Have you ever wanted to run somebody over? You know, just to teach them a lesson? I'm not saying kill them. Just roll over 'em with one tire, maybe. Two at the most.
OK, I've never thought of doing this either. But then, I'm not a talk-radio host. I don't even like steamrolling the people I interview. And that, apparently, is one of the things that separates me from KDKA Radio host Mike Pintek (along with a thick head of hair).
Pintek's June 17 broadcast featured Bill Nesper, whose League of American Bicyclists recently gave Pittsburgh a bronze medal for its bike friendliness. You can hear their conversation for yourself here. It proceeds smoothly enough -- Pintek claims to have done some cycling himself, and the two men discuss the city's topography -- until around the 6:30 mark.
By this point, Pintek has noted a recent spate of incidents in which local cyclists have been accosted in the East End. After observing that in some of these incidents, the cyclists were verbally taunted rather than robbed, Pintek wonders, "Isn't it kind of curious that -- berating, somebody knocked off the bike but not robbed -- the other guy is berated and taunted by several people who are on foot. Does that raise any question in your mind that maybe the bicyclists might have something to do with this themselves?"
"I don't think so," Nesper responds, sounding a bit like a person wondering just what he's signed up for.
You can't blame Nesper for being treading cautiously. In an incident where a bicyclist ended up in the hospital with a broken collarbone, Pintek's sympathies like with the attackers. This may be the first time in the history of talk radio that a host has sided with the assailant. Usually, it's us lefties who coddle the criminals, and talk about how tough life on the streets is.
"I can't speak to these incidents specifically: I wasn't there," Pintek concedes a moment later. But just before going to a commercial break, he warns Nesper that "I do want to talk about other things with bicycle riders that could prompt a belligerent response."
"If you've been driving on the roads, I'll bet you know where I might be going with this," he adds in an aside to the audience.
After coming back from the commercials -- we're at the 14:30 mark or so -- Pintek notes that often, cyclists seem to ignore road-safety laws. (Some of the examples he cites, however, are flawed: Cyclists actually DON'T have to stay on the far right-hand-side of the lane ... and there are plenty of reasons for why doing so can be dangerous. Like people opening car doors while parked along the curb.) But what REALLY pisses Pintek off is that -- like everyone else a talk-radio host doesn't like -- these cyclists are elitists!
Or as Pintek puts it: "There are some bicyclists who are just these arrogant little dorks that think that they can do anything they want, because they're on a bicycle and, 'We're being green and environmentally friendly.'"
Still trying to be obliging, Nesper agrees that some cyclists, like some drivers, do scoff at traffic laws. More education is needed, he says, and --
But Pintek has now found that wellspring of outrage from which all radio-talk flows.
"I’m getting agitated now just thinking about it," he says. "I have been sorely tempted -- I gotta tell you this. I haven't done it, because I’m not going do it. I’m not that kind of person. [But] I have been so tempted to just bump them. I have been so tempted to pull up, you know, behind them when they're doing this -- you know spread out across the road. Put my car in neutral, and jam the accelerator down. Race the engine and scare the living crap out of 'em."
Somewhere in here is the strangled sound of Nesper's protest. But Pintek continues: "They’ve gotta stop being so arrogant about what they're doing ... They have to obey the rules, they gotta do the right thing, or else they're going to get killed."
Finally, Nesper says -- with the restraint of a therapist trying to find a way to connect with a psych-ward patient -- "It sounds like you're interested in the safety of other human beings. And that’s a good thing to hear ... I'm glad to hear that you fight those temptations."
The exchange wraps up soon after: Pintek wishes Nesper happy travels ... which is a nice sentiment coming from a guy who just fantasized about wanting to run Nesper's pals off the road. And in fact, the interview has drawn outrage from a local cycling advocacy group, whose members are contacting KDKA.
I hope they get some results, but you know ... wouldn't it be more effective to try running the guy over? I understand that can be an effective cure for arrogance.
I love Mel Packer!