NPR’s TOTN Disappoints

Rob Anderson

I was disappointed by the piece on NPR’s Talk of the Nation titled Cyclists And Drivers Vie For Space On The Road. What could have been an enlightening and intelligent discussion on the subject was doomed by the choice of *Rob Anderson and Daisuke Wakabayashi as guests. Their lack of expertise, combined with guest host Lynn Neary’s thinly veiled bias, made for a piece that was not up to TOTN’s usual standards. Thankfully Noah Budnick from Transportation Alternatives was given a few minutes of air time to inject some real data and expertise into the discussion.

Take a listen, but be ready to be annoyed. And if you’re not happy with the coverage, you can state your opinion here.

*Rob Anderson, if you’re not familiar with him, is the anti-bike activist known for filing the lawsuit that successfully halted San Francisco’s ambitious bike plan. You can read more about him in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Daisuke Wakabayashi is a Reuters correspondent.

5 Responses to “NPR’s TOTN Disappoints”

  • Shay says:

    Let me start by saying that I’m a bicycle commuter myself, so I’m not here as some anti-bike troll. I listened to TOTN yesterday and was actually rather pleased with the piece.

    1) Rob Anderson, while probably not the best representative for the “vs bike” side, I think made some relevant points about the need for a study. I’d read about his efforts on other bike blogs, and I really expected him to be a total ass. He actually seemed pretty reasonable, at least in this interview. Of course I’d like to see more bike lanes, but maybe they don’t need to be on every road, and maybe separate lanes aren’t the best solution in all cases -it probably is worth taking a much closer look at.

    2) As far as Lynn Neary’s bias: They dismissed Anderson pretty early in the show, leaving the pro-cyclist with nearly uninterrupted airtime. In the absence of a balancing guest voice, I think it’s appropriate for the host to challenge a guest or play devil’s advocate. That way the listener still gets to hear both sides of an issue, and the guest explores their position more deeply. Deeper analysis is something I find quite appealing about listening to NPR.

    I know not everyone will agree with me on those points, but I just wanted to say I didn’t think it was the worst thing in the world.

  • Perry says:

    Anderson is a crank who believes that cars have a god-given right to the road and states his position as fact. Why would I want to listen to that when I could be riding my bike instead?

    Critical thinking is dead in America. People are no longer expected to substantiate their statements with facts but instead are allowed to state beliefs as though they are facts. This is why we can’t have fruitful discussions about religion, science, politics, etc. It’s the sign of a poorly educated people and it goes way beyond bike lanes.

  • Tim Guthrie says:


    I wouldn’t expect an evenhanded discussion on NPR. As a conservative, I find the NPR format appealing, but the content often very lacking. I have called the NPR ombudsman over serious NPR bias in the past, but he has never had the courage or even job productivity to return my calls. Of course, low productivity is what I would expect from someone using my tax dollars.


    The fact that cyclists have opposition is a sign our numbers are adding up. Nobody opposese movements with no members/adherents.


    The issues in SF are unique, with Critical Mass trying to make auto drivers hate cyclists. Using rude, bully like tactics of right out the 60s socialist protest handbook.


    All Mr. Anderson is using the same tactics against cycling as leftists have used against capitalism for the past 40 years. Maybe now some will see how easy it is to stop real, valuable progress. A few malcontents can ruin things for many, weather it is a new powerplant or new bike transportation systems.


  • andy parmentier says:

    i agree with perry that a whole lot of unsubstantiation flies under a whole lot of radar. i looked up “kent hovind” on you tube and saw the sneering bratty hatred for his position. are they attacking the position or the man or both?
    the playing field will never be level in this world. but individual’s playing field’s certainly do get leveled.
    not just level playing fields but something i would call “middle ground” is important in my opinion. when your paradigm shifts, it’s good to have a levelness AND a center. for example, read THE BICYCLE IN WAR which talks about viet-cong pushing their “cargo bicycles” thru the jungle loaded with 500 lb of gear/munitions. only powered vehicles are supposed to be able to carry that kind of payload. and so the car is the vehicle that is seen as the heavy, substantial “meat” while the lowly bicycle is relegated to the role of “rabbit food/side salad”
    so by sheer force of will, the viet cong pushing those bicycles thru the jungle had created a middle ground between mere bicycle, and something far more army-like.
    i’d like to see an action-war movie where people ride bicycles, shoot rubber bullets, and laugh instead of cry. the military scientists invented “rubber metal” which was inspired by little beetles that don’t squish. a perfect example of “middle ground” flexible yet tough like my can-do-anything nephew.

  • John Boyer says:

    Id bet my small fortune of bikes we have the same percentage of arrogent thoughtless cyclists that motorists have in careless and indifferent drivers. Why is this man tryingto pit us against each other?

    I think his job should be taken away for his fifth column approach to causing conflict.

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