Monday, November 12, 2012

How to write a bicycle column like Stu Bykofsky

Many people who regularly read Stu Bykofsky's columns sometimes wonder how they could write such riveting articles about bicycles without the years of experience that Mr. Bykofsky has acquired. Fortunately if you follow this basic formula you to can write with the same level expertise.

Masquerade opinion as fact – Mr. Bykofsky is a columnist and a professional grumpy old man; his articles are commentary based on opinion, his opinion. Unlike a reporter who has to investigate, conduct interviews, and may even witness actual events. Anything Mr. Bykofsky writes is not subject to any type of verification and short of libel he is free to imply anything he wants as long as it his opinion. Such as all cyclists are lawbreakers because they run red lights do not come to full stops at stop signs, or ride on the sidewalk.

Manipulate the data – The one thing Mr. Bykofsky is unable to contend with is actual data and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia's Annual Bicycle count is a key example. Stu's only claims to debunk the data is:

That the BCGP is partisan because they are a bicycle advocacy group, so I challenge Stu to provide his own verifiable count. I have no doubt that there are plenty of interns available at the newspaper.

Stu loves to talk about how bicycle lanes are only used by 2.1%, of Philadelphia’s population in reality that is 32,046 residents. Who are not using parking spaces, clogging the roads with cars or putting more pressure on SEPTA, which is underfunded and overstressed. For all you sports fans the list below should help put that 2.1%, 32,046 cyclists, into perspective.

Lincoln Financial Field (Eagles) – seats 67,954
Citizens Bank Park (Phillies) – seats 43,647

Be a bully – One of the key elements in the profile of a bully is to dehumanize your subject through name-calling. Mr. Bykofsky has this down to a science by referring to cyclists as gearheads, cyclopaths, and my personal favorite, pedalphiles. So if you can come up with a catchy yet demeaning play on words you have mastered yet another step in this process.

Find a patsy – Mr. Bykofsky is at his best when has a patsy. Someone he can use as a clown or a fool to make it appear as if he is better informed or gives him the illusion of street cred.

Get a gimmick – Writing columns on the evils of cyclists get old very fast, you can only repackage the same opinions a limited number of ways before your columns become predictable. So Stu came up with a gimmick, Stu goes for a bike ride in the summer. It lasts about 30 minutes and is along a protected path, which means he never comes close to a car let alone sees one.

Follow all of these steps and soon you will have a high paid career like Mr. Bykofsky. Without having to waste all that money on a journalism degree and spend years learning your craft.

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