Truck Yard, the open-air beer bar and live music venue in Houston’s EaDo neighborhood, is facing backlash after displaying a message on its marquee that some local cyclist groups viewed as insensitive and antagonistic, just weeks after cyclists were assaulted in a highly-publicized Waller County case.
A photo of the message, which read “Study shows 90% of bike accidents can be avoided by buying a car like normal people,” was posted to Truck Yard’s Instagram and Facebook accounts on Sunday. It didn’t receive much attention until Monday afternoon, when the photo began making the rounds of local biking groups and bike shops on Facebook and Twitter. Truck Yard sits just a few blocks from the Columbia Tap trail, one of the Greater East End’s most popular bike paths.
Commenters quickly flooded Truck Yard’s social accounts, demanding an apology and calling for a boycott of the establishment. The bar eventually limited who could comment on its posts.
Shortly after Eater reached out to Truck Yard Monday afternoon for comment on the backlash, the bar posted an apology to its Facebook page, which has racked up more than 250 comments, some in support of the bar, some against. The marquee was also replaced with a message cheering on the Houston Astros.
“We are f***ing idiots,” the apology reads. “We were stupid in putting this up on our bar marquee without thinking twice about how it could offend. We were f’ing morons to not think about the communities that we hurt. Thank you advocates for enlightening us. We have taken the sign down. This was not a political or crusade statement in the least. It was simply a stupid and ignorant decision and for this we are truly and humbly sorry.”
The uproar over the marquee comes a month after several cyclists were seriously injured in Waller County when a 16-year-old driving a large truck crashed into the group while attempting to “roll coal,” or blow exhaust fumes onto the riders. Two of those cyclists had injuries severe enough that they had to be airlifted to a Houston hospital, and two others were transported by ambulance. That case has received additional scrutiny because the teenager, who is “well-connected,” according to Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis, has not yet been charged with a crime. Mathis has repeatedly criticized the handling of the case.
The Waller case has also led many Houston-area cyclists to recount stories of being harassed or intimidated by drivers in Houston and neighboring counties. Texas is considered one of the more dangerous states for cyclists, with an average of 48 fatalities a year in bike-vehicle accidents. At the same time, outdoor cycling has increased in popularity as the coronavirus pandemic led to gym closures in Texas and other states.
Bike Houston, the city’s main cycling advocacy group, pointed out on Twitter that studies have shown cyclists are more likely to patronize bars and restaurants and to spend more money at them.
When asked for a statement on the fray, Bike Houston executive director Joe Cutrufo said, “People who ride bikes are more likely to support local businesses and are more likely to visit more often than people who arrive by car. Seems like the folks at Truck Yard should’ve thought about that before they put up this message on their marquee.”