No Fixed Abode: Rage Against The Zipcar

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
no fixed abode rage against the zipcar

In the end, they caught him, sitting on his bike, near a Billy Joel concert that he was probably listening to ironically, identifiable by his ridiculous handlebar mustache. And now the (grand) jury is in on Ian Hespelt: three felony charges and associated misdemeanors. So what did he do? Only this: he rode the wrong way in traffic with a group of cyclists, falsified an impact with a Zipcar being driven legally by a woman of indeterminate age but definitely diminutive size, attempted to hold her against her will with the assistance of other cyclists, then assaulted her with a U-lock as she drove away.

As a cyclist who has been struck five times by vehicles, once hard enough to snap my neck and leg and require the replacement of every red blood cell in my body, I have long struggled to understand the behavior of “Critical Mass” activists, even as I have nodded in sympathy at their frustration with “cagers” who often feel empowered to menace or attack cyclists simply for existing in their vicinity. I consider the car/bike dynamic in American society to be a massive indictment of human nature; given the advantage of safety and security over the two-wheelers around them, the average driver reacts by turning into a cross between the Emperor Commodus as portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix and Judge Dredd.

Oh well. Let’s watch the video, and then I’ll tell you the reason that my favorite blogger would give you for this mook’s behavior.

Hear the rhyme of the ancient Hipster

Hear him squeal as he stops one of three

Fantastizes a blow from the Impreza guest

Stay here and listen to the nightmares of P.C.

And the cyclists cheer on as the car passes by

Hit by a U-lock and the hipster screams his tale

The actual incident displayed in the video has been Monday-morning-quarterbacked everywhere from the San Francisco newspapers to Jalopnik, but it’s safe to say that not even the hardest-core of bikers-rights types genuinely approves of what Mr. Hespelt has done. This isn’t one of these situations where everybody views the video through their chosen political blinders and comes out mumbling platitudes. Ninety-five percent of the people who comment on it think Hespelt is an idiot and should be charged with something. I am with the ninety-five percent on this.

At this point, I’d like to invite you to read a very long article on another website. The article is called I’m Building A Rape Tunnel and it’s worth your time. However, if you are short on time, here’s the important part as it relates to Mr. Hespelt:

There are no special insights available about the nature of anger; but the nature of rage is well described. If you’re willing to agree that the above sentiments are rage — the irrational, out of proportion blinding hate that anyone else observing it thinks is pretty nutty — then there’s plenty to learn from it.

First, the rage comes because [the subject of the article] is weaker than us. When we feel safe, when we’re not afraid (of him), we’re free to explode in rage. (That’s why there’s road rage and not elevator rage.)

In every horror movie I have ever watched, no one, neither characters nor audience, hated the killer. They’re too afraid to hate. In fact, sometimes they side with the killer — think of an audience of teen boys laughing at the funny/horrifying way the victim was butchered. (And, in reverse: only when they start to hate, when they feel the rage, do they become powerful enough to kill the killer.)

…All rage comes from a narcissistic injury.

…When you find yourself hating someone (who did not directly hurt you) with blinding rage, know for certain that it is not the person you hate at all, but rather something about them that threatens your identity. Find that thing. This single piece of advice can turn your life around, I guarantee it.

What you see Ian Hespelt demonstrating in that video is rage. Narcissistic rage. He’s raging because he’s finally found someone weaker than he is. I mean — look at him. I doubt he could win a fight against the average twelve-year-old kid from rural Ohio. When he swings the U-lock, he looks like a drag queen swishing a purse around for comedic effect. There is no way Mr. Hespelt has ever been anything in his life besides a coward, a victim, a loser. This is a guy who wears a T-shirt protesting some minor and bizarre aspect of the Post Office’s business plan. I have no idea whether he is gay or straight but if he’s straight I’m willing to bet that he’s what they call an incel, or “involuntarily celibate”. Those members of the B&B who are men and who like men are free to offer their opinions on how Mr. Hespelt appeals to them. I don’t know a gay dude who would give him a toss and I know more than a few gay dudes.

As an individual, this guy’s a weakling. As a cyclist, he’s doubly so, even in cycling-friendly San Francisco. He’s probably been the target of a hundred acts of aggression, most of them completely unintentional, from soccer moms in Lexus SUVs and harried executives in S-Classes and other random motorists. He’s maybe been “doored”, although in my experience that is almost always an accident and it’s almost always avoidable if you have your eyes up. He’s had cars turn in front of him, back out of garages in front of him, brake-check him when he rides in the middle of the lane.

He’s angry. I don’t blame him. I have enough car-related scars on my body to convincingly impersonate a Desert Storm veteran at the Indianapolis 500. (That is, um, another story.) I hate cars when I’m not in one. I’ve ridden a motorcycle to work every weekday since July 15 or thereabouts and I’ve been shoved out of my lane a half-dozen times and I’ve had to move to avoid late-brakers and it’s just a general mess, you know? Would it kill the cagers to pay attention to those of us who haven’t decided to drag four thousand pounds or more of stamped steel to work and back?

But it’s easy for me to feel contempt at his cowardice. He and his friends don’t target some NorCal farmer in his F-250. They select a small woman in a Zipcar and they proceed to attack her as if she’d done something wrong. One man screams at her, “Put it in Park! You’re not going anywhere!” like he’s a cop taking control of a criminal. Let me tell you something: I’m forty-three years old and I’m about half as tough as I was as a teenager, which wasn’t that tough, but if I find a video of you and your friends surrounding a car and telling my girlfriend, or the mother of my child, to put the car in Park because they aren’t going anywhere then you had better prepare to be beaten to within an inch of your life. If my kid is in the car, then you should think about estate planning, because that’s kidnapping and most sensible women would see it as a prelude to gang rape. The woman in the Zipcar doesn’t know that you can only achieve an erection in the presence of a buttplug and your fully-functional Twilight Sparkle pony plushie. She thinks you’re gonna rape her.

So of course she is going to drive away. And that’s when your rage really kicks in. Because it’s the night of Critical Mass, that One Night Where Bikers Rule The Roads, the night for you to have revenge against those who have wronged you, but like it or not she is still in a four thousand pound cage and she can still just drive away. She can drive over your stupid little bicycle if you put in in her way. You are still just as weak and ineffectual as you’ve always been.

So you, a thirty-eight-year-old grown man, commence to attempting a beating of a small woman with a two-pound U-lock. That’s who you’ve become. You are the lowest of the low. You’re the biggest coward in America. Not even the pro athletes who drop their women with a right-left combo for mouthing off have a U-lock in their hands when they do it. America hates you, Ian Hespelt. With good reason.

And we could leave it at that, except for the following: he wasn’t really alone. He wasn’t the only person who was yelling at the helpless woman. He wasn’t the only person attempting to intimidate someone for no reason. He was just the ringleader of this particular group of goons. And he is far from alone in the way he thinks about the issue of car-bike dynamics.

If you’re a cyclist in this country, you are less safe because of what Ian Hespelt did. Because of his actions, some drivers will be even quicker to strike you and drive off. Because of his actions, someone, somewhere, is going to respond to a dispute between a cyclist and driver with deadly force. Because of his actions, the cold war between the various users of the American road just became a little hotter.

So, Ian, speaking personally as a former professional BMX racer, former bike shop owner, and someone who has commuted to an actual job on an actual bicycle far more often than you ever have or ever will, I hope they lock you up and throw away the key. But if they don’t, you should consider leaving your bicycle, and your U-lock, just where you left it, forever. Better yet, hit the road and don’t look back. As your friend Billy Joel would say, “When will you realize / Vienna waits for you?”

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  • Balto Balto on Sep 10, 2015

    Lots of interesting comments on either side of the spectrum here. I've got about 10,000 road miles as a cyclist, including Coast to Coast fully loaded at age 13. I have noticed a lot of hostility towards bicycles in my time on the road, both during urban commuting and long distance rural riding. I've been told by a gentleman in a rural diner in Nebraska that he would happily run over a cyclist if he felt they had wronged him in any way, and I am currently yelled at to "get on the sidewalk" at least twice a month during my daily commute in the city, once so aggressively that the woman yelling came within inches of rear ending the car stopped at a red light in front of her because she was too busy yelling out of her passenger side window. I fully believe that cyclists and motorists can coexist, but as stated both should respect each other's capabilities and the laws of the road. That being said, if I'm riding through a sleepy residential neighborhood and no one is on the road, I'm blowing a stop sign on my bike. The amount of effort it takes to stop and then start again is too much to do it for an otherwise empty street. Just out of curiosity, I have a question for the people who suggest licensing, registration, and traffic citations for cyclists: If we were to have plates and licenses, would we then get similar privileges to the ones that cars have? Could we occupy a full lane? If so I'd be all for it, but if not I don't know what I'd be paying for.

    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Sep 10, 2015

      @Balto I have seen the occupy full lane behavior on a road not two miles from here. I'm not sure what the legality is and I would say it is not a common sight, but yes it has happened. Personally in a registration situation I wouldn't mind as long as the cyclist could maintain or near maintain the speed limit if they were going to ride in the center of the lane. The other thing I would like to see is something like no fault insurance for cyclists. I can't remember what my lawyer told me years ago exactly, but the jist of it was generally the driver is considered at fault when in fact this will never always be true.

  • Zamoti Zamoti on Sep 10, 2015

    Reading The Last Psychiatrist blog is very interesting. The influence on this and other articles rather striking--you guys drinking buddies or something? This one was particularly interesting:

  • Lou_BC I kinda like the blocky lines. The snout has a star wars stormtrooper look so that means it won't hit anything.
  • ToolGuy I respect the work this individual has done from the starting point he was handed ("I have been involved for about 6 months repairing this car acquired form my sister who received it from our dad"; "The car was an oily mess when I received it, had a clogged catalytic converter, and hesitated intermittently on the highway after extended driving (> 20 miles)")...But there is no need to show prospective customers the "before" or "in process" photographs. Very few customers want to see or know how the sausage is made.And rather than show extreme close-ups of the dents, call a PDR shop, and bump up your selling price.
  • Ajla "launched as the GX550 offering a 3.4-liter" I know some people rip on pick up or performance car buyers for insecurity but it is funny that premium vehicle buyers need inflated designations like this because "GX340t" won't get their d*cks hard. Although Lexus isn't alone in this, it's even better here because they went from GX470 to GX460 back in 2009 and no one died over the decrease. The IS500 and LC500 are still matched to their displacement but maybe they'd sell more if it was called LC650? 🤔
  • ToolGuy Q: Is it time for ToolGuy the non-early adopter to purchase an EV for long-term ownership?A: No, it is not.(Get this stuff ironed out and I'll be back later.)
  • Theflyersfan Why take the effort to cover the back plate when the front plate is visible in a couple shots?