Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bicycles are Transportation

In Los Angeles a man was convicted of six felonies, including assault with a deadly weapon, for passing two bicyclists, cutting them off, and slamming on his brakes. On cyclist flew threw the back window of the car, severing his nose and knocking out his teeth. The other cyclist who swerved into the oncoming traffic lane separated his shoulder. Other bicyclists testified against this driver saying he had repeatedly committed acts of violence and shouted at them that he was going to "teach them a lesson." This dirtbag was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In Asheville a man got off with 120 days for a similar act of rage against a bicyclist. His deadly weapon wasn't a car, however, it was a .38 caliber pistol. He was angry with a man for riding with his child on a seat on the back of his bike and his wife on another bike on a busy street. So angry he got out his gun and SHOT THE MAN IN THE HEAD! Fortunately he misjudged the size of the man's melon and the bullet only damaged his helmet and the shockwave from the close range shot damaged his eardrum. (A .38 is a seriously loud weapon. I fired mine once without hearing protection and my ears rang for quite some time, and I was behind it. ) In this case the defense arranged testimony from friends of the shooter to say he was a good guy really, he was just having a bad day. The judge agreed.

I have been trying to figure out what the HELL is going on out there. One of my friends who rides his bike in Atlanta told me that during an in-town bicycle race a woman rolled down her window and hollered at him "I HOPE YOU DIE!" What the FUCK?! He didn't cut her off or anything. He was going through a green light and she was stopped on the other street on red. Another time a guy in a truck swerved in front of him and forced him to slam on brakes and swerve and nearly crash. His first reaction was to take his U-lock and hammer-throw it through the back window of the truck. I suppose a rush of adrenaline causes this reaction in drivers and cyclists. He didn't do it of course, but just imagining it helped him calm down. Maybe there should be a simulator for helping people learn to cope with surges of adrenaline from close calls. A miss is as good as a mile. Just breathe.

I figured out another aspect of this issue when I heard this quote from Mary Norwood, one of the candidates for Mayor of Atlanta. When asked if she rides a bike she answered, "I don't. I don't do exercise." EXERCISE!? Mary, Mary, Mary. You poor thing. That must be it. Motorists think bicyclists are out for recreation and are flaunting their free time while these busy motorists are in a hurry to get somewhere.

Well that is BULLSHIT! Bicyclists are probably GOING somewhere too! I know a lot of people in Atlanta that ride their bike to the MARTA station and then on to their office. They ride to meet friends out for dinner, to volunteer to plant trees, and yes, to join a bike polo game for recreation. If motorists are going to assume that all bicyclists are just getting exercise and they should just go to the gym and get out of the way then they are fucktards who shouldn't be allowed to take their car anywhere but to their job and back home. If the road is strictly for business then there is a lot of incessant errand-running traffic that needs to stop.

I see cyclists when I go to town -- roadies down in the drops gliding down the highway between Georgia and Florida. They have never enraged me even a little bit. I kind of worry about them riding on the shoulder actually and wish they would move out into the lane a little bit. They're zooming along right where all the dead animals collect. An impact with a roadkill alligator could wreck them and good. I already carry a bike pump in my car and sometimes think of turning around when I see an intrepid cyclist in the high bahia grass working on his wheel. I wonder if I could make a splint out of the camera unipod and nylon rope I carry in my car? I bet I could, so I think I'll leave that stuff in there just in case.

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