Cyclists’ Place in Public Space?

Charleston and Charlotte newspapers have been abuzz in recent weeks over the safety of bicyclists and their place in the public right-of-way.  The saddest news item among this is the death of neighborhood leader and cycling advocate, Edwin Gardner on a short, otherwise quiet street near his home.  Most stunning must be the vitriol spewed by drivers toward the occupation of roadway by unmotorized vehicles in Charlotte.  Articles such as this about the outpouring for Mr. Gardner were followed by a another reporting a petition to SCDOT by nearly two thousand people urging the addition of bike lanes on Maybank Highway once the road is resurfaced.

A melee in Charlotte began with an article titled “A Cycling Epidemic” in the Charlotte edition of Creative Loafing.  The oddity of the title should clue the reader that ensuing facts in support of the position constituted a piece best suited for The Colbert Report.  The cycling community nevertheless took the article seriously and offered a comprehensive rebuttal, followed by a rally of sorts around an event held by the publication.

The attention got the issue on the front page of Charlotte’s daily newspaper, The Observer. Online reader comments in response to the article “were so venom-filled they had to be cut off,” as noted by an editorial in The Observer three days later.  The editorial is titled “Cyclists, Motorists Alike Should Chill, Obey Laws.” Enough said?  Perhaps, yet The Observer published a story just another three days later – “Fall from Bike Spins LA Mayor into Cycle Advocate.

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