Friday, October 17 2008 @ 04:42 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
This writer, too, has had several recent run-ins with motor drivers compelled to violence by nothing more than the inconvenience of sharing a lane with a bicyclist. It's enough to drive a person to a Matt Borlikian attitude toward anyone with car keys. Last month, for example, while I was biking on Florida Ave NW, a driver who had crowded me and honked his horn repeatedly from behind me — despite the fact that no one was using the other east-bound lane — finally passed me so aggressively and ostentatiously that he clipped my front tire, sending me off the road. And just last night, a driver on 14th Street near the Columbia Heights Metro station swerved toward me, nearly clipping my toes, when I stepped out on foot into the lane but then stepped back toward the car. So, I punched her trunk as she passed, prompting her male passenger, who was behaving in a manner consistent with being high on drugs, to hop out and, after some debate about etiquette, follow me into that terrible pollo burrito place there by the Gentrification Giant and punch me in the face. (The worst part of the exchange came later: regrettably, I ate the burrito I ordered.)
Granted, each of these respective drivers earned a flurry of middle fingers from your correspondent at various points in our conversations, but hey, that's driving. Incivility is certainly not a license to use a 5,000-lb. vehicle in order to enforce a norm of the road. Drivers: You may not assault, batter, or kill bicyclists with your vehicle, no matter how slow they seem to be going, how much lane they seem to unfairly occupy relative to their size, or how many rude digits they point in your direction.
Drivers absolutely may not strike bikers, but ... is there ever a case when it might be appropriate for bikers to hit back at drivers? No one should read this as a call for asymmetric violence by bicyclists against drivers who put them in danger, but given the "etiquette" conversation I had last night before getting punched, I'm curious: do you all think responding to vehicular assault by banging your fist down on a trunk is so wrong? And what about a well-placed U-lock to a tail light? Where do you draw the line?