Audi Mocks Transit, Bikes in New Ad

It shouldn't surprise us that auto manufacturers promote their vehicles at the expense of "alternative" modes of travel, but still somehow it's always a surprise to be slapped in the face quite this hard.


Editorial: Rudeness No Surprise to Bicyclists

Rudeness has been in the news a lot this week. Congressman Joe Wilson yelled at the president, Kanye West was, well, Kanye West at the MTV Video Music Awards, and all of it has unleashed the media pundits. Speculation abounds about whether our culture has reached new lows of selfishness and entitlement. Everything from the Internet to recession-related social stresses have been advanced as explanations, but the general lack of civility seems to have reached crisis proportions, at least if you watch the 24/7 cable news networks.

But if you ride a bicycle regularly in San Diego, or in any other city, you know that uncommon levels of rudeness are nothing new, and in fact, are not uncommon at all. This is not a "oh, poor bicyclists" rant, but just a simple observation that bicyclists seem like particularly easy targets for misplaced bile. Verbal violence, actual assault, and aggressive anti-social behavior confront bicyclists daily. It has become a standby of bicycle blogs and message boards, and almost everyone has their own "war story".

While riding this week I was called "gay" by one driver (I didn't even know that was still considered an insult). A friend of mine was called a "f*cking hipster" while riding with his brother. Another was threatened with personal violence after riding into the lane to avoid a parked delivery truck. A while back, another friend was hit with an orange thrown from a car (yeah, an orange). Less dramatically, but no less inconsiderately, I spent my entire ride up and down Utah Street yesterday dodging trash cans improperly placed smack dab in the middle of the bike lane. And this was just locally.

Other dramatic incidents across the nation have recently highlighted the problem, but the media coverage of these incidents has generally not considered the problem of driver-on-bicyclist road rage as either a specific problem or as an indication of broader trends of incivility. I don't have the space to really consider the sources of this particular brand of rage, or why is seems so virulent, but I would like to make the observation that if we can't simply pass through space without screaming insults at each other, what hope do we have for civil discourse?

As bicyclists, as citizens, we have a responsibility to raise the level of our public discourse. Our response to road rage cannot any longer be, "oh yeah, well f*ck you, too!" There is more at stake than simply our right to the road. By failing to confront the issue in positive ways, we perpetuate the escalation of the very problem that threatens us, and we risk losing one of the foundational elements of civic democracy.


Open Thread

El two amendments were defeated. Use this as an open thread to discuss.


Speak up for Trails, Walking and Biking Now

From the Rails-to-Trails Conservacy:

On Tuesday, September 15, Senators John McCain (Ariz.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) issued two amendments to the FY10 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. If passed, these amendments would eliminate the majority of available federal funds for trails, walking and bicycling.

Amendment 2370 would prohibit the use of federal funds for pedestrian or bicycle facilities, efforts to reduce vehicle collisions with wildlife, or other specified Transportation Enhancement (TE) projects if the Highway Trust Fund cannot cover unfunded highway authorizations.

Amendment 2371 would allow states to eliminate spending on TE, the nation’s largest funding source for trails, walking and bicycling. Congress currently sets aside a portion of federal funds for TE to support these projects in all states.

Providing opportunities for Americans to walk, bike and take transit to get where they’re going improves our communities’ health and livability, reduces emissions, creates jobs and save money.

California's Senators are Barbara Boxer (202-224-3553) and Diane Feinstein (202-224-3841)

Please call your senators with the following message:

I am calling from San Diego, California to urge that Senator ______ vote against Amendments 2370 and 2371 to H.R. 3288. These amendments would jeopardize essential Transportation Enhancements projects such as trails and other walking and bicycling infrastructure. These projects are highly valued in my community, and we need more safe and convenient opportunities to walk and bike. How does Senator _____ plan to vote on these amendments?

It is best to use your own words. If you personalize your comments, please be sure to end your call by asking how the senator plans to vote. This is critical information for us to have, and puts the office on notice that they will be accountable.

Once you have made your calls, please tell us how they went (below) so we can track progress and plan next steps. Thank you.


Contributions from BikeSD Readers

Larry Hogue sent us this story from Biking in LA on Bicycle Courtesy. With the increasing numbers of newish bicycle riders hitting the streets, it is important that riders behave in a manner that is polite and considerate to all users on the road. This is the underlying assumption with San Diego's latest campaign.

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From our flickr pool, a contribution from Protorio and another from Larry on what can be carried in a bicycle pannier:

Beer in Pannier
Beer in Pannier. Photo by Protorio
Dog in Pannier. Photo by Larry Hogue
Dog in Pannier. Photo by Larry Hogue