LA Isn’t the Only Place with Bike Vs Car Incidents

Two recent road rage incidents are all over the news in Portland. Earlier this month, a drunken man on a bike became aggravated when a driver, himself a self-described bike advocate, reprimanded the cyclist for blowing a stoplight. The cyclist threatened the driver, picking up his bike and hitting the car with it. Then this week, a driver struck a cyclist and continued to drive as the victim, who escaped without serious injury, clung to the windshield.

The aggression on display is hard to fathom, but does it merit front page coverage? The breathless headlines pitting cyclists against drivers have led BikePortland’s Jonathan Maus to critique the local press for exacerbating the us-versus-them mentality.

There’s no excusing dangerous behavior on the road, no matter how you choose to get around, but the level of violence people are capable of when they’re driving is, by the nature of the vehicle, quite considerable. As one commenter on the Oregonian’s web site put it, "A drunk cyclist is clearly a menace, but a drunk driver can be downright deadly."

And then there’s this story (via Tom Vanderbilt) out of Seattle last Wednesday, when a man was killed for setting up orange cones while he gardened in a traffic circle near his house, showing that people don’t always have to be behind a wheel for their entitlement to the road to turn fatal.

Here’s a question for Vanderbilt, whose new book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us), will be released later this month. What is it about automobiles or the road or human psychology that makes people behave like sociopaths at times?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Cyclists removing driver from car. Screen capture from CBS

Group Ride Confrontation Sparks Debate, Cyclist-Blaming

|
The full story is not clear at this point, but news media and social media have been critical of cyclists in a confrontation with a driver. See coverage at CBS, Fox11, and the L.A. Times. The incident took took place last night, in Koreatown, during a group bike ride. According to CBS, the group of […]

Facebook Face Off: Malibu’s Anti-Bike Crusade Runs Into Opposition

|
A cyclist blocking traffic in Malibu on the PCH. Photo:JGL Songs/Flickr Generally, I try to avoid writing about Facebook "groups" that bag cyclists, pedestrians or transit riders and projects because they’re not really representative of anything other than an angry person with a keyboard. However, that was before Biking In L.A. pointed us towards a […]

The Case Against Bike Paths

|
(Anyone who was at last December’s Bike Meeting in City Hall witnessed a mini-shouting match between Enci Box and Councilman Tom LaBonge over whether or not there are "bike facilities" in LaBonge’s district.  Enci contends that a bike path is not a real facility, and she elaborates and explains that point here.  – DN) Cyclists […]

If L.A. Is Going to Invest in Bike Lanes, Then Do It Right!

|
Bike Lanes are a deterrent for me to ride in and I oftentimes cringe when I hear people blindly supporting them without asking for enhanced safety standards and regulations. So when the LA Draft Bike Plan proposes Bike Lanes and Paths all over the city without taking into consideration what the people want, it upsets […]

City of L.A.’s First Parking-Protected Bike Lanes: Reseda Boulevard

|
Yesterday, the city of Los Angeles installed its first ever parking-protected bike lanes. They’re on Reseda Boulevard in Northridge, part of the mayor’s Great Streets Initiative. As of this morning, the project is roughly one-quarter complete. The new protected lanes, also known as cycletracks, are mostly complete on the west side of Reseda Blvd from Plummer Street […]