Last week, I posted this video of a bike collision between an easily distracted helmet-cammed bicyclist and a jaywalking pedestrian. It proved to be fairly popular and elicited a strong reaction. Here are some emails I got.

Before we get to those, let me get two things out of the way that were the cause of some confusion:

1.) It's not me in the video. I'm not sure why this was assumed, but it's not me.

2.) The "moral" of the story was a joke, as it is fairly evident that "old people need to watch where the fuck they're going" is not the lesson to be learned from that video. It's that everyone needs to watch where he's going.

Now, to the emails!

Ken:

Cool video, love the moral of the story! My favorite website to visit! Keep up the great work guys.

Stu:

No, fool. The moral is that stupid bike riders who go the wrong way down a one-way street should expect to plow into one of those cars coming your way instead of a poor defenseless pedestrian. And by the way, pedestrians have the right-of-way over bicyclists.

What an idiot.

I responded to Stu with, "Moral: It's a joke." He replied:

So funny. Invest in better writers.

Now, this is a terrible comeback. If I were to invest in better writers for the site—which I have neither the means or authority to do—I would be risking my job. That would make me an idiot. Posting a viral video with tongue-in-cheek kicker does not.

Frank:

David,
I can't believe you are in support of some guy driving the wrong way on a bicycle into three lanes of oncoming traffic. In the process of driving the wrong way, he hits an innocent pedestrian and then you put the blame on the pedestrian? If there were a dedicated bike lane into the oncoming traffic - which exists in some European places such as for instance in my hometown of Brugge, Belgium (aka Bruges) - I'd call it 50-50. But in the US, with three lanes going one way with parking on each side, there is no reasonable expectation for a pedestrian to look both ways to see if there will be a car / scooter / bike driving the wrong way and so the pedestrian is not at fault.

Again, I replied that the moral was intended as a joke, to which Frank replied

Oh, I see - Missed the sarcasm tag ;):

How am I supposed to respond to this? I eventually did with a "Thanks for reading" but now that I think of it, what if Frank was throwing the sarcasm—nay, metasarcasm—right back in my face? If that's the case, I am glad I didn't express my enthusiasm for In Bruges.

Dick:

Long time reader here. I never comment on your site, but need to now.
You ate a huge shitburger on that call.

This one hurt, Dick. Surely a longtime reader would have known it was a joke. I responded "Dude, it's a joke." To which Dick admitted to missing it, but still. This one took me back. I mean, a shitburger!

John:

that bike rider was kinda an asshole...

I didn't respond to you, John, but yes, you are right.

EeeTheFonz:

you're a douche

At this point, it was around 9 on Friday night, and I was on my third Tecate tallboy so I replied from my phone: "Guy, it was a joke." This wasn't really worth a response in retrospect.

Mitchell:

no brakes on his fixed gear bike. this should have been avoidable, it's the bikes fault for not paying attention and going against traffic - wrong way.

A bike isn't sentient, Mitch. Leave the bike out of this.

William:

First of all the biker was on the wrong side of the road and was not paying attention to where he was going....So the old man is in the right to start with and the punk should fuck off .
If it wasn't for the stupid asses riding bicycles wrongly they would not get in to so many wrecks . driving rules include bicycles WTF are all you young kids stupid and think that everyone else should get out of your way Fuckyou asshole

Jeff Jeff emailed asking if I was the rider. I told him I was not. He replied:

It made it out to Seattle on the bike boards and almost universally, cyclists think that guy is a major tool. The part that says the moral of the story has to do with the guy who got run over didn't help either...

I should admit now that, despite all the Critical Masses I did in high school, despite my quiet support of the topless rides through Hasidic neighborhoods, despite that DIY bike lanes fiasco, I don't really care about the biking community. I like riding my bike and stuff, but really, I don't care.

Finally, yesterday, Richard and I got into a thing:

David, you are grieviously mistaken if you think crossing out of a crosswalk is equivalent to...(this was the subject)
riding the wrong direction.

Surely you don't contend you don't cross only in crosswalks. Do you really belive yourself in jeopardy every time you do?

And is a pedestrian walks into you, do you think yourself likely to be injured to the same degree as your barreling into him?

I don't ask these questions rhetorically. I would appreciate your answer.

So I gave him the standard reply: the moral was a joke, obviously the biker is much more to blame, but that, ultimately, "the pedestrian in the video doesn't seem to care all that much, so it doesn't matter what I think."

He replied:

Thank you for the courtesy of your reply. However, I must say, I struggle unsuccessfully in searching for the logic in this sentence:

'Furthermore, the pedestrian in the video doesn't seem to care all that much, so it doesn't matter what I think.'

Then things got weird:

Well, David, permit me to reason/argue in extremis [Note: never permit this]:

Blacks suffering under Jim Crow laws didn't complain. (It would have been useless to do so and arguably could have intensified the misery visited upon them.) Therefore, by your reasoning, it didn't matter what their oppressors thought...nor, by implication, that they continued to be oppressive.

I trust you see the parallel.

So I said:

"This is a joke right?"

Richard:

Sir, I'm trying to understand your thinking when you say if a victim doesn't complain, it doesn't matter what you think. The reasoning, sir, is yours, not mine.

So I said:

I was citing a very specific example not equating it with slavery.

I admit, I fucked this part up. And Richard was allllll over it.

Richard:

Subject: Oh, by the the era of Jim Crow is not synonymous with the time of slavery.
Our schools do such a poor job of educating students, I can hardly blame you for your ignorance about this.

I replied:

I apologize for equating the era of Reconstruction until the 1950s as slavery.

Equating probably wasn't the right word here. I should've said "Fuck off" minutes ago, but I was too deep now.

Richard circled back to that in extremis stuff:

No, no; you completely MISapprehend the explicit point of my note. I assure you it has NOTHING whatsoever to do with slavery; it has everything to do with one thinking what he thinks doesn't matter when his irresponsible conduct injures someone.

OK, just this one, I hope and trust, last question: Why did you post that video. What were you thinking? What did you hope to accomplish by doing it. And did you accomplish what you set out to in posting it?

I said:

I'm not the person riding the bike in the video, you know that right?

The video is funny; I was thinking our readers would think it was funny and pass it along to other people that would think it was funny; yes, I think so.

Richard fired back:

No, I did not know that [I was not the rider].

Where was that made apparent.

On the other hand, I don't see what is funny in it. But then, having been a comedy writer earlier in my life, what do I know of funny?

Spent, I replied:

I think we're done here.

I haven't heard back from Richard but I would like to assure him—and everyone else that might be confused—that in the future, I will state explicitly whether or not I am in a video that I post.

Here's an example of a video that I am not in:

Everyone good with that? I'm not the fire tornado.