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. redskylite Says:

    Not so good in Toronto though, but beers important too

  2. Alteredstory Says:

    “Is bike-ism like racism?”

    No. It’s not, and it’s not really comparable either. Like apples and frogs.

    It it does seem, however, to be its own form of prejudice, rooted in identity politics.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Bike-ism is NOT comparable to racism? Apples and frogs? Identity politics?

      Sorry, but I must disagree strongly with all that muddled thinking. Racism is based mainly on physical appearance (particularly skin color) and results in discrimination and often violent behavior directed at the group that is perceived to be “inferior” by the “racist”.

      Bike-ists discriminate against and act violently towards bicyclists solely because of their “appearance” (presence) on the road, just as the appearance of a black person in a “whites only” place will result in unpleasantness. In the realm of ACTUAL appearance, when bicyclists take a snack break from biking at a country store, we are often given dirty looks by the inhabitants thereof, and they are brought on solely by the clothes we wear. If we walked into the same store wearing baggy camo or Carhartt rather than tight and brightly colored lycra bike garb, we would be greeted with many more smiles.

      Have you lived much with racism? bike-ism? Ever kissed an apple or eaten a frog?

      • Alteredstory Says:

        Bike-ists base their prejudicial behavior on the behavior of others – riding a bike is something you DO, not something you ARE.

        Yes, the clothes you wear matter, but that’s linked to an activity.

        Clothes matter in race relations as well, but it’s connected to the skin colors associated with the clothes in question.

        YES, prejudice against bicyclists is still prejudice, but a cyclist can simply engage in a different activity, wear different clothes, and boom – the problem is gone. You can’t be identified as a cyclist because of your name, or your hair style, or even the neighborhood you live in.

        It’s not comparable, because you CAN just change your clothes, and make it go away. The fact that you think the two are comparable makes me wonder if YOU have ever been at the receiving end of racism. I spent a couple years biking to work on a regular basis, and got plenty of crap for it. I also worked on the Appalachian Trail for a couple summers, and had to spend time in up-scale neighborhoods near the trail, where the communities disliked backpackers so much they had tried to get the trail moved. My experience with racism is limited, being a white guy in America, but a few months in Tanzania gave me a taste of what it’s like to be treated differently because of skin color, and never being able to get a break from that. It’s a radically different experience from knowing that I could simply change my clothes and make the problem go away.

        As to identity politics, prejudice against cyclists comes from about a century of rhetorical effort to designate roads as being for cars only. Recently, that’s been added to by the association with environmentalism. As with many other aspects of modern life, there are a lot of people whose cars are prized possessions, and a source of pride. Bicycles can be a “threat” because cyclists are rejecting that value system, and with the added weight of climate action, there’s an implication that the car they’re so proud of is something they should feel bad about.

        People who hate cyclists hate them because of what they do, and the ideologies they may represent. That is radically different from hating someone or treating them differently because of how much pigment is in their skin or what their name sounds like.

        • “People who hate cyclists hate them because of what they do, and the ideologies they may represent.” “…It’s not comparable, because you CAN just change your clothes, and make it go away….”
          Psychological projection?
          Your contorted logic is akin to blaming not the rapist, but the victims of rape, because of the clothing the victims were wearing at the time.

          Should you be ashamed of:
          Driving a car? Yes.
          Of holidaying in Tanzania, assuming you don’t live in Tanzania, but flew there? Yes.

          • Alteredstory Says:

            “Your contorted logic is akin to blaming not the rapist, but the victims of rape, because of the clothing the victims were wearing at the time.”

            Take a reading comprehension course, and pay attention to context, will you?

            Dumoldguy was saying that prejudice against cyclists is just like racism.

            My comment had nothing to do with blame AT ALL, and the fact that you think it does implies to me that you just read the comment you replied to, and ignored what it was responding to.

            You want to bring rape into it?

            Ok, then I think that comparing the prejudice suffered by cyclist to that suffered by black people in America is like comparing the experience of a cross-dresser, who can step into a bathroom, change clothes, and step out again with all the safety and privilege that comes with being a male in our society, to the experience of a woman, who can’t stop being a woman, no matter what she wears, and so has to live with harassment from strangers on the street, and the fear of walking home by herself at night, because she CAN’T simply stop being a woman when she chooses to.

            Or, you know, you could read the whole comment thread and not jump on isolated comments talking about different kinds of prejudice, and pretend that they’re about who’s at fault when someone gives a cyclist crap.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I’m busy today and don’t have time to respond right now, but alteredstory continues to play semantics games and lecture others about context and meaning without realizing that he is doubling down on a bad bet. Later.

          • Alteredstory Says:

            “but alteredstory continues to play semantics games and lecture others about context and meaning without realizing that he is doubling down on a bad bet.”

            How do you figure? I clearly laid out the differences between prejudice based on race, and prejudice based on activities and clothes. They’re both prejudice, but they’re not the same thing, and the damage done by racism is far, far greater than the damage done by prejudice against cyclists.

            Comparing them like that diminishes the problem that is racism in America. Nobody has had their home taken away because they ride a bike. There have never been government policies making it impossible for cyclists to buy houses or own property. Nobody has ever tried to pass laws preventing people from voting based on whether or not they ride a bike. There are no towns in America where cyclists are warned not to be carrying a bike helmet if they’re walking around after dark.

            There is SOME overlap – Cyclists are blamed for the problems they face, just like black people are blamed for racism (by racists) and rape victims are blame for what happens to them, but that doesn’t mean that the things are equivalent.

  3. Andy Lee Robinson Says:

    Pretty shocking video, in attitude, culture, education, morals and fixation – he needs professional help, and an education.

    A fitting punishment for this pitiful specimen would be to take his car away for a few months and sentence him to cycle to work.
    Tha’ll lern ‘im…

    • dumboldguy Says:

      I had the same thought about punishment, but he looks like an out-of-shape fat toad, and it might be construed as “cruel and unusual” to make him ride. I’m not sure he’s smart enough to learn how to ride a bike either.

      Another thought I had was to give him community service projects like installing “Share the Road” signs and painting bike lane markings.

      • Sir Charles Says:

        No. No. Let him bicycle. Will solve the problem. Guaranteed 🙂

        • andrewfez Says:

          And it’ll lower his blood pressure, cholesterol, and burn out some of that visceral hatred he has, that he may think clearer whilst reducing the American healthcare cost burden.

  4. j4zonian Says:

    Roads are made for cars, buses and trucks? The mayor should be aware that in the US, at least, the first systems of paved roads were built largely because of the lobbying efforts of groups like the League of American Wheelmen (now League of American Bicyclists). For a while now we’ve been letting car drivers use them but maybe that should change.

  5. Reblogged this on Borrowing Money From Friends and commented:

  6. […] Party-ish Climate Deniers, of course, view any encouragement of bicycling with suspicion, as some kind of plot against our freedom, by dark international […]

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