Meet the Bike Man who brought the trucker convoy to a crawl – The Washington Post

Daily update

Sign in
The sound reached Daniel Adler first: a chorus of honks that seemed to be moving closer.
“This is quite loud,” thought Adler, an Australia native who has lived in the Dupont Circle neighborhood for a decade. On a bike ride for groceries at the time, he decided to take a detour toward the circle to see the commotion.
The choices that Adler, 49, made in the ensuing minutes led him to the front of a section of the “People’s Convoy,” the coalition of drivers that has espoused far-right beliefs and disrupted Washingtonians’ lives for two weeks. Amid this protest of vaccine mandates — which also encapsulates a range of other grievances — residents have grown tired of drivers treating the District as their playground.
So, as a group of semi-tractors that Saturday afternoon blared their horns on 17th Street and became separated by traffic, Adler slipped in front of a few of them. Then, taking up an entire lane, he started pedaling as slowly as he could.
“I heard the stories of the traffic on the Beltway breaking up the convoy,” he said, “and I thought I, too, could break up the convoy.”
Adler, a father of two school-aged children, brought it to a crawl — and, for his efforts, became known across the Internet by a moniker somehow heroic and commonplace at once: “Bike Man.”
His convoy holdup, captured on video and shared widely on social media, was a powerful visual, and an absurd one. People nationwide observed one man on a 72-pound cargo bike halting trucks that could weigh up to 10 tons.
Many online said he was a hero. A brewery in Northeast offered him free beer. Jimmy Kimmel described it as “poetry in motion.” One Twitter user wrote:
“Gotham has Batman
Metropolis has Superman
New York has Spider-Man
Washington DC has bike man.”
To city residents exhausted and alarmed by the convoy, Adler became a symbol. To some, the cyclist was standing up to fascism, white supremacy, anti-vaccination sentiment and convoy members’ harassment of residents. Others saw his bike as an example of sustainable, clean transportation juxtaposed with massive trucks burning fuel while driving in circles.
In the moment, Adler, who is vaccinated, wasn’t probing what his choice may mean to friends, family and strangers. He just thought that driving commercial trucks and blaring horns through neighborhoods was unsafe.
Sure, they had a right to protest, he thought. But so did he.
Big powerful convoy slowed down by… a single bicyclist #DCMeansDontCome #ConvoyGoHome pic.twitter.com/PZt0T8mNow
District residents are used to demonstrations for a range of causes like demands for climate justice, calls for D.C. statehood, both sides of the abortion debate and protests against police brutality and racism.
But at the Hagerstown Speedway, where the People’s Convoy has been camped out since arriving from Adelanto, Calif., on March 4, the rhetoric is different.
Some members brag about being part of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Signs at the speedway have included the logo for the violent Three Percenters militia movement. Men have worn the Proud Boys insignia and have flown the Confederate flag. There are supporters who tout QAnon conspiracy theories, including false claims about satanic child-sex-trafficking rings, and some who have urged citizen’s arrests of President Biden and Vice President Harris.
Convoy organizers have denied assertions that the group is full of racists and white supremacists.
A nonprofit says it collected over $1.5 million for a D.C.-region-bound truck convoy. Its director recently pleaded guilty to fraud.
In the District, residents and organizers are standing up to them. They repeat that “D.C.” means “Don’t Come,” flip off passing trucks, yell at drivers to “go home” and post about reporting trucks that fail to display DOT numbers. The DC Antifascist Action has tweeted about the convoy members, warning the local community where the truckers and their supporters are headed.
Adler, a D.C.-based lawyer working on environmental and social issues, had heard about the trucker convoy driving through the nation’s capital and thought the honking that Saturday afternoon might be them. Soon, he saw about a half a dozen bobtail trucks decorated with American flags and blaring their horns.
When normal, ever-present D.C. traffic split up the group just past Dupont Circle on Connecticut Ave., Adler veered in front, pedaling at a self-estimated 4 miles per hour.
At one point, he said, a nearby D.C. police officer asked him what he was doing, and Adler replied: “I’m allowed to take a lane, right?” He was.
Approaching Farragut Square, Adler continued onto 17th Street, passing the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on his left, when a right-wing live-streamer who was at the Capitol insurrection pulled up next to Adler and peppered him with questions.
“What are you doing?” he asked Adler. “You got a bunch of trucks behind you.” Adler replied that he couldn’t hear the questions over the honking.
He continued along 17th Street. As he pedaled by the Ellipse, someone outside Constitution Hall stopped to record the video that has since been shared, retweeted and celebrated across the District.
By the time 17th Street met Constitution Ave., Adler saw D.C. police officers waving convoy trucks through a red light and decided it was time to go home. “I just felt I had said what I needed to say,” he said.
It was fitting that Adler’s protest, which lasted about 15 minutes, would be on a bike. His great-grandfather Ted Ryko was an endurance biker, setting an Australian cycling record in 1914 while riding across the desert, according to Adler’s mother, who is chronicling Ryko’s history. In 1915, she says, Ryko won a “Slow Bicycle Race,” in which the goal was to cross the finish line last, traveling as slowly as possible without falling.
Adler, who doesn’t own a car, uses his electric bicycle as his main mode of transportation. His wife and their two children, ages 11 and 14, bike, too. He had been one of the proponents of the protected bike lane now on 17th Street and continues to advocate for safe streets.
And so, even after his spontaneous act of resistance, Adler felt frustrated: about the truckers’ method of protest, about the diesel fuel they were burning throughout the District, about the road risks in a city that, last year, saw its highest number of traffic deaths in more than a decade.
“If we want to have a planet that is here, just and equitable for children around the world, then we’ve got to look after the climate, and we’ve got to act, here in the United States, in Washington, D.C., now,” Adler said. “The streets are not safe — especially not safe for our children, especially not safe for our elderly, so it’s not safe for anybody. We need to be working to fix that. … A 10-ton diesel truck, that’s not an expression of a person’s views. That’s a problem. It’s an intimidating prop.”
His 88-year-old neighbor Eleanor Traylor loved the video of his one-man protest.
Traylor, the former chair of the English department at Howard University, was born in Thomasville, Ga., and grew up in Atlanta, worshiping at the historic Ebenezer Baptist church when the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., was pastor.
She is disgusted, she said, by the way convoy members and anti-vaccine activists co-opt the language of the civil rights movement to cast themselves as victims of a tyrannical government. Some have compared mandates to slavery and the Nuremberg Code, created after World War II in response to Nazi medical atrocities.
Traylor shakes her head when thinking about it. Her parents and grandparents, she said, endured racial hatred in the South. Adler’s Jewish grandmother survived the Holocaust in Hungary.
“Even though he was brought up in Australia and I in South Georgia, we bear the same hatred of fascism and love of justice,” Traylor said. “We’ve disagreed on the bike lanes, but we agree perfectly that there’s no such thing as racial superiority.”
Building on anti-mask activism, far-right groups pivot from mandates to midterms
Local activists are also pushing back on far-right groups coming to D.C. The memories of the weeks following the 2020 presidential election are still fresh, when self-proclaimed militia members, loyalists to former president Donald Trump, violent extremists groups and white nationalists targeted the nation’s capital to support Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.
On Jan. 6, 2021, the pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol — a violent assault on democracy that has left residents, federal employees and Capitol staffers still grappling with a shared trauma.
Neha Misra, 52, is angered by the truckers who demean D.C., which nearly 690,000 people call home, by labeling it all a “swamp.”
Misra said the insurrection made her feel unsafe. While she used to take her 10-year-old son to protests with her, she no longer does.
“They come into town and think that this is their city, and they could just take it over because of whatever their version of democracy is,” she said.
So when she saw the cyclist video, she was thrilled — especially to see the biker was Adler, her friend and neighbor.
“I’m a Brown woman with her nose pierced,” Misra said. “ … I wish I was on the bike next to him, but I’m not sure I would have felt safe.”
Adler said he hopes that people moved by the video take action in their own communities. And he had some specific suggestions: advocate for protected bike lanes, ask elected representatives about plans to restrict oversize vehicles on residential streets, support voter-registration efforts and cast your ballot, too.
“If you drive through our neighborhoods in your 10 ton diesel with your air horn blaring, and your toxic message — expect to meet peaceful resistance,” Adler wrote to The Post. “D.C. is always open to protest, but these are our streets too. … people power is always stronger than horsepower.”

source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *