Another chilling story…

The Gothamist recently posted a story about an encounter between a cyclist and a motorist gone bad:

The pitched street battle between cyclists and drivers (and pedestrians) just won’t let up! Cyclist Anna Letitia Mumford says that she was punched in the face by a driver yesterday during her evening commute in Brooklyn.

Read the full story of Anna’s account and the full story – Driver Punches Cyclist in the Face After Blocking Bike Lane.

What’s your worst encounter with a motorist while riding?

OR – on the flip side – what’s your best tale? What keeps you riding despite news like this?


32 Comments

  1. Alfred September 4, 2009 2:42 am 

    Firstly, condolances (if that’s the right word) to the woman who got punched. Such a situation has never happened to me but I have been cut off, screamed at, jeered by passing motorists, etc. as many times as the next guy so rather than rant, I’ll try a good story (and it’s true too, well true enough).

    When I was a university student, I was crossing campus late at night for some reason and got into an impromptu race with a maintainance worker in a golf cart. It was probably as close as I will ever get to being in Bullit, or The Fast and the Furious. I think I may have even taken my beat up old Raleigh road bike down some stairs at one point.

    It ended basically in a tie, but I told myself that I had won because I nosed him out barely and, hey, I didn’t have a motor right? When our destinations diverged we smiled and waved and went on our merry ways.

    Alfred

  2. Brian September 4, 2009 4:43 am 

    Here is the full account of my run in last summer, the link is the to the day-in-court recap, but the back link to the original incident is in the first paragraph…

    http://thecarwhisperer.blogspot.com/2008/09/enforced.html

    There is something about the human condition to pick on someone weaker than you that drives this dynamic between drivers and cyclists. I believe it’s unavoidable.

  3. Ghost Rider September 4, 2009 5:03 am 

    Brian…justice is served! Glad you had a bike-riding prosecutor and the police on your side, which seems to be rare in this day and age.

    I’ve got a slew of bad stories…and a few good ones. My favorite “good” stories are being recognized at stoplights: “hey, you’re that GhostRider guy!”. Intertubes fame, I tells ya. It’s a beautiful thing.

  4. Iron Man September 4, 2009 6:20 am 

    Wow. That’s a very disturbing story for sure.

    You guys here put my story on back in May of 2008 http://tinyurl.com/lqa86k . That didn’t involve an irate driver though, just a negligent driver. From time to time I deal with a few blowhards, but it’s not often. At least one slow speed close call a week occurs.

    Sort of like Alfred I too raced a guy on motor. My “adversary” was on a scooter, but due to his weighing nearly 300 lbs and our Ozark hills he could only close the gap on the flats. I kept him at bay for nearly six miles until enough of a flat straight patch allowed him to pass. He was hollering “I’ve been trying to catch you since town.” I replied “I know. I’ve been trying to stay ahead of you all this time.” He was impressed. Then a dog chased me.

  5. Dean Peddle September 4, 2009 7:25 am 

    We just had a high profile case this week here in Toronto Canada. A driver dragged a cyclist with his car and hit the curb and a couple of trees and killed him. They found out the driver the car was the former Attorney General of Canada which is a high position here. Everyone was quick to take the cyclist side at first but the more news that comes out about the case the more you are not sure. Apparenlty there was an altercation and the biker tried to strangle the driver (who was in a convertable). The biker was drunk and the police were called to a dispute at his house just 1hr before. Here’s the link http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/690850

  6. Alexis September 4, 2009 8:50 am 

    There’s no “war” between cyclists and motorists–its a way to sell newspapers, to sensationalize them. Last summer the Oregonian nearly CREATED conflict by sensationalizing minor conflicts (in a year with ZERO cycling fatalities) and trying to incite anger. If you hear news about how drivers are out to get you all the time, you end up more aggressive and defensive and you’re more likely to have conflict.

  7. SpencerSalmon September 4, 2009 9:18 am 

    Well that wont work….
    heres the jest of it

    “She had flashing lights on her helmet, backpack and bicycle as she rode near Harwood, N.D., on Saturday evening. She moved to the shoulder when a vehicle approached on County Road 81.

    That vehicle veered onto the shoulder and struck the Fargo woman, authorities say. Then, it took off, almost forcing a passing motorcycle off the road as it careened into the oncoming lane.

    “I was watching for the car, and then I vaguely remember an ‘Oh my God’ sensation as I got hit,” said Walla, 28, who was taken to MeritCare Hospital in Fargo by LifeFlight and treated for a concussion, twisted ankle and a laceration on the back of her head.”

  8. Quinn September 4, 2009 9:25 am 

    short and sweet-

    Y3sterday my roommate was almost run over by a drunk 17 year old in an Escalade, roommate through his bike down and pulled the 17 year old out through the window and held him down until the cops got there a few minutes later.

  9. Elizabeth September 4, 2009 11:54 am 

    Dean, I read about that incident in Toronto. The account I read did fully report the intoxication of the cyclist. It also stated, “And while the new details suggest that Mr. Bryant may well have a solid legal defence, it is trickier to see how he will be able to muster a moral one.”
    How true. No matter how angry one gets, does it justify deliberately dragging anyone with your car down the road?

  10. Ghost Rider September 4, 2009 11:59 am 

    I’m with Alexis…while there have been some celebrated cases in the news recently, the media love to latch onto this “asphalt battleground”…when the reality is that these are isolated cases, sometimes with other things going on behind the scenes, as Dean pointed out.

  11. Jason Kearney September 4, 2009 12:17 pm 

    I commute by bicycle nearly every day, and although I have had some issues with drivers, they have been few and far between. Some drivers have rolled down their windows at intersections and thanked me for my bright lights–they appreciated my being so visible to them. Most of my issues come from students, since my commute takes me past a high school and a trade school.
    Reality is that news outlets tend to sensationalize these events, as someone has already pointed out. Our local newspaper runs the same photo, taken months ago, over and over again. It shows a large group of cyclists taking up an entire lane of traffic, with cars bunched up behind them. That one photo makes many readers very angry, and gets the community riled up again.
    I just ride my bike, and try to be as courteous as I can be with drivers. Most of the time, they reciprocate.

  12. Elizabeth September 4, 2009 12:23 pm 

    Jason, well put. I ride because I enjoy it. A little courtesy goes a long way!
    By the way, I read your post on your blog – sorry about the recent loss of your friend.

  13. Joyce in Chicago September 4, 2009 1:18 pm 

    For every day that I have trouble on my commute, I have fifteen days that are easy. Motorized transportation stressed me out nearly every day.

    I try to ride cheerfully and peacefully. Lots of smiling eye contact with motorists and pedestrians. Lots of saying hello to whoever is around at stop lights.

  14. Adrienne T September 4, 2009 2:18 pm 

    I got doored last year in the bike lane.

    A large truck was stopped in the line of traffic at a light when the passenger in the truck decided to open the door, right as I came up.

    I had lights on. The driver and passenger both screamed from the blue behemoth “why don’t you watch where you’re going?!”

    Unbelievable. But hey, I work in a bike shop and everybody loves a black-eyed chick fixing their tire…

  15. Ghost Rider September 4, 2009 3:42 pm 

    “Motorized transportation stressed me out nearly every day”.

    Hell yes. I don’t miss driving a car at all!

    Good points, everyone — for every bad encounter, there are dozens of good ones. Friendly honks and waves, being able to say “good morning” to pedestrians along the way, smelling the flowers/bakery smells/restaurant scents, being in touch with our cities…if only more people tried this and left their cars behind, we’d really be onto something!

  16. Nick and Lynn Tucker September 4, 2009 5:24 pm 

    Probably not quite as stressed on the road here in New Zealand, perhaps because cycling is seen as a sport here, and as a nation NZ loves it’s sport!
    Nevertheless, there is a movement afoot to get a minimum room requirement for cyclists – allowing 1.5m clearence between bikes and other traffic. 1.5m for the 1.5 million cyclists in New Zealand is the slogan – that’d be over a third of the population

  17. Dweendaddy September 4, 2009 6:42 pm 

    I was living in Durham, NC and was trying to “teach a lesson” to a driver who obviously was oblivious of me in the shoulder. I blocked him from taking a right turn and was enjoying how pissed off he was getting… until he raised a handgun off the dash! I scooted off with my tail between my legs and my heart pounding, faster than I have ever biked before.

  18. Dean Peddle September 5, 2009 6:00 am 

    I can’t say I agree with dragging a cyclist and killing him but what is a guy suppose to do if a raging lunatic is screaming at him and threatening his life and holding on to his car. I would drive away also. Did he try to kill him…well, thats for the courts to decide and we don’t have all the facts. This is a very difficult case. I always take the side of the cyclist when someone gets killed but I’m starting to slide out of the cyclist corner in this one.

  19. Mike Myers September 6, 2009 11:56 am 

    Crazy redneck chased me down , got out of his car, and threatened to “kick my ass” because I dared to yell at him for nearly hitting me. Nothing happened, because I made sure to stop in front of witnesses. Next time, he gets pepper sprayed. And maybe the boots put to him.

    Something about wearing spandex makes rednecks think you’re a pansy.

  20. 100 pounds ag0 September 6, 2009 12:35 pm 

    Other than getting hit by a cell phone talkin woman a while ao I have nothing as far as bad experiences. I think it may have something to do with the way I look though. People tend to avoid 6’1 200 pound heavily tattooed cyclists with a shaved head. I assume they either think I am an escaped mental patient or an escaped felon.

    I ride at the same time every day on nearly the same route and I have found I get some friendly honks from the same cars every morning.

  21. Robert September 7, 2009 8:13 am 

    For me, my commute is pretty calm. The only problems I have had were when I attempt to make a left turn. Despite signaling, some driver will still try to accelerate and pass me. Since I have taken the lane to make a left, I get a nice honk for doing that when they pass. Not sure how to make a left turn any easier…..

    My bike route takes me near a rock quarry and right next to a garbage dump, therefore, I have a lot of truck traffic to deal with. However, the trucks give me plenty of room. When the wind blows just right, I get a nice whiff of the dump.

    School is back in session, and it seems that all the “fun” stuff happens now……

  22. Powerful Pete September 7, 2009 12:33 pm 

    I ride very defensively here in Rome. I am forced to ride on some busy streets, but on the whole things are ok. But you never know when some idiot will not be paying attention.

    Be careful out there guys!

  23. Gordon September 7, 2009 4:03 pm 

    I can only say I have had one bad day, which was my first day commuting by bike. Guy in a work truck came across two lanes on a three lane road to let me know his horn was 100% functional. He thought it was funny to see me pull some kind of Danny MacAskill (no disrespect to Danny) move on the curb. I spotted the driver in a parking lot a few seconds later trying to hire day laborers. He didn’t have much luck after I told of them he didn’t pay what he promises. Guess that’s Karma.

  24. Bike Cycling Reviews September 8, 2009 3:23 am 

    Therefore you need to know your rules before you make up your mind for cycling.

  25. Parepidemos September 8, 2009 4:28 pm 

    I’ve had a couple of people shout at me and cuss me out (usually some variant of “Get off the road, @$$%”), a few people purposely try to brush me or press me off the road/into parked cars (one unmistakable time it was an LA Metro bus, southbound on Vermont Ave!), and a couple of near-misses for getting doored.

    Once I had a car full of giddy inner city teens throw a full order of fries at me head-on. French fries to the chest don’t hurt a bit, but seeing their car swerve across the center line, and a backseat passenger drawing a bead on me with something, was certainly unnerving.

    And once, just once, I was hit by a car: at about two mph. Just a firm broadside nudge, but it was enough to topple me and my two boys to the ground. The bike and Burley Piccolo were slightly scratched but okay– ditto for the two boys, who I believe were in Kinder and 4th grade at the time. The young woman in the giant SUV (Escalate? Exhibition? something like that) was hand-fluttery with shock and panic, having honestly not seen us crossing in the crosswalk in front of her as she was deciding to turn right on red without glancing first at where she was about to go.

    Ironically, I own an AirZound and am not afraid to use it. As I coasted into the crosswalk in front of her I noticed her head turned to the left, and her vehicle unfreeze– uh oh, she’s about to launch into a blind right turn!– a blast from the air horn would have averted the whole slo-mo frustrating incident.

    But I had unwittingly mostly emptied the pressure chamber the day or two before, showing neighbor kids how loud it was, and had not taken the time to pump it back up… the Air Zound let out a brief despairing “whuah” that I barely heard myself. And then she knocked us straight down. I was as mad at myself as I was at her, but she was upset and apologetic too, and it was a busy intersection that we were blocking, and the kids had to get to school and were both fine, I was fine, the bike & Piccolo were fine… I gave her a stern look and a cold shoulder and spent the next 2 blocks to school explaining to the kids what had just happened and why. One is a fearless bicyclist in traffic who rides to school every day, the other still has not learned to ride his own bike but does not consciously connect his fear to that one experience… hmmm.

    Anyway, that’s a pretty good safety/friendliness record, after more than a decade of biking in Los Angeles (South Central, Downtown, Midtown, and out to West LA occasionally). The vast majority of my interaction with drivers is typified by surprise and mild concern, sometimes encouragement or a cheer for my “One Less Car” LACBC T-shirts.

    All in all, I agree with Alexis, Ghost Rider, Joyce and Jason: no war. Just a scattering of annoyed people, bullies, and inattentive/distracted folks going about their lives, occasionally coming across a vulnerable person on a bicycle.

    And hopefully, not running into them. 😉

  26. Stuart M. September 8, 2009 8:31 pm 

    Parepedimos, I am in no way taking that “don’t look to the right” lady driver’s side. I think she was at fault. But some drivers just don’t expect anything faster than a pedestrian to cross at a crosswalk. She might have glanced to the right and didn’t see any pedestrians close to the crosswalk and assumed it would be clear for the next few seconds. A bicycle is much faster than a pedestrian, so her assumption was wrong (but a wee bit understandable?) I think a bicycle pulling a trailer might have been safer out on the street and not on the sidewalk. I apologize in advance if I haven’t understood the exact circumstances of your accident.

    I only bother to say this because I sometimes drive a car here in Japan and once, while attempting a right turn (really a left turn, but I have changed everything because in Japan we drive on the left), the bicyclists come shooting out over the crosswalks from THREE different directions. I remember waiting for my traffic light to turn green, looking up and down the sidewalk for bicyclists on the sidewalk approaching the crosswalk, saw none, and committed to my turn… right at that a moment a bicyclist who was riding perpendicular towards me on the sidewalk next to the street I was turning into, made a sharp turn to the right into the crosswalk just in front of me. My wife screamed “Stop” and I was able to slam on the brakes just in time. That was the closest I’ve ever come to killing anyone in the 36 years I’ve been driving. It also made me understand that bicycles should be on the road and not on the sidewalk. Children of course should be able to ride on the sidewalk but I think not any faster than a pedestrian.

    As a bicyclist, I can only remember the stupid maneuvers I have made on a bike. Car drivers are very considerate here in Japan.

  27. Bike Cycling September 23, 2009 4:01 am 

    There are some rules made for cyclist to make their journey safe. So you have to makeup your mind before going on a cycling ride.

  28. Ride a Century April 2, 2011 4:38 pm 

    Ride a Century…

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