It began with a close encounter and a tweet.
I was crossing 14th Street when a bike whooshed by, ignoring the red light. It was one of many close calls I’ve had in the city. If you work in Midtown, you’ve had them, too.
So, feeling perturbed, I responded like the millennial I am and sent out a tweet: “Times I’ve almost been killed by a driver in New York: 2. Times I’ve almost been killed by a cyclist in New York: 3,763,459.”
I put my phone away and didn’t give another thought. But I’d kicked a hornet’s nest.
A representative tweet: “~150 killed by drivers last year in NYC, >10,000 maimed. Zero killed by cyclists. Your irrational hatred doesn’t change reality.” Another: “This is the same idiotic logic that makes Americans worry more about terrorism than heart disease.”
The tweets continued to pour in: Furious cyclists and cyclist-sympathizers, who either didn’t understand I was making a joke or didn’t care, set on defending the sullied name of all bike-riders.
A common response was to blame pedestrians, in this case, me, for cyclists’ unsavory reputation. “In how many of those instances were you standing slack-jawed in the bike lane, your back to traffic, staring blankly at the sidewalk?” asked a Twitter user, who ended up tweeting me more than once over my apparent anti-cyclism. “I’d put money on 1) standing in the bike lane and 2) not looking before she steps into oncoming traffic,” chimed in another.
More than even the obvious humorlessness, however, the sense of victimhood was undeniable. I was told cyclists are a “marginalized” group. Some said my comments were “irresponsible,” “hurtful” and a “shrill demonization.”
I have publicly criticized the alt-right, the far-left, radical feminists and men’s-rights activists. I never expected cyclists to match their combination of fragility and aggression.
Not all cyclists are madmen. But it seems all cyclists who are madmen are also on Twitter.