Friday, September 04, 2009

THUD Toronto campaign

K-Dough is hereby challenging all Toronto cyclists to help control the horrid lack of road safety displayed by other cyclists every day by policing ourselves and joining the THUD Toronto (Torontonians Heckling Unsafe Drivers) campaign. The prevalent opinion that has emerged over the past week in the media, however misguided as it may be, is that poor innocent cyclists are daily persecuted by crazed anti-bike car drivers.

Well, the reality is that the majority of cyclists on our city streets are a bunch of law-ignoring, cocky/stupid jackasses who flirt with their own demises every day, flouting rules and riding like pompous 8 yr olds with entitlement complexes.

So it's really up to us- the cycling community- to make sure they know how the respectable and law-abiding among us feel about their retarded behaviour on the road.

What can you do? Every time you stop at an orange or red light and witness some stupid idiot riding gingerly half-way across the intersection and then through it; or someone speeding through the red light with no regard for their own, or others' safety yell as loud as you can: "THUD!!!" THUD is the sound of a body crunching under the wheels of a car or truck.

Or, yell THUD as you are taking a picture of them with your cell phone and post it online. Better yet, get the attention of a police officer and have them chase the idiot down.

It's not enough to whine and whinge about how cyclists are getting a raw deal when so many of us are ignorant, reckless idiots. Do something about it. Remind a stupid THUD near you that he/she is being watched.
You can JOIN a THUD facebook group organized by my buddy here:

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Anonymous teamt1s1 said...

Part 1

OK... so... After reading and re-reading your last couple blog entries, here are some thoughts...

1) Despite evidence showing that both individuals played a part in the tragic outcome of the Michael Bryan incident, diametrically opposed camps are emerging.
2) Both groups of people seem to be dead set on using the issue as a soap box for all their pent up frustrations about Motorist vs Cyclist conflict.
3) Despite having opposing views on who was to blame, everybody admits there is a problem on our streets and wants to avoid this situation from ever occurring in the future.
4) The underlying issue that caused the Michael Bryant incident to explode was human interaction... specifically, confrontational behaviour that escalated to violence and, in the blink of an eye, death.

So far, so good. That is, I get what you are saying.

Where things fall apart for me is the whole THUD thing. If you are pointing to poor human interaction as the root cause of the tragedy, why is it that your solution is to go out and use a confrontational approach to solving the problem? Do you TRULY believe yelling at people to humiliate them will result in an environment less likely to create a similar event as Michael Bryant using his car to defend himself against a raging bicycle courier?

I'll tell you what I think is going to happen if your THUD movement catches on. There will be more conflict than ever out there on roads that already a very dangerous place to be. If you again TRULY believe, as you say, that most cyclists are "8 yr olds with entitlement complexes" then inviting people to aggressively challenge them is a recipe for further escalation and violence.

While I agree that it behooves us as cyclists to help educate each other on proper road etiquette, your approach to corrective measures leaves much to be desired. You have vilified Darcy Allan Sheppard's proponents for condoning road rage by blindly defending a person who used confrontation, rage and violence as an outlet. You then turn around and invite cyclists to walk the same path by encouraging them to approach people aggressively if you see them doing something you have deemed incorrect behaviour. I say "you" have deemed because some of the transgressions described in the THUD rally cry are actually acceptable in the eyes of the law.

10:52 AM, September 06, 2009  
Anonymous teamt1s1 said...

Part 2

While vigilante justice makes for great action flicks and urban legends, it is a an exceptionally bad idea in the really real world where lives are at stake. By "lives at stake" I am not simply referring to bodily injury and death. What happens if one of the photos that gets posted causes a person to lose their job? My guess is that your response will be, "That's unfortunate, but they were the ones who chose to break the law." Let's suppose that the photo is of a person rolling through an intersection. The caption is an acid laced indictment of what this scofflaw just did or did not do to deserve being posted for public humiliation. Now, the person gets fired for bringing bad press to their employer. The alleged scofflaw then takes the situation to a personal injury lawyer. Known for their ability to spin any situation to the favour of their client, this lawyer names the photographer, the employer and the founder of the THUD movement in the Libel suit. Years and tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills later, the alleged scofflaw is exonerated of any actual wrong-doing. Of course, lots of sour grapes monologue spews forth from the losing team, but the damage is already done.

So, here are some words of advice for all you current and potential THUDers out there. If you accept the invitation and actually practice these methods, at the very least you should toughen up your epidermis. The vast majority of these interactions are probably going to result in a brief verbal altercation. Some, however, will escalate to a physical confrontation, so you might want to enroll in a self-defense course. You might even want to choose an urn for your ashes should you pay the ultimate price for exercising the THUD brand of justice. Think it will not happen to you? Ask Michael Bryant about consequences for your actions. Or better yet, ask Darcy Allan Sheppard. Oh wait, you can't... he's already dead.

10:53 AM, September 06, 2009  
Blogger K-Dough said...

all very good and thoughtful points.

nevertheless, in a free society ppl are free to express themselves in public. calling someone a THUD does not necessitate a violent response, not is it intended to elicit that type of response.

bottom line is no one is doing anything about the poor quality of bicycle riding on our streets and the threat to personal safety that poses. i would submit that a good place to start would be to get the so-called cyclist community to begin policing itself.

but as long as people continue to take the "I'm staying out of it because I may have to own it" approach, nothing will change.

your arguments could be used to justify walking by someone beating a child on the street and doing nothing to prevent it, for fear of legal or physical threat.

people riding through red lights are doing the same- endangering human life.

4:19 PM, September 06, 2009  
Blogger K-Dough said...

and what did you mean by this "some of the transgressions described in the THUD rally cry are actually acceptable in the eyes of the law."

4:24 PM, September 06, 2009  
Anonymous teamt1s1 said...

I have no qualms about addressing safety concerns with fellow cyclists. It should be common sense, but as we both know, common sense is rarely found abundantly in any community, much less with cyclists. My concern is about "HOW" you are asking people to do it.

Expressing yourself in public is a completely different activity from verbally assaulting a fellow human being. The THUD manifesto encourages people to yell as loudly as they can at cyclists doing something unsafe. Yelling at people is a form of assault... period. No, it is not physical, but since you brought children into the discussion again, ask a CAS worker if they would have a problem with a parent who disciplines their 8 yr old child by yelling at them. I am pretty sure they will not cite freedom of speech in their response. Fear and humiliation are simply not good ways to correct behavioural problems... child or adult.

Once you have committed an aggressive act against a second party "your" intentions become entwined with your victim. Does it really matter that your intention was only to shame a person into behaving the way you want them to if their response is to punch you in the face? Your idea about intention is simply moot at this point.

By far and large, humans respond to anger and aggression with similar actions. A quick perusal of history and psychology books will attest to that statement. In fact, pick up any recent newspaper carrying the Michael Bryant story and you will see some evidence to that effect. It takes a well-grounded and centred person to turn aggression around and meet it with a positive response. Based on your assessment of the cycling community's maturity level it makes no logical sense at all to encourage people to do what your are proposing.

It amazes me that you feel nobody is doing anything about cycling safety. I see all kinds of initiatives out there that are designed to improve cycling safety. A couple high profile ones are the Jarvis bike lane and the reconstruction of the Lakeshore bike path to bypass the Ontario place marina parking lot. Not only that, but there are several cycling entities such as the TBN and TCU that regularly offer information the general public about safety. Just before school ended last year, Toronto police were actively visiting schools to educate children about proper cycling safety. The list of non-aggressive efforts to improve safety is far too long to itemize here. Again, motivating ourselves to hold each other accountable for our actions while pedaling is a good thing, but doing it the THUD way is at minimum counter productive and at most dangerous.

My original long-winded response never once proposed that people do nothing. In fact, it was an attempt to educate your blog readers about what in fact they could be owning. People have a tendency to get behind sensationalistic causes without first considering the possible repercussions. I am simply exercising my right as a citizen in a free society to offer up an alternative approach to the same goal.

I think you are making a leap when you use your analogy about the beaten child. It might be more valid had I called for your readers to simply let the police handle the situation and leave well enough alone. If you read more carefully, you will notice that I agreed with you that we as cyclists have a responsibility to each other. My approach is simply different from yours... I say educate, you say attack. While, it is possible that taking an educational approach may still result in confrontation, it at least starts from a place where there is a greater likelihood for a positive outcome.

10:27 AM, September 07, 2009  
Anonymous teamt1s1 said...

Law 101 - "Spirit of the Law vs Letter of the Law"

Ask any judge, lawyer, paralegal or police officer about this subject. They will tell you that the two are very different. While the written words of any particular statute or by-law may seem clear and concise, the "spirit" of the law always plays a part in the courts and enforcement of said rules. Said another way, the law may say one thing, but if it is generally accepted by those enforcing and trying them that the spirit varies from that language, the spirit often carries more weight.

In our case, the Toronto Police department has gone on record with the following excerpt from ""

"What about giving tickets to those cyclists who break the rules, those rolling through or running lights?

If somebody comes up ... they've almost stopped, they've checked, they've looked, and they go through, that's not the type of cyclist that we're giving failing-to-stop tickets to; we're giving them to the ones who are blatantly going through, who are coming and saying ... "I'm beating the vehicles. I know they've got to stop but I don't."

That statement was made by the officer in charge of training bicycle cops here Toronto and across the country. It is in direct contradiction of what you are asking people to aggressively confront.

10:46 AM, September 07, 2009  
Blogger K-Dough said...

Speaking of spirit - I like yours!

Re: Jarvis bike lane- unfortunately, it has not exactly been welcomed with open arms...

I fully understand that you disagree with my approach. What's yours?

11:01 AM, September 07, 2009  
Blogger K-Dough said...

and sorry, secondly, re: what behaviour police are ticketing and what they are not: I fully understand there are resource issues. It's similar, from a policing perspective, to not busting ppl smoking a joint on Yonge Street even though marijuana is an illicit narcotic. That does not make it legal.

My focus is on cyclists who run red lights hazardously. I assume you commute via bike. If you do, you'll know that we see this every single day on our streets. It is absolutely reckless and everyone from women with child seats to couriers does it.

11:27 AM, September 07, 2009  
Anonymous teamt1s1 said...

Part 1


If I remember correctly, the biggest detractors of the Jarvis bike lane were the "haves" that use the route to get in and out of the downtown core. There was a pretty funny TV interview with a Taxpayer's association head honcho. The part I found funny was when he had just finished his rant about how congested Jarvis was with all the existing vehicles, the interviewer asked if he thought that replacing cars with bicycles might help reduce that congestion. To my recollection, his answer was mostly throat clearing and sputtering.

Rather than dive into the discussion about our reliance on internal combustion engine modes of transportation I will speak to your other points. If you would like to start a different thread on that topic, I would be more than willing to dialogue with you.

I have already outlined several alternative approaches to improving road safety. Of those, I have contributed by volunteering my time to awareness programs. I also started a Facebook group aimed at cycling advocacy. After getting it started and doing more research, the initiative seemed redundant since there were already so many other groups that were trying to accomplish very similar goals. This discussion, however, has spurred me on to start working it again with a narrower focus so as not to overlap with the likes of the TBN and TCU. Thank you... ;D

I also work in a bike shop where I regularly encounter all levels of cyclists. When rookies are walking around, I am very careful to include safety topics in my discussions with them. Where more seasoned cyclists are concerned, the approach may be as simple as planting a little seed as they walk out of the shop. "Have a safe ride!" is a pretty standard farewell to any cyclist leaving our door. These methods may not be "in your face means" of improving the behaviour of our community, but it does have an impact. Many people express sincere thanks when we explain safety to them. Not everybody, but some.

4:59 PM, September 07, 2009  
Anonymous teamt1s1 said...

Part 2

As relates to situations that cops would deem intervention worthy, never have I run into a situation where yelling at somebody would have done any good whatsoever. The times that I have seen a cyclist fly through a red light, they were out of effective earshot before my mouth could open. Instead, I have made comments to other cyclists and even motorists that were sitting at the same intersection. To be sure, my language was not very positive or affirming either. It went something like this, "What a fucking idiot!" and "Dudes like that give us all a bad name!" Catching up to them and sharing a piece of my mind would have been a fairly simple matter. I chose not to because my state of mind could have very easily lead to a physical confrontation. Combined with the fact that my single biggest priority in life is my son, I chose to avoid potential jail time over correcting a wayward or ignorant cyclist. The risks simply outweighed the benefits.

Also, in the scenario you describe we are operating our bicycles on the road, sharing it with multi-tonne behemoths of steal and glass. In my opinion, startling somebody in the middle of an intersection at that particular moment is endangering the life of the cyclist as well. From a logical and even philosophical perspective, it does not make sense to me to endanger one life to save another. Morality and ethics are a pretty tricky discussion at the best of times, but I am comfortable with my chosen path of helping the cause.

That's what it all really boils down to is it not? Choices. We all have choices to make. I would prefer to talk about things and think them through as best I can so that when the time comes, hopefully, the best course of action is taken. By best course of action, I mean the one that achieves the desired result with the fewest number of negative consequences. I do not contest your assertion that there are a LOT of cyclists out there giving you and I a bad name. But in my mind, that is no different from any other community of people. Motorists and pedestrians also have bad apples that create less than flattering images for them.

In the case of motorists, while I am admittedly relying only on my 24 yrs of driving experience, it seems to me that there are proportionately more unsafe drivers than cyclists. My experience as a cyclist also tells me that motorists more often commit safety errors against cyclists than vice versa. Due to my horrible aptitude for math, my little brain cannot even begin to count the number of cycles that have passed within inches of my left handlebar despite the fact that they had an entirely empty lane to their left. As the same article I quoted earlier mentions, the bigger issue is actually educated drivers on how to deal with cyclists.

Pedestrians also have their share of people having the minds of 8 yrs olds with entitlement complexes. Because my son accompanies me on a large portion of my commuting kilometres, my routes are deliberately on very quiet streets, paths and bike lanes. I encounter far more pedestrians causing problems for motorists and cyclists than any other group of people. Specifically, where there are signed crosswalks with flashing lights, people think that button makes them indestructible. So many times I have seen them push the button, not look to see if cars or bikes can safely stop and then immediately walk onto the street. Then, when tires screech they glare disapprovingly at the car just inches from their legs.

4:59 PM, September 07, 2009  
Anonymous teamt1s1 said...

Oops... almost forgot the issue of enforcement. I did not say that the spirit of the law negated the legality of any given infraction. My point was this. If the cops are not taking the time to correct certain behaviour, do you think people committing it will receive aggressive name calling very well? Naturally, in their minds the thought process will be something like this... "If the police are ok with what I am doing, what gives this *insert favourite expletive* THUDer the right to yell at me!?!?!?" That is where the spirit of the law comes into play. Is what they are doing contravening the "Letter of the Law"... yes... is the "Spirit of the Law" being upheld, yes... given the fact that the police choose not to, for whatever reason, address it. That leads to yet another beneficial alternative approach for the cyclist who wants to make a difference. Lobby the police to clamp down on their definition of what is acceptable behaviour. At least then, there is little to no chance of violence. I would speculate that this course of action would be more influential than verbally attacking 8 yr olds with entitlement complexes. I say this because it is one thing for one group to lobby against another. Often the governing body, in this case the police, look at the origins of the lobbyists and roll their eyes because it looks like a feud between the Hatfields and McCoys. On the other hand, if it is a whole bunch of cyclists coming to them asking to be policed better, just maybe they will take it more seriously. If successful, you now have droves of officers that have the official authority enforce the rules rather than relatively small group of vigilantes.

5:00 PM, September 07, 2009  

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