Parade 'float' of SUV hitting cyclist causes controversy

A black SUV pretending to have hit a biker that took part in this year’s Doo Dah Parade in Columbus, Ohio on Monday that’s causing all sorts of controversy.

Homemade sign taped to the driver's door read 'I'll share the road when you follow the rules'

This Doo Dah Parade float of a black SUV pretending to hit a biker has caused controversy in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo submitted by Spencer Hackett)

Columbus, Ohio's Doo Dah Parade is famed for its outlandish, irreverent paraders — there's been a set of faux marching Fidel Castros, a pair of Popes getting married and some rather scantily clad seniors decked out in Hawaiian apparel.

But it's a black SUV pretending to have hit a biker that took part in this year's parade on Monday that's causing all sorts of controversy.

The unknown man who drove the SUV in the parade had a bike affixed to his hood with a pair of dangling legs on the roof.

A bright yellow homemade sign taped to the driver’s door reads 'I’ll share the road when you follow the rules.' (Damion Alexander/Facebook)

A bright yellow homemade sign taped to the driver's door read "I'll share the road when you follow the rules." Parade-goers reportedly booed as the SUV drove along the route.

The popular satirical parade prides itself on being politically incorrect and celebrating "freedom of speech through humour." It's unregistered event with no entry fee, which means anyone can show up in a decorated vehicle or float and take part.

The theme of this year's march, which took place on the Fourth of July, was liberty and lunacy. But some say the SUV crossed the line.

'Sickened me'

Spencer Hackett is an amateur competitive cyclist who lives in Columbus and puts on cycling events around the city.

Hackett said he's been to the parade for the last 10 years but has never been offended by one of the displays. He decided to skip this year's parade to go on a bike ride of his own, but soon got sent a photo from a friend at the parade of the SUV with the bike up on the hood.

"It's always kind of been politically incorrect, but not necessarily threatening or divisive," he told CBC News.

"This piece sickened me. As a rider that has been hit four times and have had numerous friends hit, I found it very disturbing and lacking of any satire."

Upset and offended, he decided to put the photo up on his own Twitter account to share with friends but it quickly spread to different cycling communities around the world. While many were upset — tons of scathing one-star reviews have been written on the parade's Facebook page  — others thought they were taking it too seriously.

Hackett disagrees with the critics. He said the display crossed the line because it was a direct threat towards cyclists.

'That is what Doo Dah is'

Parade organizers told CBC News they won't be changing any parade policies because of the controversy.

Deb Roberts, the parade's chief organizer, said the display fit within free speech and that it's a good thing it's got people talking.

"The people who enter the parade are not professional comedians and give it their best shot.  Sometimes their humour is on target, sometimes it's a near miss, sometimes it's a total dud," said Roberts, who goes by the name Mz. Doo Dah.

"I am sorry to those who get offended by some of the humour, but that is what Doo Dah is."

She said she's not sure who the man driving the SUV was because participants don't need to register.

Hackett also isn't sure who the man was. He said the SUV's licence plates were covered with ones that read "bike h8er."

"I do know that he was booed heavily across the route … for a parade that kind of promotes satire and not being politically correct, to be booed around the whole route is not anything I've ever witnessed in seeing the parade," he said.

"The float was either a very poorly executed satire or not satire at all."

About the Author

Haydn Watters

Haydn Watters is a roving reporter for Ontario, primarily serving the province's local radio shows. He has worked for CBC News and CBC Radio in Halifax, Yellowknife, Ottawa and Toronto, with stints at the politics bureau and the entertainment unit. He also ran an experimental one-person pop-up bureau for the CBC in Barrie, Ont.