As Summer rolls around and bike riders like me begin to wedge ourselves into our ill-fitting, garish cycling regalia and hit the road, we’re steeling ourselves for an all new round of road rage incidents and, generally, hypertensive drivers lashing out at bike riders on the road, on discussion forums and on social media. Indeed, it’s already begun in earnest with an incident in Rome, Georgia where a driver, identified as Johnny McIntosh, assaulted a bike rider, Alan Crocker, after the bike rider merely flipped the bird at the driver.
This time, however, it was caught on a GoPro camera mounted on the rider’s helmet.
Let’s break this down.
First of all, there’s clearly no sidewalk or bike lane so the rider had no choice but to ride in a very narrow shoulder. Furthermore, due to the width of the pedals, the rider couldn’t get too close to the curb. Secondly, the road is clearly a low traffic street where the driver could easily have given the rider a wide berth.
Along those lines, if you’ve ever been on a bike and a car careens past you so closely that you can feel the whiff of the displaced air from the sideview mirror, it’s nearly impossible to maintain enough composure from the shock of nearly being clipped to not immediately swerve right and into the curb or a ditch. Especially after seeing the driver’s reaction later, it’s obvious that the driver wanted to intimidate the rider by driving by too closely. Not only would I have flipped the bird at the driver, but I would’ve (and I have) let fly with a blue streak that’d make Sergeant Hartman blush.
Because a guy who’s driving a 2,500-pound bullet versus my 20-pound bicycle nearly made me crash — or worse.
Then the driver tried to use his 2,500-pound bullet to block the bike rider from continuing down the road. Later, once the shoulder opened up into a legitimate bike lane, the driver stopped to wait for the rider to pass, clearly in order to assault the rider — which he did, knocking the rider off his bike and trying to rip the GoPro off the rider’s helmet.
Can bike riders be assholes? Absolutely. Can bike riders in any way harm a driver on the road? No way. If you’re a driver who hates bike riders, fine. But driving aggressively when confronted by one or more riders is irresponsibly kneejerk and ought to be policed more thoroughly. In this case, not only was the rider threatened with serious injury, but the driver himself ended up rightfully in jail. As a bike rider myself, I dislike reckless cyclists as much as anyone since they’re ruining it for those of us who are cautious and who obey the rules of the road. The problem, however, is that too often riders who are obeying the rules are also targeted by angry drivers. That appears to have been the case in Rome.