Enci, Too Sexy For Our Streets

[UPDATE: Sharon McNary apologized to Enci in the comments over at IlluminateLA]

There’s good publicity and there’s bad publicity.  For cycling in LA, it used to be that any publicity was good publicity, because we were so desperate for attention.  I think however, we’ve reached a point where we would benefit from a little less bad journalism, like the LA Times article that reported that the City Council will be creating a Cyclists’ Bill of Rights.

Or Sharon McNary from KPCC reporting on the Bicycle Advisory Committee.  I’ve heard Sharon before, and she’s not half bad, but after what she told Enci Box, I’m ready to say “pass.” Enci responded to a KPCC survey about bicycle hit and runs.  Sharon’s response:

I’m glad you weren’t hurt any worse. Thanks for the photo. I’m looking at your outfit in terms of safety. No helmet, and wearing a dress that could be a distraction to a passing driver. I’m no fashion critic and I’m assuming it’s not your usual biking gear, but seriously, what’s the responsibility of a cyclist to wear protective clothing? [emphasis added]

Umm WTF?  Is this 1980, 1880, or 1776, and are we going back to the future?

Our sister city, New York City, had it’s brush with absurdity when Hasids in Brooklyn insisted on removal of a bike lane because the sexy young cycling sirens of New York were too sexy for their orthodox sensibilities.  LA and NYC always try to out do each other, and perhaps we’ve found our champion for this battle.  Sharon McNary can make the case that distracted driving is caused by sexy Hungarian bikers, not cell phone use.  A simple revocation of visas ought to solve Southern California’s distracted driving difficulties for decades, until we’re able to smuggle enough eastern European talent in to successfully distract drivers again.

This really takes me back, I tell ya, because in the bad old days, when I was super hot with no wrinkles, no body fat, and a handsome tan, I too distracted drivers.  I remember one time some friends and I were watching a world cup game at my house.  After the game we decided to bike across town to a pool party.  Well, it was hot as hell, so me, Ryan, Oscar, and Colin took off our shirts and had a sexy shirtless ride across town to pool paradise east of LACMA.

I’ll tell you what, it was like if James Cameron made a Nascar film on Wilshire Boulevard.  Over-privileged Beverly Hills heiresses and underwhelmed West Hollywood fashionistas were crashing their cars into poles, Lamborghini showrooms, Wahoo’s Tacos, and the LACMA sculpture garden.  I mean, with four hunky men riding shirtless they just couldn’t keep an eye on the road.

I really regret it.  As Sharon implied, it’s the cyclists’ obligation to wear protective clothing.  If I had crashed, I could have shorn off a nipple, and the cost of repair would have come out of my UCLA healthcare plan, and the taxpayer’s pocket.  Plus, we bore full responsibility for the catastrophe behind us, as the ones irresponsibly flaunting our manly man-ness.  I felt so ashamed, I nearly voted for Bush, but then I found out he didn’t want to bomb Canada, and I just can’t support that kind of weak foreign policy.

Anyway, I guess it doesn’t make sense to point out that in the Netherlands & Denmark, cycling fatalities per mile are 6 times lower, and helmet use is lower than 5%.  I will say that Copenhagen has a real problem with sexy people on bikes, and if they really want cycling to be safe, they’ll enforce a dress code:

Copenhagen Fashionista on Wheels by [Zakka / Mikael].
(Photo by Zakka, in Copenhagen.)

I think, if someone’s baseline reaction to a hit and run is to react to their clothing, that disqualifies them from reporting objectively on any cycling related matter.  Sorry Sharon, but I think I’d rather have another reporter.

Alex Thompson

Bikerowave co-founder, Cyclists' Bill of Rights co-author, President of Bikeside, and Math Phd. HULK SMASH straight from Michigan!

11 thoughts on “Enci, Too Sexy For Our Streets

  1. Really? I totally have a big forehead crease. I have a couple hairs I suspect are gray, but I haven’t got a good look at them in flat light, so I’m not “sure”.

    BTW – I had a positive experience with McNary on a story way back in ’08. However, I still feel that this comment is sort of like the Mowery & race comment – I don’t think if you say things like this you can be trusted to write a balanced story on cycling.

  2. Ahem, well, I guess aging is different for all of us. I can handle the grey hairs.

    I think the thing Enci was also irritated with was the amount of unsolicited advice women cyclists get. I also get a LOT of unsolicited advice, and while most of it is harmless, it feels like I’m being talked down to or talked to like I’m a child.

    The thing is, (and I spent part of last night studying the CVC that addresses this), in daylight, we have no responsibility to wear reflective clothing in daylight or at night-time beyond ankle bracelets if you do not have reflectors on your pedals. (CVC21202d3) Our bikes are required, should we ride in darkness, to have front and rear lights and side reflectors (and pedal,foot,or ankle reflectors), but we are not required to all wear orange safety vests or anything (although I have an orange sweater that I think is trey chic). Sharon’s comment, if it was published, would re-enforce the ignorance of the general public, and their are a lot of drivers out there who try to punish us for violating some code in their heads by cutting us off, driving too closely, etc. Furthering the misinformation only furthers the harrassment that you all are trying to prevent.

    I don’t know if I’d ask for another reporter, rather, I’d ask Sharon to do a piece that acknowledges how she wrongly assumed something, just like a lot of people do, and how she learned from it.

    On another note, by studying the CVC last night I realized that I don’t have side reflectors on my tires, and need to get some. Uh oh, here comes LAPD…

  3. I shudder too Stephanie.

    Danceralamode, I don’t believe people change positions that quickly. I’d be open to a piece like that in a few months, if McNary made a documented effort to go out and ride the streets dressed to kill, but as for right now, I think a time out is in order. Remember, this is a professional journalist, and it’s her job to say and write intelligent things. When a journalist says or writes absurdly dumb things, a break is in order.

  4. I get told how I should dress to take the bus. I write about my experiences on the bus and people ask, “Well what were you wearing?” As if my outfit is the cause for Metro’s issue, if I only dressed more nunlike…Unfreakinbelievable!!!


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