About those annoying cyclists

Everybody’s already talking about Jim Saska’s article in Slate about “Why You Hate Cyclists,” but in case you missed it…


Google prediction search: Why are cyclists so angry

Lots of drivers assume all people on bikes are [jerks] like me. In doing so, these motorists make an inductive fallacy, not unlike saying, “Of course he beat me at basketball — he’s Asian like Jeremy Lin and Yao Ming.” Now, you might be thinking to yourself that you’ve seen more than one or two suicidal cyclists in your day—that these roaches on two wheels are an infestation that’s practically begging to be squished underfoot (and by “foot” you mean “my Yukon Denali”).

If you are a city driver, you have undoubtedly been scared half to death by some maniac cutting across traffic like Frogger on a fixie. Such emotionally charged events stand out in our associative memory far more than mundane events, like a cyclist riding peacefully alongside your vehicle. The affect heuristic is compounded by the idea of negativity dominance—bad events stand out more than good ones. This causes you to overestimate both the amount and the severity of upsetting events, like almost getting some dirty hipster’s blood on your windshield.

If you doubt, read the numerous anti-cyclist comments in today’s issue of KQED Forum on the topic of “Critical Mass” in which they invited “transportation blogger” Rob Anderson in for a “debate” with Chris Carlsson.

More at Slate: Why You Hate Cyclists: Partly because of jerks like me. But it’s mostly your own illogical mind. (Includes some, well, PG-13 language).

I did this on Saturday. Did I leave any negative impressions about cyclists? If I got hit by a lane changer or a door, could I have been cited for riding at an “unsafe speed”?



6 Comments

  • Andy
    September 24, 2012 - 11:15 am | Permalink

    I always thought “unsafe speed” is funny. Even if someone hits me at 5mph, I’d say that was an unsafe speed!

  • stuart
    September 24, 2012 - 1:21 pm | Permalink

    If I were a driver in a city where lane splitting was common, I do think it would leave me with a negative impression of cyclists. If you got hit, I would certainly consider you to be at fault.

  • Jessi
    September 24, 2012 - 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Google auto-complete provides an interesting glimpse into the hive-mind. I just tried typing “why are drivers so” into Google, and got:

    big
    impatient
    hard to find
    rude

    I don’t really get “big” – what’s that about? Oh, I see. Printer drivers!

    I’ve been ticked off by anti-cyclist prejudice from the otherwise-nicest people. So frustrating. If we all work together, maybe we can get something positive into “why are cyclists so” … like:

    fun-loving
    safety-aware
    environmentally conscious
    awesome

    That’s what *I* think of cyclists! :D

  • Max Power
    September 24, 2012 - 6:54 pm | Permalink

    I think that would be “improper passing” instead of “unsafe speed” on the citation.
    Honestly, I don’t understand cyclists who will squeeze between slow or stopped traffic and parked cars with little more space than a handlebar width. It’s hard to demand safe passing when you choose to put yourself in an unsafe situation like that.

  • bikesgonewild
    September 25, 2012 - 12:05 am | Permalink

    …just be careful, dammit…you are a valuable piece of this puzzle we call life, fritzter…

    …& any debate, discussion or opportunity for rob andersen to opine about cycling is gonna carry a lotta negative energy…dunno if i wanna watch that piece but i may “have” to…

  • September 28, 2012 - 3:00 am | Permalink

    Animosity towards cyclists can pretty much only come from the selfish and lazy, IMO.

    Otherwise the hater would realise their qualms don’t matter a damn next to the cost and danger of them farting around in two tonnes of steel.

    Take cars out of the equation, and pushies are a non-issue. Hence problems with bikes aren’t really problems with bikes, they’re problems with cars.

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