Allow me to set the scene that I witnessed last week. I was driving (yeah, yeah, I know driving sucks) down Cedar Ave. in Minneapolis and saw a cyclist up ahead.
The cyclist was doing everything correct, staying as far to the right as possible in the absence of a bike lane, and holding a straight line. The car ahead of me, clearly unhappy with the cyclist taking his rights, decided to lay on the horn, while unsafely speeding around too close to the cyclist.
At that point I felt like giving the car a little love tap with my front bumper but imagining an insurance bill I managed to stop myself. The car remained directly ahead of me and I too passed the cyclist, providing as much room as possible and in excess of the required three feet.
I continued behind the angry honker for another block until they were forced to stop at a stop light. Out of my side view mirror I could see the previously honked at cyclist approaching, figuring some reprisal was due to the car driver.
What came next was the cyclist spitting on the car’s windshield (which judging by the amount of expectorate he had been building up for a while) and a kick to the front 1/4 panel passenger side of the car.
Five years ago I would have cheered these actions, or at the very least been amused by them. Today, I see it as a problem. Here’s the thing, when you ride a bike on the street it’s not just you on your bike vs. the cars. Car drivers see cyclists as one entity, often observing the actions of a single cyclist and in turn making inferences about all cyclists. In this particular instance, the cyclist turned off of Cedar right away and suffered no retaliation, but what about the next cyclist that car passes?
For that matter what about the previous cyclist that the angry honker passed? How did their actions contribute to this encounter?
Yes, cyclist, you didn’t do anything wrong, and you have every right to be pissed off, but the driver of that car won’t remember that you are fault free, what he/she will remember is the jerk on a bike that kicked their precious car. Next time they pass a cyclist and lay on the horn they might just give them a little less space, and the time after that even less, until they “accidentally” nudge someone off the road.
I fully expect to receive backlash for this post, however, this issue is too important not to address.
It is with these thoughts that we offer this story from Treehugger it is about ending the war on the car, and describes how to talk/ act on and off the bike.