Sometimes just driving a car in a city is an act of violence
You know how it goes: your city proposes a new bike lane project or does something else to encourage cycling, and inevitably the eternally simmering “drivers-vs-cyclists” debate flares up again. The drivers argue that the cyclists don’t deserve bike lanes because “they don’t think the traffic laws apply to them” and “they don’t pay for registration and insurance.” The cyclists counter by citing death and the environment and pointing out how difficult it is for even the most reckless rider to, say, destroy a dentist’s office or take out a school bus with a bicycle.
It’s an argument nobody wins—which is completely crazy when you consider how staggeringly obvious it is that drivers are way, way worse.
I know this because I’m a driver myself—an avid driver, if you will. In fact, according to both my car odometer and my Strava, I drive almost exactly the same number of miles a year as I ride. This 1:1 ratio affords me a truly balanced perspective and more than anything it has compelled me to wonder:
How the hell does anybody who drives regularly not think drivers are the absolute worst?
When I’m cycling, I frequently find myself gobsmacked by driver behavior, but at least I can minimize my exposure by riding on car-free paths from time to time. Also, the fact that when on a bike I’m rarely going much more than 20 miles per hour means I’m spared the worst of the high-speed automotive hijinx—sort of like a kid at a dirty movie who can’t see over the seat. When I’m driving, however, I’m privy to the entire sordid spectrum of motorist behavior, from zero to 60 (and beyond). And it’s completely depraved.
Sure, I’ve endured the “punishment pass” from motorists while I was cycling. But I’ve also been cut off, brake-checked, and swerved at on the highway while driving. I don’t know whether to be comforted or distressed by the fact that, when it comes to homicidal road rage, it’s not always about the bike. Either way, even when you’re ensconced in a couple tons of gas-guzzling “Freedom Machine,” there’s no shortage of drivers out there willing to cause a 20-car pile-up just to fuck with you.
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