26 November 2009

The Destructive Power of Individual Bicycle Haters

Solo Conversation
It takes the appearance of many cyclists on the urban landscape to start changing the perception of societies about the role of the bicycle as an accepted, respected and feasible transport form.

All too often, it only takes one anti-bicycle individual on a personal crusade to ruin it for everybody.

The Crown Prince of Anti-Bicycle LandAlthou has to be Rob Andersen, of San Francisco. He has succesfully halted all implementation of bicycle infrastructure in that city for almost three years. The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting today, however, that there is hope on the horizon. The city has 45 projects ready to go and they were given green lights today for starting them - as long as they can easily be reversed, since another hearing is scheduled for June 2010.

Mr Comedy, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.'s verbal bowel movement has attained cult status since we posted his piece from 1980. Although he's so silly that it's hard to take him seriously.

Toronto has an elected official on a crusade called Councillor Michael Walker to thank for negative bicycle intiatives. Thanks to him the tide risks being reversed in that city.

Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter is on the right [cycle] track, but he's now up against Councilman Frank DiCicco, who is making right-wing noise and launching his personal war on bikes by wanting bicycle registration.

Philip L. Graitcer
is a one-man wrecking ball. He has managed to completely split the World Health Organisation with his eagerness to promote helmets. Half of the WHO would rather promote public health but he has been vocal in swinging it the other way. His connections to the auto industry certainly don't help his street cred.

We even have such individuals here in Denmark, in positions of influence at the car-centric Danish Road Safety Council, happily manipulating statistics and the press.

The power of the individual is usually a force that can be transferred into strengthening the Common Good but it's quite amazing to see how so many of these individuals gain so much influence and use it against increasing the modal share for bicycles and all the benefits to be gained from doing so.

Not surprisingly, most of them seem to be men, but there may be exceptions.

Feel free to add your personal favourite to the Anti-Bicycle Hall of Shame in the comments.


miss sarah said...

I'm not allowed to name names, but my city councillor husband gets tons of flack here from a certain demographic. He routinely gets written up in one of our city's most horrible right wing rags, which is too bad since he's already busy dealing with developers who want to build more and more horrible subdivisions on the edge of town.

It's so ironic. All this talk about family housing and "urban" (big box) centres out in the middle of nowhere that are ONLY accessible by car. People are so enticed by the thought of a new house, they forget that it's a suburban prison. Unfortunately, once these people move in they will inevitably complain about the traffic, but will likely continue to drive and forego public transit or alternative modes of people-powered transport.

Rasmus Jensen said...

Not that I doubt your statement about the Danish Road Safety Council but do you have any examples of them manipulating statistics?

Kevin Love said...

My nominee for Toronto:

Igor Kenk, bicycle theft kingpin.

Like most organized crime lords, Mr. Kenk didn't get his own hands dirty by actually stealing bikes himself. He was arrested by the police when caught in the act of training one of his minions in the fine art of bicycle theft. A search warrant uncovered almost four thousand (yes, that's 4,000) stolen bicycles that he had stored in a variety of places in Toronto.

Facing a variety of charges involving receiving stolen property and drug charges, he was deemed so dangerous that he is currently not out on bail but sitting in jail waiting for his trial.

In my opinion, that's where he belongs for a long, long time. I would just love to be called for jury duty for this trial. "Yes, My Lord, I consider myself a totally impartial juror."

Kevin Love said...

A follow-up comment:

I live in the Riding of Toronto Centre, from which the jury for Mr. Kenk's trial will be drawn. The current commuter mode share is:

Public transit: 38%
Cycling and walking: 34%
Car drivers and passengers: 26%


Let this guy stand before a jury of his peers. One advantage of this mode share is that criminals, such as dangerous car drivers and bike thieves, stand before a jury where the majority of the jurors are cyclists, pedestrians and public transit users.

James D. Schwartz said...

Kevin, I concur - during the "Igor years" I and many others in Toronto had bicycles stolen.

Addicts would steal bikes and sell them to Igor for $20 - he thus created demand for stolen bikes and it deterred people from cycling because there was a very strong chance their bike would be stolen (I had a bike stolen 2 days after I bought it).

Another thing to note is that here in Toronto we don't have insurance for our bicycles like they have in Copenhagen. If I were to make a claim on a stolen bike, I would have to pay the $500 deductible. Not worth it since my commuter bike is worth far less than $500.

I don't have any official stats on bicycle thefts for this year, but I can say that I have heard of very few people having their bikes stolen since Igor was arrested.

Mikael said...

rasmus: 'manipulation' can sound more evil than it is. but a prime and recent example is from an article on DRs website. No facts, just speculation and guesswork disguised as 'authoritative fact'. Read it and see what the guy says. Nothing.
"...og tallet er helt sikkert endnu lavere" [men vi ved det ikke]
"Vi har ikke nyere tal til rådighed" [så vi bruger gamle irrelevente tal]
"Vi ved ikke præcis hvorfor" [og har ingen bevis]

Their whole angle on helmets wobbles on the shakiest scientific ground that it's amazing they get away with it.

Andy Thornley said...

Thanks, Mikael, we're happy to have some relief from the loony injunction but disappointed that we'll have to wait till summer 2010 to clear the whole roadblock. It was great to see you here in SF in October, the prospects of more widespread ordinary everyday (however stylish or even chic) bicycle transportation in SF makes us daydream about Copenhagen and your slide talk was a knockout (I want a copy of the PPT if you'll share it, I promise I won't launch a new career pretending to be you, though it does sound appealing). Those of you reading this in the SF Bay Area should check out Dreams on Wheels, now through Dec. 15, weekdays from 8am-8pm (except today and tomorrow because it's Thanksgiving here), a great snapshot of the Danish bike scene (including bikes) plopped in the middle of SF City Hall (and it's free):


As to Mr. Anderson and his thoughts on everyday bicycling in San Francisco, you can come over and join the commentary between himself and myself and others here:


Keep rolling and we'll see you in the street . . .

James D. Schwartz said...

I know this isn't specifically an individual bicycle hater, but Toronto has a particular newspaper that generally hates cyclists.

Just this morning they suggested that a bike lane outside a restaurant was the cause of a 10% drop in business over the past 18 months - and they are calling for the bike lane to be removed.

Hmm, do you think that perhaps the fact that there has been a recession for the past 18 months might have something to do with business dropping 10%?


Anonymous said...

I think the whole Asia is somewhat anti-bicycle. No proper bicycle lanes and cars are in more control, compared to cyclists and pedestrians.

When will you promote bicycling in Asia besides Japan?

Ryan said...

miss sarah, last week I was reading how Calgary's transportation is in such a mess because of how fast they expanded outward. I suppose Edmonton is the same.
I know both Edmonton & Calgary have become the most 'car-dependant' cities in the country.

Here in St Catharines, which is much smaller than either Calgary or Edmonton, we're facing the same situation with regards to the big box centres in the middle of no where.
The entire west end of this city is all big box now, and of course the city failed to make it accessible for cyclists or pedestrians.
Cyclists even took city councillors on a tour of this area to show just how dangerous it is.
It's the only area of the city I truly feel unsafe riding in.

Ryan said...

in Vancouver a business owner (of an art gallery) is claiming he may have to close do to that Burard Street bike lane.

Here in St Catharines, an owner of a Canadian Tire store complained about a brand-new bike lane, claiming it was backing traffic up.
The city caved in and now the road is back to four lanes for cars without a bike lane.
Traffic was never backed up except during evening rush hour.
Now at all hours of the day it is backed up.

Anonymous said...

As somebody near to my <3 says...



Green Idea Factory said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Green Idea Factory said...

Interesting to see the inside insight about the World Health Organization. WHO and several other international orgs. just received 125 million US from the (Michael) Bloomberg Philanthropies for a new program of "Global Road Safety Work".

See http://www.embarq.org/en/news/09/11/18/press-release-bloomberg-philanthropies-awards-embarq-partners-125-million-global-road-

This quote from Nancy Kete of project partner EMBARQ - whose "global strategic partners" are Shell and Caterpillar - is prominent and thus indicative: “Helmets and seatbelts are very important, but you also have to think about policies that protect all urban residents, not just transport users...". Read the full quote at the link. It's a lot or a little wishy washy, which is to be expected when you look at the funders of the other partners.

miss sarah said...

Ryan - It's so frustrating because a lot of the people who live and shop in those areas don't think there is anything wrong. There's the safety thing, but the solution to this seems to be building more ridiculous overpasses or buying bigger cars in order to feel safer. I'm not sure what part of the brain fails to realize that it's the cars and horrible driving skills that is essentially the most unsafe thing.

Hopefully you can just avoid going to those places:) I do!

Ian said...

another vote for rob anderson.

ugh. so sad and ridiculous that one lunatic can block and entire city's progress.

Anonymous said...

It would be enlightening, I'm sure, to know how many of these politicians lobby for, are "consultants" for, are non-executive members of the board, or are otherwise involved with motor trade or road-construction companies (or are just paid by pressure groups like the Taxpayers/Motorists Alliance).

Maybe people who live locally could enlighten us on their particular doorstop?

Adrienne Johnson said...

The individuals that take such selfish and stupid actions are not what amaze me. They are always going to be a part of the equation. It is the people that follow the disjointed reasoning and twisted "logic" that are the dangerous and destructive ones.

Here in SF Rob Anderson is just your garden variety twit. We have lots of them. The fact that others follow his lead and that he found a lawyer to twist the law to punish people and waste money and time is by far the worst part.

lagatta à montréal said...

Yes, they tend to be a certain kind of men, from a certain demographic (age, class, outlook). I don't know if Québec Transport Minister Julie Boulet is an "individual bicycle hater" but she is certainly car-centred and has absolutely no understanding of everyday cycling or recognition of the huge surge in daily cycling here in Montréal and other major Québec cities.

She is trying to sneak a provision to make helmets mandatory for children under 12 into an initiative to lower maximum blood alcohol levels for DRIVERS:

http://www.cyberpresse.ca/actualites/quebec-canada/national/200912/02/01-927022-velo-la-ministre-pour-le-port-obligatoire-du-casque-chez-les-jeunes.php (in French)

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2009/11/30/quebec-alcohol-limit.html (in English, but much less detailed about the helmet crap)

Boulet is silent about the fact that the qualitative increase in normal everyday cycling here has resulted in a corresponding DECLINE in the accident rate - of course. For one thing it means more drivers are also day-to-day cyclists.

lagatta à montréal said...

Researching Julie Boulet and her anti-cyclist "rider", I came across this anti-cyclist post by a member of a town council of a wealthy anglophone suburb of Montréal, and couldn't resist leaving a bit of snark:


What a piece of shit this guy is. Imagine calling (urban, utilitarian) cycling a "sport, with a higher risk of head injury". Anyone who wants to weigh in for fun is welcome, though this shithead will just persist in his carsucking, cyclist hating ways.

Fuck him.