Boston Globe Columnist Tweets Out History’s Dumbest Anti-Bike Rant

I hesitated to even respond to Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby‘s odious tweetstorm against cycling in Boston, because the man is obviously just trolling for attention.

But boy, Jacoby made it hard to hold back. In response to the death of Amanda Phillips, 27, who was struck and killed by a truck driver earlier this week, Jacoby went straight to the old bike ban argument:

Yep. Bikeless streets are clearly the solution to America’s 35,000 annual traffic deaths. At least Jacoby provided a fat target.

So Jacoby doubled down with this gem:

After that the whole internet piled on.

Jacoby, relishing his troll-dom, continued to blur the line between profession columnist and anonymous bottom-feeding internet commenter:

It’s not the first time Jacoby has spewed cartoonish and reactionary arguments to limit people’s freedom to travel.

In 2015, after another woman was killed while biking in Boston, the Globe let Jacoby use her death as a pretext to insist “urban roads aren’t meant for bicycles.”

For all his bluster,  Jacoby is right about one thing: Cycling is too dangerous in Boston. The city could fix that with more bike infrastructure and by calming car traffic throughout the city. Doing so would save a lot of drivers’ lives too.

Ban walking! Source: VisionZeroBoston
Ban driving and walking in Boston! Source: VisionZeroBoston
  • MarkinArl

    “Traffic Calming” contributed to this tragic crash. Cambridge has been narrowing lanes and removing lanes around the city since the 1990s, leaving too little room for cyclists. The last cycling boom was in the early 1970’s and cycling was not on City planners minds when they embarked on a campaign to narrow roads (“road diet”) so that traffic would slow 2 mph.

    Mirrors should be mandatory for bikes/riders so they might not make unsafe lane changes in front of overtaking vehicles. Mirrors are required on every other vehicle on the street and need to be on bicycles or worn on eyewear or helmet. When an open door, pedestrian, child, or digesters a cyclist’s path they can choose to brake instead of swerving in front of a truck, bus, or car. Lesser of two evils, for sure.

  • Trevor C.

    Mirrors are useful, but are not required because a person on a bicycle has a far less obstructed field of view compared to a person in a car. There is no hood, there are no up rights, no rear seats, doors, etc. You can see behind you by turning your head.

  • NE Seattle Greenways

    Wow, those such a huge number of terrible suggestions. Where to begin..

    1) “Traffic calming contributed to this tragic crash.” Even if it that were true, traffic calming through lane narrowing on urban streets has been proven to reduce speed, injuries, and fatalities. Over and over again, non-stop, it’s been proven. I’ll take a street that’s too narrow over a 12-14 ft lane that encourages 45mph speeds any day. Now, I certainly agree that the engineering of the road contributed to this crash, but it’s more the desire to keep on-street parking while not providing any place for people to safely bike that’s the problem. Not to mention the door-zone bike lanes in other places on that street that encourage people to bike next to cars as a matter of practice.

    2) “Mirrors are required on every other vehicle.” They’re not required on skateboards. They’re not required on rollerblades. They’re not required on unicycles, tricycles, scooters (the non-motorized kind), etc. Really, they’re just required for motorized vehicles.

    3) “They can choose to brake instead of swerving.” Resulting in a crash, most likely. Instead of picking the lesser of two evils and then looking for reasons to blame the victim when tragedy inevitably strikes, why not design the street for safety? A bike lane shouldn’t have a door potentially popping open in front of it. Sightlines around the bike lane should be such that at 10-20mph, someone biking should be able to see an approaching child or other pedestrian. In heavy pedestrian zones, the bike lane should be designed for slower speeds (5-10mph) so that people on bikes can brake suddenly without being thrown over their handlebars. In no circumstance should someone biking need to remain vigilant about who is suddenly coming up behind them. Imagine if we expected car drivers to use their mirror to suddenly swerve out of the way of obstacles? No, instead we expect them to brake, with the person behind them being legally liable if they’re following too close and rear-end them. And we build car infrastructure so that at high speeds, things aren’t suddenly popping out in front of them.

  • The man has long had a fetish for cars

    This is from 1995:

    “The more we cherish our cars, the more the bureaucrats, planners and environmental extremists labor to get us out of them. Parking freezes, gasoline taxes, bus lanes, annual inspections, car pool regulations, pedestrian-only zones, speed traps — whatever adds to the burden of owning an automobile, the anti-car zealots are for. Whatever enhances our autonomy — our ability to take ourselves where we want to go, without needing the government’s permission — they are against.”

    Love my auto-nomy by Jeff Jacoby
    The Boston Globe, August 8, 1995

  • Alicia

    The first time I ever remember reading an anti-bike rant, it was from the Boston Globe. I forgot the columnist’s name, but it might well have been from Jacoby.

  • Vooch

    this sign Is the solution

  • In Philly, we’ve got Stu Bukofsky. Every city’s got one.

  • Sine Metu

    Yep. In fact, mirrors can be dangerous because people tend to look into them a lot which means they aren’t looking forward. They are a needless peripheral distraction.

    Proper training involves teaching novice riders to turn their heads and look back – but only when they need to. Constant worrying about being struck from behind is not effective riding.

    Trained, experienced riders look back before they change lanes and the better ones also signal their intent and make eye contact.

    No mirrors required.

  • Maggie

    So did he have anything to say about Ray Bourque’s drunk driving arrest and the risks to the public from drunk driving? Or is that not worth mentioning?

    Jacoby seems to position himself as a thought leader and an influencer. The hypocrisy to stay mum when a hockey star gets falling-down drunk at a country club and drives on home, while seething about biking – I don’t really have a high opinion of Jacoby, but still. How do you beat the drum about one and ignore the other?


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