, a tactic popularized by Rush Limbaugh that has become the standard reaction to any perceived imposition on their comfort and convenience.

“Transportation policy and budget priorities are complex, especially in tough times. It is easy to sit back and paint in broad strokes about issues, but that does nothing to truly advance the conversations that need to be happening,” the Ex wrote (in sharp contrast to Chron's reactionary, ridiculous editorial stance).

Mayor Ed Lee and SFMTA chief Ed Reiskin deserve credit for supporting the controversial proposal to put in new parking meters and begin charging on Sundays – an issue on which former Mayor Gavin Newsom pandered to the mob and showed a real lack of leadership – but that's just the beginning of doing what needs to be done to create a 21st century transportation system.

The death of this pedestrian is a horrible accident that has reminded the cycling community of our responsibility to other road users, and it has prompted discussions and realizations that are probably overdue. We get it. But we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that cars create more pressing and widespread problems – in terms of being deadly, costly, bad for the environment, and dominating public space – than do bikes. That's not judgment, just perspective.

Or as the Examiner says, “Bicyclists can be rude — they certainly ride through red lights or on the sidewalk and are rarely punished, in part because on the scale of criminality, this is fairly minor. But the one thing they almost never do is kill someone. We shouldn’t let this incident distort our approach to traffic laws or add fuel to the apparently endless battle of the bike and the car.”

Comments

"rich white motorists"

Nice phrase.

White motorists should be banned.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

I see a huge number of non-whites driving but I guess over in the lush, leafy, affluent area where Steven no douby hides out, perhaps that doesn't happen?

In fact, I'm quite certain that the percentage of cyclists who are white far exceeds the percentage of drivers who are. Cycling is a yuppie thing.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

I don't think cycling is a yuppie thing- i am 58, so not young- and working class. If it IS a yuppie thing, that should change. cars foul the air and are dangerous and expensive... i need one for work, if not, i would walk and bike, or take public transportation, despite its flaws- everywhere.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

You might be able to replace yuppie with hipster/neo hippie though.

There is nothing that the progressives can not cast into some crazy race issue, Steve Jones must lose all kinds of sleep because he is white.

In the Mission you might see a few Latino dudes riding down the side walk, the majority are like Steve, white hipsters.

Posted by matlock!!!! on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

Yes the Guardian does love the race card, but is it really relevant to policy whether cyclists are hipsters, yuppies, mods, beatniks or flappers? Actually relevant data might be whether bicyclists in a particular area tend to actually be commuting somewhere, or just out for a pleasure cruise. For that matter, the same question might be asked of cars. These things, one might argue, actually matter.
Subculture is more a composite of preferences and affectations, and really doesn't matter.
This isn't high school.

Posted by myklValentine on Apr. 17, 2012 @ 11:06 am

Yes the Guardian does love the race card, but is it really relevant to policy whether cyclists are hipsters, yuppies, mods, beatniks or flappers? Actually relevant data might be whether bicyclists in a particular area tend to actually be commuting somewhere, or just out for a pleasure cruise. For that matter, the same question might be asked of cars. These things, one might argue, actually matter.
Subculture is more a composite of preferences and affectations, and really doesn't matter.
This isn't high school.

Posted by myklValentine on Apr. 17, 2012 @ 11:15 am

Or play the age card:

"There is an audience out there — mostly older, mostly cranky — that loves to marinate in the notion that drivers in The City are victimized by political correctness run amok”

Pity the old cranky rich white motorists.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 11:14 am

The rich don't worry about parking tickets. Folks in the Northeast Mission who are concerned about meters are by no means rich.

They're folks who live in the neighborhood and/or run businesses here who need cars to get to jobs scattered around the region and whose PDR businesses have parking needs that should not cost $10 to service.

How about we invest in making transit an attractive, competitive alternative first and then once it is as easy to take transit as cars, then start to turn the screws on driving.

If we have to make driving more difficult in precise areas which make transit more effective, then front load that. But changing parking rules for policy rather than budgetary reasons antagonizes without magnetizing folks.

I'm going to be avoiding biking on Market, Embarcadero and the Wiggle for some time. Took the 33 bus up to the Upper Haight last night to avoid any run ins with overzealous law enforcement.

Way to encourage bicycling as an alternative for everyday transportation!

Posted by marcos on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

You should just try to ride legally, it's really not that hard I do it every day.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

Bicyclists are not going to stop at stop signs on the wiggle when biking up hill and into the wind and should not unless there is contention at the intersection.

Cyclists cannot make hand signals when the quality of the pavement is such that they cannot take one hand off the handlebars without risking a crash. Biking slower in these cases only makes matters worse.

Cops are more concerned with bringing their personal suburban mentality to bear on the conduct of their jobs as they are in keeping us safe.

The major focus of cop enforcement centers on making sure that San Franciscans demonstrate fealty to mostly suburban cop authority.

And motorists are free to illegally chat on their cell phones oblivious to any other road users, the cops have no problem with that.

We really can't afford to allow cops to call their own work plan, as they have proven that they cannot be trusted. Cops need hand holding in this regard, they need to be told to focus their attentions not on technical violations of the law but on instances of clear recklessness that represent clear threats to public health.

I'm biking on Mission to get to and from home to downtown instead of on Market. The pavement quality is better and there is only one bus line to contend with.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

It has nothing to do with providing buses, trains, boats and planes. While even a care can transport many people e.g. taxi's.

Bikes aren't the solution to anyone who isn't young, fit and (usually) white. And it's starting to look like they might be the problem.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

I ride, and am not young (58)- nor was i fit at all, until i started riding.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 3:54 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

Where did you get the ignorant idea that one has to be "young" to ride a bicycle? Who programmed that in you? I ride a bicycle and know people in their 60s and 70s who ride regularly. Age has nothing to do with it. Ethnicity also has nothing to do with it. Both are just lame excuses given by some for not riding a bicycle.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 5:40 pm

conveniently ignoring the fact that the percentage of drivers who are white is less than the percentage of self-absorbed, priviliged cyclists who are white.

Oops, another race card just got trumped.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

No, I didn't say that drivers are white (although most are), what I did was cite rich white motorists as an example of the "privileged and entitled members of our society" who object most strongly to Sunday meter hours and accomodating the growing number of cyclists in this city. As for your ridiculous assertion that it's mostly white hipsters on bikes, open your eyes and you'll learn that your claim simply isn't true. Most of the bikes in my building belong to young Latino workers, a class of people I see on bikes throughout the Mission. While it is the working class that relies most on this mode of transportation because it is cheap and effective, the entire socioeconomic and cultural spectrum is represented among this city's cyclists. It's impossible to generalize based on people's transportation choice, but the SFMTA's studies have shown that the median income of car drivers is far higher than that of either Muni riders or cyclists, as anyone who thinks about the cost of car ownership for even a moment should already know. Facilitating cycling in this city helps the working class, it's good for the environment, and it frees up space on Muni and for motorists who can't or don't want to cycle. So why would you want to erect ridiculous new barriers to cycling? Those of you who have such resentment toward cyclists need to examine your own attitudes and why you feel such a strong need to stereotype and scapegoat people. Maybe you'd feel better if you took a bike ride and got some fresh air and exercise.

Posted by steven on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

Marcos -- excellent points regarding the need to not be "turning the screws" on local working folks and businesspeople since in most cases they still have an absolute need to operate and park cars in the neighborhood that they do business, and your clear-eyed observation of the specific class analysis that congestion pricing plans cry out for.

Rich people *don't* care about parking costs and parking tickets: they want the riff-raff out of their way.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 9:36 am

San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

Considering that there is a difference between the reporting requirements of bicycles and automobiles, the 800 vs 18 collisions a year is really comparing apples to oranges.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

You're right. Bicyclists are unlikely to get points on their license and have their insurance increase so I'm sure they're far less likely to hit-and-run, try to work out under the table payments, shirk off responsibility for that scratch they just put in the bumper of a parked car, etc.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

Progressives claim to speak for the people and want the government to be accountable to the people, then when the citizens come out and voice their displeasure at being lab rats to Steve Jones and his white liberal sense of entitlement, they are a mob.

Steve Jones is entitled to re-striped bike lanes at no cost to him and his agenda, but others who want the status quo are entitled?

Such amazing logic from our man children.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

And child trolls like you with your mob sense of entitlement claim to speak for the "moderates" (that's the camouflaged word for right-wing). "Moderate" sounds so much tamer and nicer than right-wing or conservative. But some people aren't fooled by it or by your trolling for your agenda.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

Illiterate ravings?

Posted by Matlock on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

I couldn't agree more- how many people are killed and maimed each year by motor vehicles? It is very rare that cycling causes a pedestrian death- the cyclist in question was probably being reckless, but that is not good reason to blame and excoriate ALL cyclists. thanks for the rant, bay guardian!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

If one child does something wrong, he laments that "but my brother just did something worse".

Cyclists should be held to the same standard as all other road users. But if they elect to take on self-entitlement airs and graces, then they can only blame themselves if they are held to a higher standard.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

It seems these days that as many people as possible try to work in the words "self-entitlement airs and graces" in their posts no matter what they think on any issue. It's so overused....to try to put down other people, with whom one disagrees. Can't people disagree without condescending nose-in-the-air snot written in their posts? It's so dysfunctional.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

I've traveled all over the world and I have NEVER encountered a location where people were so obsessed with what they claim is their right to cheap housing, to cycle without let or hindrance, to be cosseted and nurtured, to be able to view an unlimited amount of bad art and generally claim their right to be self-indulgent aholes.

WTF is it all about?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

Absolutely! And this paper is the vanguard of twee self entitlement.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

Does anyone force you to come on this site?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

Your delusions and your right-wing agenda. That's WTF is it all about.
BTW, anyone forcing you to live here? Perhaps you would fit in better if you were around those who feel self-entitled to expensive mega-homes, corporate jobs, expensive vehicles, world cruises and "luxuriating"....you know, those self-entitled people (which are all over the U.S.).

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

People work for those things.

IN SF progressives are entitled to bike lanes all over the city, while complaining that others feel entitled to the status quo.

Progressives are entitled to make other people obey their agenda through government coercion, when it is done to progressives they trumpet out buzz words and complain about government coercion.

So sad.

Posted by Matlock on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 8:09 pm

What is so sad is your addiction to thinking about progressives, and your delusions about them.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 5:33 am

Here is an example, one of many

the progressives want one of their own in the mayors office because they are entitled to the office although it was last held by a moderate. One short year later Mirkarimi leaves his office and they are entitled to Lee appointing a progressives to that seat because it was held by a progressive.

Get it? It's about getting over. Thanks for playing.

Posted by Matlock on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 10:01 am

"Rich white motorists"?

Posted by The Commish on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 8:42 am

I wonder what color he'd like to be. Also, by the way, "poor black motorists" are perfectly acceptable. It's hard to tell who has the more incapacitating sense of white guilt: Steven or Tim. Their attempts to polemicize even the most mundane events are so infantile that it's a miracle they can function in society without constant naps and diaper changes.

Posted by Chromefields on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 11:43 am

He said so last year. If Avalos supports it it's hard to see how The Guardian or Steven Jones can oppose it.

It's ironic how progressives support regulation of Happy Meals but not cyclists. Happy Meals have never killed anyone but cyclists in San Francisco have - and will continue to do so without government regulation. Ironically cyclists are among the least regulated groups around and clearly that's becoming a big problem. Regulation is absolutely necessary and if SF can regulate food, grocery bags, guns, garbage and more then it can certainly start to regulate bicycles and their riders.

Posted by Troll II on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 11:59 am

Just about everything you wrote is incorrect, Troll II. Avalos once said he was open to discussing registering bikes and using that money for bike lanes, but he doesn't yet support the idea. Happy Meals and other fast food kill far more people (through diabetes, obesity, and other health problems directly attributable to bad diets) than bicycles do (which actually improve people's health). And BTW, I was never a fan of the Happy Meal ban anyway, so it's silly for you and Matlock to repeatedly use this in your arguments against my points. And cyclists are as regulated by traffic cops as motorists, despite the latter's higher likelihood of doing serious damage with their violations, and we're even required to produce our drivers licenses when pulled over for traffic violations. Now, if you want to start a conversation about adopting Idaho's traffic laws -- in which cyclists treat stop lights as stop signs and stop signs as yield signs, which is how people naturally ride anyway without stealing anyone else's right-of-way -- then I might be open to discussing a whole new regulatory system for cyclists. But as long as we're treated like second-class citizens and forced to obey rules written for motorists, then we'll continue to ignore your dumb licensing idea.

Posted by steven on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

Thank you for all of that.

"But as long as we're treated like second-class citizens and forced to obey rules written for motorists [WHICH MANY/MOST? MOTORISTS DON'T OBEY THEMSELVES], then we'll continue to ignore your dumb licensing idea."

Posted by Guest on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

I've learned that from you - when there is a gap which is filled by lawlessness then it stands that the government must fill that gap with regulation. Cyclists are clearly operating lawlessly - the cavalier attitude displayed by the Castro Killer is endemic amongst cyclists and it must be dealt with through government regulation. If one person dies that's far too many and cyclists have already killed more than one. Therefore we must study what type of regulation can deal with this issue.

I propose high, wide speed bumps on hills which would slow down those cyclists who think it's their right to hit 40 MPH coming down streets like Castro or Upper Market. If that doesn't work put in cattle guards which trap their tires if they don't walk their bikes over them. Cyclists need to accept regulation - for their good, for the good of pedestrians and for the good of society.

Posted by Troll II on Apr. 14, 2012 @ 7:19 am

Great retort steven on almost every point, but you give away too much with regard to your dismissal of the "Happy Meal" legislation.

By enacting that law, the San Francisco supervisors made a clear statement concerning the unheathfulness of the McDonalds food and the anti-social nature of the corporation's marketing such food to kids. It could not have been made made any other way.

I always thought the idea of bikeys not being required to stop at lights, etc, is the same as why motorcyclists are allowed to split lanes when it is safer to do so, but even more so; it keeps them from being sitting ducks for bad drivers who don't see them and run them down. Bicyclists don't have the horsepower to jump out of the way ever so they need to keep moving.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 14, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

Great retort steven on almost every point, but you give away too much with regard to your dismissal of the "Happy Meal" legislation.

By enacting that law, the San Francisco supervisors made a clear statement concerning the unheathfulness of the McDonalds food and the anti-social nature of the corporation's marketing such food to kids. It could not have been made made any other way.

I always thought the idea of bikeys not being required to stop at lights, etc, is the same as why motorcyclists are allowed to split lanes when it is safer to do so, but even more so; it keeps them from being sitting ducks for bad drivers who don't see them and run them down. Bicyclists don't have the horsepower to jump out of the way ever so they need to keep moving.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 14, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

Good point on the safety issue, lillipublicans, and many of your other recents post. It's good to have a few reasonable voices here among the haters. The concept of momentum and its importance in cycling is totally lost on the angry anti-bike crowd, but I think you make an excellent point that coming to a complete stop when it's our right-of-way makes no sense because to slows down the flow of traffic for all road users and makes cyclists more like to get hit by an impatient motorist, of which there are many on the road (so many that it makes the calls for crackdowns on cyclists absolutely ridiculous and disproportionate to the actual dangers on the roads).

As far as the Happy Meals, I don't disagree with your point or that of the legislation, but I just think we need to be careful with overregulation, precisely because it gets used by these right-wing yahoos to undercut progressivism, which is needed now more than ever as we fight for reasonable affordable housing policies, taxes on the rich, and an end to neoliberal corporate welfare policies. Frankly, I don't think it was a big deal to ban Happy Meals, but it sets off the simpletons and fuels dumb (and incredibly hypocritical given that it's mostly anti-government conservatives who make this point) arguments like turning cycling into a privilege we must earn through classes and licensing fees.

 

Posted by steven on Apr. 16, 2012 @ 10:57 am

There are far more near brushes with cyclists and pedestrians. The reason for less deaths is physics: a car weighs a lot more than a bicycle. But it is really disgusting to be dismissive of these "few bike caused deaths".

Posted by Guest on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

There are far, far, far more near-brushes with motorists who nearly kill pedestrians. Yes indeed, a motor vehicle weighs a whole lot more than a bicycle, and drivers cause a whole lot more deaths.
Yes, It is disgusting to dismiss any death. (and yet our media, and therefore the populace, does so every day.)

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

ENOUGH, ALREADY!!!!!..........As the Examiner said.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

Thank goodness for the new Examiner and its reasoned response to the bicycle controversy. Such a welcome contrast to the Chronicle, with its contempt for bicyclists and its catering to mob mentality. It might sell papers but in reality they are complicit in the maiming and murder of bicyclists caught up in the road rage of those who feel justified in their reckless behavior by the Chronicle's constantly telling them it's okay to hate on bikers. How do you spell Chronicle? P-a-n-d-e-r-e-r-s.

Posted by barry eisenberg on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

Love it love it love it...re the rich white motorist stance. Here is my perspective. I am latino and ride to work twice a week for fun. One day I made a right turn on red light onto a bike lane. No cars were coming the other way, so I wasn't putting anyone in danger so, no stop, okay my bad -- un poco pecadillo. Immediately, white homey in a beamer barrels down, rushes next to me, deliberately rolls down his window, yelling how I should obey the law and continues a rant. I was in a bike lane and arguably his tailing me put me in danger. Orale, so therefore I was pissed so I yell "hey if I was white would you be doing this?" Yup, I called the mofo out. The shock on his face was so priceless that he could not respond. So we end up at a red light I pull up next to him. He was still speechless. Light turns green and I go on my merry way, taking a last look at dumbfounded homey in the beamer. That's all.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

why does the media have to bring up the race issue. it's not a race issue, it's something that happened between human beings. i both cycle and drive and i do see cyclists not following the rules of the road. majority of drivers and cyclists do follow the rules of the road, but it's always that small group/percentage that will make it bad for all.

the media use to be a proud profession and a very well written one. nowadays, i see a lot of spelling and grammar errors. what is wrong with the "media" nowadays?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

too bad I'm a week late to the discussion ... anyway, I'm 60, I taught my grandson to ride when he was three (6 years ago) but we haven't gone biking together in a couple of years. different reasons but, he always asked me why cyclists went throught the red lights, why they didn't stop when they should have, why they rode on sidewalks, why they were rude to you if you told them they were wrong, etc. guess it takes a little kid to see through all the b.s. and that conversation about cars? well, duh. it's so obvious it doesn't need to be said. what was being addressed was the fact that cyclists killed pedestrians.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

me on a crosswalk and, when I remonstrated with him that he had just blown a red light, he assumed an air of callous indifference and entitlement.

These people need to be slapped down and hopefully this tragedy - the second within a year - will provide the context for remedial action.

Posted by Anonymous on Apr. 18, 2012 @ 1:29 pm