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Old 10-18-05, 06:06 PM   #1
Blue Order
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Anti-cyclist aggression

So I'm a newbie here, and haven't commuted by bike in a number of years, but I used to do it regularly. One thing that's surprised me in reading posts here is the high number of incidents of anti-cyclist aggresssion by drivers. Back when I was commuting (San Jose, CA, in the late 70s-early eighties, and again in the early 90s), I never once encountered an angry driver.

Yet from what I'm reading here, it seems like it's become quite common. I haven't heard about it happening here (Portland, OR), but I'm not commuting here, and I'm not plugged into the cycling community here, so I don't know if I haven't heard of incidents because Portland is a cycling-friendly community (which it is), or if I haven't heard of incidents because I'm not plugged in to the cycling community here.

Anyway, because Portland has an active bicycle advocacy organization, I know that the city goverment, and law enforcement, take bicycle safety seriously. I'm wondering about other communities out there. If you've been subjected to anti-cyclist aggression, I'd like to know about your community. Do you have an active bicycle advocacy organization in your community? If so, is there a good relationship between your organization and local government and law enforcement? In other words, how seriously does your community take bicycle safety?

I'm curious, because it seems like a lot of these incidents are centered around a misconception that cyclists are somehow violating the law by riding off the sidewalk, and that therefore, these self-appointed heroes feel somehow obligated to get the cyclists back on the sidewalk where they belong. And that would seem to indicate a low level of interaction between cyclists and the community in which they ride.

Or maybe not. I don't know.

Anyway, I'm curious. Have you been targeted by an aggressive anti-cyclist? Is there an effective bicycle advocacy group in your community?
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Old 10-18-05, 06:13 PM   #2
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Hi.
What you have also have to keep in mind is that people are more likely to post stuff here when they encounter a problem. So they might go on hundred rides with no incident, then one day they encounter some ahole driver. They post their encounter here, but don't post about other hundred time when nothing happened. As the result when reading these forums you might come to a conclusion that everyone is out to get cyclists.
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Old 10-18-05, 06:16 PM   #3
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People don't complain when nothing is going wrong.
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Old 10-18-05, 06:23 PM   #4
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The other thing you may be seeing is posts from some very auto centeric areas such as Southern California where "no one walks..."

I don't believe LA and points south have the "cycle supportive police and city government you mention... "
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Old 10-18-05, 08:52 PM   #5
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There are multiple very active advocacy groups here - and a lot of very active aggressively anti-cyclist drivers, as well. Advocacy is useless when the police decline to enforce the law.
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Old 10-18-05, 09:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by brokenrobot
There are multiple very active advocacy groups here - and a lot of very active aggressively anti-cyclist drivers, as well. Advocacy is useless when the police decline to enforce the law.
It seems then, that in NYC, although the cyclists may have advocacy oranizations, they're not effectivley working with City Hall and the NYPD. I'm not saying that they're not *trying* to do that-- just that they haven't gotten the attention to the problem that it needs. If City Hall and law enforcement were working with the bicycle advocacy organizations, the police would be enforcing the law. I've spent a fair amount of time in NYC. I know how aggressive the cops are about parking violations. If they were half as aggressive with anti-cycling drivers, that city would be a cycling paradise. So if my thesis is correct-- that anti-cycling behavior occurs in the absence of *effective* cycling advocacy-- then getting the attention of City Hall would seem to be the top priority for the advocacy organizations.

As a sidenote, I've seen the recent news reports of cops confiscating bikes locked to subway railings, so i know they're not sympathetic.
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Old 10-18-05, 09:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDan
People don't complain when nothing is going wrong.
On the other hand, I'd like to point out that in two months of riding at least 90% of my travels, I have only been honked at once. Oddly enough, it was when I safely "took the lane" in VC fashion to avoid getting stuck in a right-hand turn lane when I wanted to go straight.

But I have not had one single other incident, and drivers in my area have been very patient, kind, and cooperative.

Tim.
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Old 10-18-05, 10:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Order
It seems then, that in NYC, although the cyclists may have advocacy oranizations, they're not effectivley working with City Hall and the NYPD. I'm not saying that they're not *trying* to do that-- just that they haven't gotten the attention to the problem that it needs. If City Hall and law enforcement were working with the bicycle advocacy organizations, the police would be enforcing the law. I've spent a fair amount of time in NYC. I know how aggressive the cops are about parking violations. If they were half as aggressive with anti-cycling drivers, that city would be a cycling paradise. So if my thesis is correct-- that anti-cycling behavior occurs in the absence of *effective* cycling advocacy-- then getting the attention of City Hall would seem to be the top priority for the advocacy organizations.

As a sidenote, I've seen the recent news reports of cops confiscating bikes locked to subway railings, so i know they're not sympathetic.

Actually, there's very little enforcement of the parking laws right now, either. And frankly, NOTHING gets the attention of this City Hall other than terror threats - and particularly politically-motivated fake terror threats. I don't want to be too political here, so I won't expound too much; let's just say that in my opinion, given the City's apparent willingness to ignore even rulings from the Federal bench requiring them to enforce the laws as written (as in the recent bike sezures you allude to, which were preceded by a court ruling forbidding exactly that behavior), truly effective advocacy for ANY cause is a political impossibility in NYC at the moment.
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Old 10-18-05, 10:46 PM   #9
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Hmmm... all I know I, last summer, I was constantly having to move the car to keep from being ticketed. My friends were constantly racking up parking tickets. Maybe they've gotten less zealous lately?
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Old 10-18-05, 11:33 PM   #10
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Yeah, I'm from Los Angeles, and my friends and I have been attacked from cars a few times. I've taken to carrying golf balls around in my jersey pockets. Haven't used them yet though.
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Old 10-18-05, 11:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by duckliondog
Yeah, I'm from Los Angeles, and my friends and I have been attacked from cars a few times. I've taken to carrying golf balls around in my jersey pockets. Haven't used them yet though.
Are there zealous advocacy groups in LA? If so, what are their relations with City Hall and law enforcement like?
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Old 10-19-05, 01:56 AM   #12
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I live in a rural part of England and incidents are very seldom.
However we do have a good cycle network and a high number of cyclists so drivers are possibly more aware. It's not unusual to be let across at cross roads, out at side roads or given way to on single track roads.
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Old 10-19-05, 03:47 AM   #13
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Some cyclists/advocacy groups, namely Critical Mass have experienced the NYPD to be outright hostile to their cause. As far as myself, a single, pointless, unaffiliated cyclist in NYC, I am happy to be ignored by them especially when I am making good time at the expense of the traffic laws. (Certainly not to say I am careless, reckless or lacking regard for my or anyone else’s safety … just taking advantage of the greater maneuverability, that we all know)

This said, sidewalk riding is considered among the greatest cycling infractions here –you get into more conflict here than on the street. Designated bike lanes are a joke respected by none for all the double parking that is inevitable. Individual drivers do seem to have malice in their hearts for cyclists as they intentionally cut me off. They are only slightly worse than the oblivious, which are slightly worse than those who are highly aware/ concerned of my presence as they start honking their horns like crazy as soon as they see you out of anticipation of some G-d awful peril.

City hall seems think that cycling is for the parks only. As for street cycling, one here is decidedly on their own, for good and for bad.
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Old 10-19-05, 04:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Order
Are there zealous advocacy groups in LA? If so, what are their relations with City Hall and law enforcement like?
To answer your (possibly) loaded question, there are a few advocacy groups here, and they do not appear to be significantly more or less "zealous" than the groups elsewhere. You'd have to ask them what their relations with City Hall and the cops are like. However, I imagine they must be better than the relations in NYC between cycling advocates and City Hall and the NYPD, if only because the City of Los Angeles and the LAPD, whatever their other shortcomings may be, aren't actively on a mission to suppress bicycle culture.
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Old 10-19-05, 07:05 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UmneyDurak
Hi.
What you have also have to keep in mind is that people are more likely to post stuff here when they encounter a problem. So they might go on hundred rides with no incident, then one day they encounter some ahole driver. They post their encounter here, but don't post about other hundred time when nothing happened. As the result when reading these forums you might come to a conclusion that everyone is out to get cyclists.
That is whats called the vocal minority well sort of. The vocal minority is a small group of people who speak louder han the rest of a population. In this case you hear more about the jerk drivers and harrassment and accidents. You dont hear about the 1000 cars a week who didnt buzz a cyclists because well the poster would spend along time posting about them and not get much riding done.

Here where i live i get buzzed or yelled at probably 4 times a week to some deggree or another.
But i get 100s of cars who pass me safly each day. Then theres the other extream where you find extreamly respectful drivers who treat you no diffrent than another vehical on the road. They give you the space you need they will wait their turn at the lights signs etc.

Its also area dependant as well. OP mentioned cyclists advocacy groups. But another thing that tends to effect it is how many cyclists are in a area. Places where cycling is very common will tend to have far fewer motorists who are harrassing cyclists. Many reasons every thign from jjust being use to it to more agresive law enforcement and fear of getting the crap beat out of them.
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Old 10-21-05, 02:31 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Blue Order
Are there zealous advocacy groups in LA? If so, what are their relations with City Hall and law enforcement like?
It's fun to ride through downtown around city hall and all the huge buildings. Cops don't seem to know that cyclists exist as far as I can tell.
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Old 10-21-05, 03:36 AM   #17
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Then there is the matter of our own agression as cyclists who feel a little too entitled to free unobstructed movement, who feel a little too superior to those other forms of transportation, those who are just as much the raging, egotistical, A-holes they are on a bike as they were/are in their cars... or, really, relationships in general.

I've seen this in myself at times, as in others, the need to calm the F down, allow others their faults, and enjoy the ride.
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Old 10-21-05, 10:05 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Order
Hmmm... all I know I, last summer, I was constantly having to move the car to keep from being ticketed. My friends were constantly racking up parking tickets. Maybe they've gotten less zealous lately?

Depends a lot on neighborhood, too. On the UWS, in Brooklyn Heights, and in a few other very wealthy residential areas, there's parking enforcement (though not enforcement of the laws against double-parking or against vehicles idling in bike lanes; there's essentially no parking enforcement at all in commercial areas without meters or in less-wealthy residential areas.
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Old 10-21-05, 10:43 AM   #19
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Back when I was commuting (San Jose, CA, in the late 70s-early eighties, and again in the early 90s), I never once encountered an angry driver.
I still don't encounter many angry drivers in San Jose, I think it's better than most of the country in that regard. The difference from the early eighties (when I also used to commute by bike) is everybody is talking on cell phones and oblivious to everything around them.
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Old 10-21-05, 11:08 AM   #20
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IMHO, most of the aggression cyclists experience from motorists isn't due to any dislike of cyclists in general, it is more the increased aggression of drivers in general towards ANYTHING they perceive as getting in their way or slowing them down. I have seen it over the last 30 years, everybody is in a bigger hurry, stressed out, distracted and generally not enjoying travelling by motor vehicle from point A to point B. Our whole society has become in too big of a darned hurry, more self-centered, less patient and less friendly.
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Old 10-21-05, 04:36 PM   #21
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If you don't think it's happening in Portland Oregon, you're REALLY not paying attention, 'cause its been spread all over the local media in spades, and the anticycling crowd appears to be winning, at least judging by the amount of newsprint devoted to anticyclist hyperbole and heresay published by the local press since this spring. And BTW, I think chipcom's right on the money in post #20 as to why.
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Old 10-21-05, 04:47 PM   #22
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If you listen to the office/workplace AM chatter you often hear about folks complaining about some jackhole who cut them off, etc. Newpaper editorials are filled with letters to ed. about what to do about bad drivers and the dangerour roads, etc.

It is really no different in that other world, but folks get a little less emotional (well not much less) when they have steel plates and airbags protecting them from idiots.

I sometimes mention agressive driving incidents, but only/mostly in context of another discussion. I get a few a week, but don't report on them regularly just as I don't tell ya'll about tying my shoes every day (even when it was the most amazing tie ever!)

I get super driver behavior a lot too. It makes you smile when you work with other drivers and they give positive feedback.

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Old 10-21-05, 06:57 PM   #23
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One thing that's surprised me in reading posts here is the high number of incidents of anti-cyclist aggresssion by drivers. Back when I was commuting (San Jose, CA, in the late 70s-early eighties, and again in the early 90s), I never once encountered an angry driver.
I commuted to college in Boston in the early 70's, when riding a "ten speed" was the most popular way for a lot of people to travel. Back then, most college kids didn't have cars, as they all seem to today. (Mom and dad paying for it?) Incidents of violence directed at cyclists was darn near unheard of. The most common thing was for a carload of yahoos to pass a female, and suggest where she should be sitting, but no stories of outright violence or vehicular assault.

Over the years, I have seen the attitude of drivers continue its downward trend. What Chipcom said above is pretty much it: Everyone is in a big hurry, and nothing, and I mean nothing, had better be in the way, not even for a nanosecond.

The aggression is not just toward cyclists, as so many have noted already. We live in a society where people get into screamfests and fistfights in shopping mall parking lots, over spaces near the door. Don't believe it? Ride over to your local mall, say about the second weekend in December. Find a good place to lock up. Grab a warm beverage, and pick a good observation point. Then just watch the action. Things will get ugly, and you won't have to wait long.

Most outrageous thing I have personally observed lately: a man of about 50, throwing a red-faced tantrum in the line of a Best Buy. The problem: The line was long, there was a problem at the register, and he was being held up. He violently tossed some DVD's and other junk items to the floor, and started screaming. Two "yellow jerseys" (supervisors, I think) escorted him out, with other people staring, wide-eyed. When I left, there was a police car outside. The officer was talking to the two guys in yellow jerseys. No sign of Mister Red face. I'd assume he was told to leave.

Would this have happened, thirty years ago? Think Mister Red Face is a safe driver?

A question that cannot really be answered: Where does it all end?
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Old 10-21-05, 07:30 PM   #24
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Most outrageous thing I have personally observed lately: a man of about 50, throwing a red-faced tantrum in the line of a Best Buy. The problem: The line was long, there was a problem at the register, and he was being held up. He violently tossed some DVD's and other junk items to the floor, and started screaming. Two "yellow jerseys" (supervisors, I think) escorted him out, with other people staring, wide-eyed. When I left, there was a police car outside. The officer was talking to the two guys in yellow jerseys. No sign of Mister Red face. I'd assume he was told to leave.
Christmas shopping a few years back at a mall. Old beat up Chevy is stopped, waiting for a parking spot to open, when a guy pulls up behind him in a fairly new Vette. The guy in the Vette starts hollering and honking 'Move that POS!'. The guy in the Chevy calmly gets out of the car, walks back towards the Vette and proceeds to put 6 rounds of .357 right into the grille and hood, then calmly gets back into his car and continues to wait for his spot. The Vette driver doesn't even bother to get out...he smokes his tires backwards to get away...right into the car behind him.

Last year, stuck in traffic on I-480 in Cleveland. Guy in front of me is yaking on a cell phone and doesn't realize that traffic has started moving...he finally notices and guns it...only traffic has now stopped again and he ends up plowing into the guy in front of him. I see the guy he hit get out, walk back and start talkng to the guy who hit him...who is still yaking on the phone (or maybe just called his insurance company). I see them talking, rather calmly it seems. The guy must of asked to use the other guy's phone, cuz he hands it to him. The guy he hit takes the phone and hurls it across the interstate and over the guard rail of the bridge. Everyone behind me was pulling around to get past the accident, I couldn't - I was laughing so hard that I popped the clutch and stalled.
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Old 10-21-05, 07:55 PM   #25
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People post here when they want to vent. I frequently suffer from aggressive drivers when I am driving, but cant remember any problems when I've been riding my bike.
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