Commentary: Bicycle Thieves' Essential Role
All Things Considered, NPR, May 3, 2004
NPR's All Things Considered had a commentary from Chicago
cyclist Aaron Freeman about cycling in The Netherlands. Freeman confesses
to cycliing only when the weather is appropriate but apparently
he prejudges at will.
According to Mr Freeman one of the problems with cycling in the US is:
"Reckless, testosterone-engorged bike messengers are agents
not merely of business communication but Satan. THEY frighten OUR pedestrians
and annoy OUR drivers."
Freeman refers to pedestrains, cyclists and drivers as "our" but messengers
Generally lazy journalists resort to alliterated cliches like :
Kamikaze Couriering Clique, Cadre of Concrete Cowboys, Mayhem Messengering
Menaces, Wheeling, Wild Warriors of the Pedal Pushing Tribe, Reckless Road
Raging Rebel Riders.
These kinds of comments that have been repeated so
often they are accepted as facts. But now the hyperbole from the war on terror
is used against messengers as they are described as "terrorists on wheels"
and now "agents of Satan".
A 1992 study on the Safety of Bicycle Couriers in various cities, (including
Washington D.C.) prepared by the Automobile Insurance Society of Quebec,
concluded "it is reasonable to assume that [couriers] behavior draws attention
mainly because their clothing and bag (often bearing the company name or
courier service logo) make them more visible". In fact couriers "have no
more of a propensity for accidents per kilometer traveled than other bicycle
riders; the difference in mishap rates between the two groups might well
be statistically insignificant."
"There is nothing to indicate, however, that [messengers] act more recklessly
than other cyclists using the downtown core of a city where vehicular and
pedestrian traffic is heavy."