This week a person published a rant on the Vancouver Craigslist “Rants and Raves” entitled “Hoping Cycalists get crushed under the wheels of Cars and Trucks.” It’s been removed, but essentially it was hate speech so vile that it sounded deranged.
The anonymous poster exhorts motorists to take back “their” streets by driving aggressively, killing cyclists and then sueing their estates. He urges car drivers to deliberately hurt cyclists so that they become quadriplegics who can only dream of their cycling days, and then sue them for causing the accidents. He advises that when motorists have knocked down cyclists and they are lying in the streets with broken limbs, the motorists should get out and yell at the cyclists. In perhaps his finest moment, he encourages motorists who see parents with children in bike trailers to aim for the parents in order to cripple them, so as to show the parents the error of their ways. All this in scarcely literate English, interspersed with often vile swear words.
This poster bases his argument on his incorrect assumption that motorists “own” the roads. As he elegantly puts it:
Roads were made and paid for by mortorists. Not f***ing bicycles! So I believe this gives them the right to speak out against the morons who are using the roads and streets. Get the f*** off the roads!
The belief that motorists “own” the streets is based on the notion that motorists pay for the roads via taxes on gas. Not so, according to researcher Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute in his research study “Whose roads?”. Litman points out that while highways are primarily funded by gas taxes, funding for local roads and traffic services comes from general taxes.
This means that you or I on our bikes most likely have contributed equally to the roads we share with people in Hummers and Ford F350’s – and with the hate-filled poster. And who is causing the most damage to the roads, and therefore the highest upkeep costs? Obviously, the motorists. It follows that we as cyclists and taxpayers are actually subsidizing the roads for motorists – so that if anyone “owns” the roads, it is cyclists, not motorists!
The incorrectness of the poster’s argument aside, the question still remains whether to take him seriously, or write him off as a raving whack job.
A few months ago I was cycling home from work on Gilmore Road, on the designated bike route, in pouring rain. A motorist followed me all the way, sitting right on my tail, even though he could easily have gone around me. It appeared he was trying to unnerve me enough to make me fall off, so that he could run me over. He didn’t succeed, because I am a pretty skilled and confident cyclist. But I lie awake some nights thinking about what might have happened had that been my wife, or one of my children, given that they are not as experienced at cycling as I am.
That could have been our anonymous poster, or someone influenced by his hate speech. So I say yes, we should take him seriously – very seriously indeed. Seriously enough to try and ensure he is reined in.
A person on one of the cyclist mailing lists to which I subscribe has asked the Hate Crime Unit of the Vancouver Police Department to investigate this matter as a hate crime, and has asked Craigslist to forward information about the post to the VPD. Let’s see if the VPD takes this seriously. I suspect this poster cannot have his driver’s licence taken away for uttering threats and hate speech. But at least if he is given a police warning he will know that he is on the police radar, and that if he hits a cyclist, the assumption will be that it was deliberate. Hopefully, that will deter him from carrying out his vile threats. And if we are very lucky, perhaps he will be charged.
Let’s all keep an eye on this situation, and encourage the VPD to take it seriously by forwarding our concerns to them in emails.
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Steven Luscher says
Was the post signed “Rob Ford,” perchance?
I’m not sure the poster could spell “Ford”.
myna lee johnstone says
I am so glad it was found and responded to.
The police should investigate the person.
The attitude of so many drivers is unfortunately more or less like this.
Even people who consider themselves as upstanding citizens bring out their dark side when they get behind a wheel.
King/Queen of the road.
It is a war zone on the roads. Pedestrians are just as vulnerable, which is why I suggest that ICBC doesnot automatically renew insurance policy. Drivers have to spend a week
first as a pedestrian or cyclist.
Great idea, Myna! I wonder why that dark side comes out when people are behind a steering wheel, but not behind the front wheel of a bike …
Dread to think what would happen if ICBC refused to renew insurance policies….. imagine being hit by some one not insured!
Bobbie Bees says
Sadly, this isn’t the first post of this type on Craigslist, nor do I think it will be the last.
There’s something about the anonymity (actual or supposed) of craigslist that seems to encourage fools to speak/type without thinking. But what scared me the most about this one is the amount of raw seething hatred that seems to be coming through loud and clear.
I had an incident a few weeks ago on Cambie street where a cab pulled up beside me and the driver yelled that cyclists belong on the sidewalk. he then tried to run me into the curb. I called the police to file a report. But sadly, and I guess it was because i was panicking, i screwed up on the description of the cab. I really have to get myself one of those little helmet mounted video cameras.
For so long as the motoring public believe that the roads belong to them, we’ll keep seeing posts like this.
Sadly, there is something about the motor vehicle that practically encourages motorists, not all but enough of them, to almost become completely unhinged when they get behind the wheel of their car. Please see –> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk-c5jlk48s
Not too inaccurate for a cartoon that’s 60 years old.
The perceived anonymity of Craigslist is not, in fact, real anonymity. Craigslist does respond to law enforcement inquiries as required by law, and I encourage anyone who spots further hate speech against cyclists posted there to forward the details to the VPD.
The VPD has a great site on hate speech here: http://vancouver.ca/police/organization/public-affairs/diversity-aboriginal-policing/hate-crimes.html, that I’d imagine was set up partly in response to the horrific gay bashings of the last few years.
I am happy to hear that Craigslist is not anonymous. I still haven’t heard back from the VPD. But this is clearly a hate crime, according to that link you sent:
“This offence is committed in two ways:
•when a person communicates statements in any public place and incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace
•when a person communicates statements, other than in private conversation, that wilfully promote hatred against any identifiable group”
To me, that post seems to meet both of those criteria, so it’s a hate crime whichever way you slice it.
Thanks for sending the link.
Bobbie, sorry to hear about your run-in with the cab. I read on one of my listserve’s someone’s suggestion – he said he makes a habit of memorizing every licence plate that passes him, so it is now like a reflex, and he always has it when he needs it. I have tried this, but I tend to zone out and start thinking about something else. Still, it might work for people with better powers of concentration.
Thanks for the cartoon link! I thought it was brilliant. I especially love the bit where the cars all roar off from the lights, race each other – and then all slam on brakes at the very next red light. To me that captures the lunacy of urban driving. In rush hour on Lougheed Highway, for example, I move as fast or faster than cars, as each motorist sits in his or her own solitary splendour, chugging along from red light to red light. Wish I had this cartoon when I was writing my post speculating on why people change personality behind a steering wheel.
Melissa Mewdell says
This is really sad. Great post and thanks for sharing it with us.
We are fortunate in Vancouver to have so many dedicated bike lanes – even though they still aren’t enough, apparently.
Road cycling can be dangerous for sure – without the whack jobs!
Thanks for the positive feedback, Melissa. I personally don’t think we will be safe until we have the same situation they have in Montreal – physically separated bike lanes that enable you to go all over without ever being in the same lane as a car. Of course, as we are learning here, they will have to be too narrow for cars, otherwise cars will use them as shortcuts!
The hatred coming from this guy is scary. Too many people die on the streets due to angry drivers: other drivers, bike riders, pedestrians…why would anyone want to feed this anger? Thank you Joe for writting this post and encouraging everyone to take his rant seriously! I hope nobody gets hurt due to his rage.
Thanks for your support Lucy. As you feel strongly about it, why not send an email to the Hate Crimes Unit?
Drivers need to realize that we ALL own the road and RELAX. In fact, the more cyclists on the road, the less cars and that makes traffic easier for everyone to navigate.
Yes, that’s precisely what I think. The very motorists who hate cyclists so much, would spend a LOT less time in gridlock if half the motorists on the roads switched to bicycles. And they could, because according to research, around half of the people in North America live within 5 miles of their workplace. Most people can bike 5 miles – even if some might require a modified bike, such as a trike, or an e-bike.