The Psychopathology of Bike Hate

May 26, 2014

When my late Father, then 75 years old, retired – many years ago, he decided to ride his bicycle from Portland Oregon to Portland Maine, and did so.
One thing that amazed him was the number of people along the way who threw things at him from their vehicles.

Is bike-ism like racism?  Are bicyclists in the vanguard of the culture war? What makes some people have some kind of irrational hatred for anyone on a human powered vehicle?

What do you imagine the cross over is between climate denial and bicycle-rage? Watch the video. I’ll leave it to you.

Raw Story:

An Alabama man who posted videos of himself complaining about bicyclists has been arrested and charged with reckless endangerment.

In the videos, Keith Maddox describes what it’s like sharing the road with bicyclists as he drives to work.

“See what I was talking about?” he says in a video posted on May 21, 2014. “Look there! Look right there. I ought to run him in the ditch. Ride your little bicycle!” he yells as he passes the bicyclist.

“You piece of crap! I oughta run him in the ditch is what I shoulda done! I shoulda put him in the ditch.”

In another video, he passes a bicyclist and says, “Lord have mercy, I’m gonna hurt one of them one of these days. Can’t help myself, I’m gonna do it.”

“Isn’t that nice?” he asks in a video from May 20, 2014. “Me, I’m trying to make it to work. Watch this,” he says, revving his engine as he passes the bicyclists.

“That scare you boys?” he yells.

The videos were discovered by cycling enthusiast groups online, who alerted the Calhoun County Sheriff’s office to Maddox’s threats. They arrested him and charged him with reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor charge, and released him on $3,000 bond.

Maddox asked for forgiveness on his Facebook page with a note — since taken down — in which he apologized “to all people that I have offended over those absolute stupid videos that I posted …anybody who knows me knows that I would never ever intensionally [sic] hurt anyone…those were in very bad taste and I especially want to apologize to the northeast Alabama bicycle association…I am truly sorry for Anyone I may have offended….and please everyone share the road and be very aware of bicycle riders everywhere..and again I am truly sorry for my extremely bad judgement…please except my apology thanks.”

Bike-ists will have a  lot more to complain about in coming years if current trends hold.


May is National Bike Month, but depending on where you live, you may not have realized it.

Not every city is fortunate enough to have the infrastructure for a strong cycling community, and many of them lack the leaders who care enough to prioritize such an infrastructure. Things have been changing in the past decade and a half, though. Since 2000, the share of people who bike to work has increased by 61 percent.

Below, crackhead Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on bike lanes.


38 Responses to “The Psychopathology of Bike Hate”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    “Ah cain’t he’p it” says it all.

    Doubt he’ll get jail time (unless he has priors), but I hope he gets a serious fine and mandatory counseling—-he needs it. That is particularly evident considering that he was able to pass all the cyclists with ease but chose to rant instead—-sick puppy.

    Keith Maddox is obviously an ignorant, inbred, eyes-too-close-together, low-IQ redneck who drives a too-large pickup (that undoubtedly has one or more Confederate battle flags displayed on it somewhere). I’m sure he has the same kind of poor attitudes about race, “im-grints”, “fag-gits”, women’s rights, politics, and the “fed’rul gummint” as well.

    Most of the folks your father met on his trip that threw things at him were likely in rural areas and were clones of Keith. Out there in “hairy-chested man” country the only kind of bike might be acceptable is a Harley-Davidson, and anyone on a pedal-powered bike is a “girly man”. That in spite of the fact that the Keiths of the world couldn’t have kept up with your father for more than 100 yards. Their numbers are declining in the northern VA rural areas—it’s much better than it was 20-25 years ago.

    A bigger problem in the DC area (where a significant number of bikers die each year) is now the yuppies who are just in a hurry or driving distractedly because they’re on their cell phones. They may not throw things at you, but many WILL display attitude and drive badly when around bicyclists. (They will be very sheepish when you catch up to them at a light and “educate” them, though).

    You ask about the cross-over between climate denial and bicycle rage? IMO, it’s almost self-evident that the Keiths are quite likely to be climate change deniers. It’s different with the yuppies—-I’d bet many of them own bikes themselves (to ride only on bike trails though) and are mostly not deniers (unless they’re involved in the business world and want to destroy the world for profit, of course).

    PS When I used to ride on rural roads, I strapped a nice 24″ long hickory sledge handle on the luggage rack of my bike. I started carrying it to deal with the vicious farm dogs, but I like to think it improved the attitudes of the “Keiths” as they overtook me and spotted it.

    PPS I had a coworker who WAS run off the road by a pickup truck. The guy just moved alongside, stayed there, and edged over until he pushed the biker off the road and into the woods. He looked back and grinned as he did so. No broken bones but lots of bruises and scrapes and a banged up bike. No witnesses, and the guy never got caught.

    • andrewfez Says:

      In Los Angeles, just verbally harassing a biker from one’s car window is illegal.

      I’ve been in a few near misses on my way to the grocery store on my bike. Whatever possesses a person to stop at a stop sign then press their accelerator pedal down so hard that the engine growls is beyond my poor powers of reason.

  2. jimbills Says:

    This is a combination of two things – lack of bicycle paths or adequate curb lanes and bullyish behavior on the part of the drivers:

    A bicyclist is playing the odds when they’re on a road that isn’t equipped for bicycles. I’m not saying it’s really their fault, it is the driver’s fault for being no more evolved than an ape – but as most people are little more than apes, the odds are high that there will be upset drivers and incidents.

    It should be required that all roads have curb lanes and/or bike paths, but our society in general isn’t that forward thinking. We think everyone should be driving cars, so we create situations where everyone has to drive a car.

    If every road had a bike path, we’d have a lot more bikers. In addition to the convenience of the separate lane, I think the higher number of bikers would decrease the number of incidents, paradoxically, by reducing the bullyish behavior. Bullies don’t attack groups, they attack individuals.

    Personally, I think we’re looking at much higher gas prices in the future, and not everyone is going to have an EV, so I think we’re all going to be wishing we had built those bike lanes when we had the money to do it.

    • johnrussell40 Says:

      I question whether people who propose such policies have actually done any real cycling. All bicycle lanes that run immediately alongside roads — especially if they’re on pavements — are covered in broken glass, nails and gravel, thrown there by the tyres of motor vehicles. That’s why most serious cyclists ride in the roadway even when bicycle lanes are provided. What’s more, the next step after painting a sufficient number of these joke cycle lanes will be insisting cyclists use them; dismounting at every junction and giving way to motorised traffic. The end result will be to make serious cycling impossible.

      Having said all that I’m a great fan of purpose-built cycle ways that run away from roadways, especially those that follow disused railway tracks or alongside railways and canals.

      • jimbills Says:

        Well, I’m not talking about being Lance Armstrong. I’m talking about giving more people a way to bike instead of drive.

        Curb lanes still give cyclists the ability to pull into the curb lane when there is a car behind you or when there is heavy traffic. Without the lane, there is no such option.

        I do bike, not professionally or even seriously, but most roads are a nightmare to bike on, because there is no other option but to ride in the same area that cars travelling at 50+ mph do. I also get really self-conscious when I know I’m stalling a driver behind me. Maybe that’s just me, but it usually takes two to tango. A bicyclist can be rude, too. A curb lane, despite the occasional debris, doesn’t have the problem of stalling traffic. Drivers themselves would get a lot less irritable with them, too.

        Separate bike lanes are even better, because it’s codifying bicycling. Drivers know what to expect, bicyclists know what to expect – it’s far, far more comfortable for both. Some bike lanes even have dividing barriers, preventing debris from cars and greatly lessening conflict between drivers and cyclists, which is great.

        Separate bike paths along railways and the like are the very best, though, yes.

        • Jimbills- separate biker lanes with a curb and other obstacles in between. Connect those lanes to paths between auto roads. A complete bicycles only infrastructure. Sidewalks for pedestrians.

      • Yes, and you don’t have to breath the exhaust fumes on greenways either.

  3. johnrussell40 Says:

    We have the same problem in the UK:

    As you can see, those who hate cyclists are not just belligerent old men in pick-up trucks. I guess they all have one thing in common though; they’re stupid enough to record and boast about their antisocial behaviour.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      The accent may have given you some problems, but Keith Maddox is not a “belligerent OLD man”—-he actually sounds a lot younger, but his police mug shot shows him to be perhaps in his early 50’s. I’M getting old at nearly 74, he isn’t.

      I had to laugh at your link talking about the UK cyclist’s handlebar taking off the car’s wing mirror when she hit him. In the U.S. where the vehicles tend to be “taller”, the wing mirrors are at biceps to shoulder height on a bicyclist, and I cut way back on my rural road driving after I got brushed there by a few.

      And your girl sounds a lot like the sweet young thing that sideswiped my vehicle and took off the wing mirror while texting at 30 mph—-clueless.

      • Ah caint hep it. Lookie thar.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          After a closer look, I’ll lower that guess to maybe as low as early to mid-40’s. The balding and obesity fooled me. The voice sounds even younger.

          PS Just looked at a “worst and best states for bikers” compilation, and the worst are southern and red, while the best are ALL blue states (except for Utah). High correlation between climate denial and blue/red and bike-rage?

        • I’ve encountered a few of these bike-haters in the past when I was in the USA. One thing they seem to have in common is being grotesquely overweight. In other words, the sort of people who couldn’t ride a bike even if they wanted to. Which makes me think that at least part of their hatred is motivated by the simple fact that they envy slim cyclists who are generally fit, or at least not pathetically out-of-shape.

          An old saying which was originally applied to sexuality but is entirely appropriate here…

          “Righteous indignation is only 2% righteous, 48% indignation, and 50% envy.”

        • greenman3610 Says:

          one of those cases where the voice almost exactly matches the face.

  4. jimbills Says:

    On the Rob Ford clip, he says, “Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks – not for people on bikes.”

    Well, duh, that’s WHY you should make separate lanes for bikes. Instead, he’s saying we can’t make bike lanes because we don’t have bike lanes.

    • I was going to comment on that. He says he doesn’t support bike lanes because roads are built for cars and trucks, and sooner or later a biker is going to get hit. Uh, cognitive dissonance a little maybe?

  5. ubrew12 Says:

    His commute route has no shoulder, none. I think the responsible government should examine the bike load and think about widening the road via shoulder widening. Then also make sure the street sweepers are tasked with sweeping the shoulder. That would keep everybody happy. A 3 ft shoulder would be minimum, but 4 ft more ideal. Bikes should be encouraged for the environment, and for people like Maddox, as a great way to blow off some steam.

  6. Harassment of cyclists and pedestrians occurs in many countries. It needs to be dealt with severely. It has existed right from the early days of the automobile.

    Re: Rob Ford clip, he says, “Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks – not for people on bikes.”
    That deluded, rather stupid and dangerous driver needs to get his facts right, roads are built for people. The first paved roads were constructed and often paid for by people on bicycles, there were no cars). Cars are the Johnny-come-lately.

  7. Yesterday I mentioned I’m building a new house here in Taiwan. The place is actually something of a paradise for cycling, and it’s one of the reasons why I chose it. One picture is worth 1000 words – and a lot of pictures are worth proportionally more – so if you’d like to have a look, go to, cut & paste the following characters into the search bar, then click “images”

    自行車道 鹿野

  8. Reblogged this on Move for Change and the Brooklyn Culture Jam and commented:
    Some interesting thoughts about the almost pathological hatred some drivers have for cyclists. I had a lovely weekend of riding over Memorial Day weekend, but there are some really angry people out there, and (unfortunately) not all of them are clueless enough to post videos of their run-ins on FaceBook or YouTube.

  9. He sounds a bit like the mentally challenged Billy Bob Thornton character in Slingblade. Except less rational.

    I didn’t see it in the video but surely there’s a gun rack in his pickup.

  10. redskylite Says:

    Reminds me of beginning a teenager when someone knocked my bike (with me on it) while I was cycling along the road, over whilst reversing a car from his driveway, then asking a shaken me what I was doing behind his car. Wrote off my bike and I never even complained about him damn…

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