It’s not us vs. them

In the last several days there has been a flurry of discussion in the bike community about safety on our streets. I have been inspired by the outpouring of energy and dialogue around this issue. There is much more to be said and done, and I have no doubt that because of all of your comments, emails and input our streets will be safer for all of us.

I want to just remind everyone that we will get much further toward positive change if we resist the temptation to generalize and label each other. The bottom line is that not all people who drive cars are evil and hell-bent on hogging the roads for themselves. And vice versa, people that drive must not fall into the trap of labeling and generalizing all cyclists as being of a certain attitude or worldview.

There are rogue cyclists that ride with complete disregard for the law, and there are drivers who are not aware of cyclists or who simply don’t respect them at all. There are bad apples in every bunch. We (the good apples) need to lead the way and continue this dialogue based on mutual respect and consideration for each other. It is vitally important to the safety of cyclists that this dialogue does not devolve into “us vs. them.”

This bike community is making a difference already. Ideas and energy are being injected into our leaders downtown in no small part because of your input. I hope you’ll stay tuned for more opportunities to make our community a better place to ride and live. Thank you.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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17 years ago

Us vs them? You make it look like a match of peers. Hardly.

Until “they,” the steel clad motorists, respect “us,” the soft bodies on foot and bike, and the police start imposing sanctions on their aggressive, stupid, selfish behaviors, you are going to see us reacting with more and more anger as that is about all we can do.

BAGs (bikers with agendas) don’t pop out of clear air. They often come from the repeated grievances afflicted on them by careless motorists. There is a limit to a reasonable person’s patience and endurance when others so casually toss them off as disposable bits of litter on the road.

Am I angry? Yes. I had 2 close calls on my just finished afternoon commute home. The police today called for end of the bullets downtown. How about the other lethal weapons being unleashed on hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists every day of the year? Why is that not getting even greater attention?

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
17 years ago

I agree with your points and I appreciate your comment. I have the same feelings, but I think when we get angry and emotional it allows motorists to just write us off as extremists and anarchists. Not that there’s anything wrong with getting angry, I just think that we have a better chance of a good dialogue with motorists if we keep our cool and approach them with the same consideration we would like in return.

15 years ago

Motorists write us off as extremists anyway. I\’m not much on the \”let\’s be nice and see what happens\” philosophy; I\’ve seen what happens and it isn\’t much. You have to understand that people behave differently with 2-plus tons of steel wrapped around them. They\’re frustrated by the limitations of motorized travel, they feel invulnerable by their i(n)solation and by knowing they can hit the gas to flee if necessary. And most of all, when they\’re stuck in traffic or caught at a light, they envy the cyclist who is free to move about, well, freely. Trapped in an unmoving car, it doesn\’t take long for this envy to turn to rage. If motorist can\’t move freely, their thinking goes, cyclists shouldn\’t be able to either. Simple jealousy, but jealousy can kill.

Instead of trying to engage the temporarily insane in a nice, polite dialogue, we should lobby for better laws and more consideration. Until then, I\’m going about things my way and treating disrespect with disrespect.

And BTW, what\’s wrong with being an anarchist (this one is thrown around nowadays in the same facile and wreckless and inaccurate way \”communist\” was in the 80s)? Or an extremist (this one being a nice tag for anyone who vehemently disagrees with our own philosophy)?

Thanks for rant opportunity. Nice site. Be safe.