Artist Stephan Pastis goes after cyclists for smug attitude, pectoral muscles

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis on January 13, 2013

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis on January 13, 2013

I wrote this message to the artist Stephan Pastis in response to the above comic, published on January 13, 2013. I know my response is smug and self-assured – but is that because I ride a bike or because I am a raging egomaniac? Maybe it is both. Anyway, read on:

I have a mother (don’t we all) who is fond of clipping anything vaguely relevant to her sons’ lives out of the newspaper and leaving them for us on a book case shelf by the front door of her house.

I am Mr. Bike in my family, so I got your cyclist pyramid of humanity comic. I will not lie: I laughed, it was funny.

It was also troubling and sort of dishonest. Anyone paying attention to our roads will notice that the body count and the property damage belong to one class of road users: car drivers. There is a hit-and-run epidemic in LA – fueled by dangerously designed streets and an indifferent justice system. People have been maimed and killed by law breaking motorists – drunk, indifferent, on their cell phones, not signaling turns, imprudent, impatient, and just flat out dangerous car drivers.

You live in California. In this state, car drivers are NOT equal to bike riders and pedestrians. The latter two have a right to the road. Car drivers have a privilege for which they must submit to a pretty low bar of testing and mental competence – but a privilege nonetheless.

In Idaho, the state made it legal for cyclists to treat stop signs as “Yield” signs and to treat red lights as stop signs. The result? No more or less traffic deaths, injuries, nor collisions. The only thing that changed was the ticketing rate of bike riders and the (now irrelevant) comments about law breaking cyclists.

I think a more reasonable (though way less funny) cartoon would have the pyramid set up like this: people / people who think they can do whatever the f$% they want in a car and can blame it on the victim once the air bags deploy.

From Mr. Bike (in my family) to Mr. Artist (in your family, I presume),


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  1. bikinginla
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Nice piece! I had a very similar response to the comic yesterday, but didn’t express it, let alone so well.

    One minor correction — it’s Idaho, not Iowa.

  2. Posted January 16, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Thanks Ted!

  3. Jim Cooper
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Damn – I guess I can throw away that cartoon. I cut it out for you too. I think it’s not only funny – it’s true, smart, and somewhat disturbing to this 68 year old cyclist. We now live in a society where everybody thinks the other guy is scum and cyclists rank high on the list of groups who despise others. Sorry, but I have been in and around cycling most of my life and that’s just the way it is. Downhill skiers hate cross country (ski-for-free) skiers, cross country skiers hate snowmobilers and snowboarders, canoers hate powerboats and jet skis, and the list goes on. Have you noticed how common curtesy has become a thing of the past. For many years I was a motorcycle rider. I realized early on where I stood in the pecking order. Only bicyclists and pedestrians were below me. To survive, I had to always be aware of my surroundings, not force my right of way, and to be polite. That same attitude has served me well as a cyclist. There are a s – – t pile of people out there that do not, and never will ride a bicycle. Our behavior out there will determine how well do.

    Aint life Great? COOP

  4. Josef
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Coop – you got me. I am definitely a partisan a-hole when it comes to stuff like this. I could go on, but I think for once I’ll keep my trap shut.

  5. Jim Cooper
    Posted January 23, 2013 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Actually I’m not talking about you. You and Richard in particular are advocates for cycling at the highest levels with the powers-that-be in your community. You NEED to be mad-dogs on these issues. I’m talking to the jerks in our midst who do nothing to promote cycling and whose behavior makes it difficult or dangerious for the rest of us. So- don’t keep your trap shut. Brewery ride comming up- seeyou then.


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