It’s just amazing how much nonsense about cycling and cyclists is being written by rather well-educated people at the moment. It started with John Cassidy in the New Yorker, followed by Celia Walden in the “Daily Telegraph” and now P.J. O’ Rourke in the “Wall Street Journal”.
I’ve just added a new category to the blog which deals with this kind of for this kind of rubbish.
The piece by P.J. is the most ridiculous one so far. I’m still wondering if it was intended to be an April Fool’s Day hoax and someone at the Journal just bungled his job and forget to publish it on time. J.P. writes:
The bicycle is a parody of a wheeled vehicle—a donkey cart without the cart, where you do the work of the donkey. Although the technology necessary to build a bicycle has been around since ancient Egypt, bikes didn’t appear until the 19th century. The reason it took mankind 5,000 years to get the idea for the bicycle is that it was a bad idea. The bicycle is the only method of conveyance worse than feet. You can walk up three flights of stairs carrying one end of a sofa. Try that on a bicycle.
That’s such an utter nonsense that I always have to grin when I’m re-reading it. Try to walk up three flights of stairs carrying a sofa in a car. Or in an airplane.
Another fantastic passage is this:
Bike lane advocates also claim that bicycles are environmentally friendly, producing less pollution and fewer carbon emissions than automobiles. But bicycle riders do a lot of huffing and puffing, exhaling large amounts of CO2.
If the means what he says, I really commiserate with him.
In the end, J.P. develops a nice conspiracy theory:
But maybe there’s a darker side to bike-lane advocacy. Political activists of a certain ideological stripe want citizens to have a child-like dependence on government. And it’s impossible to feel like a grown-up when you’re on a bicycle if you aren’t in the Tour de France.
Yeah, and Mr Ultra-Tory Boris Johnson is the leader of this movement. This argument (as the entire piece) is so stupid that it’s not worth wasting your valuable lifetime discussing it. Hence just a few catchwords: cars, fuel, energy security, dependence on oil imports from politically unstable regions…
Apparently J.P. has never ever been introduced to the joy of cycling. What a pity. He doesen’t know what he’s missing. Hence I have a proposal: When you happen to be in London,just drop me an email a few days in advance. I’ll show you around the city by bike. You’ll be amazed. Afterwards I’ll invite you for dinner.
This invitation also holds for John Cassidy and Celia Walden as well as any other anti-cycling nutter.
9 thoughts on “The most risible rant against cyclists so far”
Not worth the trouble.
You realize the article was satire, right? As a cyclist I found it to be quite funny.
Well, Not Quite Sure about that
I’m 100% sure that the Journal article was satire!
Sure. But it was just lousy satire. In fact, I’d say it was lousy piece of writing all around. Lazy.
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O’Rourke is a satirist, of course, but satire sometimes wounds, and it might be that satire should direct itself towards subjects better established. Urban cycling is fragile, at least in anglophone countries, and is, at best, on life support. I take such writings in good humor, but also I’m irked by the idea that others will take them as true.
You do realize this entire piece is satire, right? I can’t believe that despite your evidently poor reading comprehension you feel the need to criticize others.
No really — I’m flat out fucking amazed. But as they say: “the empty vessel makes the greatest noise.”
Maybe Sarah Palin’s speeches are just doing satire as well? That would explain a lot. (And I would be revlieved!)
17 years ago I was an intern at a regional newspaper in Germany. Once, the editor in chief was criticising an article as complete rubbish. The author defended herself: “Well, it was just irony.” The editor then addressed me: “Olaf, this is a very important lesson you’re learning for your life as a professional journalist here: If your views are being criticzised, just claim that it was irony and the readers are too stupid to understand.”
So didn’t you realize that MY piece was starire as well? 🙂
It wasn’t, of course. But I’d be glad if he doesn’t mean what he said. It may be that I just don’t get that sweet irony (I’m not a native speaker in English and irony and humour are the hardest part of any foreign language.)
I’m aware of the fact that O’Rourke is a political satirist. If his article would have been published in a pro-cycling journal they I would instantly recognise them as satire. However, they are being published in the WSJ, not on April Fool’s day and according to Wikipedia “O’Rourke is well known for his combination of conservative economic views and libertarian views on vice such as sex and drugs.”
So I still think there is a fair chance that O’Rourke’s really means what he says.