Rob Anderson says I ride because of political motivations

Rob Anderson made the Wall Street Journal!

Rob Anderson is the guy who successfully challenged San Francisco’s implementation of a bike plan, by claiming in court that the bike plan must undergo an environmental review just like any other transportation plan. According to the Wall Street Journal, Anderson believes I ride my bike for political reasons!

“Regardless of the obvious dangers, some people will ride bikes in San Francisco for the same reason Islamic fanatics will engage in suicide bombings — because they are politically motivated to do so,” he wrote in a May 21 post.

Anderson claims he fights cycling because of our thought crimes of a “holier-than-thou” attitude and because many cyclists ride dangerously on city streets, zipping by dangerously closely to him and other pedestrians. Anderson is car-free, so I’m a little bemused that he doesn’t also criticize motorists for the same attitudes and behaviors. When it comes to entitlement attitudes, dangerous behavior and actual risk, motorists have cyclists beat by a long ways.

Most cyclists in the United States (including myself) are also motorists — the problem of dangerous behavior is not specifically a motorist vs cyclist problem, but a people problem. Some people are jerks, whether they’re on a bike or in a car. Whether you’re driving, cycling or walking, please be nice to those around you.

16 Comments

  • Captain Kickstand
    August 20, 2008 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    I've been saying the same thing myself over here in New Haven, Connecticut. The line shouldn't be drawn between "motorists" and "cyclists," but rather between "responsible, courteous and law-abiding road users" and "reckless, irresponsible and dangerous" ones.

  • Captain Kickstand
    August 20, 2008 - 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I've been saying the same thing myself over here in New Haven, Connecticut. The line shouldn't be drawn between "motorists" and "cyclists," but rather between "responsible, courteous and law-abiding road users" and "reckless, irresponsible and dangerous" ones.

  • Joel
    August 20, 2008 - 10:48 am | Permalink

    That sort of pigeonholing is a major reason I DON'T participate in blatantly political things (like the B'more mayor going for a ride every Friday at 6AM with a bunch of agency heads). I ride for my own reasons, and while cycling does influence some of my politics, I don't want my presence on a bike to be seen as a political activity.

  • Joel
    August 20, 2008 - 5:48 pm | Permalink

    That sort of pigeonholing is a major reason I DON'T participate in blatantly political things (like the B'more mayor going for a ride every Friday at 6AM with a bunch of agency heads). I ride for my own reasons, and while cycling does influence some of my politics, I don't want my presence on a bike to be seen as a political activity.

  • Jennifer
    August 20, 2008 - 11:08 am | Permalink

    So… regardless of the obvious dangers, some Islamic fanaticists will engage in suicide bombings?

    I mean, he got his point across, but I think the logical implication weakens his argument somewhat.

    "Political reasons" is just a euphemism for "I don't like what you're doing" anyway, is it not?

  • Jennifer
    August 20, 2008 - 6:08 pm | Permalink

    So… regardless of the obvious dangers, some Islamic fanaticists will engage in suicide bombings?I mean, he got his point across, but I think the logical implication weakens his argument somewhat."Political reasons" is just a euphemism for "I don't like what you're doing" anyway, is it not?

  • bikesgonewild
    August 20, 2008 - 11:26 am | Permalink

    …i find people like rob anderson to not only be counter productive but almost dangerous, in that his lack of understanding & personal extrapolations have led him to affect a process that would lead to safer cycling conditions for all…thus, one man's attitude has a counter effect on the lives of thousands…

    …anderson is smart enough to know how to disrupt the whole picture, but not smart enough to see it clearly…myopic personal view…

    …while "freedom of choice" may be the american way, sometimes common sense gets factored out by self righteousness (& their lawyers)…

    …that thought not only applies to anderson's politics but works hand in hand w/ 'captain kickstand's' astute comment…

    …i know you're admonishing us, yk, to "please be nice to those around you" but i think anderson is 'clue nada' & suffering from anal/cranial inversion…

  • bikesgonewild
    August 20, 2008 - 6:26 pm | Permalink

    …i find people like rob anderson to not only be counter productive but almost dangerous, in that his lack of understanding & personal extrapolations have led him to affect a process that would lead to safer cycling conditions for all…thus, one man's attitude has a counter effect on the lives of thousands……anderson is smart enough to know how to disrupt the whole picture, but not smart enough to see it clearly…myopic personal view……while "freedom of choice" may be the american way, sometimes common sense gets factored out by self righteousness (& their lawyers)……that thought not only applies to anderson's politics but works hand in hand w/ 'captain kickstand's' astute comment……i know you're admonishing us, yk, to "please be nice to those around you" but i think anderson is 'clue nada' & suffering from anal/cranial inversion…

  • Paul Dorn
    August 20, 2008 - 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Fritz:

    Yeah, I saw this too. In general, I'm grateful for any coverage of bicycling; even if it's not entirely favorable. It's better to be noticed than ignored.

    I might have preferred to see more from Leah Shahum–who is intelligent, responsible, and leads a 10,000-member organization–rather than so much from Rob Anderson, who is, as described in the article, a wingnut. The writer actually did a reasonably good job portraying him as a lonely eccentric, and the article illustrates a real problem of our polity when such lone nut jobs can derail sensible public policies.

    Critical Mass is a high-visibility event. However, its traffic impact is minimal–generally causing only a few minutes delay to any individual motorist–compared to the delays routinely caused by the automotive "Critical Mass" each and every day.

    Critical Mass as a once-monthly event is also far less significant in San Francisco politics than the everyday advocacy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which has been truly effective at gaining significant bicycling enhancements. I hope there's a follow up on this article at some point, with more coverage of the SFBC. (Lord knows I love Critical Mass, but it's clearly lost political significance.)

  • Paul Dorn
    August 20, 2008 - 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Fritz:Yeah, I saw this too. In general, I'm grateful for any coverage of bicycling; even if it's not entirely favorable. It's better to be noticed than ignored.I might have preferred to see more from Leah Shahum–who is intelligent, responsible, and leads a 10,000-member organization–rather than so much from Rob Anderson, who is, as described in the article, a wingnut. The writer actually did a reasonably good job portraying him as a lonely eccentric, and the article illustrates a real problem of our polity when such lone nut jobs can derail sensible public policies.Critical Mass is a high-visibility event. However, its traffic impact is minimal–generally causing only a few minutes delay to any individual motorist–compared to the delays routinely caused by the automotive "Critical Mass" each and every day.Critical Mass as a once-monthly event is also far less significant in San Francisco politics than the everyday advocacy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which has been truly effective at gaining significant bicycling enhancements. I hope there's a follow up on this article at some point, with more coverage of the SFBC. (Lord knows I love Critical Mass, but it's clearly lost political significance.)

  • Anonymous
    August 20, 2008 - 1:25 pm | Permalink

    while a little on the extreme side, he has a point. There are people out there riding just to make a point and they love to tell you why they are better than you because they are car free.

    You ride a bike – big freaking deal. Just ride, do your part and let others be. Unless they drive hummers or ride without helmets….

  • Anonymous
    August 20, 2008 - 8:25 pm | Permalink

    while a little on the extreme side, he has a point. There are people out there riding just to make a point and they love to tell you why they are better than you because they are car free. You ride a bike – big freaking deal. Just ride, do your part and let others be. Unless they drive hummers or ride without helmets….

  • Pete LaVerghetta
    August 20, 2008 - 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Stop me if you've heard this:

    A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, "Why are you riding your bicycles?" The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!" The teacher praised the student, saying, "You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do." The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path." The teacher commended the student, "Your eyes are open and you see the world." The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo." The teacher gave praise to the third student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel." The fourth student answered, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings." The teacher was pleased and said, "You are riding on the golden path of non-harming." The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle." The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, "I am your disciple."

    Yeah, so I ride my bike to ride my bike. Sometimes I'm a cheapskate who wants to save a buck. Sometimes I'm a middle-aged guy fighting middle-aged spread. Sometimes…you get the idea.

    We have a local shop owner who is a great guy, but who constantly posts messages to our local club's mailing list like 'every bike ride is a political act!' I just tell him to get a grip.

  • Pete LaVerghetta
    August 20, 2008 - 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Stop me if you've heard this:A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, "Why are you riding your bicycles?" The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!" The teacher praised the student, saying, "You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do." The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path." The teacher commended the student, "Your eyes are open and you see the world." The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo." The teacher gave praise to the third student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel." The fourth student answered, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings." The teacher was pleased and said, "You are riding on the golden path of non-harming." The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle." The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, "I am your disciple."Yeah, so I ride my bike to ride my bike. Sometimes I'm a cheapskate who wants to save a buck. Sometimes I'm a middle-aged guy fighting middle-aged spread. Sometimes…you get the idea.We have a local shop owner who is a great guy, but who constantly posts messages to our local club's mailing list like 'every bike ride is a political act!' I just tell him to get a grip.

  • bikesgonewild
    August 20, 2008 - 4:17 pm | Permalink

    …ah, fixedgear…to stop a master when he recites a zen koan, even if one knows it's finish, would be to deprive at least two students of furthering their path to enlightenment…

    …& no, personally i hadn't heard that version of a time honored parable…so i say, thank you for the gift…

    …cycling has always been my zen path & my meditation, not because i looked to find it as such, but because it was already there…

    …& paul dorn…while we may share many views on cycling, i find critical mass participants, for the most part, to be like the student monks who wandered into the open cellar while the master was away…they drank all the wine, only because no one stopped them…they made fools of themselves in their drunken zealousness & deprived the other students of the opportunity to enjoy both the wine & the lack of supervision in the future…

    …unfortunately, some folks can't see past their front wheel…you sound experienced enough to know your way…too many don't & they represent us all…

  • bikesgonewild
    August 20, 2008 - 11:17 pm | Permalink

    …ah, fixedgear…to stop a master when he recites a zen koan, even if one knows it's finish, would be to deprive at least two students of furthering their path to enlightenment……& no, personally i hadn't heard that version of a time honored parable…so i say, thank you for the gift……cycling has always been my zen path & my meditation, not because i looked to find it as such, but because it was already there……& paul dorn…while we may share many views on cycling, i find critical mass participants, for the most part, to be like the student monks who wandered into the open cellar while the master was away…they drank all the wine, only because no one stopped them…they made fools of themselves in their drunken zealousness & deprived the other students of the opportunity to enjoy both the wine & the lack of supervision in the future……unfortunately, some folks can't see past their front wheel…you sound experienced enough to know your way…too many don't & they represent us all…

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