Hero 9News Reporter Sticks Up for Denverites Who Walk and Bike in a City Built for Cars

Steve Staeger defends people's right to live, even if they aren't driving.
Steve Staeger defends people's right to live, even if they aren't driving.

Local TV news teams have a special ability to report transportation stories from the windshield perspective. “Commuter” usually means driver, “crash” means traffic jam, and “bicyclist” means human obstruction.

I call out my fair share of bad takes, and I want to call out a good one by 9News reporter Steve Staeger.

In a segment last week, Staeger, a self-proclaimed “car guy,” said something in primetime that people who walk, bike, and ride transit have been screaming into the ether for decades.

“See, I’ve been riding my bike to the train and to work whenever I can, and I realized that bicyclists and pedestrians are navigating a world that was built without them in mind at all,” Staeger said on a Thursday evening broadcast of Next with Kyle Clark. “This town and just about every other was built for the car.”

That’s me being speechless, which is what happens when I can’t tell if something’s real or if it’s a mirage too good to be true.

Staeger, rightfully grumbling, continues:

You have streets where the bike lane goes for just a block and then ends, others where there’s no bike lane at all and you’re toe to toe with heavy traffic.

You have sidewalks that are cracked, maybe they’re too thin, or just plain nonexistent.

Now I don’t think any bicyclist or pedestrian is purposefully trying to get in the way of your car — we know we wouldn’t win that fight. So to those of you honking, cussing, swerving to make a point when someone in front of you is on two wheels or two legs, I get your frustration — I’ve been there. But I’ve also been on the other side, and I’d suggest you try it sometime too. It can really shift your perspective.

In a perfect world, comments like these wouldn’t be such a big deal, but in a world where the car is king, they are. TV reporters shape how locals view current events, and this one looked right into the camera and broadcast a perspective that he knew most viewers wouldn’t share — not in a city where 73 percent of commuters drive solo to work, and a region that’s even more car dependent. Staeger instead gave a voice to the traveling minority.

For anyone who values human life and the ability for everyone to move around the city freely, Staeger’s message is common sense. It’s also a message that’s far too uncommon.