bicyclist attack and injure car driver

Discussion in 'General' started by sailordave, Jul 27, 2008.

  1. koreberg

    koreberg Junior Member

    I've read some of the blogs, It sounds like the cycleists that got the brunt of the vehicle attack were not the same 1s instigating the driver. Plenty of them were complaining about drunken knuckleheads corking traffic going in opposite directions that didn't need to be corked. Honestly part of the job of the corkers should be to help cars get on their way if they're going in opposite or perpedicular ways, but these guys are selfish. I hope they seriously modify that monthly event, if not cancel it all together. It is obvious that it is not well planned or organized, which doesn't work when you have over 100 people participating.
  2. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Phoebeisis, I'm 100% with you on the bike lane issue. LOVE them. I think the anti-bike lane contingent is a small (but VERY vocal) minority. Wouldn't surprise me if some of their studies are funded by the enemies of cycling, who are many (AAA, oil industry, road construction companies, etc.)

    If there is a higher rate of "dead fools" here on the west coast, it's only because we have more bikers than other cities. IIRC 4 of the top 5 bike commuting cities (Portland, Seattle, Sacramento and San Francisco) are on the west coast. Having grown up in Minneapolis (the other top-5 city, believe it or not) and as a regular visitor there, I don't see much difference.

    In the Seattle incident, I wouldn't be surprised if the cyclists are in the wrong. We had a similar (but milder) incident here recently where an altercation was assumed to be the fault of the driver, when in fact the physical hostilities were initiated by the (drunken) cyclist. Studies have found car-bike conflicts to be about 50% caused by the driver and 50% by the cyclist. Goes to show no one's got a monopoly on virtue. But I think we cyclists as a group tend to assume a conflict is the driver's fault because we've been treated as second class roadway users (by juries, cops, insurance companies, courts and fellow drivers) for so long.

    The anti-bike bias in the system is much less than it used to be, and I think it's important for riders to recognize that we're just as capable of making mistakes. Unfortunately our roadways have devolved into total defensiveness where NO ONE is EVER wiling to admit that they've made a mistake.

    As for Critical Mass, I've never been interested. I agree with the concept of congregating to bring attention to our presence on the road -- but not if it's going to be unlawful. There are plenty of organized event rides, whose purpose is to get out and enjoy riding rather than get in everyone else's face, that I can (and do) participate in for that purpose. I think Critical Mass is extremely counterproductive and I would love for it to go away. If it ever served a purpose, it long ago stopped serving it.

    Since this thread has generated some familiar sentiments calling cyclists' right to the road into question -- making it conditional on following all traffic laws -- I need to make the following points:
    • FIRST, I agree cyclists should obey the laws!
    • Failure of some members of a class to obey certain laws shouldn't disqualify the entire class from the right to the road -- something that has been codified into most states' laws for 35 years. Basically someone else's behavior is being used to deny my longstanding right here.
    • Almost all drivers -- ahem, hypermilers included! -- break laws on a regular basis and I don't hear everyone else's right to the road being called into question.
    • Running stop signs and red lights at 10 mph on a 200 pound bike/rider is a BAD thing BUT it is simply NOT morally equivalent to doing it at 40 mph in a 3000 pound car. Both are equally bad in the eyes of the law but looking beyond the strictly legal angle there's no question which is a greater threat to public safety.
    • Preemptively, I'd better swat down the inevitable "roads were built for cars" or "were built by gas taxes for cars" arguments to deny cyclists' right to the road. The first paved highways in this country were built for bicycles (seriously) during the 1890s bicycle boom, and a very large share of road work is paid out of the general fund which comes from taxes that we all pay. Furthermore, about 95% of regular cyclists also own cars and are paying gas and registration taxes already. And anyway regardless of the intent when they were built, roads need to accomodate the needs of ALL current users, including bikes, trucks, transit, emergency vehicles, ordinary cars and pedestrians. Heck, the 110 year old streets in my neighborhood were built for horses, so one could use the "built for" argument to deny cars the right to the street here.
    • Finally, I wish more drivers would realize that bicycling benefits THEM even if they never do it. It takes cars off the road. On days I don't ride to work, I drive. SOLO. And in traffic I cause more delay to my fellow road users by driving my car than I do by riding my bike.
    • Again, most cyclists are also drivers. That means the average cyclist is highly qualified to speak on bike vs car matters because we can see both sides. Those who take an anti-bike stance would have a lot more credibility in these discussions if they'd actually ridden their bike to work at least ONCE in the past 12 months.

    Finally, a comment about media coverage. Car-bike conflict has gotten a lot of coverage locally here lately, but frankly it's nothing new and I find that relations between cars and cyclists are better than ever. Cycling has increased fourfold here in the past decade, yet the number of incidents has held steady -- which means the incidence of conflicts, injuries and deaths has is one-quarter of what it used to be.

    I ride 3-4 times per week and over 2000 miles per year, yet it's been years since I've had a serious conflict with a motorist. In fact, I dare say it's been years since I've even been honked at. 99.9% of drivers I encounter are courteous. The idea that there's some escalating war between bikers and drivers is total and utter BS. I'm on the "front lines" (as it were) almost every day and ought to know.

    IMO the media are doing what they sometimes seem to do best: blowing things out of proportion.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2008
  3. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    I would argue that the sharing needs to continue regardless of any future developments, because "Separate but equal" simply doesn't work. Bikers need to get to the same places that drivers do, and separation inevitably means there are places where bike-legal routes simply don't go. If your community doesn't have bike lanes because it passed on the federal ISTEA dollars, I can guarantee they're not going to go around building separated bike facilities.

    One reason separated bike facilities don't work is that they still have to cross perpendicular roadways at regular intervals. It's far better (and more cost effective) for bikes to be on the right side of the road and proceeding through on the same green as motor vehicle traffic. Otherwise you have to have separate crossings and intersections, OR you have the traditional bike-path situation where cyclists are forced to stop at every crossing (or, heaven forbid, driveway). That's one of the strongest disincentives to cycling that I can think of.

    Also, contrary to popular belief separated bike paths parallel to roads are actually far more dangerous than riding on the roadway. They're great for families puttering around with kids at 5-8 mph, but for real transportation at higher speeds they're flat-out dangerous. These paths have high rates of conflict with non-cycling path users and with people entering or leaving the roadway via driveways, who invariably fail to look for potential conflict because they're focused on the roadway. Statistically, riding on bike paths (and sidewalks) is several times more dangerous than riding along the side of a road without a bike lane, let alone one with a bike lane. Sharing is what works.

    I wish more non-cyclists would see the benefits of a bike-friendly transportation system, and stop seeing bikes (or other non-car users such as trucks, transit and pedestrians) simply as impediments to their forward progress. Bikes takes cars off the road, reducing congestion. Not to mention cutting fuel usage, which we should all be in favor of these days.

    I'm thrilled to say that as bike density on the roads has skyrocketed around here in the last 10-15 years, people on both sides have gotten better at sharing. OF course a good network of bike lanes helps. I've long assumed that since even small towns here in Oregon grabbed the ISTEA money and put bike lanes in 6-8 years ago, small towns elsewhere have done the same. Sorry that's not the case.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2008
  4. Bike123

    Bike123 Well-Known Member

    I'm a regular bike commuter (my car hasn't moved for 3 months), I like bike lanes, and dislike critical mass. I obey traffic laws. WriConsult said it pretty well, but I have a few comments to add.

    One of the most vocal critics of bike lanes, bike paths, etc. is Forrester, the founder of Effective Cycling classes. He is definitely not anti-cycling. He makes some really good points, but I still like bike lanes.

    Total bike accidents remaining fairly constant as number of cyclists increase (or at least accidents/ mile biked going way down) is not unusual. This effect was noted many years ago. Forrester notes that number of cyclists matters much more than bike facilities (bike lanes and paths).

    I rarely have to control a normal traffic lane because we have a good network of bike lanes here. However, if there isn't a bike lane in good repair or wide enough shoulder, controlling the lane is the safest thing to do. Most people think that they will be run over if they get out in the lane, and the near misses they get while hugging the curb reinforce their fear. It is a lot like doing the speed limit in the right lane amid fast truck traffic. Most people argue that they would be run over, but every one of the top hypermilers here will tell you it doesn't happen. Getting honked at or the finger is likely, but getting hit isn't. Just as in hypermiling, let the traffic pass any time you can do it safely.
  5. ILAveo

    ILAveo Well-Known Member

    To see the inspiration for a bicyclist to control the whole lane, think about all the cars you see with dinged/broken side mirrors from trying to squeeze through tight spots. It only takes one car brushing a sleeve with its mirror to convince a bicyclist that they don't want anybody passing them in the same lane. A full on hit at highway speeds has this result.

    I'm not a participant/supporter of Critical Mass rides, but they are really motivated by a reasonable question: Why are so many motorists unwilling to share the road? I think a lot of hypermilers ask the same question.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2008
  6. fuzzy

    fuzzy Mild hypermiler

    A month after Seattle's violent Critical Mass incident, prosecutors have still not decided on charges. Another monthly ride is expected to go tomorrow night, with more police presence than normal. Other biking advocates are questioning whether the CM rides still have a purpose. (disclosure: I am a member of, and frequent volunteer for, the other biking group mentioned in this article.)
  7. warthog1984

    warthog1984 Well-Known Member


    By some coincedence, I ran into an example of how NOT to ride in traffic today.

    Guy riding down a fairly wide and somewhat busy 2 lane road ~3' out into the lane. I swing Way out and get around him as I'm nearing the stop sign ~1/4 mile away.

    So far so good. After I stop, this putz keeps cruising fat, dumb, and happy Through the blind spot my car creates, through the 4 way stop, and ignoring the oncoming traffic that had priority and had to slam on the brakes.

    Some people shouldn't be on the roadways.
  8. Barrudaki

    Barrudaki Well-Known Member

    I did some research on critical mass last year. You can find a lot of their videos on youtube. Most of the altercations go both ways. But unless CM has changed their policy they still do not hold a legal event. For my motorcycle club if we want to hold a ride we have to get a permit and give a map of the route to the local police. With that permit and map the cops will monitor our ride but we do have to do the corking ourselves. We still have people in cars who will try run over our corkers but once the cops step and tell them it's a charity ride it's legal, they either stop their rudeness or they get to take a ride in a police car.

    CM does not provide the local police with a map of their event, from what I remember they claim it's hard to cordinate it when there is that many people. The is bull, on my motorcycle runs we are able to cordinate over 100 people it's called follow the leader and also have designated people in the pack to help anyone who falls behind. From some of the videos I have seen since the event is not legal then they are illegally blocking traffic and they should be arrested for it but again there are too many people in the CM event and not enough cops to make the arrest. I know one of the last reports I saw on CM the local cops gave in a bit and now just ask for a date of the event and they monitor it.

    One of the videos I saw showed one of the bikers purposely stopping in front of cars daring them to hit them and another getting rude with a car driver because the driver was asking questions and the driver was not being rude. The driver was asking what the event was for and it was a genuine non-combatent question.
  9. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    It may vary from place to place, but Critical Mass is a legal event here. It's a bunch of people riding their bikes on the street, which is not against the law. There are some participants who do something unlawful such as run a red light, but that does not make the entire event illegal.
  10. fuzzy

    fuzzy Mild hypermiler

    The Seattle CM folks don't claim that it is hard to coordinate -- they intentionally have no planned route. Direction is selected at the whim of someone in front, on the spur of the moment.

    After the violent event, the next monthly ride had something like 40 police officers pedaling or driving with CM. It didn't get out of hand. Like numerous local happenings that don't follow the letter of the law, as long as it is dominated by the regulars, both civilians and police who know each other, things tend to stay controlled. But when outside agitators or outside police reinforcements come in, the risk of minor things snowballing into major incidents escalates sharply.

    I haven't heard any news about subsequent rides. Other cycling groups have openly questioned whether CM is still relevant to local bicycle advocacy.

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