Culture Wars, On-the-Road Edition

An overview piece from The New York Times "Moving Targets"") on the hostility cyclists encounter (and sometimes return in kind) on the road.

Friday morning, July 25, around 6:50 a.m., he was pedaling on a
residential street, wearing his green hospital scrubs, when a
Volkswagen roared out of a driveway in front of him. Swerving to avoid
the car, Mr. Cooley cursed loudly and rode on.

The driver and his
passenger cursed back. As Mr. Cooley pulled over to the sidewalk, the
car turned onto a driveway, knocking him off his bike. In Mr. Cooley’s
narrative, the passenger, swearing, jumped out and pummeled him. Then
he got back into the car, which zoomed away. Mr. Cooley lay prostrate
on the sidewalk, bloodied, with a concussion and a torn ligament.

“We’ve had a car culture for so long and suddenly the roads become
saturated with bicyclists trying to save gas,” Mr. Cooley said 10 days
after the attack, still feeling scrambled, in pain and traumatized. “No
one knows how to share the road.” He doesn’t plan to bike to work again
this season.

The piece is fine as far as it goes — and the paper let it run to a pretty good length. But disappointingly, it fails to really test the position that this is a problem with no solutions.

Coincidentally, we’re reading a book the story mentions: "Traffic," by Tom Vanderbilt. Very interesting stuff in there about the psychology that goes into road hostility–and how it is exhibited in some form by all of us in all of the roles we play: driver, rider, and pedestrian.

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