The global online cycling community appears to have taken matters into its own hands after Facebook rejected calls to remove an anti-cyclist group that had attracted more than 33,000 fans on the social network.
Called There’s a perfectly good bike path right next to the road you stupid cyclist, the group – which seems to have originated in Australia last November – has as its icon a photo of a cyclist swerving to avoid a car door being opened in front of him, accompanied by the statements, “No matter how far to the left you are, you're taking up my road,” and “My car is hard, and I am not slowing down!”
Among content added to the group in its early days were photographs of the aftermath of crashes involving cyclists, including one showing a drunken driver from Texas ploughing into a road race in Mexico, killing one rider and leaving three others in hospital. Some of the anti-cyclist comments those attracted demonstrated clearly that there's a lot of anti-cyclist sentiment out there, albeit in most cases not expressed too articulately.
More recently, however, the group’s photo page has been inundated with pictures of bicycles and other bike-friendly images, while the vast majority of comments, many from the UK, are reasonable ones from cyclists, with the anti-cycling brigade who originally populated the group now mainly absent. As one user put it, “at first I was a little upset by ths site but I really like it now. Seems to be become a friendler place now more cyclists are joining in a talking to each other!”
We're not sure about the humour element - certainly, many of the group's original members seemed to be pretty serious when saying what they'd like to do to cyclists, and it seems that it's okay to advocate violence against groups of people, so long as you aren't naming individuals.
“We take our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities very seriously and react quickly to remove reported content that violates our policies,” he explained. “Specifically, we're sensitive to content that includes hate speech and/or actionable threats of violence. The goal of these policies is to strike a very delicate balance between giving Facebook users the freedom to express their opinions and beliefs, even controversial ones, and maintaining a safe and trusted environment.”
Mr Axten added: “We've reviewed this group and determined that it doesn't violate our policies. We encourage users to report anything they feel does violate these policies using the report links located throughout the site. Thanks.”
Groups removed by Facebook in the past include one that advocated the assassination of the president of Bolivia, another that celebrated Serbian war crimes, and a third that targeted Australia’s Jewish community, suggesting that the website only acts when an identifiable individual or ethnic group is the target of abuse.
Bike riders are continuing to press for Facebook to remove the group, however, and have set up a separate group, Help remove this hate group against cyclists, that has built up a membership of more than 17,000 in just a few days.
Named I hate cyclists, this one appears to be from the UK, given its founder’s references to cat’s eyes, pubs, country lanes, Lycra rather than Spandex, and, yes, the non-existent “road tax.” CARD is asking its fans on Facebook to help educate this latest group’s members, although it urges them to “be polite. Diplomacy always works better.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.