A cyclist stands up to terrorists and drivers

Eben Weiss, who writes the Bike Snob NYC blog is like a lot of New Yorkers. He’s not afraid of terrorists. He’s going to keep riding New York’s bike trails despite this week’s terrorist attack that has left eight dead.

But his reason for not being even a little afraid of the possibility of a terrorist is going to get a lot of urban cyclists around the country cheering. He deals with everyday automobile drivers, he writes in his op-ed in the Washington Post today.

If there’s one group that is unlikely to be cowed by terrorists, it’s cyclists, he says.

We’re reminded every day via social media and though rolled-down car windows that we “share” the roads with people who actively hate us and that our interests (including safety) come behind theirs. Every one of us knows what it’s like to stare death by auto square in the grille. We’ve all had drivers set their cars upon us at one time or another, whether due to run-of-the-mill inattention or out-and-out road rage. This reality is already priced into our decision to ride.

More than 700 cyclists were killed in the United States last year, he says. So terrorism hardly factors into cyclists’ decision about whether to ride.

Carnage like this is far more frightening to cyclists than terrorism, because these sorts of conflicts happen literally every day. From behind the handlebars, the meaningful difference between a misdemeanor right of way violation and an act of terrorism is whether the driver tooted the horn or shouted “Allahu akbar” during the act. Yet still we ride.

Another reason New Yorkers will never be frightened out of their bike lanes or off their bicycles is that you won’t find anyone more appreciative of our little slice of the cityscape than cyclists. Sidewalks? On a day-to-day basis, too many people just take them for granted. Highways? We only think about them when we’re stuck in traffic; then we hate them. But cyclists are all too aware of what it took to get those hard-won and too-few bike lanes, and we’re reminded of what’s at stake every time some crackpot candidate promises to rip them out again because it plays well in the tabloids. Sure, half the time the bike lanes are full of parked cars, but they’re our lanes, dammit! So if you think some nut case in a rented Home Depot truck is gonna scare us out of them, then guess again.

Weiss says he hopes people begin to see “all acts of traffic violence” as abhorrent.