NPR’s Scott Simon, who likely does most of his downtown walking here in Washington, has raised the ire of cyclists and gotten a lot of “hear, hears” from people who are like-minded for his tweet last month.
Simon did some hemming and hawing in subsequent tweets to clarify his thoughts, all of it familiar stuff to those who follow the perpetual war of worlds in which some drivers and some cyclists engage. Finally, Simom said:
“Threatened” versus “irritated,” as Simon sees it. This latest tempest brings to the forefront something I’ve noticed for several years. It’s simply a matter of fact. (Although in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a bicycle rider when I’m not writing for The Post.)
When I write about drunk driving (cause of 10,322 road deaths in 2012), or speeding (9,320 deaths) or distracted driving (3,328 deaths) — a total of 23,070 fatalities caused by driver error — the stories get little or no reader response. Rarely a peep, if that, from anyone.
But virtually any story about people who ride bicycles gets an almost immediate flood of responses like this one last week: “I have NEVER seen a bicycle stop at a red light or obey any traffic law of any kind.” And then it quickly turns into a War of The Roses between people of Scott Simon’s view and bike riders.
What accounts for the apparent disparity in passion over behavior that kills more than 20,000 people each year and that which Simon says people find irritating?