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Vitriolic response to biking event

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Vitriolic response to biking event

Old 09-22-14, 12:44 PM
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practical
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Vitriolic response to biking event

Local Motion is a bike and pedestrian advocacy group located in Burlington, Vermont. Burlington is known to be a fairly liberal, perhaps progressive city. So it seemed very non-controversial that an "Open Streets" event was held this past Sunday where selected streets were closed to motorized vehicles for a few hours. The local TV station, WCAX, did a story on the event and posted the story on its website. This site allows comments and this story generated a bunch of them - mostly hateful toward bikes and bikers. I realize that people who post comments can often be that minority who feel very strongly about an issue, but I raise this because even when you think the public is on your side, you better be ready for the haters. Prepare your responses in anticipation of them. For those who want to see what I mean, go to:
Old North End experiments with 'open streets' - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-
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Old 09-22-14, 01:29 PM
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unterhausen
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never read the comments -- never

My theory is that if those people weren't commenting, they would be energized to act out on their vile impulses
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Old 09-22-14, 01:32 PM
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That's an odd article.

The title suggests that this was an experiment, and that it failed and now it's over and won't be revisited. They don't use the world failed, they just say the experiment is over -- but the way they say it implies failure.

But the article itself says that it was just done for part of one day and it ended and things went back to normal.

Austin is doing a "ciclovia" type thing to, a few hours each year. I guess it's sill an experiment here, and it only lasts a few hours, but they're doing it each year, so I'd hardly say the experiment is over.
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Old 09-22-14, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
The title suggests that this was an experiment, and that it failed and now it's over and won't be revisited. They don't use the world failed, they just say the experiment is over -- but the way they say it implies failure.
That's how I initially read it but that's not what it actually says. The title of the article is basically "Location experiments with open streets".
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Old 09-22-14, 02:36 PM
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As usual everyone spouts there vitriolic opinion on the internet where there are no consequences. Would any of them be so firm in Their stance if there was a real chance they could get punched in the face. If you aren't firm enough in your convictions to risk injury to defend it the internet is the place for you.
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Old 09-22-14, 03:13 PM
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Strange. I lived in VT for a few years and can say it was the most cycle friendly place Ive ever lived. Other than a few really base rednecks in Rutland, the time I spent there was fabulous from a cycling point of view. Burlington was very cycle friendly too, when I was there. I guess bikes are just one of those issues that pokes hi-redneck factions into full hate mode. Sad. So much important stuff to worry about and they choose this . . .
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Old 09-22-14, 03:16 PM
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I used to wonder what it is that compels people to expose their stupidity on news discussions. It finally dawned on me that these people aren't representative of any general demographic and that the majority are probably suffering from personality disorders. What mystifies me now is why news sites still allow anonymous comments. I don't believe that their site traffic translates into ad clicks.
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Old 09-22-14, 03:35 PM
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Burlington is a lot better than the fringe "top commenter" people would lead you to believe. I admired the polite, restrained replies from the bike community.
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Old 09-22-14, 04:47 PM
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We need those hater comments in newspapers to make A&S seem civilized by comparison.

(Yes, I'm kidding. If I wasn't, I wouldn't hang out here with all of you.)
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Old 09-22-14, 05:00 PM
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For most of my life, I was an avid reader of letters to the editor in the newspaper. But I never read internet comments. There were crazies in the newspaper (that's what made it fun), but the need to take the time to put thoughts on paper and actually mail it in made for a much more interesting level of discourse. Even if the thought involved was wildly aberrant, there was real thought involved.
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Old 09-22-14, 05:32 PM
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When I worked for the city, we would read newspaper comments on articles about us and could tell who they were from. The commenters were almost all retired or on disability.
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Old 09-22-14, 06:46 PM
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I posted the original post and I knew that virtually everyone on this forum would be appalled by many of the comments. However, my reason for sharing this article to help us raise our antennas to the broader community. The people who comment may be a minority but they may be a warning about a simmering resentment toward cyclists. That resentment can be hard to understand as it may a proxy for other kinds of resentments. But that doesn't matter. What really matters is that we never take public support for cycling for granted. We must be ambassadors for all cyclists every time we sit on that saddle. It takes very little to lose all the goodwill we have earned.
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Old 09-22-14, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by -=(8)=- View Post
Strange. I lived in VT for a few years and can say it was the most cycle friendly place Ive ever lived. Other than a few really base rednecks in Rutland, the time I spent there was fabulous from a cycling point of view. Burlington was very cycle friendly too, when I was there. I guess bikes are just one of those issues that pokes hi-redneck factions into full hate mode. Sad. So much important stuff to worry about and they choose this . . .
I lived in VT on three separate occasions(1974-75, 78-80, and 82-84). I didn't see many rednecks. But I still saw my share of them. I lived in Brattleboro all three times. VT was a perfect place to encounter rednecks who hated government. Especially those that hate cyclists' being on the road.
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Old 09-22-14, 07:35 PM
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I think despite all the noise, I'm just going to ignore it and keep riding. I think this quote might apply over time:

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
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Old 09-22-14, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
never read the comments -- never
Should have listened. I read the comments anyway, and now I feel so dirty.

I lived in Burlington in the mid-1990s and really do miss it. Great place to live.

Unfortunately, there are a few people who are bitter about the changes over the last few decades, even though those changes have made the city such a great place.
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Old 09-22-14, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
I think despite all the noise, I'm just going to ignore it and keep riding. I think this quote might apply over time:

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
There's this one Family Circus comic I remember from years ago. The little girl says, "People who don't know much know it the loudest."
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Old 09-23-14, 02:17 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I used to wonder what it is that compels people to expose their stupidity on news discussions. It finally dawned on me that these people aren't representative of any general demographic and that the majority are probably suffering from personality disorders. What mystifies me now is why news sites still allow anonymous comments. I don't believe that their site traffic translates into ad clicks.
They allow them to post for the same reason that BikeForums allows me to post. Trolls generate interest.
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Old 09-23-14, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Saving Hawaii View Post
They allow them to post for the same reason that BikeForums allows me to post. Trolls generate interest.
But that kind of interest doesn't generate traffic to the sponsors, and SEO experts these days consider it just noise, just like we do. That's why it mystifies me. Maybe the news site administrators just aren't up to speed.
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Old 09-23-14, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by practical View Post
...What really matters is that we never take public support for cycling for granted. We must be ambassadors for all cyclists every time we sit on that saddle. It takes very little to lose all the goodwill we have earned.
I take full responsibility. My "bike messenger" style of riding and commuting in Louisiana has spread motorist venom all the way to Vermont! BFers have been warning me of this for years.
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Old 09-23-14, 11:04 AM
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My daughter goes to UVM. Her first year, my wife and I dropped her off at school and spent some time cycling around the Champlain islands. Just north of Burlington. The drivers on the roads have an obvious hatred of cyclists. I lost count of how many too close passes and brushes we had. Even on an empty road, with a clear sight line, it was rare a Vermonter would cross the double yellows to give us an extra inch. And off the bike they where just plain rude to us.
In contrast when we went to the Finger Lakes region, the drives would go out of their way to give us extra space, or not pass until it was safe to do so.
Go Figure.
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