It seems like every day there is another news article stating that with the escalating gas prices and the surge in bicycles on the road, friction between motorists and bicyclists has skyrocketed. Surely, you’ve read such articles in places like the New York Times, Reuters newswire, The Wall Street Journal and a variety of other sources.
(photo from Taiwanderful)
Many of you have probably read (and responded) to such articles and discussion topics on a variety of bicycle-friendly blogs. Perhaps the most reasoned response I’ve seen comes from Paul Dorn of the excellent Bike Commute Tips blog. Check out his coverage of this issue and his thoughtful responses to this “media frenzy” by reading his article.
Another impassioned response to this media-driven “phenomenon” can be found on the Austin Cycling News blog. Writer Adriel (a frequent commenter on our site) breaks the argument down and provides some stirring rebuttals to the various “claims” of these news articles.
Put me in the “skeptic” camp…while I believe that more bicyclists are on the road and that many of them could stand to build up their skill levels a bit (something we’ve discussed before), I refuse to believe that there is a sudden rise in bike vs. car tensions. Conflict sells in the media, and with all those new bicyclists on the streets, there are a lot of “unseasoned bike commuters” out there who may perceive yelling and shouting from motorists as a terrible new development. Most of the more-experienced bicyclists out there know that this is par for the course, for the most part.
I certainly have not experienced any increase in the number or frequency of bike vs. car conflicts around here…nor have I seen a dramatic uptick in the number of bicycles on the road. But, as always, I’d like to hear your thoughts on these matters: is this all a bunch of hype to help sell newspapers? Have any of you experienced a rise in tensions on the road? Is there really a rise in these kinds of conflicts, or have a couple of highly-publicized confrontations (such as the New York and Seattle Critical Mass run-ins) put a biased spin on the public’s perception?