How to write anti-bike headlines 101

new york post cover
Screen capture New York Post

There is a war on the car right now you know, where those cyclists are taking over the roads, where driving lanes and parking spaces are being lost to bike lanes which is killing businesses everywhere, and where cyclists are getting killed by crashing into buses without wearing helmets and have nobody to blame but themselves. The headline in the New York Post is even bigger when the victim being blamed is "a stunning swedish model" and "a blond beauty"

It's in that bizzaro world where even though the police have already said that the driver was at fault for not yielding to the cyclist, Streetsblog notes that "Although there is a new law to penalize drivers in exactly this type of crash, no summonses have been issued and no charges have been filed against the driver."

It's complicated. According to commenters on Streetsblog who live on Roosevelt Island, it is a poorly lit spot and the cyclist was not equipped with a legally required light. But that's no excuse for the kind of headline that the Post wrote. As one tweeter noted (I can't repeat his entire tweet) "She didn't "hit the bus" & wouldn't have needed a helmet if the driver hadn't crushed her."

Daily MailDaily mail/Screen capture

The Daily Mail, also a bike-hating newspaper, did a better job of getting the facts right. What could be the cause of such totally different headlines? Why are bikes so hated? Why do cities care so little about the safety of cyclists? April recently wrote about the bikelash phenomenon, suggesting that it is a sign that finally, cyclists and bike commuters are being taken seriously, "seriously enough to be creating a media/measurable backlash."

I am not so sure; I don't see many signs that bicycling is being taken seriously at all. Bike-unfriendly behavior seems as common as ever.

Yonge Street TorontoYonge Street Toronto/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Just this morning I rode into downtown Toronto and was faced with this three times: trucks doing service parked at the side of the road, putting out bollards that fill the entire lane, forcing cyclists out into the single traffic lane. Why are they there? just to make it safer for the driver to get out of his truck? Yet it is done as a matter of course. Because cyclists are either ignored or are an annoyance.

fedex laneLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

So buses turn left without looking, trucks right hook without looking, Construction companies and repair crews can totally ignore bike safety and business as usual goes on in the Fedex Lane. That's the way things work.

How to write anti-bike headlines 101
There are about five different kinds of wrong and stupid in this New York Post headline and first paragraph.

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