Where am I now?

As you can see, this blog hasn't gotten any love in many years... But you can now find me on my site jessicatravels.com.

04 August 2005

Antagonism Toward Cyclists

In light of the recent spate of local car-cyclist incidents (where the cyclist never wins), I was a little worried when Chris said he was going to drop off his car at the shop this morning and bike back home. He's done this before, and he goes out routinely for 4+ hour rides on the weekends - and there's always a part of me that worries about him. I'm quite certain he only tells me about a small percentage of the minor altercations he gets into while he's out, but even that small number usually gets me thinking. Lately, of course, I'm thinking about it more.

He tells me that there are sometimes people who will drive by in their cars and, as they come up right behind him, will yell something intended to scare him (probably into falling off the bike). Even worse, sometimes people throw things at him from their cars. He chooses to ride on country roads where there is very little traffic - so it's not as if he's holding anyone up.

What I can't for the life of me understand is - what on earth possesses people to do this kind of shit? If they saw someone riding a horse along a country road on a Sunday morning would they shout obscenities at them? What about someone walking their dog? Or a kid riding a bike to a friend's house? What the hell is the problem here, and why can't I understand where it comes from?!?

As I drove Chris to work this morning, he told me that he feels like incidents like the ones he's told me about before seem to be increasing. So - why is there such antagonism toward cyclists? Anyone care to fill me in?


cadmaven said...

First of all the incidents where cyclists have been killed recently in Portland occured at night and I suspect that the hit&runs may have involved drugs or alcohol. The resentment against bicyclists may be because of those cyclists that don't obey traffic laws and cruise through red lights or stop signs. In those tight short pants they all look alike. I always thought it would be safer riding against the traffic on country roads but there might be a law against that. There have also been some pedestrians killed while walking along country roads and that might be connected to not wearing light reflective clothing.

vj said...

Actually, not all of the fatal accidents have happened at night. The last one, the Delta Park hit and run, was before sundown (http://www.kgw.com/news-local/stories/L_IMAGE.10543a66c1a.93.88.fa.7c.33d68b01.jpg), as was the bike messenger who was run over by a truck. As a bike commuter, the former is definitely bike-antagonism, but the latter is stupid urban design -- who thought it was a good idea to put a bike lane right next to parked cars? Your chances of being doored are far too good, and legally, bikes are not supposed to leave the bike lane. It's unclear what happened with Kristine Okins -- was she doored and thrown in front of the truck? Or did she swerve to miss being doored? Who knows?

I run into bike-antagonism more often than I'd like, but I try to remind myself that there are risks involved in any kind of transportation. And yes, some bicyclists flaunt laws, and in the same breath we can make assumptions about Californians, Washingtonians, and SUV drivers. Anyways, I have no answers. It's frustrating.