Blogger compares cyclists to “Florida Man”
The other day, I got a Google News Alert for a blog post titled “Watch out for Florida Man on a Bicycle.” Without reading the post, my mind wandered to images of a naked man riding down the middle of a Florida Interstate, or a police chase involving one of those three-wheel bikes I see cruising along the trail. Funny!
Nope, in this post, the author, JoAnn Ryan, recites the statistics that Florida is the most deadly state for cyclists and recalls two instances where she almost hit people riding bikes and implores everyone to watch out for cyclists. So, besides being the typical call that cyclists need to follow the law for their own safety, why did the post rub me the wrong way?
For one thing, Ryan doesn’t take any responsibility for her part in the near-misses and in fact, implies that the cyclists deserved to be hit.
“Yikes. I about hit him, ” she wrote. “Luckily, I didn’t, but he did slam his hand hard down on the trunk of my car as I passed by, as if I had been the one in the wrong … I consider myself quite lucky in narrowly missing what could have made for a very bad day for all involved on both occasions. I mean, even if they deserve it, badly, I still don’t want to run anyone over on a bike with my car.”
Nobody out riding a bike, whether it’s for exercise, pleasure, or transportation deserves, badly or not, to be run over by a car.
Now here’s what really bothered me. In what I’m assuming was an attempt at humor, the author repeatedly calls cyclists “Florida Man.” True, in both cases, the cyclists she encountered were men and those men were in Florida. But everyone knows that’s not what she meant.
Here’s the definition of Florida Man from Wikipedia: “Florida Man is an Internet meme first popularized in 2013, referring to an alleged prevalence of male persons performing irrational, maniacal, or absurd actions in the U.S. state of Florida.”
So, by associating cyclists with Florida Man, Ryan is saying that riding a bike in the Sunshine State is an absurd action, to which a participant must be irrational or maniacal. Give me a break!
Then there are the comments. I know, never read the comments. The comments are your typical “get off the road!” dribble, that we hear so often, with a few commenting about their experiences as cyclists. In her article, Ryan posted a link from the Gainesville Cycling Club with the Florida Bicycle Laws as a way to apparently show that her near-misses were the fault of the cyclists. When a commenter, responded to her that cyclists are considered pedestrians, she argued against that fact.
Had she continued reading more than the first paragraph of the laws, she would have come across this:
Sidewalk Riding (see Section 316.2065, F.S.)
- When riding on sidewalks or in crosswalks, a bicyclist has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian.
It’s hard to tell from her recollection of the encounters, but in at least one of them, the person she nearly hit was riding on the sidewalk, and therefore is treated as a pedestrian, not a vehicle.
Finally, she leaves us with this:
“So, since it’s a new year and all, let’s all do our part and watch out for Florida Man and Florida Woman on a bicycle.” Ryan wrote. “If you know someone who is an avid bike rider, alert them to the law and urge them to practice safety.”
Is it just me, or is that dripping with condescension? Most of us who regularly ride bikes are quite aware of the law and are more than quite aware of the dangers of sharing the road with automobiles. So here’s a better reminder for Ryan and her readers: If you know anyone who drives a car, alert them to the law and urge them to drive safely around cyclists.