Property Grunt

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Pick your battles or be picked up in pieces

This was the first thing I saw during my learner's permit class.

When I turned 16 and embarked on the journey to get a driver's license I crossed paths with a driver's ed teacher who would be my driving mentor. This man was a Vietnam vet who's tour of duty consisting of missions that he was sworn to secrecy and he was also a hardcore biker. The man was filled with insane but true anecdotes about how driving and poor judgment resulted in death and ruined lives. He imparted upon me the proper foundation for safe driving amd is one of the reasons why I do not have any problems getting driver's insurance.

Motor Mania was the first thing he showed to my class. He claimed that it was part of the driver's ed curriculum and was required by New York State. It is a hilarious cartoon but rings very true. Once people get behind the wheel, the adrenaline kicks in and they become a completely different person.

Because of that “transformation” he made it clear that although a car was a form of transportation, that within a heartbeat it could turn into a weapon. Which brings me to this recent blog entry picked up by the Gothamist.

Driver Punches Cyclist in the Face After Blocking Bike Lane

I had just crossed the Manhattan Bridge and was biking south on the bike path on Jay Street. The traffic was backed up, but the bike lane was open. Right in front of me, a car peeled out of the traffic and began to cruise up the bike lane. At Willoughby, the light was red so the car stopped. I tapped on the trunk to let the driver know that I was trying to pass.

As I squeezed past her driver’s side door, I told her she shouldn’t be trying to bypass traffic by driving in the bike lane. On hearing this, she got out of her car, screaming at me for trying to tell her where she could drive and for touching her car. She started to come towards me and I got off my bike. Before I knew what was going on, she swung at me, punching me in the side of my face.

I lifted up my bike to protect myself as she continued to scream at me. At this point, pedestrians pulled her away and a building security guard called the NYPD. I was a little woozy from the punch but I told her she couldn’t leave the scene because I wanted to press charges.

If you want further details go her blog.

What really bothers me about Ms. Mumford's story is that it smacks of hurt pride and entitlement. This all started because a driver wronged her by being in the wrong lane. But her pride as a bicyclist and not getting what she was entitled to propelled her into a course of action that left her injured.

The optimal strategy would have been just to wait till the light turn green and let the driver have their way.

Ms. Mumford did not have to tap the driver’s car and she did not have to educate the driver about the proper use of the bike lane. It is not her job to educate the douchebags of the world. People who act like douchebags and do what they want only learn that it is a bad thing to do after they truly f**k up. They have to experience the horrific consequences of their actions and often at that point it is too late for them to change. Which is all the more reason to keep as far away from them as possible.

Now there are a lot of harsh words in the comments against the police for how they treated the incident but looking at the policeman's perspective this whole thing is a wash. Yes, there were some injuries but nothing life threatening and no one died. This is also a Rashamon situation since there is no video or anything that can document what truly happened. This leads to a nightmare of paperwork for the police officer and legal problems for all parties involved. And the police officer would like to do more than be stuck in a courthouse. The officer also knows that this whole thing could have been avoided if the driver had their way.

Ms. Mumford should really count her blessings that all she got was a punch in the face. It is simple math. Bicycle vs. Car = Bicycle funeral.

Of course I do not think this will be the end of these types of incidents and it could get a lot worse.

As I stated before, douchebags do not just drive cars they are also on bicycles.

My side, your side and the truth.

In that entry I posted my experiences regarding some aggressive and reckless behavior exhibited by bicyclists. And I think you are going to see more of this type of behavior from cyclists. Despite the changes to make NYC more bike friendly, and Ms. Mumford’s experience is one of many examples of the massive resistance from motorists, regarding the new bike laws and has demonstrated, law enforcement has better things to do. And when all those elements collide, well, let me present another lesson from driver's ed instructor.

As I stated before this man was a hard core biker. If Harley Davidson was a church, he would be their priest. Another bit of knowledge he dropped upon me was assume that all motorcyclists are armed. On the road, especially on the highway, a biker faces danger from all sides. So if they see a car coming with the intention of turning them into an organ donor and they have no way to maneuver out of the way, they are going pull out something that is definitely not a monkey wrench to at least deter the driver from killing them or to take that driver with them. So it is always best to keep your distance from any biker.

If these types of incidents continue, it would not surprise me that some bicyclists decide to take a page out of their more motorized colleagues and acquire small arms in order to get their point across.

Let’s be careful other and remember that discretion is the better part of valor.