Dimitri Vassilaros is a very bad man

The following is an article, published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, about one person's views on cycling. The sad thing is that this article, which is filled with what is essentially verbalized road rage, got published, will have an audience, and may have an impact on how people view cyclists when they see them on the road. And that's how people wind up getting hurt. If you are as bothered about this as I am, write the editor of that paper and tell them they need to take a closer look at what kind of hate-filled diatribes they're putting on their site.

My comments are marked with italics.

By Dimitri Vassilaros
> Tuesday, July 23, 2002

I don't want to share the road with a bicycle. However, you and I must because if we did not, it could lead to tragedy. Drivers have to follow the law, but that does not mean we have to like it.

I don't want to share the road with a car. Most times, the people in those cars make it quite clear that they don't want to share the road with me. I've been hit, pushed, cut off, cursed at, and, once, physically threatened. Was that you, Dimitri?

The Tour de France seems to have spawned the Tour de South Hills - if you'll pardon my French.

Ha ha! You are just so witty!

Are your secondary arteries clogged by clumps of Lance Armstrong-esque bicyclists sporting aerodynamic helmets, colorful skintight synthetics and baseball-size calf muscles?

Is that jealousy? Why don't you stop eating McDonald's and get some exercise.

Drivers anywhere near East McMurray Road are plagued by these swarms most weekends. Do you have the same problem where you live?

If you see them up ahead, you are forced to drive slower than the slowest one of the pack while you ponder if you can pull out without grazing one and not plowing into an oncoming car around the next bend.

Most likely they're on a street with a speed limit of 30-40 miles an hour. No right minded cyclist goes on a highway. How fast do you normally drive? How important is your daily life that a few moment's delay will give you an ulcer?

Bicyclists are an accident waiting to happen.

Yes, we are, because frustrated knuckleheads like yourself get impatient, angry, or simply stupid, and hit us. You could also say, car drivers are waiting to cause accidents.

Your municipality should be doing whatever it can to get them off the road. It can start by taking down those yellow street signs with black silhouettes of bike rider and car that encourage road sharing.

Are you being tongue in cheek? What gestapo-like mentality do you have?

Common sense tells you roads are designed for most motorized vehicles: golf carts, riding mowers and farm equipment being some of the exceptions. Yet flimsy, two-wheeled vehicles powered by huffing and puffing are allowed - even welcomed, according to those yellow signs. The governments' values are upside down.

Common sense tells me that roads are designed to facilitate easier transportation. A bicycle is for transportation. End of confusion. Your myopic point of view is upside down.

Since bicycles are allowed on our streets, why not in-line skating and skateboarding?

I have an idea. Why don't we take anyone different or with different values than ourselves and throw them somewhere where they'll never bother us again.

Cars, trucks and motorcycles pay for our roads. State and federal taxes siphon about one-third of the cost of a gallon of gas, according to the stickers on some gas pumps. Take the time to read one the next time you defy the EPA by topping off your tank.

Taxes - city, state, and federal - pay for our roads.

A motorist must pay for all the stickers on his car every year - two on the windshield and one on the license plate - even if no repairs are warranted. He also pays for a driver's license and auto insurance in case of an accident. He pays dearly if he gets a speeding ticket, and he even pays a tax for the privilege of throwing away his old tires.

The thrust of your argument would seem to be that bicyclists don't pay for the roads. Just about all of us own cars and pay the same auto fees you do.

And do not forget the government makes every motorist pay the hidden costs of all safety features mandated for our vehicles. We are forced to wear seat belts, and motorcycle riders are forced to wear helmets. Do you think many bicycle riders have been stopped and ticketed for safety violations?

As a matter of fact, yes. If we break the law we take the same chances that you do when you break the law. We already know we're taking a chance by riding on the road with frustrated, overweight, dim-witted, inattentive, safety-minded individuals like yourself.

If the government is so concerned about highway safety - seat belt this, air bag that and crash test after crash test - why does it allow bicycles anywhere near traffic? Can you name another vehicle on our streets that has no safety features? Does the government care about safety or not?

If the government really cared, they could fund for bike lanes on the side of regular roads (so we wouldn't encroach on your precious space) as well as plentiful bike paths that don't allow traffic. It would cut down on congestion and help reduce smog in over-populated cities. But they don't. So we have to ride on the road with people like you, who think that sitting behind a steering wheel gives you priority over everything and everyone else's freedoms and rights. This country was founded on tolerance and acceptance of those different than ourselves. What country are you from?

When those spoke-thin road hogs start paying their fair share of road costs - like motorized vehicles do - then maybe we could consider allowing them on a few isolated roads like in our city, county and state parks, where the only drivers they could threaten would be the teenagers whose parents are teaching them to drive.

We do pay for roads, per above. Then you'd allow us to ride? OH THANK YOU. YOU'RE SO GENEROUS WITH MY TAX CONTRIBUTION.

The politically correct crowd loves bicycles. They don't use fossil fuels They don't pollute. And the more people can be convinced to ride them instead of cars, the more people will want to move back into the city so their ride Downtown and back would be doable. I have even seen bike racks on PAT buses.

Wait a second, there's good things to be said about cycling? Better rewrite your article, Dimitri. Your own words might come back to haunt you.

Bicycling is a practical way to commute, if you live in Beijing. Cars are a luxury there, but they are a necessity here. Safety should be a necessity, too.

So, the truth comes out. You are a communist.

Dimitri Vassilaros can be reached at dvassilaros@triweb.com or (412) 380-5637. Tell him I sent you.

Marty Freaking Gaal - July 2000 Goddamn 02

What an asshole!