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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Publicist Claims Teslas Aren't for Silently Running Down Cyclists

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 9:30 AM

Following an explosion of social media outrage at a British car columnist who delighted in using a Tesla Roadster to silently run cyclists off the road, self-identified San Francisco Bicycle Coalition member Rachel Konrad stepped in to quell the storm.

"It's the most severe of the sort of comments I've seen from the petrol heads. We do get this out of Britain once in a while. It's often a great review of the car, and they put in an offhanded comment that smacks down cyclists. I just don't really understand it," said Konrad, a San Francisco Critical Mass regular who also holds down a day job as the Bay Area-based Tesla Motors' communications manager.

Konrad was a featured guest on the Monday edition of the cycling-related podcast after British motor critic James Martin described in a Daily Mail column his ability to exploit the Tesla Roadster's silent operation to drive a group of cyclists into the herbage.

"Knowing they wouldn't hear me coming, I stepped on the gas, waited until the split second before I overtook them, then gave them an almighty blast on the horn at the exact same time I passed them at speed," Martin wrote. "The look of sheer terror as they tottered into the hedge was the best thing I've ever seen in my rear-view mirror."

Internet-based outrage came to a head when British national hero and 2008 double Olympic cycling gold medalist Bradley Wiggins wrote several messages on his Twitter page denouncing Martin -- who subsequently issued an apology.

Tesla flak Konrad followed up by emphasizing her company's cyclist-friendly ethos.

"My husband and I, we're members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and in fact, I've participated in many Critical Masses, which are awesome, awesome wonderful events in San Francisco Fridays once a month, and they are a time for bicyclists to pull a critical mass on the cars," she said. "So they completely take over the streets, and cars have to wait for hordes of cyclists to pass by. It's so much fun."

She added that Sam Perry, the stranger whose shoulder Oprah Winfrey cried on during the Obama inauguration, actually rode a bicycle to the Tesla dealership to buy the company's 100th car.

"He put his foldable bicycle in the front seat, and drove away," Konrad said of Perry, a technology investor. "We have customers whose only car is the Roadster, and they ride their bicycles everywhere else."

So you're forgiven, Tesla Motors Inc., for inadvertently helping a douchebag British columnist boast of hate-motivated vehicular assault.

And for the record, notwithstanding Martin, it's not usually performance-car nuts who refuse to share the road with cyclists. The same neural receptors are engaged, after all, appreciating a 1932 Chevy Coupe, a 2010 Tesla Roadster, or a 1982 Colnago Super bicycle. Rather, it's burned-out daily automobile commuters who can't tolerate giving up roadspace. 

So, given its six-figure sticker-price makes the Tesla Roadster sports car impractical as a daily commute vehicle, the sooner Tesla begins to outsell the dreaded silent Prius, the better.

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