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Giving the Finger

Yesterday morning, WBAL (Baltimore) Talk Show host Chip Franklin did what all “shock jocks” eventually get around to doing (I’ve always likened it to chimps at a keyboard…) and picked on cyclists as a bunch of arrogant, lycra-wearing, law-breakers who don’t pay their way, etc.

As usual nowadays, while the premise of his rant was small-minded, factually dubious, and certainly obnoxious, he made a point of not advocating harm; equally predictable was the chilling attitude of the callers to show who really do appear to want to hurt cyclists.

We learned from folks who listened to the start of the broadcast that what set Franklin off was an altercation with a cyclist on his way into work that morning. Interestingly, two years ago, an Iowa legislator – chairman of the transportation committee, no less – got into a verbal fight with cyclists and introduced legislation to ban cyclists from certain roads in the state. Bicyclist access to one of the Atlanta area’s premier cycling loops was jeopardized earlier this year after harsh words between riders and a powerful resident of the street in question.

Now, I have no doubt that the cyclist that “got in the way” of Chip Franklin was probably just where he should have been in the road and that the Iowa legislator and Atlanta big-wig were at least partly to blame – and goodness knows I have had my share of close calls and heated “discussions” with taxi drivers, diplomats, double-parkers, and drivers who just don’t want me on the street.

But the WBAL story reminds me that you just never know to whom you might be giving the finger, and what impact that person might have once they get out of their car! Be careful out there!

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