Whither the Bicyclist Hatred? (The Culture War on Wheels)

For the record, I own neither a car nor a bicycle, so I’m a pedestrian bystander in all of this. But I really don’t understand this (boldface mine; there’s video at link):

Last night, a cyclist nearly hit a van blocking the L Street cycletrack and decided to report it to the police. That’s when he met Fred and Fran Smith, the husband-and-wife heads of a conservative think tank who started berating him for “minding other people’s business.”

…Rob was turning left from 19th Street NW to L Street when he almost slammed into the back of a white van parked in the lane. He walks his bike onto the sidewalk and can be heard calling the police, when a woman approaches and asks if he’s going to report the van.

As Rob reads out the license plate of the truck over the phone, an older man in a suit walks over and the two begin screaming at him. The two are later identified as Fred Smith and Fran Smith, founder and board member of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that promotes free-market economics and denies global warming.

The interaction is brief, but it says a lot about lingering attitudes towards cycling and cyclists in DC. While the driver of the van broke the law by parking in a bike lane, it happens so frequently that people like Fred Smith either assume that it’s acceptable, or that it’s not actually a bike lane.

When Rob explains that he almost hit the van, Fred yells, “The truck is not in the bike lane at all!” He walks out into the street, points to the striped buffer between the bike lane and the general traffic lanes, and says that’s the bike lane.

It’s also interesting the way that Fred and Fran immediately try to paint Rob as the aggressor for trying to report the driver, chiding him for “minding other people’s business.” Fred makes multiple assumptions about Rob, saying he “hasn’t worked a day in his life” and is “mad” at the driver for not being a cyclist.

This has nothing to do with sharing the road or bad driving/cycling. He’s not even yelling about cyclists slowing down traffic by taking up the road with cycling lines (something, as a pedestrian, I support), or disobeying traffic rules (something I don’t support).

No, the incredible stereotyping (“hasn’t worked a day in his life”) shows this is simply the desire to punch Dirty Fucking Hippies, to wage war on another front in the conservative war on the rest of us (‘the culture wars’). Bizarre.

What a sad, freaky world movement conservatives inhabit.

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2 Responses to Whither the Bicyclist Hatred? (The Culture War on Wheels)

  1. dr2chase says:

    It’s hard to imagine the amount of cognitive dissonance required to be pro-car yet also free-market (gas taxes pay about half of road expenses, parking is subsidized, external costs go unpaid). As pointed out in the comments, a good market for parking spaces would almost eliminate double-parking.

  2. Pingback: More on the Culture War on Wheels | Mike the Mad Biologist

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