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Promotion of Cyclist Murder Causes Outrage During Doo Dah Parade

Walker Evans Walker Evans Promotion of Cyclist Murder Causes Outrage During Doo Dah ParadePhoto by Matt Ellis.
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Generally speaking, the participants in the annual Doo Dah parade are meant to err on the side of controversy with their politically incorrect floats and marching groups. In the past that policy has lent itself well to mocking bigger issues like gun rights, the oil industry, corporate interests or the federal government.

But many people are saying that one parade participant took it too far this year.

During Monday’s parade, a black SUV with fake license plates reading “BIK-H8R” was decorated with a smashed bicycle on the hood and a pair of fake legs representing an injured or killed cyclist attached to the top. Signs on the sides of the SUV read “I’ll share the road when you follow the rules” and the driver was also spotted getting out of his vehicle during the parade to duct tape over the bike sharrows that the city has installed on many Columbus streets to promote road sharing for cars and bikes alike.

While the messaging of the parade participant could be viewed as misunderstood satire, many did not perceive it in that light.

“Based on the way the driver was interacting with the crowd — and this is totally speculation — it doesn’t feel that it was just poorly executed satire,” said Yay Bikes! Executive Director Catherine Girves. “Satire is tough, and can be easy to get wrong, but you want to go over the top to make it clear that it’s satire. As the crowd booed the driver, instead of hamming it up, he actually got angry with people and flipped them off. It looks to me like this was an angry motorist on the road, and he thought this was a venue to express that.”

Currently, the parade participant’s identity is unknown, as Doo Dah does not require parade registration. Anyone who shows up is allowed to participate. Girves indicated that she expects the participant to remain anonymous since he has not come forward yet to address the issue, which has garnered national and international media attention well beyond the borders of Columbus.

“His complete absence from the conversation is probably due to the fact that he got a much different response than expected,” she stated.

That response has taken the form of hundreds of messages posted across social media in the past two days, generally in support of the rights of cyclists to use public roads for travel under the same laws as motorized vehicles.

“I was just in a meeting today with a group from the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Department of Transportation, who just wrote an active cycling plan, and I told them that we have a nice focus group going on right now,” said Girves. “There’s a lot of backlash about this parade entry, but there’s also a lot of people who are still confused as to what’s legal and what’s not. There’s quite a bit of education that needs to happen.”

Yay Bikes!, the organization the Girves leads, promotes safe and active biking practices and works daily to educate both drivers and cyclists on how to share the road and commute together without issues. She said that this week’s news provides the group with a useful time to issue that messaging, but feels there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.

I was out on the far-left bike lane on Fourth Street recently, but I was getting ready to turn right in Italian Village and moved all the way to the right lane. A car behind me honked, and I didn’t think much about it. Then I heard a siren, and it was a police officer who got on his loud speaker and told me the bike lane is there for a reason,” said Girves. “Columbus law enforcement has been fantastic, but there are still people who are confused and need education.”

Despite the negative response to this specific parade participant, organizers of Doo Dah said they won’t be changing policies about registration.

“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.”

The organization describes the event online as promoting freedom of speech, but also states that the event is “symbolic of how Columbus is, you can be who you want to be and have a great time doing it, it’s all meant in jest and fun.”

“I feel that anyone who watches or participate comes away thinking about issues in a different light,” added Roberts. “And, that my friends, is the mission of Doo Dah. Let freedom ring!”

For more information on the Yay Bikes! response on this issue, visit www.yaybikes.com.

To view more photos from this year’s Doo Dah Parade, CLICK HERE.

[Update 7/7 9:15am — Additional information added to this post from the organizers of the Doo Dah Parade.]

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  • Wow. This is even more ignorant than what I experienced today while riding: a motorist screaming out his window at me that I’m supposed to be riding my bike on the sidewalk.

  • jtwill84

    “Promotion of cyclist murder” seems a bit sensational, no?

    I saw the float and laughed, and not once interpreted as a “promotion” of murder.

    • Ok, maybe it’s the promotion of severe bodily injury then.

      Seems like the guy’s idea was pretty sensationalist to begin with.

      • jtwill84

        Yes, but the guy’s message was delivered through a “float” in a satire-driven parade…not through the headline of a purported news article. Unless the intent here was not to be news, which is wholly possible.

        I don’t think his message promoted anything other than the notion that BOTH drivers and cyclists need to obey the rules. Cyclists want cars to “share the road,” but that doesn’t do much to promote safety when some cyclists fail to follow traffic laws.

        • Catherine Girves

          Research shows people who ride bikes and people who drive cars break and obey laws at similar percentages (research actually indicates people who ride bikes are slight more lawful).

          Not interested in doing your own checking? I’ll help you get started. http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-07-18/survey-finds-bicyclists-and-motorists-ignore-traffic-laws-similar-rates

          So, now that we’re both clear about that – what message do you think the rear-ending of a human on a 15 pound bike with a 2 ton vehicle conveyed?

        • Corrin Radd

          Where in the float was he promoting that BOTH sides follow the rules? Where does the float address speeding, drunk driving, texting while driving and other very very dangerous rule breaking that nearly all drivers engage in and are serious issues (all of which have literally caused deaths of cyclists).

          • Maddox

            Where in the float was he promoting that BOTH sides follow the rules? “I’ll share the road when you follow the rules”

            He is suggesting that when cyclists stop disobeying traffic rules, he will feel it should be equal. He isn’t overgeneralizing driving (with all of your examples), but just to placate your statement, you can still text on a bike, speed, be intoxicated, etc. There have been many instances where a bicyclist is arrested for DUI on a bicycle. Same goes for boats/watercraft.

          • Corrin Radd

            But he’s not. His argument is based on tit for tat. His tit implies that automobile drivers are already following the rules which gives them the right to the road and that they’re just waiting for cyclists to catch up ethically and that will earn them the right to the road as well. But that’s obviously a ridiculous premise. Automobile drivers always have and always will break rules. Why would anyone hold cyclists to a higher standard? No, this guy does not truly care about fairness on both sides. He has a personal, illogical, ironically unfair problem with cyclists.

          • Maddox

            I don’t believe that people are trying to hold cyclists to a HIGHER standard, just to an equivalent standard. Really, any standard at all. How often do you see a cyclist pulled over for riding on the sidewalk? Not very, if ever.

    • krdunnam

      It’s about as hilarious as a rape joke.

      (FWIW, I coordinated the placing of five ghostbikes in Kalamazoo last month.)

      • Maddox

        So, you are comparing a bicycle on the hood of an SUV to rape?

        You and Ralph Hoque would make great friends… Two anal beads of the same ass..

        • Mitch

          Yes I think it is a fair comparison. So how is running someone over with a car, and he implies that it was intentional, any less classless than making fun of a woman getting raped. it would be so funny and satirical to put a body woman on the hood of a car and a bikini with a sign that read “I’ll care about you getting raped when you dress more modestly”. Yah and I’m sure some d bags would laugh about it so it would make it an awesome float and a great example of freedom of speech.

          • Steve Croyle

            You’re inferring he was depicting an intentional rundown. The implication is vague.

          • mjb

            Agree with Mitch. When the SUV puts “I’ll share the road when you follow the rules” that is clearly saying the run down was intentional. So comparing rape/road rage rundown as both intentional crimes is reasonable.

          • neroden

            He’s implying an intentional rundown. Very very clearly.

  • “Be who you want to be and have a fun time doing it?” A friend of mine got plenty of dirty looks because he was thumbing his nose during the national anthem. Some people get butthurt so easily.

    • Corrin Radd

      Can’t get much more butthurt than when an SUV rams into your backside and kills you.

      • Catherine Girves


  • Shako

    Walker– once again, I have the same question: editorial or news reporting? Personal positions on the issue notwithstanding, has this individual gone on the record stating that it was intentional homicide they were promoting? If so, your headline is justified as a news headline. Otherwise, it is more appropriate to say “float causes sparks outrage; interpreted as condemnation of cyclist murder” or something along those lines. Otherwise, label it as an opinion piece.

    For the record, I thought the float was in very poor taste and seemed antagonistic without a clear purpose.

    • Steve Croyle

      Walker isn’t a journalist, and C/U isn’t really a news forum. It’s a content hub. I figure this will soon be deleted and I’ll be banned, which will effectively illustrate my point.

  • Tim Hinton

    Just a couple of months after five cyclists were killed in Michigan, I find this in poor taste. At least once a week I get some A-hole in his car upset at me on my bike. It’s usually someone that has never ridden a bike in their lifetime.

    • Maddox

      Exactly how long should it take before someone is allowed to make something in poor taste?

      • Tim Hinton

        More than a couple of months.

        • Enabled

          Glad you’re the authority on this.

  • Thanks for reaching out to me.

    Will we change? No. Doo Dah Parade will continue with our no pre-registration and no entry fee policy.

    The non-traditional Doo Dah Parade has kept the tradition of celebrating liberty and lunacy, irreverence and freedom of speech through humor for 33 years. We are proud of this, and we are grateful to the brilliant people of this great city for sharing their own personal views and
    beliefs. This core value separates us from the rest of the pack of parades.

    Everyone’s humor is different and there are around 10 different forms of humor. 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. However, I feel that anyone who watches or participate comes away thinking about issues in a different light. And, that my friends, is the mission of Doo Dah. Let freedom ring!

    • Corrin Radd

      Will you also allow a float that promotes violence against some other group, say black people or homosexuals as long as somebody says it’s just satire? All in the name of freedom, right?

    • Brian Richards

      I am a member of the Kalamazoo. I have lost friends in my club to murderous drivers. Your apologies are hollow, and insulting.

      Threatenng to murder bicyclists is not a joke. It is a crime.
      The image of your parade float. Only in Ohio State land do people think it’s funny to murder 5 people from Michigan. And then? Give them a stage to advocate the murder of human beings. Yelling “Fire!” in a theater is not freedom of speech. Yelling, “There goes a black man with a white woman! Somebody get a rope!’ is not freedom of speech.

    • neroden

      Maybe some pro-rape floats? “Satire”, right?

      Your parade is going to be boycotted pretty soon if you don’t make it clear what you *disapprove of*. It’s one thing to *allow* anything, but you don’t get to handwave this away.

      You are “grateful to the brilliant people of this great city for sharing their own personal views and beliefs” in favor of murder? Seriously? I don’t think you should be grateful to thuggish would-be killers for sharing their violent, evil, pro-murder views.

      Anyone who watches this comes away thinking “Yeah, Doo-Dah are a bunch of bigoted, murderous assholes”. Is that really the mission of Doo-Dah?

      • Bluehouse1065

        The Doodah parade is a satirical parade. It is obvious by the hysterical, pearl clutching tone of your comment that you do not have the sense of nuance required to handle it. You should definitely feel free to boycott it in the future.

  • Ralph Horque

    Would this guy be getting “excused” had he made a float with a black man hanging under a tree? Same difference.

    • Maddox

      Soooo… you are comparing historic racial murder to a bicycle being struck?

      You put the anal in analogy..

      • neroden

        Yep, murder is murder.

        • Maddox

          Technically, it’s not. This is why there are different degrees of murder and also options that may differ from what you see as murder (ie. Manslaughter), etc.

  • hometown

    I squirmed with embarrassment for the driver when this passed by. In contrast, the lady beside me erupted in vengeful glee: “You GO buddy! I know exactly what you mean!” Doo-Dah prides itself on creating an anarchic space in which all points of view are welcome. Anybody remember the folks with fish hooks stuck in their backs?

    • Neal Schmitt

      Had a similar reaction – I was in awe. People in front of me said “gawd I hate cyclists.”

  • Maddox

    I don’t mind sharing the road. However, what I do mind is bicyclists that blatantly ignore the rules of the road. On a regular basis I see cyclists downtown ride in the street one minute, then jump to the sidewalk to use the crosswalk if there is a red light. I will see them not use signals when changing lanes, cut off motorists, etc.

    There are a significant amount of cyclists that do not follow the rules of the road. I understand his point. Not so sure I’d go through the effort of making a float and participating in the parade to prove that point though.

    And before you all get preachy on me… I do ride a bicycle, although not avid enough to consider myself a cyclist. I also ride a motorcycle and experience distracted and careless drivers on a near daily basis. However, you won’t see me riding it on the sidewalk because I don’t like my light being red.

    • Corrin Radd

      But I’m sure that there are plenty of motorcycle riders who speed, ride drunk, don’t signal, pass illegally between two cars, install illegal noise making equipment, etc. So it would be ok with you if I said that until those riders stop breaking those laws, I am going to run down and kill every motorcycle rider that I see on the road?

      • Steve Croyle

        How did we get to a point where anybody is running down cyclists? Perhaps the guy with this float was implying the the cyclist had caused an accident leading to his own demise and his message was a reminder to cyclist to ride responsibly.

        • neroden

          No. Learn to read. Reread the article.

          This is pretty much equivalent to a pro-rape float saying “I’ll stop raping you if you stop dressing so slutty” or a pro-lynching float saying “We’ll stop hanging you if you know your place and obey segregation”

      • Maddox

        So, you are implying that nobody on a bicycle rides intoxicated, none of them speed, none of them have any illegal equipment, etc? That would not be talking about the vast majority of cyclists, but then again, you aren’t talking about the vast majority of motorcyclists with your example either.

        Soooo, to get back on topic (you know, bicyclists), I still have a problem when they don’t follow the rules of the road and ride back and forth between the sidewalk and roadway, yet expect everyone to treat them differently depending on which they are on.

  • Dave

    This guy forgets about the “Last Clear Chance Doctrine” that may have a different name in different states. Basically it means that regardless of whether or not the other road user is violating some road law, you still have the obligation to avoid a collision if you can do so at all. So what this means is, as one example, if some bicyclist runs a four-way stop sign in front of you, that doesn’t give you the right to enter the intersection and run them over.

  • Dave

    Point is, if someone else violates the law on the road, don’t also make it your problem unless it actually affects you. For example, if you have a salmoning bicyclist coming straight at you I’d just come to a complete stop, maybe while flashing my headlights at the salmoning bicyclist. But you should never decide that it’s now OK to just hit that bicyclist head on (because you have the last clear chance to avoid that).

  • Sure he is free to have his opinion, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t an ignorant jackass. But that’s ok, nothing is funnier than motorists who see nothing wrong with speeding lecturing cyclists on traffic laws. Except the fact that cars kill 2-3 cyclists a day.

  • JerryDeWalt

    Wow, really? Everybody is so offended and so sensitive these days, fucking grow a pair it was JOKE. “I’m outraged! I’m offended!” modern Americans are fucking WEAK. I love cycling and fully advocate for biking but I also have a sense of humor.

    • JerryDeWalt

      I wouldn’t come forward either because I wouldn’t want to be harassed by all of you people who are so easily offended and outraged by everything.

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