Dear Mr Snob,
You know I love you. You would have to be completely out to lunch to have missed the fact that I am a big fan of yours, yet clearly you are as sharp as they come. Everyone knows that laughter is the best medicine, and you are a true master of wit. I love that you manage somehow to get your point across with a laugh, even though you might be covering a serious topic of conversation. Satire makes it simpler, somehow, to broach subjects which incite strong debate, and you do it so well. But Friday's post was a huge departure from your usual fare. And as much as I love you, and will always remain a loyal fan, I really have to have a word with you...
What happened, anyway? It is abundantly clear that Detective Mennen has a hate-on for us, and for you in particular.
Why does he hate you? Probably because you have such influence AND you are a lowly, almost universally revilled cyclist, but why did you let him push your buttons? Did you really have to jump on the "let's all hate the cyclsist" bandwagon?
I can't speak to the incident itself, because like you I wasn't actually there. I have heard various details from several different sources. I heard again and again that the cyclist had the light. You vilified Mr Marshall for pushing for a personal best in a park where there are lots of people. You said "There seems to be some disagreement as to whether this latest cyclist had the light. However, that doesn't matter. It's a park. You know people are going to cross against the light, and if you choose to ignore that inevitability the blame should fall on you." Really?! So as cyclists we are now responsible for the irresponsible behaviour so many pedestrians display? Are you kidding?! I yield to pedestrians, and I do my best to avoid the ones who step out into my path without looking, but if they don't look before walking out in front of a moving vehicle, the driver is not at fault, and neither, frankly, am I.
I have never ridden a bike through Central Park, so I can't precicely speak to the circumstances, but here in Vancouver, Stanley Park has a roadway through it, which I prefer over the multi-use seawall path the majority of cyclists use. I choose the road for the simple reason that on my bike I am a vehicle, not a pedestrian. As such, I typically travel at the same speed as the cars. In Stanley Park, I have to speed by quite a margin in order to keep up with traffic, but nobody is complaining about the speed at which the cars drive. Well, except for me, perhaps. I don't understand how it could possibly be wrong for me to push for my personal best on the very same road that the cars speed on, simply because some pedestrians might cross where they shouldn't, or because they might possibly be too lazy to look up before they cross onto the road. I can't count how many times pedestrians have crossed onto the road in front of me without looking up, simply because they don't hear a car coming. If Mr Marshall had been driving an electric car, and if he had hit the woman who wandered into his path in that circumstance, the NYPD would have done what they always do and declared that there was no criminality suspected. But somehow because he was riding a bike suddenly he is to blame?! I can't believe the double standard, and I was deeply disappointed that you failed to call them on it.
I am sick and tired of being treated like public enemy number one when I am not doing anything wrong. Yes, I push for my personal best at every opportunity, and unfortunately I have to do it at risk to MY OWN life and limb every single day as I ride in traffic on public thoroughfares. I play nice, and yield when I should. I try to ensure that I create goodwill on the roads, so I signal, and I thank the drivers who are courteous. I try to be visible and predictable. I have a life, though, and can't often escape all the way out of town to hit the highways as you insist I should. And when I can't go out before six in the morning, when the traffic is light, I sometimes ride in the middle of the afternoon. How dare you suggest that I haven't got the right to ride hard and fast on the city's public ROADS, along with the cars that travel much faster than I?! It's downright ridiculous.
I have always ridden as I do. I have to strive for my personal best because my medical condition is only kept under control when I am super-fit. Strava hasn't suddenly made me a different person, but it has provided a community of sorts, full of people who understand the kinds of challenges I deal with daily, people who support me where the rest of the world fails. I long ago stopped caring what the average person thought of me, but I worked hard to develop a community of souls who understand who I am and why I live the way I do. I figured your blog was just that sort of place, but maybe I was wrong? Look. I know the type of rider you are objecting to, but that guy has been around a lot longer than Strava has, and that rider isn't necessarily the man in question here. Strava is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. The internet is a tool, too, and sometimes people are exploited at the hands of others who use it malisciouly. But put the shoe on the other foot for a moment, would you? How would you adapt your life to a world where people claiming the moral high ground insisted everybody just turned the internet off in memory of the people who have suffered at the hands of the assholes who use it unwisely?
...as best I can. And I'm not even a little bit sorry.