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The Oregonian responds to critique of road rage coverage

Posted by on July 14th, 2008 at 12:05 pm

“Maybe we overplayed this story, but it was compelling to readers…”
–Rick Attig, associate editor of The Oregonian

An associate editor of The Oregonian has penned an editorial in response to my critique of their coverage of the recent road rage incident.

The editorial was written by Rick Attig, a former Pulitzer Prize winner and member of The Oregonian’s editorial board.

He writes:

“Maus and most of his readers believe the newspaper blew the road rage incident out of proportion, and in the process of sensationalizing the story, only exacerbated the tensions between cyclists and motorists.”

Attig admits that’s, “a fair point”, but he goes on to write that:

“…it seems like Maus and his readers want The Oregonian and the other media to put a gloss over one of the essential facts of this highly unusual story… does anyone want to claim that the fact that Steven McAtee was on a bike and Colin Yates was in a car had nothing to do with this incident?”

Unfortunately, one of the problems with how this story came out was that there was no “other media”. The Oregonian was not only the first outlet on the story, they reported it in detail (based on police reports and the police spokesperson), therefore the impact of that one story was paramount. Also, I never suggested that anyone should “gloss over” essential facts.

A few lines later he writes:

“There’s nothing constructive to be gained by denying that there is, as the story says, an undercurrent of tension between motorists and cyclists, here in this city and in many other places.”

I am not “denying” that tension exists between “motorists and cyclists”. I have been at ground zero of that tension for years and have written and spoken about it on this site and in media interviews many times.

Attig then writes that they might have “overplayed” the story, but offers this justification:

“Maybe we overplayed this story, but it was compelling to readers for two reasons: It had a man bites dog element, with a cyclist attacking a motorist. And it strikes very close to home for tens of thousands of people who are now more focused than ever before on how to safely and affordably get around this city.”

Again, it seems Attig does not understand my chief concern is not with the incident itself, but with how it was covered.

I find it sadly ironic that Mr. Attig mentions how many of The Oregonian editorial board staffers ride to work and then writes, “Many of us have suffered some abuse from motorists over the years.” Yet even so, his newspaper decided to run these highly divisive headlines and graphics on their front page:

I’m all for more coverage of the tension on our roadways, but I feel it should not be framed as one specific user group vs. another simply because of one “compelling” incident.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Klixi
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Klixi

I think the \”clubs man with bike\” was the only overboard thing about the story. For the most part, the O\’s story wasn\’t nearly as sensational as some \”bike culture\” folks made it out to be.

I\’m still confused how Rinker Cement Co. vs Tracey Sparling was turned into \”us vs them\” by the \”bike culture\”, but this recent story was denied as being \”us vs them\” by the \”bike culture\”. It\’s as though anytime something or someone makes us look bad, we try to make it appear as though it were an isolated incident. But as soon as a cyclist is hit, we join together, pound our chests and proclaim \”all drivers are like this! We need justice!\”

Moral of the story: Just obey the law. Seriously, just stop pretending any of us are above the law. Stop running stop signs, stop yelling at people. Just be a good person.

Or as the old adage goes, treat those the way you want to be treated. If you don\’t want cars to run stop signs, don\’t run them yourself.

Jonathan, I think your coverage on this story has been fantastic and very levelheaded. I understand your angle and the angle the O with – and both angles have their valid points.

The % of bad drivers is identical to the % of bad cyclists. Think about it. It\’s never been an \”us vs them\” situation.

Forseti
Guest
Forseti

\”Maybe we overplayed this story…\”

Clueless to the very end. Not only is this the understatement of the century, it evidences Attig\’s total failure to understand Jonathan\’s eloquent critique.

Probably he\’s also a little frustrated that his paper has been replaced as the best source for local news.

Anyway, Attig missed the point – yet again. I don\’t think Jonathan was claiming that the event had nothing to do with the car-bike aspect (quite the contrary), only that the undercurrent of hostility and violence on the roads is broader than the car-bike thing and contributes to a serious safety problem. More importantly, the Oregonian has totally abdicated its public responsibility to deal with this important broader issue and focused on fanning the flames of the us-them mentality arising from this particular incident to sell papers. And there is nothing constructive about that. How long will it take the folks at the Oregonian to figure this out?

kg got it right (at #138). Attig claims that several members of their editorial board \”have suffered some abuse from motorists\” as bike commuters. And surely Attig must know that this king of behavior is primarily what keeps more Portlanders off bikes. Such criminal acts certainly would \”strike[] very close to home for tens of thousands of people who are now more focused than ever before on how to safely and affordably get around this city.\” Yet Attig and the Oregonian continue to fail to cover this story and instead focus on perpetuating their legacy of Yellow Journalism. Shameful.

[Please forgive the re-post. I thought it better positioned here, and of course posters cannot delete posts.]

West Cougar
Guest
West Cougar

Fundamental difference:

The % of drivers having killed or injured another human is orders of magnitude greater than the % of cyclists having killed or injured another human.

Until we come to grips with and address that asymmetry, us vs. them between cyclists and motorists will be a fact of life.

PJ
Guest

I hate this us vs. them mentality about bikes and cars. How is it a couple of hot headed jackasses get in a scrap and suddenly the one on a bike is representing for me because I also choose to ride? Whatever happened to individual accountability? Is that a foreign concept in this town now?

Forseti
Guest
Forseti

\”I\’m still confused how Rinker Cement Co. vs Tracey Sparling was turned into \”us vs them\” by the \”bike culture\”, but this recent story was denied as being \”us vs them\” by the \”bike culture\”.

I\’m not \”the bike culture.\” In fact, no one is. So it\’s really just a figment of your imagination.

But let me give you *my* perspective. Where the cement truck driver broke the law and that violation caused the death of Ms Sparling, the PPB did not enforce the law by issuing a citation … until about 3 months later. *My* criticism was of the PPB\’s enforcement, not people who drive motor vehicles.

As for the Yates-McAtee confrontation, nobody denied it had something to do with the dynamic between people driving cars and people riding bikes. *I* simply made the same point as Jonathan: The coverage was sensationalist and did not cover the underlying problem(s).

Here are what *I* perceive as the major differences between the two events:

(1) Someone died because another person failed to follow a pretty basic law of road use. That makes one far more important than a situation where two people have a minor scuffle and where no injuries were *caused by* any violation of the traffic code.

(2) It\’s not Yates\’ job to uphold the traffic laws. That job belongs to the PPB. When they fail, the possibility exists that safety on the roads will greatly decrease. It\’s much more important that we have safety-focused enforcement than it is that we spend an inordinant amount of time worrying about whether we should yell at each other over it when it happens next to us.

Klixi
Guest
Klixi

#3 West Cougar: It\’s not a fact of life for me. It just strikes me as bizarre that the ones who are so adamant about how evil the gas guzzling monsters are seem to be the same ones who always have road rage problems and close calls. I really think some cyclists (many cyclists, actually) have an superiority complex. They ride around with the mentality of \”I\’m gonna get my respect!\” and intentionally do things they KNOW would antagonize a driver so that they can reaffirm or validate these feelings. Most of us see cyclists do these kinds of things on a daily basis, we just turn a blind eye to it because we\’re on \’little bicycles, we can\’t hurt anyone but evil terrorist cars sure can! So it\’s ok if we break the law because we\’re harmless.\’ P o p p y c o c k . Seriously. That\’s like saying \”It\’s ok if I shoplift because I\’m poor and I\’m not stealing to sell stuff for drug money, I\’m just hungry.\” I just wish the Portland \”bike culture\” would stop attempting to justify breaking the law.

It\’s that kind of hypocritical mentality that I find shameful, and many drivers do too. As I\’ve said throughout this entire discussion, I\’ve had far more problems this summer with cyclists than I have with drivers. In fact, I haven\’t had a single problem with any drivers this year. If anything, drivers seem better than ever at accommodating me while I\’m riding, waving me through stop signs even if they were there first, slowing down to allow me to pass before making right turns, etc.

I just can\’t get over the fact that the riders I know who are cool tempered and slow/casual riders have such great experiences on the road, where as the more \’road warrior\’ types are always whining about how bad the drivers are and how many close calls they have. If you ride wrecklessly, there will be close calls. If you try to justify running stop signs and red lights, there will be consequences. This story is one of them.

dgc
Guest
dgc

RE: West Couger

I\’d be interested to know that if in Amsterdam there is a statistic on bikes killing and/or injuring pedestrians or other bikers. Or, for that matter, here in Portland (and the US of A).

Klixi
Guest
Klixi

Forseti: I think I read somewhere they don\’t ticket the driver at the scene because if they ticket him for a certain infraction, it may limit what they could charge him with later on down the road? Maybe someone could clarify it better than I could.

I\’m still amazed they let industrial trucks out on the road that aren\’t properly fitted to check all blind spots. We can develop Blu Ray burners and go to the moon, yet we can\’t develop a mirror system that allows someone to see what is around their vehicle? Amazing.

BURR
Guest
BURR

So where is PDOT on this issue? As usual, the silence is deafening. Suddenly Sam\’s got nothing to say for a change?

Bob
Guest
Bob

Willamette Week has jumped on the hysteria bandwagon and has a blog post entitled \”Road Rage 2: Car v. Bike\”. Sorry, but this is exactly the type of thing that happens when media \”overplay\” a story. It becomes more than just the story (with its salacious details, etc). It becomes a full fledged controversy. Remember those shark attack stories before 9/11? Blown out of proportion. I\’m afraid we\’re already down the road with bikes vs cars too.

Robert Dobbs
Guest
Robert Dobbs

Klixi @ 6

\”They ride around with the mentality of \”I\’m gonna get my respect!\” and intentionally do things they KNOW would antagonize a driver so that they can reaffirm or validate these feelings.\”

Mmm…. Blaming the victim… So deliciously red-state! So… refreshing!

Bonus points for throwing some TERRAHIST hyperbole in there!

Keep Portland Weird!!!

Bob
Guest
Bob

And now there\’s a post \”Bike Vs.Car, REDUX!\” on the Portland Mercury blog.

Arghhhh….

Klixi
Guest
Klixi

You find people who break the law to be victims? Weird indeed. 😉

Chad
Guest
Chad

Attig, it is this simple:

You print headlines that make it sound like it\’s a war out there on our streets between cars and bikes and some driver that\’s pissed off about $4/gallon gas and traffic decides, because you have proclaimed there is a war, to take out his frustrations on an innocent bicyclist.

Attig, you are adding gasoline to a fire that all responsible road users in this town are trying to put out. By doing so you are endangering me and other roadway users just to sell a few more copies of your \”news\”paper.

I hope you have the decency to write about the tragedy and hardship that will befall my family if I am run down by a motorist who has, with your help, declared war upon me because I choose to ride my bike.

But then again, that probably wouldn\’t sell enough papers…

Cmy
Guest
Cmy

Did anyone see this one yet? Seems like the rate of incidents is on the rise lately. Makes sense considering the time of year.

http://www.katu.com/news/25385474.html

Robert Dobbs
Guest
Robert Dobbs

Anyone want to take bets that Sunday\’s incident, WITH A FREAKING CYCLIST PINNED TO THE HOOD of a speeding DUII driver\’s SUV doesn\’t even make it above the fold in the Boregonian?

Peter
Guest
Peter

Cmy,

Do you have any proof that the rate of incidents is on the rise or are you just basing that on the fact there have been two high profile stories the past week?

Don\’t fall into the trap. Plenty of incidents go unreported. Two reported incidents doesn\’t mean that it is getting crazy out there. That\’s what the media wants you to believe.

Mike
Guest
Mike

\”Mmm…. Blaming the victim… So deliciously red-state! So… refreshing!\”

So who is the victim? The DRUNK ass on the bike blowing through stop lights and assaulting someone?

Seriously though, I like the way you took only part of the statment, neglecting the qualifier, and manipulated it to your liking.
\”I really think some cyclists (many cyclists, actually) have an superiority complex.\”

Have you thought about a job at the Oregonian?

Mmmm, medium rare states. It is the time for BBQ\’ing…

Robert Dobbs
Guest
Robert Dobbs

Mike @ 16

Seriously though, I like the way you took only part of the statment, neglecting the qualifier, and manipulated it to your liking.
\”I really think some cyclists (many cyclists, actually) have an superiority complex.\”

Yeah, it was the \”Many Cyclists\” qualifier that got me. Kinda seemed like she/he/it was applying that twisted logic to more than just that one drunken cyclist. Perhaps you could say she/he/it was applying it to many cyclists, \”actually\”.

Glad that adult literacy program worked out for you, too!

djasonpenney
Guest

LOL I\’ve been saying \”man bites dog\” for days.

Really, I think the fact that one of the vehicle operators WAS DRUNK was a lot more pertinent to the case than was the make and model of his vehicle.

Jonathan, ask The Oregonian if they would have made front-page news claiming \”BMW driver attacks motorist\” if the vehicle had been a BMW instead of bicycle? See my point? It really wasn\’t pertinent to THE DRUNK\’s violence.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Ford escort is a compact car, not an SUV.
Sorry, but there is so much animosity against SUV drivers. (Sub)Compact vehicle drivers are just as thoughtless and cruel.

Robert Dobbs
Guest
Robert Dobbs

And Mike, if you\’d like, we can sit down together and sound out some of the big words. But, to save you some time, according \”Klixi\” the victims would be:

[…] the same ones who always have road rage problems and close calls.

Yeah, so if you get hassled by a motorist, you must be seeking that confrontation to justify your militant beliefs. Or something.

djasonpenney
Guest

Or, how about this? How often when a drunk driver causes property damage or injuries, does The Oregonian report on the make and model of their vehicle? How about their racial and ethnic background?

See, this story really had very little to do with the fact that a bicyclist was involved, and my significant peeve with The Oregonian is that the editors really don\’t understand that.

N
Guest
N

Go Robert… Go Robert… Go…

Cøyøte
Guest
Cøyøte

\”Attig then writes that they might have “overplayed” the story\”

There is no \”might\” about it. Mr. Attig and the O need some perspective. The O spent two days of front page lead story space to what amounts to two guys mouthing off and getting into a scuffle. Surprisingly, alcohol was involved.

What a rag.

Robert Dobbs
Guest
Robert Dobbs

\”(Sub)Compact vehicle drivers are just as thoughtless and cruel.\”

You would be too if you had to drive a Ford Escort.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Touche. I would at that…

Mike
Guest
Mike

If you are one of the cyclists riding around with a superiority complex, feeling that you are above the law (even stupid ones like traffic devices), and purposely antagonizing drivers, then yeah, you probably are
\”[…] the same ones who always have road rage problems and close calls.\”
That was what Klixi was saying.

How can you argue against that?

And you didn\’t answer: Who is the victim? I am of a mindset that neither were victims, but of their own stupidity.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Cmy, on one hand I can say \”when will we learn to keep our mouths shut?\”. (About this incident, not you, that is – thanks for the link!).

On the other hand, I was riding back from The Dalles Saturday morning and was closely passed by a car doing maybe 70+ in a 35 MPH zone. I caught the \’901\’ at the beginning of his license plate (it was a newer gold-colored Ford Focus) and imagined everything I\’d say and do to him when I caught up with him (yeah, right ;). What came to mind was walking up to this stranger and unexpectedly taking a swing at him (her?), intentionally missing him but capturing the element of surprise and fear at what seems like an assault but technically isn\’t because \’nobody was hurt\’. Then I\’d simply say \”How does it feel? You\’ve no right to be angry because I didn\’t actually hit you!\”.

But then I saw by my heart rate monitor that I needed to calm down, thank God for still being safe after all these years of riding, and enjoy the gorgeous day (and tailwinds!) I was blessed with. This victim\’s lucky he wasn\’t killed but maybe will think twice about the futility of teaching an idiot that he\’s wrong. Idiots tend not to practice active listening skills!

Bill
Guest
Bill

Cmy: What\’s the chance that the Escort vs. Bike story is above the fold on tomorrows front page??? I\’d say low… Thanks for the link.

–Bill

Forseti
Guest
Forseti

@ #8:

Yes, the Multnomah County DA\’s office has used the \”double-jeopardy\” excuse numerous times for not citing people (motorists) at the scene of accidents. They claim that issuing a traffic citation to someone could preclude their subsequent prosecution for a crime based on conduct during the same incident.

As far as I can tell, this argument is not only wrong legally but is completely indefensible. In State of Oregon v. Warner, 342 Or. 361 (2007), the Oregon Supreme Court upheld the Defendant\’s conviction for the crimes of driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) (ORS 813.010) and reckless driving (ORS 811.140) (a traffic crime) after the Defendant was cited for careless driving (ORS 811.135) (a traffic violation) for the same conduct.

Guess who issued the traffic citation to the defendant in the hospital immediately following the collision? The PPB. Guess who subsequently charged the crimes? Multnomah County DA. Again, the highest authority on Oregon law upheld the Defendant\’s convictions.

And I really like your comment about going to the moon but \”can\’t\” develop a mirror system without blind spots. Of course, if we were concerned about America\’s leading cause of death, we could and would.

Graham
Guest
Graham

Klixi #1,

\”The % of bad drivers is identical to the % of bad cyclists.\”

That seems like a reasonable assumption.

However, the big difference is that drivers are wielding a deadly power that is vastly disproportionate to that of cyclists.

There\’s some pretty deep psychology at work here. I think it has to do with some instinctive sense of \”might makes right.\” I think cars tickle some part of our lizard brain that is thrilled to have such power available at the twitch of a foot.

Like the violence that cars do, this power cars bestow has become so everyday as to seem unremarkable, but it is, within the span of human development, a pretty amazing thing. It\’s like these machines have given superpowers to us upright, hairless apes. The power to move faster than any other animal, to carry huge loads at these speeds, and to survive the damage of a crash at these speeds.

In another thread, someone made a pretty astute comparison to the dynamic that occurred in the old days between horseback riders and non-riders. Those on horseback had an artificial sense of superiority from the power and height a horse bestowed. It seems comparable to the psychology of driving these days.

I know this psychology from my own experiences driving. When I drive, the sense of being bigger, stronger, and faster makes me impatient with people who slow me down, and angry with people who cut me off. I\’m fairly level-headed though, so I\’m a safe driver. All the more so for spending most of my time on a bike, or walking – I know how it feels to be on the other side. However, if I had a more volatile temper, or less empathy for others, I could see myself actually being dangerous behind the wheel.

More dangerous, that is, than your average safe, attentive driver, who is him- or herself already vastly more dangerous than your average safe cyclist.

Cmy
Guest
Cmy

Pete,
I really have to \”check myself\” when I am involved in these types of incidents. Slowly I\’m learning to monitor what I say and how I say it. Hey, it\’s only taken 35 years!

Bill,I think this story will be deep in the Metro section, at best!

Paul Souders
Guest

Imagine a drunk standing on a busy street corner waving a pointed stick at passerby.

Now imagine a drunk on the same corner waving a loaded gun.

These are not morally equivalent acts.

And which one would be featured (with nearly 100% of the space) above the fold on at least two editions of the Oregonian?

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

\”Imagine a drunk standing on a busy street corner waving a pointed stick at passerby.

Now imagine a drunk on the same corner waving a loaded gun.

These are not morally equivalent acts.\”

You\’re right, trying to beat the snot out of someone with your bicycle isn\’t a big deal. It\’s just a pointy stick.

Robert Dobbs
Guest
Robert Dobbs

Mike @ 28

How can you argue against that?

Pretty easily, actually.

It\’s presumptive to the extreme say that \”many cyclists\” who have problems with cars are antagonistic scofflaws. Also it is some rather odd circular reasoning to say that cyclists have problems with cars because they cause them so they can complain about having problems with cars.

And you didn\’t answer: Who is the victim?

I thought I did. Anyhow, its those cyclists who are subject to road raging motorists.

Perhaps the confusion here is that I wasn\’t addressing the specific McAtee incident, but neither was Klixi.

Paul Souders
Guest

@cyclist (#35):

So you\’d rather be threatened with being run over by a car than someone trying to beat you up with a bicycle?

Seriously?

Diogo
Guest
Diogo

klixi #1:
\”Or as the old adage goes, treat those the way you want to be treated. If you don\’t want cars to run stop signs, don\’t run them yourself.\”

Unless the person running a stop sign is actually forcing a car to stop, it doesn\’t make any sense to equate running a stop sign as a way of treating someone else. If you accept this logic, klixi, you may as well say that everyone should behave in public according to the average person\’s sensibility. Like \”John Doe gets offended when he sees a gay couple making out in public. Therefore they shouldn\’t do it, because if you don\’t want to be offended you shouldn\’t offend others.\”

For me, this is the core issue in this controversy about bikes and minor traffic law violations: the rules in these cases are so small and irrelevant that the outrage displayed by some ammounts to the old conflict between the traditionally accepted values of the average citizen and the behavior of few who choose to go \”astray\” from the norm.

Robert Dobbs
Guest
Robert Dobbs

cyclist @35

You\’re right, trying to beat the snot out of someone with your bicycle isn\’t a big deal. It\’s just a pointy stick.

Well, the first thing I thought when I heard this story, is how totally insane and idiotic this guy must have looked swinging a bicycle around as a weapon.

He would have been better off with a stick.

Anyhow, I believe that in the eyes of TEH LAW if you\’re trying to whallop anyone with anything in your hand, it\’s Assault 2, stick, bike, car, whatever.

Anyhow I think the guy you\’re responding to meant that being reckless w/ a stick and reckless with a gun are about the same as being reckless w/ bike vs reckless w/ a car.

Intent (and action) does factor into things, and being reckless with a stick is not the same as trying to beat someone with it.

Stripes
Guest
Stripes

On practically every other day there isn\’t a picture of somebody clubbing somebody else over the head with some form of transportation et al, the Oregonian has pictures taking up their entire front page of random dudes playing basketball at the Rose Gardens. Never mind that 85% of Portlanders couldn\’t care less about the exploits on or off the court of said random dudes.

Still, this apparently passes as \”news\”, front page at that, and should tell you all you need to know about the Oregonian\’s target audience, aka, not me.

Never subscribed to them, never will. Their coverage of politics is mediocre to appauling. I get all my political news on all things Portland from The Portland Mercury, which is a little worrying when you stop to think about it I guess.

I wish we had the equivolent of the New York Times or some such thing to read here in Portland.

Stripes
Guest
Stripes

Actually, scrap that. I\’m going to be a bit more passionate here!

To somebody in possession of either a degree, or just a brain, their coverage of politics is actually just downright insulting.

jordan
Guest
jordan

Its battle of the media! BikePortland.org vs. The Oregonian Who will have the final word? Perhaps tv, maybe radio, or The Oregonian shall take one more desperate stab…

jamie
Guest
jamie

Newspapers are a dead media and acknowledging their existence by purchasing or writing to them only exacerbates the problem.

memo to intelligent beings: there is nothing worthy to be learned in a newspaper, national, local, or otherwise. Journalism in the name of truth is dead for commercial newspapers and broadcast media.

Cancel your subscription, ignore the oregonian and join me as we celebrate the death of sensationalism in our community.

erin g.
Guest
erin g.

Calling those who want to be part of the solution to dangerous, counterproductive \”us\” vs. \”them\” mentalities: please get involved with We are ALL Traffic! Meeting tonight, 5:30 p.m. on the grass just south of the Hawthorne Bridge. We don\’t care whether you drive, bike, skateboard, truck, walk, or unicycle; we are a group of passionate, positive, and concerned citizens who believe in making things safer and more pleasant for all through advocacy and action. Please join us if you match that description. We accomplished a lot in our first year, and there is much yet to be done. Come see how good it feels to apply frustrations and concerns toward affecting meaningful change! By the way, we also have a lot of fun.

Thank you, and hope to see some of you there!

Erin Greeson
We are ALL Traffic

Klixi
Guest
Klixi

Diogo: What kind of logic is that?!

Seeing two gay people kiss cannot kill me.

A car running a stop sign can kill me.

I\’m not really sure what kind of point you were going for there?

Remember that it is far easier for cyclists to see cars at night than for cars to see cyclists. To suggest it is fine to blow through a stop sign at night if you see nobody around because it isn\’t disrespectful to anyone is a bit hypocritical. What would you think of a driver who approaches a stop sign, doesn\’t see you on your bike, and blows through the stop sign because they assumed nobody was there, only to skim (or worse, hit) you?

Laws are there for a reason. Many of them may be dumb, but if you would like to see them changes you owe it to everyone to go about the proper procedure to change them. You do not get to pick and choose which laws apply to you. This is exactly why so many drivers see cyclists as self righteous. Aside from chastising drivers for polluting the Earth (hey, all of us on some level or another are polluters, let\’s get off our high horses), drivers also see us as picking and choosing which laws we have to obey and which ones we will break under the guise of \”Hey, I\’m just on a bike.. I can\’t hurt a fly so I can break the laws.\”

I fail to see why so many cyclists choose to be so ignorant about what is going on out on our roads, then weep and whine when a consequence arises from their actions.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

It\’s wonderful that the O assigns a Pulitzer Prize winner to write for the paper, but his abilities seem kind of wasted on this particular task. That is, unless he has the ability to wave a magic wand and divert the O away from its tendency of late, to resort to National Enquirer and World Wide News techniques to grab the attention of readers.

Rick Attig, Pulitzer Prize winner and writer-apologist for the O doesn\’t seem to notice that the problem with the story wasn\’t the quality of its writing, but the way it was pitched and exploited using tricky placement, sensational titling and hysterically sized font to engage and antagonize the emotions of readers….and I imagine, hopefully regain some of the people that have stopped reading the paper.

I agree that the initial story of the incident involving the drunken, out of control Steven McAtee riding his bike, and Colin Yates, driving his family in their car, was compelling to the public for the reasons writer Attig stated. As the O decides to meet its responsibility to the public by reporting these kinds of stories, it should try to be aware of the occasional presence of basic animosities surrounding certain issues stories relate to, and make an effort to not recklessly throw salt in the wound.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Hey, quit pickin\’ on klixi. Sheesh y\’all are losing the forest in the trees. Unless I am mistaken, klixi has merely been proposing a little more level-headed common sense on the part of everyone. E.g., Don\’t ride around with a chip on your shoulder begging for confrontation and then get all activist when it happens. True, no one can really judge whether someone involved in a confrontation was looking for one, but those that have this attitude know who they are (if they are honest with themselves).

Regarding victim-blaming, we must be very careful about who we classify as a victim, and what they are a victim of. I can very easily be a victim of my own stupidity–then who do I blame? If I go against the rules, climb into the tiger cage at the zoo, and lose an arm, who is the victim and who is to blame?

As far as \”Treating others the way we would like to be treated\”, aka the Golden Rule, this has nothing to do with imposing behavior on someone else. Klixi did not say, \”Others should treat me the way I want to be treated.\” Diogo, your response to that was a false analogy. The accurate analogy, it seems to me, would be to say that if I am offended by people making out in public, then I, myself, will not make out with people in public. I\’m not forcing anyone to do what I want, I am simply not being a hypocrite. The application here is that if I am going to expect that auto drivers and other cyclists follow the rules of the road, I had better well follow them myself. I am not imposing my will on anyone, I am merely demonstrating what I think is appropriate and setting the example of how I would prefer others behave, i.e., legally.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Stripes # 40:

I guess you haven\’t read the Times lately, because it\’s a shadow of its former glory. The and the Times are both dinosaurs, big unresponsive monoliths that are unable to adapt to the current internet age, irrespective of their web presence. Their big problem is that they\’re stuck thinking that once they declare something as fact, we just have to sit there and agree. But now, anyone who has access to the internet can show these people up, and do frequently, just like Jonathan did with last week\’s story.

Matthew Denton
Guest
Matthew Denton

\”The % of bad drivers is identical to the % of bad cyclists. Think about it.\”

No it isn\’t. People under 16 riding bicycles, who therefore [probably] don\’t know the rules of the road since they never studied for a drivers test, and so they are probably worse at obeying those rules than people that have taken a drivers test. People that have lost their license/couldn\’t get a license in the first place, (everything from too many DUIs to language barriers to epileptics,) can ride a bicycle but obviously don\’t drive cars, (legally: I know many of them do drive cars illegally,) but if they weren\’t good drivers, they probably aren\’t going to make very good cyclist. We are just going to have more bad cyclists than drivers and that is that…

Of course, by the same logic, walkers are probably even worse than bicyclists because bicycling requires that you have a higher level of physical ability than walking, which prevents the very drunk and the infirm from taking part in it…

Diogo
Guest
Diogo

klixi,

The point I was trying to make was that this seems to be an issue of morality and dogma. The very language used denounces that; things like \”you make us look bad\”, \”it may be a dumb law, but laws are laws\”.

The fear surrounding cyclists running stop signs is fabricated, blown way out of proportion. It really isn\’t dangerous – the risk is abstract, just like anything else we do, like leaving your house in the morning. You don\’t see the danger in making out, but a lot of people have tried to make that sound like a big threat to the nation. Likewise, I see no danger in running stop signs in my bike, but people make it sound like its dangerous.

El Biciclero,

Your explanation is different than what seems to be people\’s behavior. Yelling at people sounds to me like trying to impose what they think its right. Following your argument – if I don\’t get offended when people brake minor rules, aren\’t I free to do the same?

But I think the difference of opinion may also be due to this idea of cars and bikes should follow the same rules, you and others are implying. I think that is totally unfair: motorized transportation is fundamentally different than human-powered ones, therefore bikes should not be subject to the same rules.

They shouldn\’t be subject to the same rules, but to the same principles: traffic laws should provide for a optimum balance between flow and safety. The present rules may achieve that for cars, but for bikes they disproportionally obstruct the flow giving the small danger involved.

Unlike cars, biking is all about keeping the momentum and braking the least possible… its not just the time you waste waiting, its also the time and energy spent recovering the lost speed, which you can feel in the body…