As I mentioned in my post yesterday, a really unfortunate happening occurred in Jacksonville this past weekend. Following an annual Memorial Day cycling event, there was a confrontation between a vehicle driver and some cyclists. At the end of the day, two cyclists were stabbed and the driver was arrested. See here and here for news articles. In my opinion, there’s no circumstance where violence should be acceptable (by either the cyclists or the driver).
Clearly, this was a sad situation for all involved. Even more sad is the vitriol seen in the follow-up comments and posts on the newspaper’s website and on some discussion boards (such as Slowtwitch.com) by both cyclists and non-cyclists. Lots of "cyclists think they own the roads," and "drivers don’t pay enough attention to us" type comments. Some commenters went so far as to say that if they (as cyclists) carried handguns with them, situations would never blow up. There’s clearly a split in terms of thoughts regarding cyclists being allowed on the road, which has the right of way, and tolerance of each other, in general. It’s a shame that so many folks take a pure black or white perspective on this issue.
I certainly believe that towns should facilitate cycling as much as possible via the construction of bike lanes and greenways. That said, though, we cyclists do have statutory rights to ride on the roadways. It does bother me on several levels when I get stuck behind a peleton that is consuming too much space on a road, though. Would I resort to violence? Absolutely not. Would I chuck something out of my car window at a guy on a bike? No. Would I yell at a passing vehicle for coming too close to me? I don’t think so. Do I have faith that everyone else would act the way I do? No way. Not given what I’ve seen with my own eyes, and certainly not given what happened this weekend. Why can’t we all just figure out a way to get along?
What’s it like where you live? Is there an equally obvious disdain for cyclists in your city? What (if anything) could be done?