If you want to create a tsunami of frenzied online commentary, just run a story on road cyclists. Doesn’t matter what the angle is. It could be about a near-fatal accident or a recent ad campaign. Bicycle registration or mandatory helmets. You could be a vehement objector or a passionate supporter. Just post your article and watch what happens next. For it seems few issues stir the emotions quite like the old motorist vs cyclists debate.
Like fishing at a trout farm, it might only start with a nibble. But suddenly all hell typically breaks loose as word gets out and the masses descend; first from one side, then from another, then back and forth until people eventually get bored or perhaps a new article gets posted, creating an ongoing literary tug-o-war.
Motorists. Riders. Politicians. Interest groups. And, yes, plenty of bloggers and journos. They all weight in. Sometimes it all gets a bit out of hand as someone invariably oversteps the line resorting to insults, CAPITAL LETTERS or even threats of physical violence – most usually when they can’t think of anything useful to say. It’s not good, but the one thing you can’t knock is their passion.
Not sure about you, but the way I see things, the only thing worse than people getting fired up about the road cycling debate, is people not getting fired up about it.
The issue may be a long way from being resolved in most parts of the world, save a few parts of Europe. But at least it is an issue on the community’s radar. The longer it stays there, hopefully the better the chances of someone (aka governments) finally doing something meaningful about it.
For a very recent example, read the comments for the articles below. The NYT piece came first. The BikeSnobNYC piece was a response to it. The third link is to the Peloton magazine FB page, there are some interesting comments there too.