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Wishing Death On Other Cyclists 87

Flip Flops No Helmet

Ottawa woman in flip flops, not wearing helmet – Photo by Chris Traynor / ratemyvelo.com

A couple weeks back I came across an angry rant about Critical Mass which featured a photo of scores of cyclists being plowed by an automobile with the caption “When is something like this going to happen in Chicago thanks to Critical Mass?”.

Angry rants against cyclists are common in the North American media, but normally they are written by motorists, not cyclists.

In this case, a man named Scott Rowan who dubs himself “The Urban Cyclist” wrote the angry rant against the Critical Mass ride which take place in cities all over the world just after rush hour on the last Friday of each month.

I won’t waste time going into any details about the asinine article which was clearly meant to promote the blogger’s book called “The Urban Cyclist’s Survival Guide” which sells on Amazon for $10.21.

Normally I wouldn’t bring any attention to a book written by someone who wilfully creates animosity towards people who use bicycles, but this is a unique case because of some bizarre language in the introduction of the book (the introduction is available for free).

In the introduction, Scott Rowan writes the following:

“At Clark and LaSalle I’m forced to stop my bike for the first time in more than three miles. As I catch my breath, three more cyclists pull up next to me. One guy has flip-flops on, audio ear buds in his ears, and no helmet. I instantly hope that natural selection will weed him out today, but say nothing. There are two other cyclists coagulating behind me – neither wearing a helmet; one has on headphones.”

At the end of his introduction, Rowan says that his book is written for cyclists who wear flip flops and ear buds:

But what about Mr. Flip-Flops or Miss Ear Buds? Their actions are not just irresponsible for their own safety. By breaking nearly all the rules of the road, they simply make things worse for other safe cyclists because they have made other motorists angry at cyclists for very good reasons. If I ride next to a motorist who has had a bad experience with a cyclist lately, the motorist is going to take it out on me, not the memory he has.

So this book is written for Mr. Flip Flops and Miss Ear Buds.

I find it so odd that someone would publish a book and wish death upon their target market.

But I shouldn’t be surprised. The Critical Mass article was full of contradictions. For one, he says Critical Mass has been going on for years with police escorts on the last Friday of each month, but then he says Critical Mass is “unannounced”. He further perpetuates the myth that drivers pay for the roads by claiming Critical Mass is “thumb-nosing to hard-working taxpayers forced to sit behind a group of lawbreakers who feel it’s their right to be able to ride helmet-less en masse”

Even the guy’s blogger profile is contradicting. In the profile he claims he “doesn’t “do centuries” or weekend races and you won’t find one expensive piece of cycling-specific clothing in his closet”. Meanwhile, his blogger photo he is wearing cycling jersey, with a race bib.

The guy is so bizarre and absurd that I am oddly fascinated and intrigued by him. It’s like watching a train wreck.

image

As you can see in his profile, he has been riding since 2004. In those 6 years of riding, he has been “hit by every kind of vehicle and nonvehicle there is“. He also says he has been levelled by a bike messenger, a jogger, a dog, and doored by a teenager.

Why would anyone pay money for a book to learn safe riding from someone who has had so many collisions? Not to mention the cover of the book shows a cyclist crashing into a car.

Here are a few excerpts from the book to spare you the agony of reading any more than you need to (though this is probably already too much):

“When the light goes green, I blast past the novices to establish position on the other side of the intersection where wide trucks driving past parked cars can leave too narrow an alley to ride through if you aren’t aggressive enough to establish position first. I hear honking behind me directed at one of the cyclists in my wake. I glance back to see the cyclist weaving back and forth as he tries to control the handlebars while starting from a stop, and I think how I can’t blame the traffic for honking the way it is. At the very least, this cyclist isn’t even strong enough to control his handlebars and acceleration, much less making himself a danger by wearing ear buds while riding.”

“I squeeze off the three cyclists at the next intersection. Normally I can relax at this point, coasting through the Gold Coast. However, I remember the bike messenger who levelled me a couple years ago when he was riding through here, and I tense up. He came out of nowhere, going the wrong way on a one-way street and plowed into me like a black rhino sending me ass over ears, flipping my bike.”

“That accident taught me as much as face-planting on the trunk of a taxi cab or the 5’4” female jogger who caused permanent scars on my hands and shoulder or a dog who cracked my helmet or the teenager who doored me with her Honda or… well, you get the idea. There’s something to learn from every accident, which means I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn.”

“Without pausing, I crank my pedaling into a high gear going from 15mph to 25mph in a 50’ span. “

The cycling world deserves better representation than for people to wish death upon people who wears flip flops and no helmets.

James D. Schwartz is a Transportation Pragmatist and the Editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

i share the road

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  • http://www.walkeaglerock.wordpress.com Severin

    I don’t condone or understand why he (even if joking) wishes death upon an other cyclist but the excerpt you share from his book sounds like it’s an autobiographical account of the idiot cyclist everyone, especially motorists, hate. The use of ‘survival’ in the title in recent years has come to be associated with books like the Zombie Survival Guide, in this context I’m guessing survival at the expense of other cyclists and making cycling look good. Sounds like it’s supposed to be a humorous read more than real practical advise and his style of joking seems similar to Michael Ian Black, who often solicits many critics and haters. Of course, I say that only having read what you shared. He sounds like a crazy, sports vehicular cyclist who doesn’t seek to be taken seriously or liked outside his immediate circle of friends.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      I thought maybe he was trying to be funny, but if you read this article: http://www.chicagonow.com/urban-cyclist/2011/09/critical-massholes-when-cyclists-are-the-problem-not-solution/

      and the comments from the writer himself, it seems unlikely that he would be joking.. the guy sounds dead serious… so odd…

      • Guest

        I just read that article – the bloke sounds like a complete . Is he a real person, or just a character someone has created to sell books?

      • Tallycyclist

        Even if he was trying to be funny, this really is not a nice topic to joke about. Wishing death on others is absolutely uncivilized. I’ve worn flip-flops and earphones while cycling, and how exciting to know that someone is wishing death on me, without even knowing who I am. What’s worst is the realization that people with this kind of mentality are not exactly far and few in North America; it’s pretty clear from articles and blogs related to all things cycling how mainstream these ideas can be.

        It’s very exhausting that our society is so caught up with “social norms” still. Is it really 2011? Feels like time was frozen at least as far back as the 50′s sometimes. I just hope that positive developments will continue to occur, as it has in a handful of cities through NA. And hopefully with that, people in general will learn to have more patience and respect one another more.

        Tallahassee, FL is not the worst city to bike in, but by no means the best in the US. And after having done so everyday for 2 years and often dealing with disrespect and impatience from drivers, it’s getting harder and harder to stay motivated to do my trips by bike. Somehow when I’m cycling my status is demoted to 2nd class at best and I never get very much respect from drivers. Sure, most drivers are nice enough to not honk, yell, swear, or cut me off. But that doesn’t mean they’re excited that I’m on a bike or would give me the same respect had I been driving a car (which in reality would not be that much either). To me, our road conditions are a very clear illustration of a dysfunctional society where many people have forgotten what it means to live in a community.

  • http://www.walkeaglerock.wordpress.com/ Severin

    I don’t condone or understand why he (even if joking) wishes death upon an other cyclist but the excerpt you share from his book sounds like it’s an autobiographical account of the idiot cyclist everyone, especially motorists, hate. The use of ‘survival’ in the title in recent years has come to be associated with books like the Zombie Survival Guide, in this context I’m guessing survival at the expense of other cyclists and making cycling look good. Sounds like it’s supposed to be a humorous read more than real practical advise and his style of joking seems similar to Michael Ian Black, who often solicits many critics and haters. Of course, I say that only having read what you shared. He sounds like a crazy, sports vehicular cyclist who doesn’t seek to be taken seriously or liked outside his immediate circle of friends.

  • Kcormier

    Rowan appeared on Chicago area television, along with a rep from Active Transportation and another person representing the Critical Mass viewpoint.

    This is the link for the video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cqbG-BAtcs&feature=player_embedded

    All I can say is that for someone who calls himself a cyclist, he really seems to dislike cyclists.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      Thanks for the link. He contradicts himself in that interview as well. First he says Critical Mass should be shut down because it enrages drivers, but then he says that Critical Mass would be perfectly fine if they charged a fee for it to cover the cost of the policing. Bizarre…

  • Kcormier

    Rowan appeared on Chicago area television, along with a rep from Active Transportation and another person representing the Critical Mass viewpoint.

    This is the link for the video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cqbG-BAtcs&feature=player_embedded

    All I can say is that for someone who calls himself a cyclist, he really seems to dislike cyclists.

  • http://bicyclestc.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    A dog cracked his helmet? Doesn’t that prove how useless they are :p

    If he is having this many accidents, perhaps slowing down will help.

  • http://thecitycyclist.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    A dog cracked his helmet? Doesn’t that prove how useless they are :p

    If he is having this many accidents, perhaps slowing down will help.

  • http://twitter.com/PavementsEdge Chris

    He’s had more accidents in 6 years than I’ve had in 30. I don’t think I’d be taking his advice concerning bicycle safety. Usually elitists have more than 6 whole years of experience, but this guy must be really full of himself. And if his contention is that other cyclists cause motorists to hate HIM more then he’s addressing the wrong issue altogether. Heaping scorn and murderous scorn on his fellow cyclists completely avoids the issue altogether; the issue being a CAR problem, not a BIKE problem.

  • http://twitter.com/PavementsEdge Chris

    He’s had more accidents in 6 years than I’ve had in 30. I don’t think I’d be taking his advice concerning bicycle safety. Usually elitists have more than 6 whole years of experience, but this guy must be really full of himself. And if his contention is that other cyclists cause motorists to hate HIM more then he’s addressing the wrong issue altogether. Heaping scorn and murderous scorn on his fellow cyclists completely avoids the issue altogether; the issue being a CAR problem, not a BIKE problem.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    Thanks for the link. He contradicts himself in that interview as well. First he says Critical Mass should be shut down because it enrages drivers, but then he says that Critical Mass would be perfectly fine if they charged a fee for it to cover the cost of the policing. Bizarre…

  • anastasia christman

    Clearly, anyone who has had that many accidents is doing something wrong. I, too, see other cyclists on my daily commute into Wasington, DC, that make me cringe. I do fear that running lights, jumping on and off sidewalks, and turning from the wrong lane not only put these cyclists in danger, but could also undercut the nascent political support for improved biking infrastructure here. It’s sad but true, part of what we need to do is educate drivers that cars and bikes can not only coexist, but actively benefit each other by reducing traffic. Some bicylists are better teachers than others, and this guy seems perfectly dreadful.

  • anastasia christman

    Clearly, anyone who has had that many accidents is doing something wrong. I, too, see other cyclists on my daily commute into Wasington, DC, that make me cringe. I do fear that running lights, jumping on and off sidewalks, and turning from the wrong lane not only put these cyclists in danger, but could also undercut the nascent political support for improved biking infrastructure here. It’s sad but true, part of what we need to do is educate drivers that cars and bikes can not only coexist, but actively benefit each other by reducing traffic. Some bicylists are better teachers than others, and this guy seems perfectly dreadful.

  • Archergal

    In good conscience, I can’t write a review of a book I haven’t read. But I can do my part by not giving him $$ or driving traffic to his site. :)

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      The review I wrote was based on the free pages that were available on Amazon – and I noted that in the review.

  • Archergal

    In good conscience, I can’t write a review of a book I haven’t read. But I can do my part by not giving him $$ or driving traffic to his site. :)

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    The review I wrote was based on the free pages that were available on Amazon – and I noted that in the review.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

    Wearing flip flops or headphones while biking is not illegal in Chicago, where we both reside. I think Scott may be better off riding in circles in the new velodrome on the South Side than he is on the streets of Chicago.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    Wearing flip flops or headphones while biking is not illegal in Chicago, where Scott resides. I think Scott may be better off riding in circles in the new velodrome on the South Side than he is on the streets of Chicago (where I also reside).

  • scott sportsman
    • debra

      Thoughtful indeed, Scott. Interesting side note: while providing a well-organized rebuttal to Rowan’s position, the poster also exposes the fallacy of expecting the private sector to pony up for urban infrastructure (of any sort). Is this a concept Mayor Ford would understand?

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      It’s funny that both the blogger you linked to and Scott Rowan write for the same company: ChicagoNow, the Chicago Tribune’s multi-author blogging site.

  • scott sportsman
  • Guest

    I just read that article – the bloke sounds like a complete . Is he a real person, or just a character someone has created to sell books?

  • Gclarke

    James: You should be sued if you wrote this nonsense based only on; ” The review I wrote was based on the free pages that were available on Amazon – and I noted that in the review.”

    I haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on the contents but your comments are unwarranted and unethical and you should retract this garbage until you can read his book and provide an objective opinion based on facts not conjecture.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      I don’t see anything unethical about the comment I left on Amazon. For reference purposes here is my comment:

      “In the introduction Scott Rowan wishes death upon a fellow cyclist who is riding in flip-flops with no helmet and is wearing ear buds. At the end of his introduction, he says this book is for people who wear flip flops and ear buds. Why would anyone who you wished death upon want to buy this book? Furthermore, in the 6 years Mr. Rowan has been riding, he has been “hit by every kind of vehicle and nonvehicle there is”. He also says he has been levelled by a bike messenger, a jogger, a dog, and doored by a teenager.

      Why would anyone pay money for a book to learn safe riding from someone who has had so many collisions and doesn’t even know how to stay outside the door zone of a car?

      How could I be sued for leaving a review on Amazon that discusses the free pages of the book that are available on Amazon?

      • Atomic Girl

        “How could I be sued for leaving a review on Amazon that discusses the free pages of the book that are available on Amazon?”

        Easy– all the authors would have to do is point to this entire blog entry as the “real” motivation behind your review and as proof that you never intended to either read the book fairly or give it a proper appraisal. The fact that some of your readers here followed your lead is particularly damning evidence against you that you posted this entry for the sole purpose of encouraging them to hurt his book sales.

        Hoped that answered your question. ;-)

        • Tony

          Is “real” motivation a legal term?

          Is hurting someone’s business by stating the truth actionable?

          Is hurting someone’s business by stating your opinion actionable?

          Is hurting someone’s business by encouraging others to state their opinions actionable?

          Are you a lawyer?

          • Gclarke

            A BLOGGERS’ CODE OF ETHICS

            Be Honest and Fair
            Bloggers should be honest and fair in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
            Bloggers should:
            • Never plagiarize.
            • Identify and link to sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.
            • Make certain that Weblog entries, quotations, headlines, photos and all other content do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
            • Never distort the content of photos without disclosing what has been changed. Image enhancement is only acceptable for for technical clarity. Label montages and photo illustrations.
            • Never publish information they know is inaccurate — and if publishing questionable information, make it clear it’s in doubt.
            • Distinguish between advocacy, commentary and factual information. Even advocacy writing and commentary should not misrepresent fact or context.
            • Distinguish factual information and commentary from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

            Minimize Harm
            Ethical bloggers treat sources and subjects as human beings deserving of respect.
            Bloggers should:
            • Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by Weblog content. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
            • Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
            • Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of information is not a license for arrogance.
            • Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
            • Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
            Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects, victims of sex crimes and criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.

            Be Accountable
            Bloggers should:
            • Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
            • Explain each Weblog’s mission and invite dialogue with the public over its content and the bloggers’ conduct.
            • Disclose conflicts of interest, affiliations, activities and personal agendas.
            • Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence content. When exceptions are made, disclose them fully to readers.
            • Be wary of sources offering information for favors. When accepting such information, disclose the favors.
            • Expose unethical practices of other bloggers.
            • Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

            http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/000215.php

          • Tony

            Which of my questions is this supposed to answer?

            Is Atomic Girl a lawyer?

            Are you a lawyer?

  • Jemma Leahy

    I’m absolutely astounded that this man has actually got a book published!!! I don’t understand who he thinks his target audience is, but I hope that no one spends their hard earned penny on this rubbish. I can’t believe how negatively he writes about fellow cyclists. It’s such a shame.

  • Jemma Leahy

    I’m absolutely astounded that this man has actually got a book published!!! I don’t understand who he thinks his target audience is, but I hope that no one spends their hard earned penny on this rubbish. I can’t believe how negatively he writes about fellow cyclists. It’s such a shame.

  • Gclarke

    James: I read your post on Scott’s site and it looks like you can’t defend your position there either. I do understand that you and Scott are a lot alike in that you go for exaggerations and sensationalism to make your points and seem to get the facts a little mixed up. With a little journalistic training you and Scott have potential.

    http://www.chicagonow.com/urban-cyclist

    Here are a couple of issues Scott is trying to address -

    1. Is Critical Mass inherently dangerous and does CM generate negative attitudes from motorists? His picture is clearly in poor taste but he’s raising the point that CM is an accident waiting to happen. Is it?

    2. Is there a minimum level of safety training and equipment necessary to operate a bike? Vehicles have minimum safety equipment, motorcycles have minimum standards, should bikes? If so, what are they?

    3. Distracted driving is a recognized problem (cell phones, texting, etc.). Is distracted cycling also a problem or at the speed generated by bikes is it reasonable to expect cyclists to use iPods, cell phones, etc.

    4. For the little I read I understand what Scott is saying in his book. I can relate to “The Challenge” which combines commuting and performance biking. I too ride fast, avoid novice riders and casual commuters, and ride with a heightened sense of awareness. Scott is a defensive rider and a lot of what he is saying I learned in motorcycle training like using peripheral vision and escape routes. I’m not sure this exactly translates to cycling but it’s a good discussion point.

    I ordered his book and from what I read on his site Scott has a specific view of cycling that is held more by performance bikers. I actually think there’s a lot there that would make a good discussion and he may be closer to your views than what appears at first blush.

    I think you should have invitied Scott to address your points on this site rather than generating your own counter rant. Unless your just in this for the tabloid effect.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      Gclarke: If I were writing a scholarly peer-reviewed article instead of an opinion piece on a blog, then perhaps your comments wouldn’t be so condescending.

      There is nothing sensational or exaggerated in this post. I stated that I would never buy a book from someone who wishes death upon a cyclist who somewhat resembles myself (yes I have worn flip flops on a bike, and no I do not wear a helmet).

      If you want to support someone who wishes that natural selection would weed out people like me, then that is your prerogative. But my piece was never intended to be a book review or an objective news article. Nor have I exaggerated anything: I showed exact quotes from Scott’s book. The reader can make up their mind (or buy the book if they want to).

    • http://bicyclestc.blogspot.com/ Ryan

      1. I’m not completely in favour of CM, but an accident waiting to happen? Only if a motorist decides to go through the crowd.

      2. Motorcycles average speeds 50kph or greater. Most cyclists go no more then 25kph, with average commuters going between 15-20kph.
      Motorists are required to pass a drivers test to make sure they are ‘safe’ to drive on the roads…How’s that working out?
      And honestly, I believe motorcycle riders should have the choice of helmet or no helmet. I don’t hear or see mass deaths or brain injuries in States that have no helmet laws for motorcyclists.

      3. I’d argue pedestrians are at greater risk of death as their heads are ALWAYS down while texting, so the speed of cyclists has little to do here.
      I highly doubt anyone (motorists, cyclists, pedestrians) are that important that they even need to be on a cell phone anyways…How did we survive 5-10 years ago?
      MP3 players aren’t that much different then someone with a stereo on full blast. Is it time we limit the volume of car stereos?

      4. I’m not sure if there is a point here? Most commuters I see, who aren’t novices ride below 20kph, myself included. That doesn’t mean I don’t ride defensively or know what’s around me.

  • Gclarke

    James: I read your post on Scott’s site and it looks like you can’t defend your position there either. I do understand that you and Scott are a lot alike in that you go for exaggerations and sensationalism to make your points and seem to get the facts a little mixed up. With a little journalistic training you and Scott have potential.

    http://www.chicagonow.com/urban-cyclist

    Here are a couple of issues Scott is trying to address -

    1. Is Critical Mass inherently dangerous and does CM generate negative attitudes from motorists? His picture is clearly in poor taste but he’s raising the point that CM is an accident waiting to happen. Is it?

    2. Is there a minimum level of safety training and equipment necessary to operate a bike? Vehicles have minimum safety equipment, motorcycles have minimum standards, should bikes? If so, what are they?

    3. Distracted driving is a recognized problem (cell phones, texting, etc.). Is distracted cycling also a problem or at the speed generated by bikes is it reasonable to expect cyclists to use iPods, cell phones, etc.

    4. For the little I read I understand what Scott is saying in his book. I can relate to “The Challenge” which combines commuting and performance biking. I too ride fast, avoid novice riders and casual commuters, and ride with a heightened sense of awareness. Scott is a defensive rider and a lot of what he is saying I learned in motorcycle training like using peripheral vision and escape routes. I’m not sure this exactly translates to cycling but it’s a good discussion point.

    I ordered his book and from what I read on his site Scott has a specific view of cycling that is held more by performance bikers. I actually think there’s a lot there that would make a good discussion and he may be closer to your views than what appears at first blush.

    I think you should have invitied Scott to address your points on this site rather than generating your own counter rant. Unless your just in this for the tabloid effect.

  • Tkeen

    I certainly wouldn’t wear flip-flops while cycling (or toe cages while in the city), but I see nothing wrong with cycling with ear buds and often wear them. We’re not talking about noise-canceling headphones here. I can always hear the motors of the cars and trucks around me, which is a good deal more than someone in a car with the windows rolled up and the radio on can hear.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      I wear flip flops regularly on my bike in the summer. But I also probably don’t ride the same way Scott does.

      I also occasionally wear ear buds while riding. I don’t normally listen to music, but I take the odd hands-free phone call while on my bike.

      I agree that even with ear buds, we can hear a lot more on our bike than someone in a car can hear even with simply having their windows closed without music on.

  • Tkeen

    I certainly wouldn’t wear flip-flops while cycling (or toe cages while in the city), but I see nothing wrong with cycling with ear buds and often wear them. We’re not talking about noise-canceling headphones here. I can always hear the motors of the cars and trucks around me, which is a good deal more than someone in a car with the windows rolled up and the radio on can hear.

  • Montrealize

    Some people have quite a nerve!
    It is funny how he sees no problem in admitting he has been cycling for only 6 years, yet feels entitled to lecture around.
    Plus, he has been “hit by every kind of vehicle and nonvehicle there is” (which is probably a lie) yet does not feel this very information diminishes everything he has got to say about cycling. There are helmetless, flip-flop wearing people who have been cycling MUCH longer than this and have never been hit.
    Probably a boat load of bullsh*t.
    Don’t waste your time; someone wants to make a quick buck and capitalise on the cycling boom.

  • Montrealize

    Some people have quite a nerve!
    It is funny how he sees no problem in admitting he has been cycling for only 6 years, yet feels entitled to lecture around.
    Plus, he has been “hit by every kind of vehicle and nonvehicle there is” (which is probably a lie) yet does not feel this very information diminishes everything he has got to say about cycling. There are helmetless, flip-flop wearing people who have been cycling MUCH longer than this and have never been hit.
    Probably a boat load of bullsh*t.
    Don’t waste your time; someone wants to make a quick buck and capitalise on the cycling boom.

  • Guest

    Earbuds and flip-flops kill.

    Though sometimes i wish death on the bike lane salmon… ok not really.

    • Tacoma

      Do you have data (even an anecdote) to support your premise that “earbuds and flip-flops kill”?

      • Guest

        Yes, earbuds are a strangle hazard and many hipsters have a the IQ of a toddler. Flip-flops are the most dangerous shoe one can wear.

        • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

          You couldn’t even provide an anecdote to back up the claim…

          Do you know someone who has died because they wore flip flops? Have you met someone who died from being strangled by ear buds?

          • Guest

            Eh, what’s that… can’t hear you!

            If i’d known you had no sense of humour i’d mention helmets and the smrt guys who figure they’re useless!

          • Tacoma

            Ahh! (Light goes on.) Ding! Ding! Ding! I did wonder which way to go on your statement – humourous or serious? Hmm. Landed on the wrong side. No offence intended, none taken I hope. Is it a statement about our societal norms that your hyperbole was not obvious? Cheers.

  • Guest

    Earbuds and flip-flops kill.

    Though sometimes i wish death on the bike lane salmon… ok not really.

  • debra

    Thoughtful indeed, Scott. Interesting side note: while providing a well-organized rebuttal to Rowan’s position, the poster also exposes the fallacy of expecting the private sector to pony up for urban infrastructure (of any sort). Is this a concept Mayor Ford would understand?

  • Tacoma

    Do you have data (even an anecdote) to support your premise that “earbuds and flip-flops kill”?

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    I wear flip flops regularly on my bike in the summer. But I also probably don’t ride the same way Scott does.

    I also occasionally wear ear buds while riding. I don’t normally listen to music, but I take the odd hands-free phone call while on my bike.

    I agree that even with ear buds, we can hear a lot more on our bike than someone in a car can hear even with simply having their windows closed without music on.

  • http://thecitycyclist.blogspot.com/ Ryan

    1. I’m not completely in favour of CM, but an accident waiting to happen? Only if a motorist decides to go through the crowd.

    2. Motorcycles average speeds 50kph or greater. Most cyclists go no more then 25kph, with average commuters going between 15-20kph.
    Motorists are required to pass a drivers test to make sure they are ‘safe’ to drive on the roads…How’s that working out?
    And honestly, I believe motorcycle riders should have the choice of helmet or no helmet. I don’t hear or see mass deaths or brain injuries in States that have no helmet laws for motorcyclists.

    3. I’d argue pedestrians are at greater risk of death as their heads are ALWAYS down while texting, so the speed of cyclists has little to do here.
    I highly doubt anyone (motorists, cyclists, pedestrians) are that important that they even need to be on a cell phone anyways…How did we survive 5-10 years ago?
    MP3 players aren’t that much different then someone with a stereo on full blast. Is it time we limit the volume of car stereos?

    4. I’m not sure if there is a point here? Most commuters I see, who aren’t novices ride below 20kph, myself included. That doesn’t mean I don’t ride defensively or know what’s around me.

  • Guest

    Yes, earbuds are a strangle hazard and many hipsters have a the IQ of a toddler. Flip-flops are the most dangerous shoe one can wear.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    You couldn’t even provide an anecdote to back up the claim…

    Do you know someone who has died because they wore flip flops? Have you met someone who died from being strangled by ear buds?

  • Guest

    Eh, what’s that… can’t hear you!

    If i’d known you had no sense of humour i’d mention helmets and the smrt guys who figure they’re useless!

  • http://twitter.com/pinkypie Renee aka Pinky

    I am pro-biking, and I don’t wish death, but I do wish cyclists would be more responsible and mindful of the rules of the road, use their lights, not talk on the phone or text, etc., because the problem is, they crash into ME and that’s what annoys me the most. It’s different where I live (NL) but I still get very peeved at my fellow cyclists for not being more personally accountable. That’s just my opinion, slay me if you like.

  • http://twitter.com/pinkypie Renee S

    I am pro-biking, and I don’t wish death, but I do wish cyclists would be more responsible and mindful of the rules of the road, use their lights, not talk on the phone or text, etc., because the problem is, they crash into ME and that’s what annoys me the most. It’s different where I live (NL) but I still get very peeved at my fellow cyclists for not being more personally accountable. That’s just my opinion, slay me if you like.

  • Gclarke

    James: Then how can you call yourself a “Transportation Pragmatist” if your articles are not well researched? Someone with this self proclaimed title should be trying to create a vision of cycling supported by well developed arguments.

    However this little rant of yours did raise another good point and that is depending on the type of bike rider you call yourself, you see bike advocacy and the benefits of bike infrastructure including safety and training differently.

    Daily city riders and the utility cycling community sees great benefits in bike infrastructure since they will derive the greatest benefits. This is the Dutch bike crowd with the earbuds and flip-flopps.

    Serious urban and city bikers commuters appear to have a mixed reaction. Some advocate for safe infrastrucute while others believe they can navigate city traffic just fine without being bottled up in a bike lane or on a path (Forester vehicular cycling / defensive riding).

    The performance, racing, and touring community less so. From a performance standpoint all this infrastructure gets in the way of enjoying a really fast bike and there are a lot of us out there that classify ourselves as performance bikers. Once performance bikers start to get tickets for not using bike lanes you will hear the backlash from bikers and the bike industry since this is were the real money is made in cycling.

    The recreational rider and weekend physical fitness crowd can also benefit with connected bike lanes to parks or rails-to-trails but they won’t advocate for change.

    The BMX and mountain bike crowd, forget it they off doing their own thing.

    Then there is the rise in ebikes which brings a whole new element to the equation. ebikes open up biking to a whole new population will bring with it another set of traffic issues.

    My point is that not everyone is advocating for bike infrastructure and not everyone sees the bike as the salvation for traffic congestion and environmental issues.

    However there are issues that bind the bike community together. Traffic laws (the 3 foot passing law was just rejected in California) , law enforcement, fair treatment in the courts for injury cases, building relations with motorists and the community, safety training (CAN-BIKE for kids), employer / employee benefits for bike-to-work programs, eliminating on street parking, bike racks at bus / train stations, etc. These are the issue that will create momentum and drive action.

    Your childish little rant does nothing to promote cycling.

    • Tony

      Are you Rowan’s mom?

  • Gclarke

    James: Then how can you call yourself a “Transportation Pragmatist” if your articles are not well researched? Someone with this self proclaimed title should be trying to create a vision of cycling supported by well developed arguments.

    However this little rant of yours did raise another good point and that is depending on the type of bike rider you call yourself, you see bike advocacy and the benefits of bike infrastructure including safety and training differently.

    Daily city riders and the utility cycling community sees great benefits in bike infrastructure since they will derive the greatest benefits. This is the Dutch bike crowd with the earbuds and flip-flopps.

    Serious urban and city bikers commuters appear to have a mixed reaction. Some advocate for safe infrastrucute while others believe they can navigate city traffic just fine without being bottled up in a bike lane or on a path (Forester vehicular cycling / defensive riding).

    The performance, racing, and touring community less so. From a performance standpoint all this infrastructure gets in the way of enjoying a really fast bike and there are a lot of us out there that classify ourselves as performance bikers. Once performance bikers start to get tickets for not using bike lanes you will hear the backlash from bikers and the bike industry since this is were the real money is made in cycling.

    The recreational rider and weekend physical fitness crowd can also benefit with connected bike lanes to parks or rails-to-trails but they won’t advocate for change.

    The BMX and mountain bike crowd, forget it they off doing their own thing.

    Then there is the rise in ebikes which brings a whole new element to the equation. ebikes open up biking to a whole new population will bring with it another set of traffic issues.

    My point is that not everyone is advocating for bike infrastructure and not everyone sees the bike as the salvation for traffic congestion and environmental issues.

    However there are issues that bind the bike community together. Traffic laws (the 3 foot passing law was just rejected in California) , law enforcement, fair treatment in the courts for injury cases, building relations with motorists and the community, safety training (CAN-BIKE for kids), employer / employee benefits for bike-to-work programs, eliminating on street parking, bike racks at bus / train stations, etc. These are the issue that will create momentum and drive action.

    Your childish little rant does nothing to promote cycling.

  • Gclarke

    Here is an example of bike advocacy in action -

    BikePGH and Pitt partner to give away 100 lights to over 50 bicyclists in two hours –

    http://bike-pgh.org/blog/2011/10/06/bikepgh-and-pitt-partner-to-give-away-100-lights-to-over-50-bicyclists-in-two-hours/

    How many students at the UofT are riding without lights?

  • Gclarke

    Here is an example of bike advocacy in action -

    BikePGH and Pitt partner to give away 100 lights to over 50 bicyclists in two hours –

    http://bike-pgh.org/blog/2011/10/06/bikepgh-and-pitt-partner-to-give-away-100-lights-to-over-50-bicyclists-in-two-hours/

    How many students at the UofT are riding without lights?

  • Jim

    I don’t know why you’re getting all up in arms about this guy: one look at his picture tells me all I need to know.

  • Jim

    I don’t know why you’re getting all up in arms about this guy: one look at his picture tells me all I need to know.

  • Guest

    Is it me, or does this guy sound like a scarier individual than the traffic? I’m happy enough riding in traffic – “vehicular cycling” – but the idea that some (apparently) self righteous individual is “squeezing off ” the other cyclists and “blasting past the novices” is pretty off putting. And being so callous and self righteous about the poor guy wobbling along who incidentally does have a right to be in the road, too (ear buds aside)! The writer sounds like the sort of cyclist who _causes_ accidents, and who probably needs to learn a little more empathy toward his fellows. Certainly, he doesn’t seem very lucky…

  • Guest

    Is it me, or does this guy sound like a scarier individual than the traffic? I’m happy enough riding in traffic – “vehicular cycling” – but the idea that some (apparently) self righteous individual is “squeezing off ” the other cyclists and “blasting past the novices” is pretty off putting. And being so callous and self righteous about the poor guy wobbling along who incidentally does have a right to be in the road, too (ear buds aside)! The writer sounds like the sort of cyclist who _causes_ accidents, and who probably needs to learn a little more empathy toward his fellows. Certainly, he doesn’t seem very lucky…

  • Tallycyclist

    Even if he was trying to be funny, this really is not a nice topic to joke about. Wishing death on others is absolutely uncivilized. I’ve worn flip-flops and earphones while cycling, and how exciting to know that someone is wishing death on me, without even knowing who I am. What’s worst is the realization that people with this kind of mentality are not exactly far and few in North America; it’s pretty clear from articles and blogs related to all things cycling how mainstream these ideas can be.

    It’s very exhausting that our society is so caught up with “social norms” still. Is it really 2011? Feels like time was frozen at least as far back as the 50′s sometimes. I just hope that positive developments will continue to occur, as it has in a handful of cities through NA. And hopefully with that, people in general will learn to have more patience and respect one another more.

    Tallahassee, FL is not the worst city to bike in, but by no means the best in the US. And after having done so everyday for 2 years and often dealing with disrespect and impatience from drivers, it’s getting harder and harder to stay motivated to do my trips by bike. Somehow when I’m cycling my status is demoted to 2nd class at best and I never get very much respect from drivers. Sure, most drivers are nice enough to not honk, yell, swear, or cut me off. But that doesn’t mean they’re excited that I’m on a bike or would give me the same respect had I been driving a car (which in reality would not be that much either). To me, our road conditions are a very clear illustration of a dysfunctional society where many people have forgotten what it means to live in a community.

  • Tony

    Are you Rowan’s mom?

  • Tacoma

    Ahh! (Light goes on.) Ding! Ding! Ding! I did wonder which way to go on your statement – humourous or serious? Hmm. Landed on the wrong side. No offence intended, none taken I hope. Is it a statement about our societal norms that your hyperbole was not obvious? Cheers.

  • didrik

    So what exactly is the The Great Flip-Flop Fear that seems to come up again and again in cycling blogs/articles. I even had a co-worker once say to me, “oh, I would never ride in sandals!” after learning I had arrived to work in said footwear. What exactly is the issue? I ride EVERYWHERE in flip-flops and have for decades.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      I don’t think there is any logic to it. People make fun of things that they are either unfamiliar with or that they fear. It reminds me of the guy who called me a “f#cking fag” for riding a bicycle: http://www.theurbancountry.com/2011/08/on-inferiority-of-bicyclists-and-gays.html

      When everybody wears flip flops on bicycles, then people will become accustomed to it and it will just be a normal thing to do.

    • http://www.stevevance.net/ Steven Vance

      I’m guessing that if you fall off your bike, in addition to scraping your knees you will also scrape your toes. Or your toes will get ripped off by your spokes. Or one of a million things will happen because you didn’t wear enclosed shoes.

  • didrik

    So what exactly is the The Great Flip-Flop Fear that seems to come up again and again in cycling blogs/articles. I even had a co-worker once say to me, “oh, I would never ride in sandals!” after learning I had arrived to work in said footwear. What exactly is the issue? I ride EVERYWHERE in flip-flops and have for decades.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    I don’t think there is any logic to it. People make fun of things that they are either unfamiliar with or that they fear. It reminds me of the guy who called me a “f#cking fag” for riding a bicycle: http://www.theurbancountry.com/2011/08/on-inferiority-of-bicyclists-and-gays.html

    When everybody wears flip flops on bicycles, then people will become accustomed to it and it will just be a normal thing to do.

  • http://www.modernwheels.net/ Modern Wheels

    i saw a photo just 2 days ago of an acciedent of a cycle rider. cyclist was weraing a helmet but after the acciedent his head was cracked and he died at the spot.

  • http://www.modernwheels.net/ Modern Wheels

    i saw a photo just 2 days ago of an acciedent of a cycle rider. cyclist was weraing a helmet but after the acciedent his head was cracked and he died at the spot.

  • ‘X

    there’s a new velodrome in Chi Town?.. lucky guys..

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    I’m guessing that if you fall off your bike, in addition to scraping your knees you will also scrape your toes. Or your toes will get ripped off by your spokes. Or one of a million things will happen because you didn’t wear enclosed shoes.

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    It’s temporary while the owner raises funds to build a permanent, enclosed velodrome. It looks like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbondsv/sets/72157627912159988/

  • http://www.stevevance.net/planning Steven Vance

    It’s funny that both the blogger you linked to and Scott Rowan write for the same company: ChicagoNow, the Chicago Tribune’s multi-author blogging site.

  • Atomic Girl

    Dear James Schwartz,
    I didn’t know much about this whole controversy

  • Tony

    Is “real” motivation a legal term?

    Is hurting someone’s business by stating the truth actionable?

    Is hurting someone’s business by stating your opinion actionable?

    Is hurting someone’s business by encouraging others to state their opinions actionable?

    Are you a lawyer?

  • Tony

    Which of my questions is this supposed to answer?

    Is Atomic Girl a lawyer?

    Are you a lawyer?