Tracking the right-wing cyclist-hating nexus

How to connect the dots between the Richard Mellon Scaife-funded Arkansas Project and anti-bike rage


Andrew Leonard
November 18, 2009 1:19AM (UTC)

I am always on the lookout for interesting interconnections between unexpected endpoints, but today's installment -- bridging together cyclist-hate and the infamous right-wing Arkansas Project witch-hunt against Bill and Hillary Clinton -- is a doozy, even by my standards.

Copenhagenize.com, The Copenhagen Bike Culture Blog, somehow managed to dig up clipping from the Indianapolis Star, circa 1980 that trashes the notion of bike lanes in New York City in language so malevolent as to beggar description.

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A couple of excerpts:

Millions of trucks, buses, taxis, and privately owned vehicles have been squeezed into narrowed streets. Months have been sliced from the lives of drivers and passengers; a drive from 30th Street to Central Park south is now five to 10 minutes longer -- God knows how much longer it is if one begins in Greenwich Village. Access to nearby shops is more difficult, and neighborhood dogs, answering nature's call, are terrified to venture toward the curb.

In fact millions of pedestrians, standing at crosswalks, have experienced real terror, exposed as they now are to the mercy and moderation of bicycle riders, people whose lawlessness and viciousness are a matter of record...

Not only are bicycles dangerous, they are as antiquated a form of transportation as the rickshaw. In no advanced city on earth will you find civilized people cycling to work. The urban cyclist is generally a crank, either profoundly antisocial or hopelessly narcissistic and following the strenuous life in hopes of achieving immortality or a legendary sex life. When you encounter him give him a wide berth and never turn your back on him...

Now, I will acknowledge a certain felicity of phrasing and tendency towards what some might call outrageous hyperbole that could lead one to believe that the author of this screed was attempting to be humorous. But then I looked closer at the byline, and saw that said author was R. Emmett Tyrrell, the founder of The American Spectator, one of the pillars of the modern right-wing propaganda establishment, and a name likely to be quite familiar to Salon readers who have been hanging around these parts for more than a decade.

But in case you weren't around back then, the Arkansas Project, in which the American Spectator, funded by right-wing philanthropist/evil mastermind Richard Mellon Scaife, spent millions of dollars in a mostly futile effort to dig up dirt on Bill and Hillary Clinton's pre-White House days, played a role in the national conversation somewhat analogous to that fulfilled by birthers today. In other words, rampant, unhinged conspiracy theorizing! Good times, good times.

Anyway, to learn that R. Emmett Tyrrell hates bicycles is an epiphany-causing event that tempts me to believe that there is a greater purpose to the universe than I am normally prepared to contemplate. Maybe there is a god, and if so, she is laughing at me.


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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