Friday, July 8, 2016

Tolerance of Parade Float Reveals Acceptance of Bike Hate

In a week marked by stupid bloodshed, it seems silly to write about a parade and a float. 

But the same intolerance, lack of empathy, and anger that seeps through the underbelly of America reared its ugly intolerant head in Columbus, Ohio last week. 

In a normally fun, irreverent event known as the Doodah Parade,  one man decided to turn his SUV into a float with a bike in the grill and an effigy of a cyclist in his sunroof. The sign on the door says "I'll share the road when you follow the rules."

Spencer Hackett on Twitter

The Twitter world erupted with justified anger at this idiot who clearly is threatening cyclists with his several thousand pound vehicle. 

The Doodah parade is an annual event that celebrates the weird and fun, and I'd love to join something like this if it came to Milwaukee. 

Parade Float Neither Funny Nor Weird

But this was neither weird nor fun. It's criminal, hateful. 

As a cyclist, I'm a little more sensitive to this than others since I was hit by an inattentive driver who shattered my leg and shoulder. I only survived because the incident happened right in front of a convenience store. 

I carry this reminder of the driver:

So when I see this kind of purposeful antagonism toward cyclists who are only trying to get somewhere or ride their bicycles, I get a little upset. 

Mayor and City Council Silent

All of my emails and tweets to Mayor Andrew Ginther and city council members went unanswered, except for one. Michael Stinziano first wrote this in response to my email:

"Thank you for your email and for sharing with me your concern about this “float” as well as your personal experience and accident.

"Indeed the parade that the photo is from is an entirely politically incorrect parade. It is called the Doo-Dah parade and it is done in absolute jest and participants certainly intend to stir discussion/controversy and get a rise out of individuals.  I have learned over its many years, no one is intending to personally attack anyone.  The City of Columbus does not host the parade per se and I would encourage you to contact the Doo-Dah organizers however you feel appropriate.

"Please do not hesitate to contact me further regarding this or other issues I may be of service in addressing."

City Council Needs to Step Up to Decry Behavior 

I took issue with his hands-off comment - when the City issues the permits and the former mayor is the "grand marshall." 

"Without city officials publicly declaring their opposition to this, the reputation of the city is still tarnished," I wrote. "I would encourage you to step up and publicly decry this kind of behavior."

His response?
"I think you walk a very fine line when any government official hinders freedom of speech (regardless of how bad, offensive and deplorable it is).

"As someone who has participated in our local Ride of Silence numerous times, I understand the concern this “float” raises but am confident our community is handling their response appropriately."

Wrong. You call it out. You say, "This is wrong. We're all about building relationships, not tearing them down."

Dianne Kiener Helps Organize Doodah Parade

The organizer of the Doodah parade is a real estate agent named Dianne Kiener, also known as Ms. Doodah. The business office address is 581 Reinhard Avenue, Columbus, OH 43206, phone number (614) 228-0621. She has not responded to any contact.

Columbus Underground published this piece about the "float." 

“Everyone’s humor is different and there are around ten different forms of humor,” explained organizer Deb Roberts. “The people who enter the parade are not professional comedians and give it their best shot. Sometimes their humor is on target, sometimes it’s a near miss, sometimes it’s a total dud. I am sorry to those who get offended by some of the humor, but that is what Doo Dah is.” 

No, it's not humor. It's danger and anger. 

It's not naive to believe that cars and bikes can co-exist. Bikes don't violate laws any more than cars do. 

So much research is out there that bicyclists bring economic growth wherever protected bike lanes are built. And when protected bike lanes are built, more cyclists hit the road. 

City council and public officials should the first to sound off when members of their community are threatened in any way. 

I'm still waiting for the "appropriate" response from Columbus. 


  1. 1) post more graphic photos on twitter and send them to Columbus. 2) nice column but someone needs to make the loud point that even when cyclists aren't obeying traffic rules, death and dismemberment are not equivalent or appropriate answers. I wish I saw more outrage that the equivalence is being presumed. 3) this pisses me off too.