I’m so spoiled now that I live in bike-path-licious Boulder, Colorado. I hardly have to interact with cars anymore when cycling to most points in the city. But just a few weeks ago, before I moved here, I was out there with all the other Colorado cyclists in traffic getting assaulted.
Sure, most assaults are verbal and harmless-ish, but then there are the ones that aren’t. This article from today’s Los Angeles Times leads with a list of one guy’s experience in L.A.:
Scott Sing has had a tire iron hurled at him, a water bottle thrown at his head and been bombarded with racial epithets. And all he was trying to do was ride his bike on Los Angeles city streets.
His cycling and running brethren tell similar tales — of being peppered with flying objects, cursed or otherwise assaulted — and those don’t even include the stories of near-misses and actual collisions.
A partial rundown of my own misadventures in bicycle-motorist interactions include being run off the road thrice (Loveland, Colo.; Durango, Colo.; and Skokomish Indian Reservation on Hwy 101, Wash.), hit by cars twice (Seattle, Wash., both times), and had the following items tossed at me from moving vehicles:
- pop bottles (five different times — a favorite of younger kids)
- part-full glass beer bottles (missed both times)
- empty vodka bottle (hit)
- all kinds of trash, including one fast-food bag set aflame
- one full-sized fireplace log
For the well-seasoned cyclist, this is hardly news. This shouldn’t even be particularly surprising to the general public: “Newsflash: Assholes Everywhere, Even in Cars.” I’m sure fellow Gristmillians have scads of similar stories. (Do tell … )
But of course it’s not just assholes that are the problem. Systematic transportation discrimination also contributes to the whole my-road-not-yours mentality (as well as ignorance of state and local traffic laws). After all, if cyclists were meant to be on the road, they’d have been given wide bike lanes, and, well, a bunch of other things. Like the LAT article said:
Judging from the frequent shouted demands to get off the road, many drivers are unaware that cyclists have as much right to the streets as they do.