Raging driver takes down visiting cyclist… sad.

If you haven’t seen it, the pair of Oregon cyclists cruising around New Zealand and chronicling their adventure experienced the ugly underbelly of the roads this week.  While passing through Newtown, a car passed them perilously close and they reacted.  The driver stopped his car and charged Russ and assaulted him.  Both the New Zealand Herald and the Dominion Post carried the story.  The riders have said that they aren’t “put off” from completing their journey, but what an awful tangent to the story.

Though definitely a cloud on a great adventure, hopefully there’s a silver lining.  These are the kinds of incidents that need a function.  So I hope it does this: I hope it evolves from the conversation about sharing the road into action.  Although there will always be a few bad eggs about ready to crack, the rest of us on the road can be reminded more persistently about the rights of both cyclists and cars to the finite tarmac that winds us around town.  And while we can be ashamed of this particular driver, we shouldn’t have to wonder whether he and others like him will be held accountable for their actions.

I’m sorry to hear about the experience of Russ and Laura and my heart goes out to them.  I wish them well as they continue their journey.

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9 thoughts on “Raging driver takes down visiting cyclist… sad.

  1. Check out the DomPost subsite version — it’s got reader comments 😦

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/6243395/US-cycle-tourist-attacked-in-Wellington

    In a strange coincidence, this morning I I took the right hand lane in Victoria St by the intersection with Manners, so I could be positioned for a right turn into Dixon. Dude behind me tooted for the whole block and gave me a series of rude gestures when we stopped at the lights. I resisted the urge to escalate though.

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    1. Megan

      Wow. Some awful comments there. The vitriol is alarming. Even after two years, I don’t fully understand the resistance to sharing the road here. I’ve got my suspicions — macho car culture, short distances make drivers impatient, pent-up emotions that play out from the insular safety of the car– but I don’t think any of them really nail it. Whatever it is, I see a failure of leadership to normalize cycling through decent infrastructure, driver’s education and liability. I see some positive changes coming but, man, it feels like it can’t come quickly enough.

      As a pleasant counterpoint to your morning commute, Stephen, a Daily Waste truck gave me ample space after a nice exchange of gestures in which I indicated that I was crossing the lane to turn right. When he passed me, I waved and got a friendly toot.

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      1. Malcolm

        I deliberately don’t read articles on stuff because I know the sort of comments people on there write 🙂

        I also find it hard to understand, that for such a friendly country, a lot of people turn into complete a**holes when they get into their cars. Its so strange and so unnecessary.

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      2. Simon

        These types of drivers have existed throughout the world for a long time.

        I believe the more people we get cycling, the fewer drivers we’ll get acting aggressively towards cyclists.

        I hope the rest of Russ and Laura’s trip is full of awesome cycling and friendly people.
        BTW, ‘Bicycle Times’ rocks!

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  2. Rob

    When I read comments from motorists claiming that “NZ roads aren’t safe for cyclists” when what they really read is “NZ drivers aren’t safe for cyclists”. The roads and cyclists get on fine when the others aren’t around.

    The scariest part is the vitriolic hate from some motorists (e.g. Alan #108 at the link above) – ” if I do ever hit anyone with either a fist, handbag or my car, I’ll bet the rent on it that it’ll be an idiot on a bike”.

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