SUV Driver and Kids Attack Bikes in Separate Incidents

SUV Driver and Kids Attack Bikes in Separate Incidents

It’s hot and bike violence is back on.

Last Sunday a friend of mine was assaulted on the East Liberty bike lanes by some young kids. I’ve written about this type of thing before (“Kid on Bike Violence Demands Community Solutions”) and it seems to be the same situation that baffles people every year, around the country. The question is always there:

What do we do? And I want to know: what do you do? Let’s learn from each other. What can we do to eradicate this mob violence?

It’s not just kids taunting and endangering kids. The other day I witnessed a driver in a massive truck-SUV combo blitz through a no-turn on red chasing after a kid on a bike. It became a two-cop response to the confrontation which blocked a major street. The driver of the truck and his wife screamed that they were TRYING TO RUN DOWN the kid on the bike to show him that you can’t blow through stoplights.

And I agree, you shouldn’t blow through lights if you want to be treated as a legitimate road user. I saw the kid on the bicycle blow past me when I was waiting at the light and it annoyed me, too. I’m trying to ride carefully and many people on bikes flagrantly and dangerously disregard the laws which makes all cyclists law-breakers in the eyes of many drivers. But the answer isn’t to run him down to prove that.

The elderly father of the rage-filled driver leaned out of the SUV and rapped the young biker with his cane and continued the verbal barrage. The cops had to restrain the driver to stop him from attacking the kid.
What makes people act like this? What motivates this crazed anger? Certainly much of it stems from other sources and bicycles are simply vulnerable, easy targets to lash out against.

We as bike riders do need to be more responsible, certainly. But how do we reach out to other road users for a useful dialogue?


3 thoughts on “SUV Driver and Kids Attack Bikes in Separate Incidents

  1. I had a thought the other day about Road Rage. It stemmed from my growing realization that rage can be an acting-out of unnameable or uncontrollable anxieties and fears. I don’t drive anymore, but now that I don’t (or is it just since moving to Pittsburgh?) I am highly aware of how lethal cars can be. So, I wondered if Road Rage is a perverted expression of drivers’ fear of death. Every bad driving move at certain speeds is potentially deadly–are drivers so angry because the game of driving is so high-stakes? Do people buy SUVs to feel less vulnerable on the road? Do bikers represent unprotected human vulnerability? Does the visual reminder of the driver’s vulnerability send him into a helpless rage?

  2. I’ve been thinking about road rage, too. my pals lent me their prius one weekend while they were out of town, and i was miserable. on a bike, you can breeze past traffic jams, and scoot around double-parkers, etc. but on a car, you’re extremely–and frustratingly–dependent on everyone else’s cooperation and obesience to the rules to get ANYwhere. It’s maddening. such a huge chunk of people just aren’t paying attention, don’t care, and block space, impeding others’ ability to move.

    i felt trapped by others’ flagrant disregard of traffic laws.

    i think we underestimate the stress drivers are feeling, and seeing someone–on a freedom-giving bicycle–just disregard the rules with no consequences is sometimes the straw on that car-driving camel’s back. in l.a., drivers were raging against other drivers with guns, so it isn’t necessarily a car-v-bike phenomenon; it just so happens that cyclists are easier to intimidate with the car as one’s only weapon (and it’s unlikely that the car driver will incur much damage in the process–legally or physically), whereas trying to plow a car who’s was the straw to your back, is more complicated less immediately satisfying, entailing almost certain costs.

  3. There is a tremendous amount of stress in driving a car. A simple trip to the grocery store can mean multiple minor adrenaline rushes because even scratching some elses car is akin to death. People are in denial about the danger and fear because they usually have to drive to live. This suppressed stress comes out in bad health and emotional outbursts.
    Every should, like Laura, bless her, join the international campaign for free public transit. There are 50 million net additional cars on the road every year — only free transit can turn this around.

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