Car tramples over a dozen cyclists
February 28, 2011

This is absolutely horrifying. More info and statements from the driver’s lawyer (he’s claiming self-defense) here.

I watch this video and I am shocked, shocked! I don’t care your thoughts on critical mass or on cyclists; do any of them justify murder? Does no one ever realize that a car hitting a bike will always “win”? Self-defense or not, it’s like bringing a gun to a chess game.

The only way I can see anyone being OK with committing fatal and nearly fatal road rage against cyclists is the dehumanizing effect a car has on us when we’re behind the wheel. The illusion of safety, freedom and comfort work together to create an almost simulation experience for the driver. You are in a video game and your actions (though your car) are not “real” and have no “real” repercussions. Except, of course, they do, sometimes fatally. The only similar dehumanization I can think of is war, when you are so convinced that the enemy is “The Enemy” and not human, not real, not like you, can one ever muster the courage to kill.

But this is just driving. Just commuting. Just traveling. Just sad. So sad.

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Road Rage Chronicles: Bucketseat Law Enforement
March 24, 2009

Since moving to Portland, a city known for the high bicycling population, I’ve notice two or three times where someone sitting in a parked car will honk at me. The first one happened out of no where and I didn’t even notice it was a parked car until I realized there were no cars on the road. The second and third I began looking for these “bucketseat law enforcers.”

It usually happens when I come up to a red light, stop and realize it’s safe to go and then I “run” the red light. This is, actually, against the law, however, it is a common thing cyclists do in most any city. In fact, it’s so common that Portland is considering changing the laws to make stop lights, stop signs, and stop signs into yields for cyclists. SF is also considering this. And apparently Idaho has been this way for years.

But back to the story. So I proceed to go through the red light and this guy in a parked car on the corner honks at me. He’s got an angry look on his face. He must really hate that I did that. He probably really gets angry at gay marriage too. I find the whole thing pretty hilarious. 1) honking is not a good way to make a point. It’s too broad and it’s hard to even tell why someone is honking at you. Were you just married, or are you in their way? 2) Honking from a parked car is completely asinine and pointless.

Next time I think I’ll just go up to the car and ask them.

Road Rage Chronicles: Stop-gap the scooter!
September 3, 2008

As gas prices soar, people are turning to alternatives to cars. This is great, but there’s bound to be fallout. Enter: the scooter.

Nothing really wrong with them: great gas mileage, compact size, easy to park. And while they are a “bike” of sorts, they require registration and licensing like a car, and they are powered like a car. Therefore, should they be allowed in the bike lane? No!

Today, on my way to work, I was riding up a heavy-use bike route with a bike lane in San Francisco. Several bikers and I (and cars!) all come to a stop light. Rather like the motorcycle last time, a scooter attempts to cut into the packed bike lane to cut in front of the cars (an implicity “right” enjoyed by motorcycles). A middle-aged seasoned bicycle commuter thinks better than to let this happen and STOP GAPS the scooter; placing herself and bike perpendicular in front of the scooter. She lectures him on the proper use of the bike lane, his comments barely audible through his helmet. Suffice to say, when the light turned green he sped past us reving up his little engine in the usual motorized display of rage (which also burns valuable fuel!).

On Bike Lanes

Bike lanes are a luxury and a little one at that. Sometimes I don’t like them because they falsely give car drivers the impression that bikes MUST use the bike lane. This leads to confusion when a biker passes others using the right line (to the left of the bike lane), and when there is no bike lane on a road, a cyclists takes the lane. That being said, what little strip of a lane we got, especially during commute hours to be usurped by drivers turning right and motorcycles and scooters pretending they’re bikes is unacceptable. So, kudos to you, fellow commuter, for taking action!

Trash-talking motorcyclist in the bicycle lane
August 21, 2008

What a morning!

First, a large re-appropriated Crown Victoria literally drifts into the bike lane — cutting me off. I’m close enough behind to see the driver has his cell phone in his right hand held below the dashboard so he can slyly text — and apparently drive on the sly. I make may around and notice his window is open. So I yell one of my favorite epithets,

“Hey, why don’t you try driving!”

To which he replies something inaudible but probably nasty.

Second, I continue along my way and I’m almost to work as I come up to a stop light. There’s a motorcycle ahead of me and in the main lane. As traffic slows, he dashes out into the bike lane in order to go around the car and get to the front — a common motorcycle move. The only problem is that I happen to be coming up that very bike lane and the motorcyclist didn’t signal nor take the time to check his blind-spot before changing lanes. Granted, we were all going pretty slow at least point so there was no real danger since I’m good at what I do, but as I pulled up around him, I gave him a look and shook my head.

That’s when he began to just swear at me. Over and over. I tried to tell him it was his wrong to almost hit me in the bike lane. Light turns green and he PACES me up the road to yell at me some more. Calling me stupid, ugly, anything he can think of… I told him I can’t talk to him if he’s going to just yell at me and I pulled off to my work.

Why can’t anyone just admit they’re wrong anymore? I make mistakes a lot when I’m biking. Buzzing pedestrians sometimes, or failing to yield to cars and other cyclists and I usually shout out a “Sorry!” or some such. I don’t immediately find fault with the offended person and begin barraging them with insults.

Whatever happened to this interchange?

“Oops! My bad.”

“It’s all good, bro!”

And life goes on…