Shoot A Cyclist For Safety


wisconsin-bicycle-accident-attorneyYesterday outside of Asheville, NC a motorist became so enraged at a cyclist for legally riding on a public road – that he shot him in the head… with the victim’s 3-year old son in the bike seat behind him. According to the police, the bullet came within an inch of killing the cyclist.

To repeat: A gunman narrowly missed killing a father in front of his child … because he was frustrated at him for not being safe enough.

Thank goodness no one was injured, but this incident brings an important point to the fore. When our transportation infrastructure is geared only to automobiles, then anyone choosing to share the road is (1) at risk from drivers; and (2) often perceived as an interloper that has no business on the street.

The unhinged gunman had a valid premise, which I imagine is shared by the victim – It’s dangerous for cyclists on our roads.  Yesterday’s shooting was a dramatic event, but every day cyclists are injured on our roads by careless drivers and by our lack of adequate infrastructure.  On my bike I’ve been cut off, had doors opened into my path, had objects thrown at me, and have several times narrowly missed serious accidents in motion.  In my car, I’ve been diligent about treating bicycles like any other vehicle on the road – giving a wide berth, signaling, and respecting their journey as much as I want them to respect mine.

Among the reasons that cycling is dangerous are a lack of bike lanes, an uneasy relationship between motorists and cyclists, and the inherent hazards of a lot of people trying to get from one place to another quickly. Add the occasional armed hothead, and a dicey situation becomes downright hostile.

Our current road system was built for automobiles. While many roads are wide enough to accommodate cyclists and motorists equally, there is an inherent inequity that leaves cyclists at the mercy of their four wheeled traveling companions. Without comprehensive alternative transportation infrastructure in place, cyclists and pedestrians alike must contend with a transportation network unfit for their needs.

Imagine if the cyclist in this story had been rolling along a designated bicycle lane rather than hugging the shoulder and taking his chances. Imagine several years down the road once motorists became accustomed to bike lanes and knew exactly how to behave.

Asheville can work towards a network of roads, bike lanes, greenways, riverways, and sidewalks that will allow all of our citizens to move safely from one place to another no matter which mode of transportation they choose.  A culture of mutual respect will grow up out of this infrastructure that will improve our community’s quality of life while offering healthy choices.

Read more about my stance on multimodal transportation here. Or you can watch a speech I gave at The Wedge on the subject back in May.


Categories : Local


  1. Doug Gibson says:

    Which brings to mind this tragedy. We need to think about all hazards to cyclists, and commit to all the ways we can make streets safer for them.

  2. lindsey simerly says:

    This guy is on paid leave! He attempted to murder someone for riding a bike! Why is he still getting paid with tax dollars?

  3. Thad says:

    I think the most incredible part of this story is that a bullet cannot go through a bicycle helmet.

  4. Edgy Mama says:

    Well written, Gordon. The irony boggles the mind.

  5. Doug says:

    Thad — I suspect you misread the story. The bullet DID go through the helmet.

  6. Dane says:

    Just to point it out, Thad, the bullet actually did go right through the other side of the helmet, according to the linked article; it just missed his head on the way.

  7. Diogenes says:

    Where are our libertarian friends now? Imagine the constitutional questions!

  8. Heather Rayburn says:

    Excellent post, Gordon. I’ve never had anything thrown at me, thank goodness, but I have experienced the other hazards of biking that you describe. Once, two chumps in an SUV on Biltmore Avenue screamed “Get out off the road!” as loud as they could scream. I was over as far as I could be … they scared and startled me so that I almost lost control of my bike. Why?! Just out of meanness.

    Anyway, my heart goes out to this family. I agree with Lindsey … this man should NOT be getting paid. I shudder to think what kind of post-traumatic symptoms the family will have to face after such a vicious encounter. That a fire-fighter would act like this! Geez.

  9. Grovelbot says:

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    Just a friendly reminder that Gordon Smith needs your help to get elected to Asheville’s city council. If you want better bike infastructure, now is the time to send in support!

    Please make a generous donation here: http://gordonforasheville.com/donate/

    Thank you.

    beep… beep… beep.

  10. Tom Sullivan says:

    I’ve had those encounters, but it was long ago. The cans or bottle whizzing by your ear. The screaming driver pulling off the road threatening to kick your ass. The gun popping out the passenger-side window and BANG! – teenagers laughing (a blank?).

    How dare some pansy, Lycra-pants, non-octane-fueled cyclist impede them and their studly V8 steeds, impugning their delicate manhoods?

  11. Valdis Kletnieks says:

    For all those who are saying “this guy shouldn’t be on paid leave”:

    Let’s suppose he got canned, no pay. Now on top of having to pay a defense lawyer at lottabucks/hour billable, he’s unemployed (or no income because he’s on unpaid leave). That’s a big first step towards the whole family (if any) becoming homeless, or worse.

    How do you make things right if it turns out he’s innocent, or if there’s more to the case than we’ve heard so far and it’s not as obvious that he was in the wrong?

    Or look at it from a more self-serving point of view – if *you* were suddenly arrested for something (guilty or not), would you prefer that *your* employer immediately put you on unpaid leave or fire you, or they try to minimize the damage to your life at least until you’re actually convicted of the charges?

    If the employer had a Magic Crystal Ball that could tell them if the guy was guilty or not, we wouldn’t need to bother with the trial, would we?

  12. Brent Baldwin says:

    Something about the sight of a cyclist seems to enrage some people. To me, the worst, and most ironic part of all of this is that if the child was in a seat on the back of the bicycle, the bullet probably flew over the kid’s head on its’ way towards the father’s head.

  13. Michael Muller says:

    I agree that we need more bike lanes and that drivers need to exercise far more deference to people on bicycles. But I’d resist politicizing this bizarre incident, either in terms of transportation infrastructure or gun rights.

    I suspect it would have just been a matter of time before this asshole lost it and shot at some other innocent person. The circumstances seem incidental to me.

    Makes you wonder just what kind of city we really live in and how many people are seething with that sort of rage under their skin. Scary stuff.

    And I agree 100% with Lindsey. Paid leave?


  14. firelady says:

    This situation is beyond bizarre- quite chilling. I agree with the need for more bike paths/lanes etc in our transportation planning. This is an investment which goes a long way towards increasing quality of life, which in turn results in sound community economic development ie ROI in Economic development terms. I would add that comprehensive cycling education is necessary. My husband was a professional cyclist, and he just groans every time he sees someone on a bike not following the rules of the road. He refuses to ride on any road in Asheville because “every time a cyclist behaves badly, drivers take it out on the next cyclist they see. A battle between a bike and a car will always end badly for the biker.”

    I’m not blaming anyone for this incident or resorting to categorical/stereotypical assumptions, I’m just suggesting more education for everyone- drivers and cyclists.

  15. Diogenes says:

    Firelady wrote: A battle between a bike and a car will always end badly for the biker.”

    Am I missing something here? The battle, such as it was, was between a biker and an armed madman who happened to be employed by the City of Asheville, who in some kind of unexplained fit of road rage attempted to murder a cyclist legally traveling on a city street.

    Let’s not complicate this. A horrendous crime was committed and the man deserves to be in jail, and ought in my opinion never possess a firearm again. Ever.

    Whether his family suffers now or later for his deadly reckless behavior is not relevant. They will suffer. They probably already suffer if this behavior is any indication of what he’s like. He needs to be in custodial care one way or another.

  16. firelady says:

    Diogenes, I wasn’t speaking about this incident, per se. I agree with you that this is situation is so far above and beyond any rational explanation. My point about “battles” had more to do with the day-to-day cycling dynamic and the importance of education. As I stated, I was not talking specifically about this incident. There is much more going on with the alleged perpetrator than typical “road rage” against cyclists. I concur with your assessment of the nature of this crime.

  17. Jonathan says:

    I have been preoccupied by this incident pretty much nonstop since Monday. I brood about it as I bike into work. I feel frustrated at work because no one is really talking about it, or maybe more honestly because no one is saying to me: hey Jonathan, you biked into work today, how do you feel about that shooting on Tunnel Rd. And then on my ride home from work, instead of enjoying the ride I just feel a little ill at ease.

    I’ve had a couple people say to me that this guy was going to blow up at someone, and it just happened to be a cyclist. Just as folks here have posted about it being the act of an unhindged mad man or suggesting that we not politicize it. But for me that isn’t really the point, because whether or not this fellow could have just as easily flown off the handle at someone in another car or someone walking their dog or what ever, the fact is it was a family on bikes and at least emotionally that resonates with me.

    Part of the reason I think this incident resonates with folks who ride bikes in traffic is that we often already feel a little under attach. A driver doesn’t need to have a gun, to feel threatening to me; I feel pretty threatened just by their car. And unlike in this incident, the driver doesn’t even have to be trying to be threatening; I actually feel under attach in part because people don’t even realize I’m there.

    And then there is the thing other people have commented about, that is when people do notice you are there, and it really does seem to piss them off that you are on a bike. In addition to feeling a little threatened just riding my bike in traffic, I can really relate to feeling like some how me being on my bike is making someone else act crazy and threatening towards me. I’ve never had someone pull a gun on me. I have many many times thought this doesn’t make any sense I’m out here feeling totally vulnerable, and this person is pissed off at me?!

    So who knows what was going on with Charles Alexander Diez. As far as we know, he was not part of some cyclist hate group. We don’t think he’s been posting on car supremacist web sites about how one day these cyclists are going to get what’s coming to them. For all we know he really could have just as easily gone off on his boss at the fire department or the person ahead of him in the express aisle at Ingles. But the fact that someone took a shot at a cyclists head in front of their three year old, that the threat was made real, resonates with us because the context in which we cycle is full of actual, incidental, and latent threats. Or at least that is how it feels to me.

    And because it feels that way, ecause it feel like this implicit threat that is around us all the time is now manifest, it feels really scary and isolating that there isn’t a bigger, louder, more heart felt public conversation going on about this incident. I mean, I want my community to be saying loud and clear: this is not us, this is not who we want to be. I want the fire department trotting out its bike EMTs as a back drop and saying: while our personnel policies require us to keep Mr. Diez on the pay roll, we want to express our complete and total support for cyclists having safe access to the roads. I want signs up in bike shops. I want public events. I want a statement from … I don’t know the mayor, or something.

    I don’t want a bunch of news stories that highlight some sound bite of incredibly twisted logic about how the rider was saved by his helmet?!

    On my ride home I was thinking about pan handling. On some level it is problematic to make this comparison because of the extreme difference in privilege, access, advantage, etc, between pan handlers and cyclists. Still pan handlers make many people uncomfortable, sometimes it is a squirmy discomfort, some times it is a self righteous discomfort, some times it is a welcome discomfort, sometimes it is a hostile discomfort. But in general people, people with steady jobs, comfortable homes, consumers, people out trying to have a good time, or get errands done, don’t really know how to handle being pan handled. It is like this thing that stops you monetarily, and asks you to consider your assumptions about what you have, and what you need, about how resources are distributed, about what kind of work you think deserves what kind pay; all these givens that make it possible to just move through the day in the post industrial capitalist global north, momentarily come unglued. You deal with the situation and then everything gets normal again and you move on: some people avoid eye contact, some people give money, some people get pissed off, what ever, we deal with it and move on.

    I wonder if that is kind of in away like being in traffic and encountering a cyclist. We aren’t riding our bikes to try to get people to question how they have set up there lives, their assumption about moving through space or how they use their time, we just are trying to get from point A to point B on our bikes. I doubt most pan handlers are trying to make a statement, they’re just trying to hustle the couple of bucks they need to get from point A to point B. But the way they are doing it has all this meaning to the person who is being pan handled.

    And, there are all these arguments about what are the legitimate ways to pan handle and is it good or bad to give money, what about busking, what about the root causes, etc, etc, etc? Kind of like we can argue about the “good cyclists” who follow the rules and the “bad cyclists” that are “disrespectful” and “irresponsible;” or about bike lanes versus greenways versus “sharing the road.”

    And it has happened that an unhinged individual, maybe has had too much to drink, or is frustrated or confused, and could have just as easily beat up someone at the bar or kicked his neighbors dog, but instead has beaten up or threatened to beat up a pan handler. And while it is possible that it just happened to be a pan handler… what is it about riding bikes that freaks motorists out so much?

    So I don’t need to politicize this, but I do need to personalize it and publicize it. And for me it can’t be about everyone needing to be educated— “both cyclists and motorists.” It has to be about me and my community saying: this is just the worst, scariest example about how it doesn’t feel safe doing something that I love to do, that I believe is a good thing to do, something that I make a practice of doing. And I want some people who don’t ride bikes, lots of people who don’t ride bikes, to notice, and care, and feel sympathy. When I walk into a bike shop I don’t want to have to make a joke about buying a bullet proof helmet, I want people to say how is going, how are you feeling? When I get off my bike at work I want people, to say: I saw that thing on the news and I thought about you, I thought about you the whole way driving to work, and I thought, “I’ll ask Jonathan how he would feel if one day this week I tried to ride my bike in to work, and if maybe you’d ride part of the way with me. Like maybe we’d both feel safer and have more fun if we did it together.”

  18. Slakerfet says:

    How many more incidents are we to have in Asheville involving bikers, pedestrians, and motorists. The fact that the city has not invested more tax dollars into proper sidewalks in surrounding towns and bicycle lanes blows my mind. Take a look at Portland, they do not have this problem. They have used tax dollars wisely and it shows. I was born and raised in Asheville NC. The amount of bicycle tragedies and pedestrian accidents is alarmingly high, and sometimes its not the motorists fault. Now this case is clearly the motorists fault, fueled by rage and bad decisions. But our city needs to learn to use tax dollars wisely, because whether its the motorists fault, the pedestrian, or the biker, we need proper bike lanes and sidewalks. That would definatley cut down on these incidents. I just hope that child isnt scarred for life…

  19. Silas Do Good says:

    While bicycling is all great everything…and this newstory borders on the extreme of what an idiot cn do with a gun…I see bicyclists everyday while I drive for a living that drive on major roads that forget a well known fact. When you are travelling on a road you are not a pedestrian anymore. You are a vehicle. You have to obey the signage and redlights just like everyone else. But, you have bicycles darting out in front of you just because they think they follow a differnt law…and you don’t. A person walking…does. When you are on on a bike…you stop at stop signs and stop lights. You don’t dart off sidewalks into traffic. I’ve had to slam my breaks many times because someone decided they wanted to ride nonchalantly right across the street on Merrimon or any other street right in the middle of heavy traffic. So, while I sympathize with the fact that some nutjob pulled a gun on this guy which was totally the wrong thing to do…I have to also point out that there is a larger issue with people on bikes thinking they own the entire road as well. We can’t afford to repave all the roads and put down a special bike lane…you all just need to realize that you are supposed to be following the laws of the road as well. And in closing…if you are going to continue to not follow the road rules…then bicycles should be placed in a category where you should have to tag them for road use and have to insure them so if you cause an accident you have insurance to pay for the damages and the hospital claims you are responsible for. The same goes for the moped liquor-cycles and these nuts driving their wheel chairs on public streets that should be calling Mountain Mobility in order to get around.

  20. CityGirl says:

    I agree that this incident was completely ridiculous and irrational. I feel that there should definitely be additional bicycle lanes and areas for bikes to be safe while traveling. However, it is aggrivating as a driver of a car when you’re traveling on a road with say a 45mph speed limit when you run up on a bicycle – it’s not only extremely dangerous for the biker but also for the car (slamming on brakes, having to pass without getting too close to the bike, ultimately going over the middle line, etc.) – it terrifies me when that happens because I definitely do not want to hurt the cyclist or any other vehicles. Even though I am being careful and have fortunately avoided any negative situations in the past there does need to be more education for both drivers of cars and bicyclists. Not saying bicycling on the road is a bad thing, but without the propert preparation can create a dangerous situation for both the cyclist and drivers of cars.

  21. Christina says:

    Wow this is BS. I can’t wait to move out of Asheville/Hendersonville area even faster. This MORON needs to be taken off of paid leave. Dumbass I don’t care how mad you are at somebody on a bike or made at anybody in general. You don’t shoot a man infront of his child. Who does that? Idiots who live here thats who. As a parents this makes me sick.

  22. Christina says:

    And I just re-read what I wrote and I’m shaking I’m so pissed I can’t even type. Totally forgot to say, it’s not the bikers or the drivers faults that they get so frustrated with each other. When I moved to Asheville from NH my whole family was upset that there aren’t sidewalks. You can’t even go for a walk around the neighborhood without worrying about being hit by a driver. My neighbor and I were run off the road riding our bikes for fun in the streets by people who can’t drive. If Asheville would actually make this city a little bit safer maybe we wouldn’t have these types of problems. But no all Asheville cares about is shutting down the city once a year for Bele Chere so they can have lots of drunken idiots in the streets spending money. Man this place makes me sick

  23. Michael Muller says:

    Interesting point about bikes needing to be tagged and insured…but I’m not sure that “nuts driving their wheel chairs on public streets” constitute a significant traffic hazard. It is a funny visual for some reason, though.


  24. Jacquie says:

    I appreciate your parallel of panhandlers and bikers. I really do relate to your comparison. People do not like being forced out of their perceived comfort zone. Each day I drive my son to camp on Riverside Dr. I used to ride my bike on Riverside Drive. I do not bike anymore, I am too afraid. I appreciate the bikers on the road and do my best to give them room to ride and go about their day. I used to live in Portland and bikers were respected much more then they are in Asheville. I am outraged and at a loss about what to do! In Portland the locals were proud of the biking community. Here there is a divide. I wrote a letter to the editor of the Mountain Xpress about a year ago about drivers hostility toward cyclist. Not much has changed including the addition of bike lanes.. Many of the roads in Asheville are so narrow that 2 cars cannot even go past each other at the same time. People walking or biking take their lives into their own hands each time they venture out, still the cars race down the streets! Motorists in Asheville seem to come in 2 groups, the aware driver and the insane driver! Being behind the wheel of a car does not give you some kind of entitlement to drive like you are the only one on the road.. You will feel that false sense of entitlement until the day you hit and kill someone and then you will live the REST of your life wondering what the hell happened. Triple that if you kill a kid! My West Asheville neighborhood is full of kids, cyclist and a good amount of the insane drivers not being mindful of their actions.. I think maybe some kind of awareness bike/walk through Asheville is in order, in the spirit of critical mass but with a more family oriented theme. Maybe a bike/walk from Haywood road in West Asheville across the Clingman bridge into downtown Asheville?? I would be up for it. To all you bikers out there this Mom has got your back! If you see my little purple Honda Fit coming up behind you fear not, I will slow down, give plenty of room and make sure no cars are coming from the other direction before I pass even if I hold up the cars behind me. Be safe!

  25. David Cohen says:

    One thing I have started doing, when, after waiting for the right moment and being extra careful, I pass a bicyclist, I wave at them as I go by. An unmistakably positive wave that says (hopefully) ” I see you, I respect your right to be on the road, I appreciate whatever your motivation is”. Might there be some kind of universal sign that could go viral and become a default signal to riders that the person in THIS vehicle is not going to go ballistic on them? A thumbs up? An A.O.K.?
    The bike rider wouldn’t even have to respond—they might not want to shift their concentration away from the task at hand—but the effort of putting out a positive vibe is never wasted.
    @18 Jonathan—Great post!

  26. Michael Muller says:

    I have a funny image in my head of a gun-toting Donna Bateman riding around shooting at SUV’s.

    That’s all for now.


  27. Jonathan says:

    after reading my previouse post my sweetheart gently pointed out there is a ton of race and class (and gender) assumption and bias embeded in my reaction to this incident.

    for many many people, there is always this implicit threat of violence, that sometimes manifests itself. the threat of violence comes at them because they live in a poor neighborhood, because they are immigrants living in time when xenophobia is on the rise, because their gender expression is not “main stream,” etc, etc, etc. and like a family riding their bikes down tunnel rd, other folks who live constantly with a threat of violence are equally “innocent” (maybe more so if it is possible to make such a distinction…) they are just doing what they should be able to do, like for instance walking down the street in their community.

    it is hard for me to take in that what i am feeling now in relation to the shooting last sunday is probably a version of what many people feel all the time; it is such a crappy reality to take in. why am i disappointed that there isn’t more outrage, when there is rarely much of an outrage in the broader community about say, black on black violence?

    it is pretty ridiculous that me or any of us is able to function when our friends, neighbors, co-workers, family, etc, live with some level of fear of not so random violence. and i do think (hope, believe) that it is true that if i learned of some violence directed at someone i did not know, but which manifested a constant threat felt by someone i did know, for example a shooting in the neighborhood of one of my co-workers or hate violence against a trans person, i would want to try to both reach out to the person i knew and i would want the community as a whole to be doing something…. but i bet i would be equally at a loss for how to have that happen.

    the same alienation, that makes me feel scared, that makes someone feel like it makes sense to shoot at someone else, is also the alienation that makes it hard for me or anyone else to figure out how to respond to violence.

    i know that i have often felt like i didn’t know how to relate when someone in a community i am not a part of was effected by something violent. i know i feel like i have missed the boat a lot, or not stepped up as i should have. an example might be the immigration raids a while back i wanted to do some thing with other people to demonstrate how much i value the condtributions that undocumented folks make to our community; that an attach on undocumented folks is an attach on all of us.

    it is weird though that in addition to not knowing what to do when something happens to other folks, i also can’t figure out what to do when i am the one that feels affected (even if indirectly.)

    i can only hope hope hope hope, that i figure out something to do with those feelings that incorporates a critical understanding of my own relative privilege and sense of self entitlement and in which i act as an ally to the many other groups of folks who all the time feel threatened by violence.

  28. Jim Reeves says:

    I got pulled over by APD on the specious charge of “not wearing a helmet” while being way over 16 yrs. old. At the time I was STOPPED at a red light,you know obeying the rules of the road for “vehicles”. After demanding she (a senior patrol officer) show me anywhere in the N.C General Statutes where I was REQUIRED to wear one and challenging her demand for to show her a driver’s licence (not needed) I was HANDCUFFED and threatened with JAIL and eventually charged with 20-141(h) “operating a MOTOR vehicle on the highway at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic…” This very law says the provisions “shall not apply to farm tractors or other motor vehicles operating at reasonable speeds for the type and nature of such vehicles” This action was supported by TWO APD officers AND the assistant District Attorney who told me to “be quiet” and set a court date when I attempted to show the statute DID NOT APPLY.Is this apparant anti-bicycle bias amongst government officials in contradiction to the city’s “Comprehensive Bicycle Plan” encouraging more people to ride bikes? or or further examples of out of control officials demanding obediance to their wishes under color of law. Having ridden my bike in some rather bike unfriendly areas with the usual horn blowing,yelling,and general disregard of my RIGHT to travel in the public right of way I found carrying a large revolver in a shoulder holster (again my right) to be a very effective deterrent,even if somewhat heavy.

  29. Jim Reeves says:

    Forgot to add, the charges were VOIDED AFTER my initial court date by yet another Asst.DA (one that can read?)

  30. Tim Peck says:

    Diogenes writes: “Where are our libertarian friends now?”

    I’m right here. Why do you ask?

  31. Tim Peck says:

    Shooting people is a violation of individual rights. Just as is knifing other people or assaulting them in any way. The only proper role of government is the protection of individual rights. The shooter should be tried and sentenced by the courts as a criminal.

    What am I missing?

  32. techyjake says:

    This “bicyclist safety” concern sounds noble at first look for the ones on bicycles, but for me it shows that lack of regard to all the others this will affect. There are many arguments that I could use, but I would like to use the most obvious to me. May I direct Mr. Smith’s attention to his Scrutiny Hooligans’ marquee located at the top of this page. It is a Samuel Adams quote discussing his and others commitment to liberty. It reads “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

    Does anyone here understand what he is talking about? Let’s start off with some basic history. Samuel Adams is considered the founder of our revolutionary war against a totalitarian government that took property, money, guns, the press and a whole lot more. This list of grievances caused so much distress that the people united and through a war, with uncertainty of the outcome, they were able to repel the British off this wonderful land we call home. I say this to give context of the quote. There is a stark difference in the liberty that Samuel Adams was willing to die for than the one purposed through such a plan. Samuel was a huge proponent of the following listed in this quote, “Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can” and here is another “The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on Earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule.” Ok, giving this extreme view of liberty, one being to property, how does this fit with this plan. We will need to take the money and let’s not forget the property to build sidewalks and bike lanes. Does this fit in the principle of liberty? NO! Is it just to take people’s money or property to build it? NO! So why, if you are an advocate of Samuel Adams’ cause are we debating the issue. If you want to do such a thing, start a fund that bike riders can pay into voluntarily, once enough funds are raised, go to the property owners and pay their required amount. Then build your bike lanes, but stop asking others to vote for you to rob people of their hard earned money and property. I know this won’t happen because there isn’t enough money to get from the bikers. Instead, we will take from others to do what a few desire under the idea of “the commons”. It amazes me how we think this is “common”. It is anything but. If this was put up to a vote by the people, requiring a super majority 60% or even majority 51% I would bet it would not pass!
    I am sure this post will not deter anyone from this agenda. I can only hope to get a response from Mr. Smith.

  33. Gordon Smith says:

    This incident has prompted a lot of thoughtful discussion. Thanks, everyone.

    To respond to your comment, techyjake, I’d first note that the roads our internal combustion vehicles travel over are paid for by the public on property appropriated from somebody. These roads, despite being paid for by all of us, aren’t safe for many who choose to travel by means other than automobile.

    If we’re to be in the business of roadbuilding, then let us build roads that serve all of the people. Bike lanes and sidewalks give equal weight to the pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist.

    As to Sam Adams, I think people of various political philosophies find bits that they like. But casting him as a libertarian is a bit of a stretch. He rightly protested taxation without representation, but applying that sentiment to our current democratically elected Congress and state legislatures is to ignore the majority of our fellow citizens who voted for them.

    I heard a libertarian yesterday describe majority rule as “mob rule”. Having been in the minority, I can appreciate the frustration he feels as his ideas aren’t endorsed by a broader swath of the populace. However, the messy business of democracy means that he (and you, techyjake!) may one day win enough people over to steer the ship of state in a direction more to libertarian likings.

    Thanks again for all of the opinions, Hooligans. You’re the ones that make this community an interesting experiment.

  34. techyjake says:

    I appreciate you responding. I actually do not and have not been told that I am a libertarian. If being focused on the Constitutional form of government called a Republic defines me as so, I guess I am. I believe government does have it’s constituted rolls, limited as they may be. As for the argument “I’d first note that the roads our internal combustion vehicles travel over are paid for by the public on property appropriated from somebody. These roads, despite being paid for by all of us, aren’t safe for many who choose to travel by means other than automobile.” This doesn’t and can’t justify taking peoples’ property or money to benefit a few now. If you are saying, “I will use the existing road areas and build the biking lanes within them; you only have to contend with using tax dollars that benefits a small amount of people.
    I would like to debate your use or lack of understanding of Samuel Adams. You are right that people like to take snippets of his quotes. I personally love reading complete speeches and writing of his. He was a devout Christian, that thought the greatest form of virtue on earth was to live under and protect at all costs Liberty. I guess you would call him a libertarian as well. Here is a snippet of his; “He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man. We must not conclude merely upon a man’s haranguing upon liberty, and using the charming sound, that he is fit to be trusted with the liberties of his country. It is not unfrequent to hear men declaim loudly upon liberty, who, if we may judge by the whole tenor of their actions, mean nothing else by it but their own liberty, – to oppress without control or the restraint of laws all who are poorer or weaker than themselves. It is not, I say, unfrequent to see such instances, though at the same time I esteem it a justice due to my country to say that it is not without shining examples of the contrary kind; – examples of men of a distinguished attachment to this same liberty I have been describing; whom no hopes could draw, no terrors could drive, from steadily pursuing, in their sphere, the true interests of their country; whose fidelity has been tried in the nicest and tenderest manner, and has been ever firm and unshaken. The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people.” – Loyalty and Sedition, essay in The Advertiser, 1748
    I would think the next quote will send all in a frenzy, He was a devout Christian and believed this was where he formulated his ideas from; “The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave… These may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.” – Rights of the Colonists, November 20, 1772
    I find it awesome to see such a man, even with his strong FAITH, willing to die to protect liberty for all, even those of other faiths. It would suite the theocons out there to learn from such virtue.
    I am not concerned about the majority. Do I think we could move this country to a sound government and restore it to its original form of a Republic without being the majority? NO! Am I bitter that I am not? Absolutely NOT; I have never been in the majority and probably will not in my lifetime. It doesn’t change anything. Even if you are in the majority, it doesn’t justify taking the liberty or the property of one class or person and giving it to another. That is like saying, all the people in my neighborhood are stealing, so I can! This is something that has been happening in public office for a long time. Believe it or not, out founders weren’t the majority either.
    Thanks for the debate, and hopefully, just maybe, I was able to give you something to think about.

  35. i find it absurd to politicize this tragedy towards a mandate for bike lanes in Asheville.

    the fact is, no matter how much public tax dollars you throw into improving cyclist/pedestrian safety, crazy people will continue to exist, and unfortunately, such tragedies will continue to occur. bike lanes would do absolutely nothing to prevent such a particular tragic circumstance.

    i am very saddened that Gordon and others here have largely focused on the wrong issue here. this incident should have VERY LITTLE, if NOTHING AT ALL, to do with whether or not Asheville should have bike lanes on every street.

    it should have VERY MUCH, IF NOT EVERYTHING, to do with what the hell is now going on with the nut ball fireman who decided to shoot at someone for no reason whatsoever?

    sure, we might not know the entire story, but please, someone in their right mind tell me… what could have possibly happened to render this nut ball justified in attacking someone in a fit of road rage?

    it matters not if someone offends someone else, or even causes a collision — there is ABSOLUTELY NO justification for responding violently, especially with a weapon. whether or not there was a child present is really not even the issue, although it certainly exemplifies the depth of the apparent psychological problems this public servant must have.

    education has absolutely NOTHING to do with this! let’s face it, shit happens. even if someone is highly educated, they make mistakes. therefore, even if this cyclist made some kind of mistake, there is STILL no justification for the action of the nut ball.

    granted, everyone SHOULD BE entitled to a speedy trial, which we all know rarely ever happens. regardless, it would be another tragedy if some hot shot lawyer in a corrupted IN-justice system were to get this nut ball off the hook.

    if *i* was “suddenly arrested for something” — SOMETHING??? that’s shooting someone in a fit of road rage — and i was a public servant entrusted with SAVING LIVES, i would DEFINITELY expect my employer (the taxpayers) to give me an IMMEDIATE leave of absence until the matter was sorted out… PERIOD!

    but what’s with all this chatter over bike lanes and bikes being tagged & insured… BIKES TAGGED & INSURED? … what the frak??? what the hell is wrong with these beautiful minds here? how the hell is any of this relevant to this matter?

    look folks, please consider this: government can not solve all problems. in fact, government seems to make things worse in most situations. therefore, the next time you say, “there should be a law for ________,” think again!

    i was in Amsterdam in 2001 (when i was running for City Council). it has six modes of transportation: pedestrian, auto, bus, train, bike & boat (five of which use the same roads). they do have bike lanes on SOME of the roads, but not many. when you are walking down the sidewalk and hear a bicycle bell behind you, you had better get the hell out of the way. it works there for five modes of transportation and has for YEARS without there being bike lanes on every road.

    sure, bike lanes on Asheville City roads where there is room is certainly a good idea. however, let’s not get carried away with creating knee-jerk reactions to a lone unrelated tragic event. otherwise, perhaps we should also make road rage lanes for public servants as well! (thinking of the other nut ball who got out of his car in a road rage frenzy and scared the crap out of that woman who had no idea he was even a cop.)

    the best thing we could do in this or any other similar situation, is to mandate that the Asheville City judicial system upholds JUSTICE and ACCOUNTABILITY, as that is a proper role of government.

    i AM concerned about the lack of good lighting on those quaint bike taxis around town. in downtown Asheville, it’s not so bad as it’s usually fairly well lit. however, last week at night i was returning home in Montford and it was very difficult to see one of these taxis. if a car came around a poorly lit turn, all three people could easily be killed by accident, without any road rage and regardless of whether or not a bike lane existed.

    and i must say, THANK GOD the victims of this crime are alive!

    in liberty,



  36. Gordon Smith says:

    Thanks, Bernard. Have you read the Bicycle Master Plan? It’s at the city site. Go have a read.