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Road rage, not just for cars anymore.

Just got this comment on my blog:

“I suppose we all have our own cycling ethics. but i still want to punch other cyclists who ride the wrong way in a bike lane coming at me. maybe that should by my ethos.”

I definitely understand the frustration, but here is a recent story sent to me by a fellow cyclist who experienced some road rage, from a pedestrian.

From Jon Reiss:

“I am writing to let Bike Blog know about an incident that happened
yesterday, 8/2 in Midtown. As a Transportation Alternatives member,
and a reader of many of the cycling and transportation blogs that
cover NYC, I have been skeptical about the supposed bias against
cyclists by the NYPD. However, yesterday I had an experience that I
believe demonstrated at best a lack of understanding of the issues we
deal with, and at worst an outright disregard for the rights we all
have to traverse our streets safely.

At about 2:55pm I was riding my bike northbound in the separated bike
path on 8th Avenue in Manhattan. At about 36th street I went to pass
a slower cyclist on the left. At this point I encountered a
pedestrian walking southbound in the bicycle lane. I had been ringing
my bell most of the way up the block to alert other pedestrians who
were in the lane. We made eye contact, and as I attempted to pass him
on the right he sidestepped me and shoved me off of my bike towards
the row of parked cars on the right. I landed, utterly confused as to
what had just happened. I looked up to find him screaming at me about
getting out of the way. I yelled something back (not sure what
anymore), and he began to walk away towards the south. I yelled for
him to stay put, but he continued to walk away. At this point I
picked up my bike and began to walk after him, shouting for the police
and for someone to stop him. He began to run. A few kind bystanders
tried to trip him and slow him down, but he evaded them. After
following him for about a block with me still shouting for the police,
he turned back toward me and threatened my life. He said “I will end
you” or something to that effect. I said nothing in response. He
then continued to walk southbound on 8th Avenue, and I continued to
shout for the police and for someone to stop him. He then ran into
the subway station entrance at 33rd street, where I lost him. At this
point I surveyed my wounds, which consisted of pretty bad road rash
and swelling on my left hand, and various cuts and soon to be bruises
on my fingers, legs, and shoulder.

At this point, I locked my bike at the bike corral at Penn Station
while I continued to look for a police officer. I then remembered
that there was a police precinct at 35th and 9th Avenue (Midtown
South). I walked in and got an officer’s attention. I told him that
“a pedestrian pushed me off my bike”, showed him my wounds, and he
asked someone to call for an ambulance. I sat down and asked for
water as I was beginning to feel dizzy and dehydrated as the
adrenaline from the situation wore off. At this point the next 30
minutes in the precinct consisted of me asking for help from various
officers as no one showed any further interest in what had happened.
No one took a police report, nor did they ask any questions of me that
got beyond the answer “someone pushed me off my bike”. I understand
that the guy was probably long gone, but the lack of interest in a
clear case of battery is very troubling to me. It even took 15
minutes to get that cup of water, even after my hands went numb and I
became too dizzy to walk.

The bright spot in this story is that the EMTs who attended to me were
very nice and professional, and even helped me retrieve my pannier,
which I had foolishly left on my bike when I locked it up. One of the
EMTs was a fellow cyclist and could not understand why the police
showed so little interest in helping me. They delivered me to
Roosevelt hospital where I was quickly assisted with cleaning of my
wounds and x-rays to check for broken bones. Thankfully the worst of
my injuries is the road rash, but it could have been a lot worse.

I understand that there is not always a police officer around when you
need one, and that that is just a fact of life. I also fail to
understand the police’s lack of interest in what happened to me, and
what I perceive to be their callousness in the face of an injured
street user. I will be sending this letter on to Midtown South. I
don’t want to make a federal case out of this, but I do feel that an
explanation is in order. Acts of violence toward cyclists cannot and
should not be tolerated in this fashion.

~Jon Reiss

What struck me the most about this (no pun intended) was the lack of regard by pedestrians who think green painted bike lanes are extensions of the sidewalk. I mean, we bikers have finally been given space to ride our bikes and be out of the mix of sidewalks and this is what we get? I know, you’re going to jog in the lane, why not, it’s such a nice space on the street, but when you hear a bell or someone calling out, please exert the same kind of courtesy you’ve demanded from us for years. Violence is such a sissy move and only leads to more of it…it’s best to just seek legal action or get the help of your local NYPD offic–oh wait.

Jon, really sorry to hear about this. Speedy recovery and thanks for sharing your story with us.

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