Feature

WATCH: Pulitzer Prize winner rants against 'all-powerful' bike lobby

A member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board rails against the "totalitarians" that "begrimed" New York City with a new bike-share program

Dorothy Rabinowitz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, is no fan of New York City's new bike-share program. In a performance worthy of The Onion's Joad Cressbeckler, she railed against the "blazing blue" Citi Bikes, which she said had "absolutely begrimed" the city.

"Do not ask me to enter the minds of the totalitarians running the government of this city," she said, when asked to theorize why Mayor Michael Bloomberg instituted the bike-share program. "The bike lobby is an all-powerful enterprise."

Claiming to represent "the majority of citizens" in New York City, she then said the bicycles were more dangerous than taxi cabs: "Before this, every citizen knew, who was in any way sentient, that the most important danger in the city is not the yellow cabs. It is the bicyclists."

While the merits of bike-share programs can certainly be debated, it was Rabinowitz's cantankerous tone that seemed to amuse Twitter:

"In 1895 a churl on a pennyfarthing nearly ran me over and I still haven't goten over it."--Dorothy Rabinowitz twitter.com/bikesnobnyc/st…

— Bike Snob NYC (@bikesnobnyc) June 2, 2013

So what's behind this intense hatred of bicyclists?

It's not necessarily the bikes themselves, writes The Washington Post's Erik Wemple, but competition for the road in crowded cities: "Wherever space is at a premium in the United States, there is a swinging, brawling and never-ending debate over the relative villainy of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists."

The New York Times' Paul Krugman sees it as conservatives trying to paint liberals as effete Europhiles:

Oh, boy — this is truly amazing. I guess I’m not surprised that the WSJ doesn’t like the idea of providing New York with a European-style system of rental bikes. But accusing Bloomberg and company of being "totalitarians" for the vicious crime of … making bright blue bikes available to tourists … seems like it has to be parody. [New York Times]

He then equates conservatives' bike-hate to their general distaste for public transportation by quoting George Will, who once said that liberals pushed for trains with the "goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism."

Citi Bikes: Convenient way to travel or socialist plot to destroy America? New York City residents and tourists will have to decide for themselves.

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