Another day, another assault…

May 17th, 2011

I understand that it’s been dreary and miserable for days, and it’s got people on edge. It’s keeping me hunkered down in my living room surrounded by pillows and blankets and videogames, as I  have been all winter. But seriously, automobile commuters, fucking suck  it up. You have a roof. You have heat (usually). You have FUCKING WINDSHIELD WIPERS. I have to reach up and swipe away the droplets collecting on my glasses with an increasingly sodden glove.

This is why it irks me that drivers somehow think they are allowed to be increasingly homicidal when the weather is bad. I was intentionally hit by another driver today, who intoned the old standby, “you should not be on the road!” as he swerved sharply toward me, knocking my front wheel and sending me over the curb.

I had been in the left lane of Eliot street, Harvard Square, about to take a right on to JFK. I stay in the center of the lane during this turn because impatient drivers tend to cut the corner off as they pass me, creating a pinch point that could send me under the car. The middle eastern gentleman in dark blue sedan, plate 6CJ890, was in the lane to turn left on JFK but swerved sharply into my lane as I passed him, causing me to scream and swerve. I caught his plate as I slowly renavigated around him, and continued on down JFK about an arm’s length from the curb.

The gentleman first tailgated me and then swerved alongside to confront me, stating the old standby. As I started to retort with, “You are WRONG, Sir.” he jerked the car sharply toward me in an arc, hitting me and sending me off my bike and on to the sidewalk. I wasn’t hurt much, just a twist of the right ankle and knee and some  palm jarring, but it could have been much worse.

As I was on my way to work in Brookline, I wasn’t able to report this to the Cambridge police, and frankly, I’m not sure I even will. What is the point? The last two times I reported these incidents, I was told nothing could be done.

I regret that this ‘blog’ is turning into a running account of the impotency of the pro-cyclist movement in terms of driver deference, but I am only reporting what I encounter. I don’t encounter people waiting patiently at intersections, or stopping obediently at red lights. I watch people, day in and day out, run red lights, travel in the bike lane, double park, turn left against red and through pedestrian lights, and hit cyclists without remorse over and over and over.

Infrastructure planning is great, but the real challenge is changing the way cyclists are viewed and treated by motorists (and pedestrians, though they endanger us a bit less). And I don’t really see any headway happening in that arena. I wish I had some suggestions, but having to witness the wanton acts of stupidity and violence perpetrated by motorists daily, I am at a loss to even begin how to change their way of thinking. There is simply no way to reach these people. They don’t take the T, so a sign campaign would be fruitless. They may watch television, but who is going to spend the money on commercial spots for PSA’s about how to respect cyclists rights and bodies?

I know what you’re going to say. “Lead by example. Follow the rules, be courteous, and motorists will follow in kind.” And to that I say,

“HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHahahahahahaha..haha…ha.. *cough*  *cough* ”

I used to say the same thing, about six years ago. Since then I’ve learned that no amount of good will and positive example will keep me safe on the roads of Massachusetts or anywhere else.

So ok, I swear that this is the last  of these posts. There is no point in me stating and restating my argument.

Next post, I swear to god, will be a tutorial on how to make Carpunching Gauntlets.

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4 Responses to “Another day, another assault…”

  1. notjeff Says:

    1) Yes, yes, a million times yes, phone into the Cambridge PD and report it. The worst case is you spend 10-15m talking to a brick wall, but the best case is that the driver gets exactly what he deserves.

    2) Wow you’re unlucky. I’ve been biking between home and work (sometimes CambridgeCambridge and sometimes (SomervilleCambridge) for 11 years now, and I’ve had no accidents, and only a handful of near-accidents or driver rage incidents. I guess it can be attributed to the differences in the roads we use, but for the last 6 years, part of my commute has been on route 28 in somerville, so I’m a little baffled by the difference in our experiences.

  2. Grimlocke Von Hecht Says:

    Going from AlmostMedford thru Somerville, Cambridge, Allston/Brighton and then Brookline will do that. Route 28 is fast and furious, but people are rather focused and generally don’t have to be hassled with double parked cars, idiotic peds, and trolleys EVERY SINGLE BLOCK as they do on my commute. I even have a lovely bike lane and I STILL get hit while traveling in it at a normal speed. If these incidents were about me not keeping an eye on a potential right-turner or oncoming left, or me running red lights or not stopping at crosswalks, I would give people the benefit of the doubt, but the issue usually happens when someone makes a fast, blinkerless lane shift in a hurry to get to the head of the pack, or decides to travel in the bike lane for the same reason, or when a bus going 30 slows rapidly and pulls into a bus stop without taking into account that I am in the bike lane beside it. It’s purely neglect and stupidity on the part of the drivers, and I’ve seen it happen to other cyclists over and over again on this route. They don’t necessarily rant about it in their blogs, however.

    Anyway, I did call the Cambridge police, and they won’t take a report via phone. They will only take a report in person within the Cambridge territory, and sadly I don’t have time to do that today. If I have the time tomorrow I will do so, but I don’t expect any kind of justice to be served.

  3. Eric Jay Says:

    Maybe it’s a waste of time, maybe it’s not, but I feel like increased reporting of these incidents could help the cause. Sure, the offending drivers are rarely charged, but we need to help make sure that the published statistics about aggressive and anti-bike drivers accurately represent what’s going on out there.

    It could help make a case that too many bike-car incidents are NOT accidental, and that resources (enforcement, monitoring, education) need to be spent to change that.

  4. Eric Jay Says:

    Just a few hours after leaving my comment above, I actually witnessed a GOOD experience with police enforcement:

    I was driving (yes, I was in the car today — during bike week, no less!) home and waited at an intersection near Packard’s Corner for a few cyclists to pass in the bike lane before pulling out onto Commonwealth Ave. The guy behind me was NOT ok with this… started honking, flipping me the bird, making aggravated gestures at me, and eventually pulled out around me into the wrong lane and peeled out at high speed onto Comm Ave, just missing a cyclist.

    A BPD officer was walking back to his vehicle just a hundred feet or so away, watched it all go down, pointed with a “pull over” gesture at the driver, then RAN to his car, got in, activated his lights, and stopped the guy.

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