Cyclists and drivers have harsh words on an anti-cyclist
Facebook page started two months ago. Photo by Henry Paul
A Facebook group called 'There's a perfectly good path right next to the road you stupid cyclist!' has attracted over 35,000 fans, many of whom are cyclists who joined the group in order to weigh in with their own objections to the site.
The user who started the page calls himself "Cars are hard, cyclists are not," and has chosen a profile photo of a cyclist toppling from his bike to avoid getting "doored" by a parked car. "No matter how far to the left you are, you're taking up my road. My car is hard, and i am not slowing down!" the blurb reads.
Those who agree with the site's statements share the ways in which they enjoy terrorizing cyclists. One user who goes by Jordi Kostovski wrote, "[w]e spray them with water and sneak up behind them in our cars and blast the horn haha."
A fan named Teri Hendi added, "[I] just drive straight threw [sic.] them."
The majority of the anti-cyclist users' complaints center around cyclists using the road instead of bike paths or sidewalks. Many cycling activists from around the world have joined the discussion, pointing out that riding on the sidewalk and bike paths is in fact dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians.
According the the Uniform Vehicle Code (on which most of the world's traffic laws are based, including the United States, the UK, and Australia--countries participating in the discussion), cyclists have the ride in the road with traffic. In Massachusetts, cyclists may use the full lane. Also, many users have pointed out that in their own communities they can be fined for riding on bike paths.
Facebook has reviewed the page and deemed that it does not violate their terms of service, which includes a clause in the "Safety" section that reads, “You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user... You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” The 'There's a perfectly good path right next to the road you stupid cyclist!' page passed because it is not aimed at specific individuals.
“We take our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities very seriously and react quickly to remove reported content that violates our policies,” explained Simon Axten, the Facebook representative who reviewed the page. “Specifically, we're sensitive to content that includes hate speech and/or actionable threats of violence. The goal of these policies is to strike a very delicate balance between giving Facebook users the freedom to express their opinions and beliefs, even controversial ones, and maintaining a safe and trusted environment.”
At the core of the issue is safety: drivers still don't understand the challenges of riding a bicycle that determine riders' behavior. Factors such as road surface conditions, steering inhibiting a rider's ability to signal, the added effort of clipping in and out of the pedals at stop signs, difficulty starting from a standstill, balance, and the particular challenges to riding in close proximity to parked cars all affect a cyclist's actions on the road. The strategies that a rider uses to deal with these challenges can make their behavior unpredictable to drivers, who may perceive their behavior as dangerous. The positive side of discussions like these is that cyclists have an opportunity to educate drivers about how to share the road with bicycles. If they're willing to see past the insults and curses, that is.