It is cyclists who need to check their privilege

Urban Bicycle Madness

My first reaction to this post someone actually wrote and published was that the title – What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege – is so ridiculous in its intersection of two groups of online jerks, that it can’t possibly be real.

It is though, and it’s perfectly illustrative of what’s wrong with bicycle activists today.

This author’s thesis is that car drivers are like “a lot of white people” and act like they’re “privileged” to a higher status on the road than others. However this one paragraph undercuts everything else he says:

And so people in cars—nice, non-aggressive people—put me in danger all the time because they see the road from the privileged perspective of a car. E.g., I ride on the right side of the right lane. Some people fail to change lanes to pass me (as they would for another car) or even give me a wide berth. Some people fly by just inches from me not realizing how scary/dangerous that is for me (like if I were to swerve to miss some roadkill just as they pass). These folks aren’t aggressive or hostile toward me, but they don’t realize that a pothole or a build up of gravel or a broken bottle, which they haven’t given me enough room to avoid–because in a car they don’t need to be aware of these things–could send me flying from my bike or cost me a bent rim or a flat tire.

Privilege theory is rooted in the concept that racism and sexism are seen as intrinsically anti-scientific and wrong by today’s enlightened society, so its adherents needed a new way to be biased against White Males™ in a way that they can throw up a lot of dust to justify. They can’t use racism and they can’t use sexism so they needed a new thing. Privilege theory is just the new Race Theory in its desire to use fake science in order to justify bias.

And well, you can see how nonsensical that bias is in that paragraph. This author is claiming equality, even while motor vehicles need to give bicycles special treatment on the road, acting differently, giving them special treatment that others on the road do not get. The author is claiming bicycles and their riders deserve privilege.

It’s true. Cars pass other cars and motorcycles all the time. Passing is what happens. The idea that cars should have to change lanes in order to pass a bicycle is ludicrous. Consider the logistics of this: If lane changing is required to pass a bicycle, and the bicycle is in the right lane, then under bicycle privilege law, passing bikes is forbidden in roads of less than three lanes.

Never mind how many times I’ve had bike riders fly right by me, as a pedestrian, without moving aside, creating a great risk to my body, as the family of that woman in New York City just unfortunately learned. This is exactly how it is in the bicycle activist world: they want it both ways, and the best of both worlds. They want to hog two lanes on the road, whenever they want, even while claiming they only want equality on the road. But when it’s inconvenient for them, they also want to buzz down sidewalks, being everything that they claim car drivers are, even though roads were made for cars, and sidewalks were made for pedestrians.

I’m not even kidding about the sidewalks, either. I live in an urban area, with a left-wing local government that prides itself on being anti-car. Bicyclists routinely ignore the fact that our roads are specially marked to welcome bikes, and our government is actively tearing up roads to remake them more bike-friendly. And yet, they continue to hog sidewalks and whine about drivers both.

Privilege theory is nonsense, but if it had any merit at all, bicycle riders themselves would be the ultimate example of it. They think they’re entitled, and they’re so steeped in that self-congratulatory culture, that they don’t even notice.