>Cyclists vs Car Drivers. Who wins?

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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?

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5 thoughts on “>Cyclists vs Car Drivers. Who wins?

  1. >Dangerous times out there on the road man. My golden rule of cycling is that the guy with the two ton battering ram always wins, especially if he is carrying a knife. Stick to the absolute right of the road unless it is unsafe to do so, stay aware and don't forget to smile and shake it off.

  2. >I just bike the same way I drive: DefensivelyIve read that the guy who stabbed the cyclists had 14 motor violations? It sounds like this guy has a blatant disrespect for law and these poor cyclists happened to get in the way of this criminal. I read the ST thread and saw all the Dwight Schrute's talking about disarming the guy and using kung fu….blah,blah,blah. That wasn't the point of the thread but in pure ST tradition it ended up going in a completely different direction so don't take those comments as a majority opinion. The bottom line is that respect needs to be paid to both the car and the bike. Not sure how this gets accomplished without some sort of national marketing message? Remember back when highway construction workers were getting plunked by angry drivers? They started a campaign with billboards and road signs with sayings such as, "I am a father/mother!" .. "Please Drive Carefully, I have a family too!" … from what I remember accidents reduced tremendously. Maybe one of the larger Cycling orgs or USAT need to consider a similar campaign directed at protecting their members?

  3. >We ride in San Antonio Fl which on Sat and Sun is a bikers Mecca. Hundreds of cyclists. Hundreds of pissed off people that live in the area, too. So much so, some of the locals have the sheriffs dept. to stake out bikers on the weekend. If you will remember, I even got a ticket for blowing thru a stop sign on a deserted road one early Sunday morning.But, to the defense of the drivers in our area, the peletons are annoying even to me (while I'm riding!!). Two and three wide and 50 in a pack. And I must say, the drivers have never given us any sh*t except on one occasion.I try and make it a point to say hello to all the locals in the area as I pass by when they are walking to put try and leave a good taste in their mouth about some of us… gotta start somewhere…

  4. >I drive the way I would want drivers to drive while I'm riding, but fully understand that I'm probably not in the majority. I cycle with extreme caution, trying to be fully aware. It is definitely scary out there… yes, many drivers are distracted, and don't pay attention, but I've often seen cyclists made stupid mistakes too, which gives us all a bad name. The mutual respect is going to be a long, hard-fighting battle anywhere, I suspect, which is unfortunate.

  5. >We had a somewhat similar situation down in South Florida along A1a in which a group of ten cyclist circled a car, threatened the driver and jumped on his car. Cyclists would be better served if we kept our cool and explained the legal distance drivers are supposed to give riders. I find too many riders fly off the handle at the slightest perceived encroachment of their space. In any car/bike confrontation, we cyclists lose. We should be ambassadors of our sport, educating drivers in a friendly manner, instead of upping the ante with angry bravado. That being said, what happened in Jacksonville was beyond the pale and the driver should go to jail. Simply showing the knife would have been self defense. Stabbing a guy 5 times is attempted murder. I just wonder if cooler heads by the cyclists could have prevented the escalation of events. Why did the cyclist throw a punch? Is that behavior justifiable? I doubt it.

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