WASHINGTON — The car versus bike debate on area roads has exploded. The Washington Post Columnist Courtland Milloy dumped a virtual can of gasoline on it by characterizing cyclists as “biker terrorists out to rule the road.”
The controversial commentary is titled “Bicyclist bullies try to rule the road in D.C.”
In the column, Milloy vents frustrations many motorists have with the challenge of sharing the road with a burgeoning number of cyclists in the city.
“I’m going to reach out to him and invite him on a bike ride,” says the founder of Black Women Bike: DC, Veronica O. Davis.
Davis says it’s all about perspective.
“You name the time. You name the location. And I will meet you and we will ride around D.C. so you can see the city from my perspective,” Davis says in a challenge to Milloy. “So you can understand what it’s like when you’re face to face with the grill of a car.”
Also interested in opening a dialog is D.C. bicyclist Michael Forster who has organized a protest ride Thursday afternoon that will begin in Dupont Circle and culminate at The Washington Post headquarters downtown.
“The column really touched a nerve with a lot of people” he says. “I didn’t like the reference to terrorists.”
Forster says he is disturbed by Milloy’s take on D.C.’s maximum penalty for car versus bike offenses.
“It’s a $500 fine for a motorist to hit a bicyclist in the District, but some behaviors are so egregious that some drivers might think it’s worth paying the fine,” the column says.
“The way that he was so flippant about intentional violence towards someone on a bicycle is very disturbing to me,” Forster says.
Forster observes that there’s been phenomenal growth in the number of bicyclists in the city in past years.
“I think there’s an adjustment period and I’m hopeful that through the transition, eventually everyone will get along better and share the road,” Forster says.
Milloy’s column laments the loss of parking and car travel lanes to paths for bikes. But Forster says he believes designated bike lanes reduce the opportunity for car cyclist conflicts.
“I would hope that D.C. continues to build safe infrastructure throughout the city,” he says.
Cyclists protesting Milloy’s column gathered at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Dupont Circle Fountain to ride to The Washington Post at 15th and L streets NW to show the public that they are normal law-abiding citizens who deserve respect.
Milloy tweeted Tuesday saying he is not completely averse to bikes.
I actually like bicycles. Really. I do. http://t.co/QixUzBfnUL
— courtland milloy (@ctmilloy) July 8, 2014
— Ava Kelley (@kelley_ava) July 10, 2014
WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.