Arnold Schwarzenegger, bike salmon

By Felix Salmon
October 2, 2011

The single thing that makes cyclists so hated by non-cyclists is disrespect for others: the way in which a highly-visible minority of cyclists consider themselves above the law, and flout not only traffic rules but also the basic tenets of civility.

Cyclists, that is, like Arnold Schwarzenegger:

After reading the newspapers, this is what the former governor of California often does: rides his bike for cardio, then hits the weight room.

He hauls a bike off the back of the car, hops on, and takes off down an already busy Ocean Avenue. He wears no bike helmet, runs red lights, and rips past do not enter signs without seeming to notice them and up one-way streets the wrong way. When he wants to cross three lanes of fast traffic he doesn’t so much as glance over his shoulder but just sticks out his hand and follows it, assuming that whatever is behind him will stop…

We’re now off the beach and on the surface roads, and the traffic is already heavy. He veers left, across four lanes…

Having sped past a do not enter sign, we are now flying through intersections without pausing. I can’t help but notice that, if we weren’t breaking the law by going the wrong way down a one-way street, we’d be breaking the law by running stop signs.

This tells us nothing about the state of California’s finances, but it’s illuminating all the same; in many ways it’s the two-wheeled equivalent of Jon Corzine’s 91-mph seatbelt-free car crash.

Next time your blood boils at the sight of a suicidal bike salmon endangering his own life and that of everybody else on the road, then, don’t assume that it’s some devil-may-care hipster. Instead, there’s probably a good chance that it’s some overachieving alpha male with a much larger ego than could ever be healthy.

In other words, it’s exactly the same kind of person who will merrily cut you up on the highway while driving his brand-new Maserati. It’s not cyclists who salmon aggressively. It’s assholes.

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