Is the problem belligerent bikers or ignorant drivers? Or both?

August 10, 2010

From her perspective, it sounds reasonable.

As a driver — the writer’s husband — waits to make a right turn, a cyclist rides up and complains about not having enough room. When the driver reminds the rider that bikes have to stop for red lights too, he goes ballistic.

You have to understand, my husband is a rule-follower to a T.  As a coach for many of our children’s sports teams, he’s all about fairness, manuals or rule books and takes things to the letter of the law. Calmly (as our children explained later), Daddy calmly said through the open passenger window, “You have a red light, too, buddy.”

And with that the guy stood up on the pedals of his fancy bike, and in fit of fury went from zero to 60 in a millisecond screaming at my husband, “F*** you, you a**hole.”

That, she suggests, is just how those “fancy bikers” in their “florescent, skin-tight spandex clothes” are — a bunch of belligerent, out-of-control scofflaws who don’t belong on the roads to begin with.

And that’s exactly how many motorists see us.

But looking at it from a more objective perspective, there seems to be another side to the story. Maybe the rider did blow up for no valid reason. More likely, though, the writer’s rule-following husband may have cut the cyclist off in some way, intentionally or otherwise.

Maybe he pulled around the rider and cut across his path to make that right. Or maybe, like so many other self-appointed roadway vigilantes, he tried to enforce his own interpretation of traffic law, deliberately edging over to cut off the rider’s right-of-way.

We’ll never know.

But odds are, there was a reason for the cyclist’s anger, just as there is when other drivers relate stories of cyclists yelling, swearing, spitting, flipping the bird or otherwise displaying seemingly irrational anger for no apparent reason.

There’s always a reason.

Human beings seldom randomly go off on other people for no reason. At least, not the sane ones. And the other kind usually can’t afford a high-end racing bike.

Anger like that usually springs from a fight or flight reaction when a person feels threatened in some way. Like when a multi-ton vehicle cuts off a bicyclist, operated by a driver who may lack sufficient knowledge of the rights of cyclists and how to share to road to know what he did wrong.

Sometimes we can catch up to them at the next light and calmly explain their transgression. And sometimes, the drivers actually listen; more often, the response is a finger or “f*** you” as they speed away.

But more often, that fight or flight response kicks in, and whatever response you might have is not one you’d want to share in public or admit to later. And the driver is likely to respond in kind — sometimes violently.

Lord knows my finger has sometimes flown before I had sufficient self-control to stop it.

That’s not to say that cyclists aren’t sometimes the ones at fault. We’ve all seen riders blow through red lights or stop signs, oblivious to who has the right of way, or dangerously cut across traffic without signaling.

Not that you or I would ever do something like that, of course.

And let’s face it.

There are some real jerks on two wheels, just like there are on four or more. Sometimes, they’re even the same people, as drivers often carry the same dangerous, aggressive attitudes and road tactics with them when they switch to two wheels.

Going back to the writer’s story, though, her bias quickly comes through as she continues her tale.

I am so annoyed with these fancy biker dudes and have swerved around them too many times than I care to count. It’s not our responsibility as vehicle drivers to protect bikers on the road. And they take way too many risks in my book to the point of taunting a driver to get out of their way. When there’s a pack of 30, we are forced to patiently wait to cross intersections or change lanes, and no one can drive on the road….

Why do they insist on exercising in the middle of a public road? When I exercise, I go to the gym or my husband plays tennis on a court, not in the middle of a street expecting everyone to give room and steer clear. It is affected narcissism.

Actually, it’s not narcissism, it’s the law. Cyclists have every right to ride in the road, and drivers are responsible for protecting the safety of cyclists, as well as everyone else they encounter on the streets. Just as we’re responsible for riding our bikes in a safe and legal manner.

It’s the obligation of every driver to learn the law — not just selectively edit the parts that seem to support their position — and give cyclists the space on the road that both the law and common decency dictate. And even if they think a cyclist is breaking the law, it is not a driver’s role to enforce it.

She concludes by relating the story of a friend — a “respectful bicyclist” as she puts it — who was seriously injured in a collision.

But instead of calling for motorists to drive safely and share the road, she blames the victim, urging that cyclists be banned from major roadways.

We all need to do our best to control our tempers, as difficult as that may be under the circumstances. And treat other road users with the same courtesy and respect that we have every right to expect.

But when we’re confronted with anger, we both — drivers and cyclists alike — need to ask ourselves if the response was irrational.

Or if there’s something we might have done to provoke it.

And maybe, just maybe, if we’re the ones who were wrong.

………

Tuesday marks Colorado’s primary election day, when the voters will decide whether the conspiratorial-minded UN-fearing tinfoil-hat-wearing gubernatorial candidate will get the Nutcase Republican nomination for governor.

It could make for an interesting race — one candidate who clearly supports cycling and one who’s evidently fallen off his mountain bike one time too many.

………

Photos from Sunday’s Brentwood Grand Prix, won by L.A.’s Rahsaan Bahati. Gary waxes poetic about getting honked at, briefly. The BAC gets a little more feminine. Defending champion Lance Armstrong pulls out of this weekend’s Leadville 100 mountain bike race. Clearly, not everyone likes sharrows. Not everyone likes bikes, either, as a NYC vigilante glues the locks of parked bikes. New York could get a vulnerable user law by the end of the week. An NYC museum looks at bikes as art. Fighting the myth that bike paths bring crime; should be assigned reading for the NIMBYs fighting the Expo bike path through Cheviot Hills. Biking all the way to the bank. The country’s first non-San Diego Gran Fondo rolls through Philadelphia. Houdini: great magician, not so great bike racer. Create a bike helmet design that screams sustainability and win 2,000 Euros from Fiat. Great Britian’s AA — no, not that one — warns about iPod oblivion. How to win your next sprint. Pedal your way through your mid-life crisis.

Finally, a new video from the Marin County Bicycle Coalition and Marin Cyclists Road Club instructs riders to ride to the right; is it just me, or does it seem a little heavy on the “don’t risk offending the hulking, smoke-belching motorized behemoths” attitude?


An epidemic of aggressive roadway entitlement

September 21, 2009

The other day I was riding along one of my favorite routes through the Westside — a quiet, two lane street wide enough that cars can pass, while keeping me comfortably out of the dooring zone.

I came up behind an SUV that was stopped in the traffic lane, waiting to make a left turn onto a side street. A large pickup was stopped behind it; its wheels angled to go around the SUV on the right.

However, the driver appeared to be waiting for me to clear the area first. So I caught his eye in the mirror, nodded my thanks, and was about to ride through the gap when a car came speeding up on my left, blaring his horn for the other vehicles to get the hell out of his way.

Noticing the space I was about to move into, he cut sharply right to go around the other vehicles, forcing me to jam on my brakes. That meant he had to drive in the parking lane, though, and there was no way to complete his move without hitting the park car ahead of him.

So he was stuck right there, next to the pickup. And so was anyone else, since he’d boxed in the pickup in and was blocking my path, as well.

We all had no choice but to sit there until the SUV driver finally found an opening she was comfortable with, and made her left.

The gesture I made left little doubt what I thought of his driving skills. Yet his response surprised me. He merely pointed towards the other two cars, as if that explained everything — suggesting that they were responsible for what he had done, simply because the other drivers were in his way.

Once my path was clear, I rode off, wondering where that sense of entitlement comes from.

It’s not like he’s the only one. I see the same sort of thing just about any time I hit the streets, whether I’m on foot, on my bike or behind the wheel.

A car slows to make a right turn, and the driver behind will honk simply because he has to slow down. A stop light changes to red, and a trailing car zips around the cars ahead to go through the light anyway.

I’ve even seen a driver honk at a little old lady using a walker to cross the street, because she didn’t move fast enough for his satisfaction.

Then there was the truck driver who came to a sudden stop in the traffic lane ahead of me. And when I gestured to ask what was going on, he held out his cell and yelled, “I’m on the phone, a**hole!”

Oh, well that explains it then.

I used to think this was just an L.A. phenomenon. Or maybe the result of so many New York transplants bringing their famous impatience out west with them.

But as I’ve travelled around the country, I’ve seem similar behavior almost everywhere, even on the relatively bucolic streets of my old home town.

Of course, it’s not just drivers.

It’s the same attitude shown by pedestrians who step out in front of oncoming traffic in the middle of a block, expecting drivers to stop for them — even though they’re only a few feet from the next corner or crosswalk.

And the one shown by cyclists who blow through one red light after another, despite the presence of traffic, or who weave through traffic regardless of right-of-way. Even though the law, safety, common courtesy and common sense would seem to dictate otherwise.

I’ve tried to understand. Honestly, I have.

But I just can’t grasp the concept that one person’s convenience outweighs their own safety, as well as that of everyone around them. And it seems to be counterproductive, because it slows the overall flow of traffic as other road users are forced to respond.

So the net effect is that everyone deals with more congestion, more frustration. And more anger.

Maybe you can explain it.

Because I just don’t get it.

………..

The LACBC urges cyclists to urge the governor to sign the bicycle crosswalk and CA bike route bills. A writer for the Washington Post survives a week of biking in L.A. If you’re looking for somewhere to ride, Travelin’ Local offers a list of free days at L.A. museums. An Arizona newspaper applauds a police crackdown on cyclists who ignore traffic rules; evidently, drivers there never break the law. Why do so many drivers assume we think we’re invulnerable, when most cyclists have a keen sense of our vulnerability? The D.C. ghost bikes are gone once again. Yehuda Moon nails news coverage of cycling accidents. Biker Chicks crack down on two-abreast group riders. Town Mouse suggests that more bike lanes could keep us from having to become ninja cyclists. Finally, not bike related, but one the greatest Americans passed away in L.A. last week.


A jerk by any other name

February 9, 2009

Let’s talk about jerks.

I mean, it’s not like there’s any shortage of them around here. Like the one I ran into — almost literally — on the bike path in Venice last week.

Thanks to the winter-time lack of crowds, it was easy to maintain a good head of speed. So I made a point of letting slower riders know I was there before I passed them, and gave them as much clearance as possible when I did. No point in ruining someone else’s day just so I could enjoy mine.

Unfortunately, not everyone felt the same.

Just as I was rounding a sharp bend in the path and about to swing around couple slower riders — in other words, at the worst possible moment — a cyclist suddenly appeared on my left. No warning, and passing so close that he actually brushed against me as he went by.

Needless to say, I was pissed. But the massive over-the-ear headphones he wore suggested that he wasn’t likely to hear a word of it, so I saved my breath.

Instead, I warned the other riders ahead that I was about to pass. And about the jerk who was also passing them right in front of me.

As it turned out, he wasn’t that much faster than me. So I watched as he passed other riders in the same fashion; at one point, nearly knocking over a young mother riding with a small child on the back of her bike.

And that, in my book, pretty much defines the word “jerk.” Along with several others I’d rather not use right now.

Problem is, to much of the non-riding public — and even some members of the cycling world — such riders are the rule rather than the exception. They see us as a rude, arrogant and lawless band hellbent on obstructing their God-given right to the road, and flaunting every law and courtesy in the process.

And people like him — the ones Bob Mionske calls scofflaw cyclists — offer all the proof they need.

I have another theory.

As far as I’m concerned, a jerk is a jerk. And it doesn’t matter if that jerk is on two wheels or four. Or pushing a shopping cart through a crowded market, for that matter.

Because really, what’s the difference between an aggressive driver who weaves in and out of traffic at high speed, and a cyclist who blows through red lights even in the presence of oncoming traffic?

They both operate as if the law doesn’t apply to them, with total disregard for the havoc they leave in their wake. To people like that, it doesn’t seem to matter if they cause an accident, as long as it doesn’t involve them.

It appears to be exactly the same mentality at work when a driver intentionally cuts off a cyclist, as when a cyclist blows through an intersection and forces everyone else to swerve or brake to avoid him. Or her.

A jerk is a jerk is a jerk.

And while it is in everyone’s best interest to encourage everyone to ride safely, as cyclists, we bear no more collective responsibility for the two-wheeled jerks, than other drivers do for the four-wheeled ones who are undoubtedly speeding down the 101 or 405 at this very moment.

Which is to say, none at all.


Evidently, cycling isn’t the only sport with a doping problem. Even Arkansas considers sharrows, so what’s taking L.A. so long? Following Bob Mionske’s final column for Velo News, comes word he’s moving to Bicycling Magazine. A New York writer says bike lanes aren’t the whole solution; you have to learn to ride safely in traffic, tooA Santa Monica columnist, who gave up cycling because it was too dangerous, insists that creating livable streets and making the roads safer for bikes is wrong if it means slowing down traffic, and rails against the “small cadre” of “snarky” “gonzo cyclists” who dare to disagree with him. And finally, a current Santa Monica cyclist sells his Burley bike trailer, only to see it in the pages of People. Welcome to the bike blogosphere, J.


Massachusetts Bicyclist Safety Bill vs. Dr. Doom and his Disciples of Death

January 22, 2009

The last few days, I’ve been reading, with increasing degrees of stomach-churning disgust, the comments that followed the Times’ article about the good doctor’s not guilty plea on their L.A. Now blog

Stomach churning, because many of our fellow citizens seem to believe they are justified in using their car as a deadly weapon, should any cyclist have the audacity to annoy or inconvenience them — and that the good doctor did nothing wrong, despite intentionally injuring two fellow human beings.

Stomach churning, in that many of the comments said that the cyclists were to blame, accusing them of tailgating the good doctor — despite the fact that he admitted intentionally cutting in front of the riders, then slamming on his brakes to teach them a lesson. Or at the very least, that their obnoxious behavior somehow justified sending both to the emergency room.

And stomach churning, in the appalling lack of knowledge of regarding the rights of cyclists under California law — and the belief that roads were made exclusively for motorized vehicles.

While I recognize that some — but by no means most — cyclists may ride in a dangerously aggressive manner, it is disingenuous at best to blame all riders for the actions of a relative few. As I was discussing with an employee at a local bike shop over the weekend, many drivers remember the single rider they saw blow through a red light, but never notice the others who waited patiently for it to change.

Then there are those who don’t believe we even belong on bikeways that were designed and built for our safety.

So despite the progress made in L.A. with the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights, it’s clear that we still have a very long way to go.

Contrast that with the new bill that was recently signed into law in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Bicyclist Safety Bill applies common sense solutions to many of the problems we face everyday, on every ride.

Like making it clear that signals are not required when they would interfere with safe operation of the bike, such as when both hands are needed for braking or steering. Banning dooring, as well as cutting riders off after passing or when making a turn — something I’ve addressed previously.

And requiring that all police recruits receive training on “bicycle-related laws, bicyclist injuries, dangerous behavior by bicyclists, motorists actions that cause bicycle crashes, and motorists intentionally endangering bicyclists.” In-service training on the same subjects is optional for more experienced officers.

Imagine a police force that is actually knowledgeable, familiar with the rights and responsibilities of cyclists, and how motorists can cause cycling accidents — intentionally or otherwise.

I’ve been struggling lately with the question of what comes next, now that the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights is well on it’s way to becoming law.

As indicated above, I’ve made some suggestions for ways the California Vehicle Code could be changed to better protect riders and encourage cycling. (Scroll down to “Change the law. Change the world.”, then back up to see the individual suggestions.)

Another step would be to take the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights to the state level and make it part of the Vehicle Code. And require that drivers be tested on the full range of state cycling laws when they apply for their licenses.

As indicated in my previous post, Brayj had an excellent suggestion yesterday, when he said that the MTA could be sued to force funding of bicycle-related projects. And Ingrid Peterson of Rearview Rider added to his concept by suggesting that it’s time for a local coalition of cyclists and lawyers to protect our collective interests.

But we could do a lot worse than taking the full text of the Mass. law directly to our state representatives, and insisting that they use it as a platform for reforming our cycling laws.

Once they get off their collective asses and do something about the damn budget mess, that is.

 

Australian riders blame helmet laws for keeping cycling commuters off the road. Evidently, New York Police ignore hit-and-run accidents involving cyclists — as well as requests for more information. And cyclists fight back against bike thieves with exploding locks.


Is this our Howard Beale moment?

August 5, 2008

Sometimes I think I’m too political. Then there are times when I don’t think I’m political enough.

This is one of those times. Though which one, I’m not quite sure.

You see, I was always one to fight for my right to the road. A driver cuts me off or passes to close and he was going to hear about it, and I was never reluctant to give an unfriendly driver a friendly wave. Except I usually used just one finger. And it usually wasn’t that friendly.

Then one day I gave that one finger wave to the wrong woman, and she tried to shove her car up my ass. And nearly succeeded.

I had a lot of time to think as I recovered from a broken arm, and the 18 months my mangled bike was tied up as evidence in a civil case — which got me a settlement of a whopping $2500, most of which went for attorney fees.

I realized that, justified or not, things like that were counter productive, at best. All my ranting and raving never convinced a single driver that I was right, or they were wrong. Just that I was an obnoxious jerk. So now I try to keep my mouth closed, with hands firmly planted on the handlebars — though sometimes I fail, as this post from last week would suggest.

But now it seems like maybe it’s time to fight. To throw open a metaphorical window, and like the Howard Beale character from the movie Network, scream “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

Seems like every time I check the news online, I find another article like this one from Winston-Salem, describing the hit-and-run accident suffered by a local bicycling doctor. Another cyclist was killed by hit-and-run in Hawaii, but the prime suspect gets released. Michigan riders fighting for a piece of the road. Or this one from Forth Worth, that says cycling in Texas is more dangerous than it need to be — although chances are, you could change the location to anywhere else in the U.S. and it would be just as appropriate.

And that’s just from this weekend.

Even the more positive pieces, like the recent Times editorial, or  this one from Carson City, Nevada, ask drivers to share the road — and stop harassing riders or running us off the road.

Then there are the recent stories that tell us what we already know, that the police — whether here in L.A., Seattle or across the country — don’t seem to take our safety seriously. And too often, the local press doesn’t dig any deeper than the first page of the police report.

To their credit, L.A.’s finest and the local press come through for us in the wake of the good doctor’s Mandeville Canyon brake test. Whether the D.A.’s office and the court system will do the same remains to be determined.

But what happens next time, when it’s you — or me — writhing on the asphalt?

And yes, there was a lot of talk from local politicians about moving forward with the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights following the good doctor’s arrest. But now we can’t even get the Mayor and the rest of the MTA board to devote a lousy 1% each from their proposed sales tax increase to help keep cyclists and pedestrians alive. And after a brief flurry of coverage of cycling issues, the local press has moved on to more important issues, like whether Lindsey is or isn’t gay.

So I find myself getting fed up with it all, and like Howard Beale, feeling mad as hell and ready to do something about it.

And I wonder if it’s just me, or is this, finally, our moment — the time when we join together and scream at the top of our lungs, we’re not going to take it anymore. When we finally take action as a group to demand the respect of drivers, politicians and law enforcement. To insist on our rights as cyclists and as Americans. And ensure the safety of every rider, here in L.A. and around the country.

Or are we just going to get back on our bikes and let this moment — and our anger — pass forever, like all the other such moments before?

 

Streetsblog covers the exceptional police protection at last Friday’s Critical Mass in Santa Monica. The stupidest bike lane in America has been discovered right here in Westwood (though personally, I’d vote for the bike lanes on the new Santa Monica Blvd. that end without warning in Century City, leaving riders to fight for space on an over crowded, high speed thoroughfare). A student at Humbolt State may or may not have been fatally injured in a traffic accident. As if road rage wasn’t enough to worry about, someone is shooting cyclists on Long Island. Riders in New Jersey share our complaints about crowded and inadequate roadways. Finally, a writer for the Concorde Monitor suggests cyclists and drivers can all get along if we just use a little common sense and think more like fishermen.


Stop the presses! And blame the bikers!

July 30, 2008

Today’s Streetsblog picks up the story of the Seattle Critical Mass incident we discussed yesterday. And zooms right in on the fact that there are two sides to this story — except where the police and local press are concerned.

Now, I should mention right up front that I’m no fan of Critical Mass. I understand, and share, many of the philosophies expressed by CM riders, and there are riders whose opinions I respect who are active participants.

I simply think it’s counterproductive.

At a time when we’re struggling to get the respect and courtesy we deserve, CM reinforces the attitudes that many drivers already have — that cyclists are aggressive, arrogant, rude and inconsiderate, and have no respect for other users of the road. Let alone the law.

However, the blogosphere has been active in the wake of the Seattle incident, so I’ll let other writers address the questions of whether CM is right or wrong, and how — or whether — it can be fixed.

For me, the more interesting topic is the fact that, as the Streetsblog article points out, the local authorities and press immediately went into the standard blame bikers first mode. Instead of listening to the many bikers who said the driver was angry and aggressive and instigated the incident, they immediately assumed that he was the innocent victim. Or at the very least, justified in his actions.

Like the Colorado sheriff who decided the problem was bikers who ride two abreast, rather than careless and impatient drivers who can’t be bothered to pass them safely — even on nearly empty back country roads — the bias of law enforcement is almost always that the rider is at fault.

The simple fact is, if there is an accident, the police will assume that the rider did something to cause it, unless there is clear and compelling evidence to the contrary, as in the Mandeville Canyon brake check. And in most cases, even if the rider was blameless, the press will jump in with stories about riders who run red lights and flaunt traffic laws.

If we report a road rage incident, the police investigate it as a simple traffic altercation, rather than a violent crime — as they did when I was the victim of road rage, and ended up being threatened with arrest myself. If someone runs us off the road, it’s blamed on a momentarily distracted driver who just didn’t see us. If we report a driver or passenger throwing something at us, they call it littering. If they bother to call it anything at all.

Even in the well-publicized New York police v. CM rider case, it was the rider who spend 26 hours in jail, rather than the cop who assaulted him.

So unless and until the police — and the press that keeps them honest — stop automatically blaming the victim whenever cyclists and cars collide, and start treating assaults against cyclists as the violent crimes they are, we will never experience the equal protection we are guaranteed under the constitution.

And we will never be safe on the streets.

And let’s face it. It’s a dangerous world out there.

 

Today’s reads: The Mountaineerzz take to the hills, where the only traffic they have to worry about should be hikers and mountain lions. LAist has security video from inside a San Dimas bike shop when the Moderate One hit. (Just out of curiosity, was anyone out there riding during the quake? What was that like?) Bicycle Fixation discusses the potholes on the way to turning 4th St. into a bicycle boulevard. And finally, we have an update on the events that followed the good doctor’s brake check — who last I heard, was due for arraignment on Friday.


Blameless victims? Or two-wheeled vigilantes?

July 29, 2008

Now Seattle is up in arms over a road rage incident involving bicyclists. And once again, it’s the cyclists who are being painted as the bad guys.

According to news initial reports, last Friday’s Critical Mass turned violent when a group of cyclists attacked a driver. As these reports put it, the frightened driver tried to back up, hit a couple of bikes, then got scared and tried to drive away. The bikers chased him down, slashed his tires, smashed his windows and hit him with a bike lock, sending the frightened driver to the hospital with a head injury.

Of course, once the initial hyperventilating news reports aired, a more nuanced picture began to take shape as the real reporters — as opposed to the pretty heads on TV — filed their stories, suggesting that there might actually be two sides to this event. According to these accounts, the driver became angry and/or scared, as the riders may or may not have threatened to tip his car with him and his passenger in it. Then he tried to drive off, dragging injured cyclists with him, until he was chased down by bikers who forced him to stop.

And unfortunately, turned violent in retaliation.

As usually happens these days, though, the full picture only took shape online, as the local bloggers began giving first, or at least second, person reports.

Ryan provides the riders’ perspective, describing how his first CM went painfully wrong, as the driver tried to escape his corkage by accelerating through the riders in front of him, running over one cyclist as another held on for dear life. Even with a cyclist clinging to the hood of his car, the driver gave no sign of stopping, so the riders chased him down and forced him to stop.

Then the police — and reporters — took the standard approach and blamed bikers first. Apparently, both had already decided the driver was the victim, and neither seemed to have any interest in the bikers’ side of the story.

Meanwhile, Jonah talks with the driver himself, painting a very different picture of a frightened — and sympathetic — man, who felt intimidated by all rampaging cyclists who surrounded his car, and by his account, threatened him. He responded by revving his engine in an attempt to get the riders to back off, not realizing his car was in gear. It lurched forward and inadvertently struck a couple of cyclists.

He says the other bikers responded by trying to hit him or clinging to his car, so he began to speed off, then stopped when he heard someone say a rider was hurt. When he got out of his car to apologize, the riders attacked him and his car.

So who’s right — or more to the point in this case, who’s wrong?

Everyone.

Intentionally or not, frightened or not, the driver struck and injured at least two riders in an ill-advised attempt to escape corking.

The police and press — as usual — leapt to the assumption that the cyclists were at fault, and weren’t about to let the facts get in the way.

And — ignoring any questions about the propriety and effectiveness of Critical Mass and corking tactics — the cyclists were wrong for retaliating against the driver, however justified they may have felt at the time. Once the driver struck the cyclists, they should have simply taken down his license or taken a picture (I keep my camera phone in reach when I ride for exactly that reason) and reported it to the police. Then it would have been a clear case of hit-and-run, the cyclists, rather than the driver, would be seen as the victims, and both the police and press might have been a little more sympathetic.

Instead, everyone loses. Especially the biking community.


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