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S.F. Standard Fans Anti-Bike Hate

Advocates were outraged by Friday's feature story that repeats the tired stereotype of the scofflaw, Spandex-clad cyclist

DALL-E generated portrayal of cycling on Valencia.

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

Advocates for safe and livable streets were outraged at a feature story in Friday's San Francisco Standard by senior editor Astrid Kane that justifies hatred of cyclists. From "A Bike Lane Moved, and This San Francisco Neighborhood Erupted," under the subheading "Why Do People Hate Cyclists So Much?"

People hate bike lanes, at least in part, because people hate cyclists. And in fairness, many cyclists give non-cyclists more than a few things to hate. They pedal against traffic. They blow red lights. They wear expensive-looking Lycra jerseys that feel like flashy overkill on city streets. The stereotype skews toward six-figure-earning, middle-aged neckbeards mansplaining about derailleurs. And there’s that eternal whiff of superiority embodied by those “One Less Car” signs sometimes taped to the backs of bike seats, which manage to pack eco-smugness and a grammatical error into three syllables. It should read, “One Fewer Car,” if you want to be like that.  

As advocate Stephen Braitsch put it in his Tweet below, it's unfortunate to see the Standard perpetuating a hateful stereotype.

His Tweet was viewed almost 60,000 times. Replies were not favorable to the Standard, to say the least:

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition was diplomatic in its reply. "The beauty of active transportation in San Francisco is the incredible diversity of people who bike, scoot, and use other human-scaled mobility. All kinds of people are on bikes every day, getting to work, dropping their kids off, or just for fun," wrote spokesperson Krissa Cavouras in an email to Streetsblog.

The photos in Kane's story reflect that: many of the bikers have panniers or backpacks (in other words, they are pictures of people out shopping, going to work, or just getting on with their lives). This just makes it doubly inexplicable that Kane decided to spend two paragraphs doing a retread of why "people hate [Lycra-wearing] cyclists" in a story about the center-running bike lane on Valencia.

Keep in mind, that hatred sometimes crescendos into assaults and batteries. Such hatred has no justification. It is dangerous and real. Substitute another form of hate, such as racism, antisemitism, transphobia, homophobia, etc. And now imagine using the term "in fairness" to justify any of those descriptors.

People-protected bike lane advocate Matt Brezina also chimed in on the Standard story.

Lives depend on challenging stereotypes and correcting misinformation. That's why it's the job of reporters to expose and cut through hatred and ignorance, not to try and justify it.

Editors note: I emailed Kane to ask for the reasoning behind the paragraph in question. They invited me to go on a bike ride but otherwise declined to answer.

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