Move over, Courtland Milloy and your desire to stick broomsticks through bicycle wheels. The Washington Post has a new columnist who’s trying to inflame the populace for cheap clicks, and he suggests people should get cash for hurting people who ride bikes.
Fredrick Kunkle recently started the “Tripping” blog, which sometimes lives up to its name of giving you the transportation advice you might expect from Charlie Sheen.
It’s the antithesis of the excellent and thoughtful Wonkblog — shallow and judgmental instead of informative and insightful. You could call Kunkle the anti-Emily Badger.
For his most recent attempt at clickbait (successful, obviously, since I’m writing about it), Kunkle wrote about a new law in Virginia that sets a $50 fine for opening a door and hitting someone on a bike. That’s the good part, and he did a decent job of explaining it, including getting some backstory about how an aide to state senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) got scars from being doored while biking, yet a police officer blamed him, the cyclist.
Kunkle went off the trail (or perhaps decided to try for more clicks) at the end, when he wrote, “We might argue that if you nail an adult riding his or her bicycle on the sidewalk, you should get a $50 award. Double, if it’s during lunch hour on K Street.”
This is encouraging violence. Yeah, yeah, it sounds like he thinks it’s a joke, and I like a little light-hearted fun as much as anyone, but this isn’t funny.
Just wait until some person, having a bad day, sees a cyclist, and in a moment of low self-control and without thinking very hard, opens the door anyway. Maybe if they then credit Fredrick Kunkle, he can say his supporters are “very passionate.”
As one contributor put it in an email, “Advocating violence, even in a joking fashion, against people for doing things you dislike is beneath the Washington Post and they shouldn’t publish trash like this.”
Kunkle’s earlier acid trips had him acidly sneer at Baltimore in a way reminiscent of New Yorkers ignorantly sneer at Washington. And this article on how Metro rated #1 in the nation is just inaccurate; the study rated Washington area transit, not Metro specifically.
I wouldn’t be surprised if those stories performed well on the internal traffic metrics the Post watches. Needling cyclists with suggestions of violence will probably have the same effect, which will make his editor hallucinate that “Tripping” was something other than the bad trip it’s been thus far.