I was disgusted to read Courtland Milloy’s July 9 Metro column, “District biker gang — the pedaling kind — has a lot of nerve.” Likening cyclists to terrorists is extremely offensive. Yes, some cyclists break the law — just as some drivers speed like maniacs, cruise through stop signs and even drive drunk. Most cyclists are law-abiding individuals, but we go unnoticed precisely because we’re not acting out of the ordinary.
If we cyclists are terrorists, then what word is strong enough to describe people such as Mr. Milloy, who advocate for violence and complain about infrastructure improvements since change makes them uncomfortable? Heaven forbid drivers should have to slow down for a moment to pass cyclists or walk 10 feet farther because they lose a parking space or two!
Lauren Briese, Washington
I have experimented this summer with riding my bike to work. I thought I was doing a good thing by removing a car from the congested D.C. roadways. I thought I was caring for the environment and my fellow human beings by commuting to work without burning fossil fuel. After reading Courtland Milloy’s and John Kelly’s columns [“It’s not always easy to be nice to cyclists on downtown sidewalks,” Metro, July 8], however, I see that I am being hateful and selfish.
I don’t ride on sidewalks and agree with Mr. Kelly that bicyclists shouldn’t. As one who bikes up the hill that rises past the Mormon Temple in Kensington, I also agree with Mr. Milloy that a bike escalator is a silly idea and that it’s a travesty that little of the new infrastructure for bicycles has been built in Ward 8. I also believe no one should ever spit in another person’s face or stick a broomstick into the spokes of a moving bicycle, no matter how frustrated he or she is.
Though it’s not always possible, I try to stick to bike paths and roads wide enough for cars to pass me easily. I yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and to cars crossing my route. When it’s safe, I do ride through stop signs, though usually not much faster than most cars roll through the same stops. I do make my way to the front of the line of cars stopped at a red light. Why not? I can do it safely, and it gives the motorists the opportunity to gun their engines as they pass me again.
I have sympathy for Mr. Kelly’s experience with rude bicyclists on sidewalks, but he shouldn’t condemn a class of people for the crass actions of a few. I have no sympathy for Mr. Milloy’s attempt to turn bike commuters, who want nothing more than safe routes between home and work, into the most hated minority in the Washington area. Instead of fuming at us, he should get out from behind the wheel of his car and join us. It will do him, the metro area and the planet some good.
Tony Speranza, Silver Spring
Apologies in advance to all the well-behaved cyclists, but I completely agree with Courtland Milloy about the bad-boy ethos that seems to have taken over the ranks of D.C. bicycle riders.
Drivers face stiff consequences for disobeying the law, but cyclists seem to get away with routine lawlessness: ignoring the bike lanes in order to hot dog down motorist lanes, riding on sidewalks, racing through red lights, riding the wrong way on one-way streets. And if that isn’t bad enough, there’s the smug self-satisfaction and moral superiority that so many of them seem to feel justifies such antisocial behavior. It’s enough to make me an anti-cyclite! I think on Monday morning I’ll drive to work in a bike lane. The cyclists, after all, don’t seem to be using them.
Julie Lloyd, Washington
Courtland Milloy is wrong if he thinks that the criminal assault of bicyclists will somehow allow him to drive unimpeded around the city.
In fact, bicycling is not only good for people’s health and for the natural environment, it’s also good for relieving traffic congestion.
Instead of condoning violence against the rapidly rising number of people who ride bikes, Mr. Milloy should join us and experience the joy and convenience of cycling. I’d be happy to accompany him.
Ed Fendley, Arlington