Greater Greater Washington

Bicyclists politely explain that they're not terrorists (and neither are their small children)

A group of bicyclists rode to the Washington Post headquarters yesterday in a polite protest against Courtland Milloy's recent column attacking bicyclists and the paper's decision to publish it.

Jay Mallin made a video of the event:

Some people brought their young children. Many held handmade signs, with messages like "I'm a heart nurse, not a terrorist" (in reference to Milloy's statement comparing some cyclists to terrorists). DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson happened to be in the area, and told the assembled press that while "there is friction" between drivers and bcicylists, "the answer is not to say it's okay to hit people. It's not okay to hit people."

Ben Freed reported how one cyclist, Julie Sibbing of Alexandria, tried to put a sign in the lobby saying "I want an apology, Wash Post," but the security guard removed it.

Kishan Putta, Dupont ANC Commissioner and candidate for DC Council at large, also attended and spoke about his commitment to bicycle infrastructure, according to Perry Stein in the City Paper.

WTOP's Kate Ryan also interviewed Veronica Davis, a GGW contributor and founder of Black Women Bike, about the Milloy column:

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Abigail Zenner is an Associate in Government Affairs at the American Planning Association. She is a member of the Ward 3 Vision Steering Committee and often described as a professional parking nerd. When she's not nerding out about smart growth, you may find her teaching a fitness class. Her blog posts represent her personal views only. 

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The two-minute video really puts things in perspective. People get so nasty in the comments sections online.

by Gerald on Jul 11, 2014 10:59 am • linkreport

Love that "Bike terrorist in training" sign on the kid's bike :-)

by DaveG on Jul 11, 2014 11:05 am • linkreport

Amazing how Courtland Milloy can take anecdotes and then apply them generally to a whole class of people. Isn't that the exact same thing he abhors in the many articles he's written on racism in society? Maybe he likes to double down on irony and hypocrisy when he's in the mood. And why does he support cars when the majority of them are commuters and not taxpayers as opposed to bikers many of whom (if not most) live in the city? Another conundrum.

by Ben on Jul 11, 2014 11:57 am • linkreport

This article was so inflammatory that it's hard for me to believe it wasn't a strategic move on WaPo's part to garner more readers. WaPo is starting to play the suburban old-man-on-the-porch part on local issues, in contrast to City Paper's snarky urban Millennial approach. Well, I think it's succeeding in getting readers...

by dc denizen on Jul 11, 2014 11:59 am • linkreport

I am not sure that the story on news yesterday won too many sympathy points for the cause. Especially when the policeman stopped to see what the fuss was about and the conversation spilled over with the press onto the bike lane. Someone came up to them yelling at them to stop illegally blocking the bike lane.
Sometimes there is a time and a place for fighting bike lane violators. That wasn't it.

by Ray B on Jul 11, 2014 12:07 pm • linkreport

Man, those terrorists are getting sneaky, looking like ordinary people and everything.

by Crickey7 on Jul 11, 2014 12:21 pm • linkreport

Bravo to Veronica Davis for her comments. She hit the nail right on the head. That's probably the most poignant commentary on the whole issue I have ever heard.

by Dave Murphy on Jul 11, 2014 2:13 pm • linkreport

The fact that at least two politicians stopped by says a lot about the growing clout of urbanism, multi-modalism, non-motorized transport, etc. in the District.

by DaveG on Jul 11, 2014 2:55 pm • linkreport

Where is WABA in all this? They should have been front and center in this debate. They should have had a response published in the post, if not a Letter to the Editor, a full page ad. Instead all I've seen is an email using this an excuse to send me a fundraising request. I'm glad I let my membership expire last year. I did so because I contacted them inquiring about their position on the M St cycle track being interrupted for the benefit of private parking and what I could to to help and not receiving any response. Stuff like this helps me to realize exactly how their 60% overhead is being spent.

by dcmike on Jul 11, 2014 5:02 pm • linkreport

WABA issued a press release, which has been widely cited. Some of their bike ambassadors were at the protest, though WABA did not officially endorse it. I think this is a sensitive sitatuation for them - right now Milloy is the issue - it wouldn't be wise to make WABA the issue. I am very pleased with what WABA does on a range of things. They continue to push important improvements that are going forward across the region. As angry as we may be about Milloy's stupidity I do not think we should lose sight of the forward progress, or get pulled into over focusing on Milloy - that would be to be "trolled" on an epic scale.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 11, 2014 5:10 pm • linkreport

@dcmike -- I don't think WABA has the funds for a full page ad! There response was here, and it was very helpful at getting the word out and filling in the facts: http://www.waba.org/blog/2014/07/setting-the-record-straight-re-milloys-bullies/

And if you're referring to the church that has insisted on impeding the M street bike lanes so that it can have favored Sunday parking, well, that was pretty well covered by WABA too.

by Greenbelt on Jul 11, 2014 5:20 pm • linkreport

dcmike: I have no idea if there's a reason you didn't get an email, but WABA was indeed pushing very hard on the M Street cycletrack issue. I was on many phone calls with Shane Farthing and know he was talking to a lot of city officials. If you want someone to push to keep cycletracks whole and get more of them you definitely would be helping by being a member of WABA.

by David Alpert on Jul 11, 2014 5:49 pm • linkreport

@Dave Alpert/Greenbelt,

I'm pleased to hear Mr. Farthing was in fact pushing on the M St issue. There's almost no mention of it on their site or in any of my archived emails from them. I became disillusioned when I didn't receive a response to my inquiry. I realize an organization as large as WABA needs to be sensitive to all their members but at the same time they can't lose sight of their core mission.

@AWITC

I've thought about it carefully and I agree it seems unwise to stoop to the level of Mr. Milloy , but on the other hand he has the massive influence of the Post behind him. In general, I'm a fan of turning the other cheek / not feeding the trolls / "killing with kindness" etc. But with the distribution/coverage the Post receives, our positive message is completely drowned out by Milloy's hate speech.

by dcmike on Jul 11, 2014 7:44 pm • linkreport

My experience with cyclist in California is that they do not abbey the rules of the road. for example they are continually running stop signs and red lights they frequently ride on the wrong side of the road and ride without lighting device after dark. Just the other night I had an adult cyclist run a stop sign and almost get hit by me while I was driving my truck. Had I hit him it would have been awful and he would have been severely injured I am thinking cyclist should have a special license that requires both a written and a drive test.

by Bob on Jul 12, 2014 5:26 pm • linkreport

@Bob
My experience with cyclist in California is that they do not abbey the rules of the road. for example they are continually running stop signs and red lights they frequently ride on the wrong side of the road and ride without lighting device after dark.

Ergo all cyclists in California are bullies, terrorists and belong to gangs - right Bob?

I once saw a driver in South Carolina run a stop sign. Can I now say that all drivers in SC are bullies, terrorists and belong to gangs?

No matter the transportation mode hardly anybody adheres strictly to the letter of the law. Almost all drivers routinely speed yet we already license them. So what purpose would licensing cyclists serve? Pedestrians often cross against the light when no traffic is coming. Do they need licensing as well?

We can have useful discussions about how to make travel safer. But writing incoherent, ranting opinion pieces full of name calling with suggestions of assaulting an entire class of people for no other reason then they bother you is not the right way.

by Jeffb on Jul 12, 2014 8:00 pm • linkreport

This discussion is not about motorists, pedestrians, or buses. It is about bicyclists; let's not change the subject to avoid discussing the real problem here: out of control bicycists who think they are special and break the law.

It's pretty obvious that a substantial majority of bicyclists break traffic laws. Maybe if they had to be licensed, registered, and insured their uppity attitude would change.

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by NS on Jul 15, 2014 8:39 am • linkreport

"This discussion is not about motorists, pedestrians, or buses. It is about bicyclists; let's not change the subject to avoid discussing the real problem here: out of control bicycists who think they are special and break the law. "

To say that bicyclists who break the law think they are special, does imply that other folks obey the law. If users of all modes break the law, than cyclists who break the law are not acting special - they are just acting like everyone else. Ergo, the claim that cyclists think they are special necessarily entails a discussion of motorists and pedestrians. Esp as Mr Milloy began his column with a complaint from a motorist's perspective.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 15, 2014 9:03 am • linkreport

Wow, now the silly bicyclists are uppity just for asking motorists to safely share the roads...

"Uppity negroes" was a term used by people resisting the Civil Rights movement...ironic...

by DaveG on Jul 15, 2014 9:03 am • linkreport

@AWITC - that comment by NS therefore means he thinks motorists have a special, god-like status that must not be challenged by any other, "uppity" road users.

by DaveG on Jul 15, 2014 9:06 am • linkreport

@NS
This discussion is not about motorists, pedestrians, or buses. It is about bicyclists; let's not change the subject to avoid discussing the real problem here: out of control bicycists who think they are special and break the law.

No! - this discussion is about a single individual in the media - Courtland Milloy - who said that since cyclists (terrorist and bullies in his words) annoy him so much it would be perfectly understandable to commit deadly assault on them (by hitting a human being with a 2000 lb steel vehicle).

It's pretty obvious that a substantial majority of bicyclists break traffic laws. It's equally obvious that the substantial majority of PEOPLE technically violate the law everyday whether they are on a bicycle, car or walking. So your point is?????

Maybe if they [cyclists] had to be licensed, registered, and insured their uppity attitude would change.
Bob or NS - please explain how mere licensing would change whether a cyclist adheres 100% to the law (typically as only a motorist would define it). Since motorists are licensed today and violate the law I don't follow.

by jeffb on Jul 15, 2014 9:31 am • linkreport

If cyclists were "out of control" certainly there'd be evidence of people going to the hospital because of cyclists.

Them breaking the law is another matter but apparently they're able to do it without causing much chaos.

by drumz on Jul 15, 2014 9:37 am • linkreport

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