Might makes right

wedge truck

After a Tennessee law professor posted his online opinion that people in cars have a right to run people on the road over if their way is impeded, several people actually agreed that it’s okay to behave like a monstrous sociopath, especially if your target is somebody “different” from you, like a person of color, or a woman, or some hippie on a bike.

The logical result of this kind of lunacy is might makes right — the biggest, baddest vehicle wins. The state’s monopoly on violence will devolve to whoever can afford the most dangerous vehicle. You can make your own right of way with a truck like this.

With this kind of legal philosophy, we’ll have to add a fifth clade beyond “strong and fearless” to the taxonomy of transportation cyclists: “armed, dangerous, and psychotic.”

Enter the world of Spike Bike. In 1989, Bob Fishell began writing his fantasies of a (to him) future world in which “State and local governments have been completely taken over by real estate developers, whose goal it is to turn America into one giant suburb consisting of subdivisions, apartment complexes, shopping malls, and office parks. Bicycles have been all but outlawed. The Bicycle Act of 1992 made it illegal to appropriate tax dollars for bike lanes, paths, etc., and included a provision that ‘those persons riding bicycles on public roads do so entirely at their own risk.’ If a cyclist were to be injured or killed by a motorist, the motorist could not be prosecuted or even sued. It is open season on cyclists.”

But, he continues, “one man fights man. I’m Spike Bike. I hate cars.”

You can read the full set of “Spike Bike” stories archived here.

No, I don’t advocate violence against anybody, but if you really believe physical violence should determine who has the right of way on a public road, how can you not reasonably anticipate you will be responded to in kind? Do you really want the most ruthless barbarian in your town shoving his way past just because he can? There’s always going to be somebody who’s meaner and badder than you, and even if you do end up at the top of the heap, you’ll always be the target of wannabes challenging your place. Watching your back 24 hours a day doesn’t sound like a fun life.


  1. Spike Bike! I liked that story when it first came out back in the Usenet days. I think I later downloaded it to my PalmPilot.

    It was along the same lines of “Why Johnny Can’t Speed,” but car vs. bike instead of car vs. car.

  2. glorious post

    hey, I have been following your blog for some years now. You started fixi-a-licious, with gadgets, clothing, gear and all that, but at some point you turned political, featuring the important bikey stuff of your area. although I’m on the other side of the globe I do enjoy your commitment. please keep it up. what a glorious post.

    greetings from berlin

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