December 7, 2007

"There is a certain artistry to writing a post for a blog, and I had carefully woven in (self-effacing) references to calcified hippies"..."

Said Paul Soglin — Madison's former mayor, after blogging that people who bike on the streets in the snow should be shot. You might think it was a strange thing to write just as a teacher elsewhere in Wisconsin was getting arrested for writing that teachers should be shot. Soglin and the teacher (James Buss) were — to their own way of thinking — wielding that thing we call humor, but not everyone can hear the humor in writing and some people have a sharp ear for hearing hostility in the humor. Soglin actually intended his comment to be understood as a reference to the notorious Buss bust: "I thought this would be a subtle way of linking together all of us in the cheddarsphere." Subtle, after Buss was arrested when people didn't get his joke? I guess arrests aren't much of a deterrent. Not only did Soglin feel free to jokingly recommend shooting people, but his commenters felt free to recommend that Soglin be shot:
Fat, grumpy, intolerant ex-mayors ought to be shot. Get some exercise, asshole.

32 comments:

EnigmatiCore said...

Well, I think spammers should be shot.

But not by citizens or foreigners.

By our government. The death penlaty, after a fair trial, in accord with due process.

Even if the spammer is supporting Ron Paul. I wonder who paid for that?

MadisonMan said...

The reference to the shoot-em-up Teacher Blogger went right over my head, and I just figured Paul Soglin was morphing into Bill Dyke. Just another old ex-Mayor. Maybe he's trying to remain relevant, or something.

The traffic was absolutely dreadful during the snow on Tuesday evening. It's not only the bikers who were driving like imbeciles, it was most drivers of cars and trucks too. I was passing most cars, and I was walking!

Perhaps Hizzoner is unaware of Madison's excellent bus service that travels within two blocks of his house. He could have left his car -- complete with vanity plates -- at home.

rhhardin said...

Allow me, as an 8000 mile a year bicycle commuter, to say that the fewer bicyclists, the better for bicyclists.

Drivers are friendly if you're the first bicyclist they've seen that day, but it goes downhill after that. I'd just as soon be the only one they see, thanks anyway.

Most drivers wave, in rural Ohio.

Madison, I assume, is up to its ears in self-righteous lane-occupying bicyclists. This is where the urge to shoot rather than wave is born.

dbp said...

"...and the teacher (James Buss) were — to their own way of thinking — wielding that thing we call humor"

Well, the teacher claimed he was shooting for humor. A more likely explanation is that he was trying to make the opposition to his true agenda look bad.

Ann Althouse said...

My problem with Madison bikers is the ones that go on the sidewalk. I walked to work for 15 years, then switched to driving because I was so irritated by bicyclists coming up behind me — silently, of course — and whizzing by. Before I made the switch, I experimented with saying "Bike in the street" to them. None ever said, I'm sorry or moved to the street. The closest I got to consideration was "Oh, did I scare you?" I decided I wanted metal protection around me, that is, a car.

JSinger said...

Allow me, as an 8000 mile a year bicycle commuter, to say that the fewer bicyclists, the better for bicyclists.

As another one, I completely concur.

I walked my bike home during some freezing rain a few nights ago, watching all the hipsters on their fake track bikes slide around like they were air hockey pucks.

Modern Otter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Modern Otter said...

I left Madison in 1983 when Soglin was still Mayor.

Is that strange (and s-o-o-o Madison) University Avenue setup still in place where buses and bicycles--and nothing else--share the sole eastbound lane? Was that a Soglin-era innovation? Have they gotten around to adding a lane shared by pedestrians and aircraft?

To this day, whenever I think of Paul Soglin, the first thing that comes to mind is some Memorial Library graffiti ca. 1974" "The only difference between Soglin and Nixon is Soglin looks more like you."

MadisonMan said...

Is that strange (and s-o-o-o Madison) University Avenue setup still in place where buses and bicycles--and nothing else--share the sole eastbound lane?

The eastbound bikelane is still there. Eastbound buses are one whole block south now on Johnson.

rcocean said...

Bicycling in a Snow Storm?! You Midwesterners are hard core.

I don't Bike in the rain, snow, or dark of night. I barely trust my fellow motorists when surrounded by 1 ton of steel.

When Bicycling on the sidewalk, I warn the pedestrians by saying "On your Left" or ringing a a bell. I thought Madison people were polite.

jeff said...

I like bicycles, I own a couple and enjoy riding. I hate bicyclists. They either demand an entire lane, yet ignore all traffic signals. Some don't even stop to look for traffic at the red lights, just a quick glance and blow right thru the light, and if they come upon a red light they just ride the line between the lanes until they get to the intersection and blow thru the red light. Apparently that ownership of the lane thing only works if your a bike. A car has room to squeeze by at a light. And if they are not in the road, their in the sidewalk as the idiot I almost pulled out in front of a couple of days ago. Riding the sidewalk on the Westbound side of the street, going eastbound at full speed, nicely shielded from my view until he entered the intersection at full speed directly in front of me.

Smilin' Jack said...

...I experimented with saying "Bike in the street" to them. None ever said, I'm sorry or moved to the street.

Why should they? Biking on the sidewalk is legal. If you don't like it, walk in the street.

rcocean said...

"Some don't even stop to look for traffic at the red lights, just a quick glance and blow right thru the light,"

LoL -sounds like me. Why stop when there's no cross-traffic? Mandatory stopping at red lights/stop signs for out of shape, middle-aged bicyclists is cruel and unusual punishment.

Chip Ahoy said...

When I said they should be shot I was just joking. No, I mean, they should be shot through with a bolt of common sense -- bicycles in the snow, pffffft, you can't put chains on those things. No. No, I said "shod" I meant, people should be properly shod. For the snow. Boots and all that. Look, quit trying to twist my words around OK? I meant people should have a shot, to warm themselves, before braving the weather. No no no. No. Bicyclists must be photographed disrupting traffic if they're to be ticketed. Can't you people hear straight? I said commuters have a perfectly good shot at making it to work on a bicycle in the snow. Com'on, I was trying to tell you it's legal for motorists to make a shot at bicyclists messing up traffic slowed by snow, cutting remarks like, "Hey nice sub-compact you got there."

Original Mike said...

Give 'em hell, Paul! While struggling to maintain momentum on an icy Madison hill this week, we were forced to a stop by a bicyclist running a stop sign, resulting in us getting stuck. Why do bicyclist think stop signs are only for cars?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Cheddarsphere

Tee hee.

nick danger said...


Why should they? Biking on the sidewalk is legal. If you don't like it, walk in the street.


Maybe not:

First:

Madison City Ordinance Book
Chapter 11
Sec. 11-275. Operation on sidewalks.
No person shall ride or propel a bicycle, skateboard or roller blades upon any sidewalk within
the business district. For the purpose of this Section, the business district shall be that area:
(1) Along and either side of Egan Avenue from Second Street North to Second Street South;
(2) On First Street North one-half block either side of Egan Avenue;
(3) On Center Street one block either side of Egan Avenue;
(4) On first street South one-half block either side of Egan Avenue.
(Code 1953, 14.0190; Ord. No. 767, 5-13-74; Ord. No. 1336, 8-11-03)

Furthermore:

Sec. 11-272. Interference with pedestrians.
No person shall ride or propel any bicycle upon any public street, highway or public grounds in
such a manner as to interfere with any pedestrian thereon.
(Code 1953, 14.0180; Ord. No. 521. 2-27-61)

MadisonMan said...

There is no Egan Avenue in Madison Wisconsin.

original mike: If you are unable to maintain control in your car, why are you out driving?

I can be a very aggressive pedestrian. I walk in front of cars (when I'm using a crosswalk) and bikes, if I'm on the sidewalk and a bike comes up behind me, suddenly my path isn't quite so straight. Yes, my tombstone could have "I had the right of way" on it, but in reality it will be just be my name and birth/death years, to match the other tombstones in the family plot.

IME, the worst bikers as far as passing goes are on the SW Bike bath (which is really a Multi-Use Path, not a bike path). I think they try to pass as close to my left shoulder as possible. Heaven knows moving all the way into the other lane would cost them 0.005 seconds on their daily commute and make them late. But the way to prevent bikes from passing you is to carry large horizontal objects -- like aluminum gutters or bamboo poles -- so they extend out over the width of the sidewalk or path. Works every time, but it's cumbersome.

Smilin' Jack said...

Where is that "business district", anyway? From what I remember of Madison, it sounds like it would have to be way the hell on the east side, far from Ann and the University.

Trooper York said...

It is very disconcerting when someone whizzes by you on the sidewalk on a bike. I just don’t know if telling them “Bike in the street” is a very effective deterrent. Perhaps if we brought it to the UN and it passed the global test and the inspectors could verify it, then we could get something. Now if some dude runs into you while you are peaceably walking down the street and knocks you down, what would you do? You could get up and dust yourself off. Then punch him in face a few times and kick him in the balls a few times. Maybe stomp on his hands with particular attention paid to his fingers. Wrap his bike against a lamp post and twist until the front wheel comes off and throw it down the sewer. Allegedly. Avoid walking that street for a few months. Wait for it to blow over. Then walk peaceably down the street again. But that would be wrong.

Original Mike said...

Get off it, MM. You know what it takes to drive up a hill (Farley, in this case) when it's covered with snow. Maintain a certain speed or you don't make it. Simple physics and you damn well know it. I controlled my car just fine. Didn't even hit the bastard who ran the stop sign (you got that part, right? Ran the stop sign.).

Smilin' Jack said...

the way to prevent bikes from passing you is to carry large horizontal objects -- like aluminum gutters or bamboo poles -- so they extend out over the width of the sidewalk or path. Works every time, but it's cumbersome.

Hey, I ran into one of those once. Think about the leverage involved. Far as I know, that guy is still spinning.

MadisonMan said...

I'll guess the biker was on Kendall, which seems to be the bike bypass for old University. Too bad the city didn't put traffic calmers in for the westbound traffic.

In your original post I saw momentum and read control. Apologies for my misinterpretation.

Original Mike said...

Yep, Kendall.

Apology accepted. Sorry for the strong reaction. I was driving safely and overreacted to the implication I wasn't. And the memory of extracting the car is still fresh. The results of his actions were entirely predictable. I'm left with the assumption he didn't care.

Cedarford said...

Difference between Mayor and teacher?

Teacher called for Columbine-type shootings.
Very unpopular.
Mayor called for shooting bad-behaving bicyclists.
Very popular. Mayor could go around personally shooting bicyclists in many major cities and be re-elected by acclaimation running on that feat.

Why?
1. Many bicyclists tend to be self-righteous, feel morally superior to the slobs behind the wheel too lazy to exercise or "Save the Air & Planet by not using filthy Carbon-based fuels - or better than the trudging slobs on the sidewalks who lack the brains to know they should get a good cardiovascular workout and are clearly oblivious to the most efficient form of human-powered travel....Let them lose a testicle, have everything on the line like God Lance - and they would bike, too!

2. City roads were initially designed for horse travel, streetcars, and pedestrians. Then the auto replaced the horse. The time of transition, when reliable pneumatic-tired bikes allowed non-pubic bone bruising travel before autos and trucks were ubiquitous was very short. Roads were never much designed with bikes in mind in the USA.
City sidewalks and driveways to roads were never designed for bike riders. Groups of people can fill up the sidewalks or car has to block the sidewalk completely to see oncoming traffic so they can safely pull out on the road, which is no impediment to pedestrians, but requires bikers to brake and stop, then exert more effort than they planned on o get back up to speed - which many refuse to do. Which requires them to zoom by startled and scared sidewalk pedestrians at 25-30 MPH or run up on the happy homeowners lawn around the "offending car in their own driveway. (My wife was livid when two bikers went 20 feet up on our water-soaked lawn and dug twin 80 foot, 2-inch deep trenches in it and destroyed a few flowers in a bed and a piece of driveway edging. Her fantasy involved not braking for the assholes which she then encountered forcing her to break as they crossed the road later, but running them over.)

rhhardin - Madison, I assume, is up to its ears in self-righteous lane-occupying bicyclists. This is where the urge to shoot rather than wave is born.

3. The worst of the breed were the sidewalk bike couriers. One of Rudy's less publicized but most appreciated feats in downtown Manhattan was cracking down on the thugs with attitude working piecework as bicycle messengers when they weren't squeegee people.
Knocking people down, sometimes seriously injuring pedestrians, then jumping back on bike and taking off for "hit 'n runs". When not crashing into people or cars, having an attitude "we own the sidewalks, get the f*ck out of our way". All that was missing was a model of a fist stuck to their helmets with upraised finger.

Could be better than it now is, in America. Go to Asia and there are lanes not taken away from motorists and mostly empty, but lanes in heavy use by motorbikes, bikes, and scooters. Where consideration is expected or the local cops come in and administer beatings to problem people. And people pull over and universally yield to cars and trucks, though Asians beep too much. Bikes do NOT have right-of-way outside designated lanes, nor are they allowed on pedestrian sidewalks except briefly and at very low speeds....

JohnAnnArbor said...

I was struck four times by bicycles during my undergrad years at U-Michigan. Not one apology; all from behind. My fave was the one who fell over after hitting me. I turned around, and he looked at me as he tried to get up as if I should help him. I circled him, staring, and he suddenly changed attitude, got up and hustled off. I was nineteen and much higher strung than now; I was debating...what to do about him. (In hindsight, I'm very glad I just stared at him.)

I've been known to ride on sidewalks. I slow down around pedestrians. Not a hard concept, but lots of cyclists seem to not get it.

I have also seen the behavior others described of cyclists pretending road laws don't apply to them, blowing through stop signs and red lights, driving the wrong way on one-way streets, weaving from sidewalk to street and back again on a whim. I think moving violation tickets should be tripled for cyclists. If I as a motorist hit one, no matter how at fault he/she/it is, they will very likely be dead or seriously injured. I'm likely to get sued, and, even if not at fault, it would be natural to feel bad and guilty about such an incident. If self-preservation isn't enough to motivate bikers to stop at red lights, maybe tickets will.

Michael said...

I managed to bike 2700 miles so far this year. I gave up riding outdoors once the temperature dropped to the low 40's, and started riding indoors instead. I don't know how carbon fiber handles cold weather, and I'm not interested in finding out.

Yesterday, just for grins, I put an old set of aggressive knobby tires on my old mountain bike and took it for a ride in the snow storm. Even in the six inch deep snow we had at the time here in Milwaukee, it's do-able, but you have to be a certain kind of crazy to choose that mode of transportation on purpose under those conditions.

Donald Douglas said...

Only in Wisconsin, right? Cheddarsphere?

nina said...

Biking on Madison sidewalks IS legal, so long as you remember that pedestrians have the right of way.

Ann, I bike on days that I do not use the bus. Madison is very inconsistent with its bike lanes. Some areas have them, others do not. It is absolutely terrifying to ride on the street along University Avenue after the bike lane disappears at Randall FOR NO REASON! Cars squeeze you, if they even see you. There is no choice but to go on the sidewalk. Where you run the risk of being run over by cars coming out of driveways.

It's a tough world for the unprotected.

As for the "should be shot" comment -- I think we should retire the phrase. Too many bad associations lately. Expressions have their life spans.

But ultimately, you have to feel sympathy for the blogger (in general). No one is there to edit and catch the slip of the pen. And, one person's humor is nearly always at the expense of another's sensitivities.

Ah well, there are always cute kids out there to photograph.

Ann Althouse said...

Nina: This happened to me constantly on University Avenue on campus, which has bike lanes on both sides, going both ways. What nerve to impose on pedestrians when there are bike lanes on the street! I got tired of having to feel angry at random points during my walk. It's not my idea of an aesthetically pleasing walk. Bikers ruined it for me, and they were completely selfish and unapologetic. I switched to driving so that I didn't have to have a space in my head devoted to hating bikers. Like many people, I use my car to control my environment. It's a damned shame that people don't care enough about the communal environment, but in my experience, the bikers in Madison do not. They probably think they are good people because they aren't polluting and they are being healthy. That they thing they are the good people is one more reason I don't like them.

Michael said...

Ann, on behalf of the cyclists of the world, I wish to apologize for the rude and self-righteous among us.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Michael.