Rosie’s anti-cycling screed generates a chorus of agreement
Contempt for cyclists in Toronto seems greater than ever, if the comments attached to Rosie DiManno’s column about her loathing of bike riders are any indication.
And that’s bad news for cyclists in their ongoing turf war with pedestrians and drivers, at a time when they should be – need to be - gaining respect, instead of losing it.
In her Wednesday column in the Star, Rosie outlined some of her scrapes with cyclists as a pedestrian, declaring them “No. 1 on my list of People Who Should Be Shot.”
It naturally inflamed the cycling community, particularly those who follow the rules of the road, and prompted a barrage of complaints.
My friend James Schwartz, a role model for responsible cycling and founder of the I Share the Road initiative, copied me a letter he sent to the Star, saying “the hatred DiManno’s article breeds is exactly why I have to deal with angry drivers on a daily basis.”
But I’m surprised at the depth of the animosity towards cyclists in comments posted to her online column, compared to a rather timid defense from the pro-cycling ranks.
“A significant majority of my fellow cyclists choose to respond with profanity and/or denial when they ignore the rules of the road when confronted,” said one reader.
“I also hate cyclists,” said another. “Please get off the two-foot-wide sidewalks that I use and go on the road where you belong.”
A reader complained that when the curb lane of a road is closed for construction, “cyclists appropriate the sidewalk as a substitute bike lane, and then bully pedestrians out of the way.”
To me, it indicates a growing intolerance for cyclists who ignore the rules that apply to bikes, but want the privileges of pedestrians. The sheer volume of critical posts - hundreds of them - is astounding.
It was the other way around a few years ago, when I poked a hornets’ nest by writing a column in which I quoted from a letter by a reader who pleaded with cyclists – in a reasonable tone - to obey the rules and stop riding on the sidewalk.
The online response from cyclists was scalding. I was an idiot for not understanding that dangerous drivers force them onto sidewalks, and if they stop at a red light when no traffic is coming, they’ll lose momentum and have to pedal hard to get going again.
One guy said he wanted to punch me in the face. A woman said I couldn’t possibly know anything about cycling because I look like an old man in my online photo.
And I didn’t propose that anyone should be shot.
Lots of people agreed with the column and took shots at cyclists, but their comments were no match for the bike riders' fury.
This time, it is drivers and pedestrians who are furious and out of patience. It does not bode well for cyclists.