Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dealing with Road Rage

Last summer, I filmed a strange and crazy road rage ruckus between two cyclists:

This summer, Bob Mionske wrote a great article about driver/cyclist road rage for Bicycle.com:
"The first rule is: don't engage with rage."

When road rage erupts, a disparity exists between the impact of the encounter on a driver, and the impact on a cyclist; the driver’s life hasn’t been threatened, while the cyclist’s life has, and thus, it’s the cyclist whose emotions are showing when law enforcement arrives on the scene.
This concept should be included in our criminal code, so judges can consider it when ruling on driver/cyclist court matters. Like when a driver has used his/her car as a deadly weapon, e.g. purposefully swerving at a cyclist or otherwise trying to crowd them off the road by threatening use of a motor vehicle.

For instance, how would a reasonable person react if they were walking down the sidewalk one day when suddenly someone screamed at them "Get the fuck out of my way!" and swung a baseball bat past their face? What is the reasonable response to such an assault?

Running away is a good idea, as is calling 911. But a person also has the right to react and defend themselves (and others) by tackling and disarming the baseball batter without being blamed for damaging the attacker or their weapon.

In the future, hopefully, driver/cyclist incidents like those in Mionske's article will be viewed in the same light: a cyclist shall not be held liable for damaging a vehicle that is used as a weapon by it's driver.

Until then, cyclists who bang and dent cars in self-defense or bash off rear view mirrors in post-traumatic rage are behooved to ride away and escape the injustice that authorities might bring to the situation.

Road-raging drivers who use their vehicle as a weapon deserve to be put in jail. In lieu of this, they should feel lucky when their actions result only in a dented hood, smashed rear view mirror, cracked window, or a mouthful of broken teeth in the eastbound lane of 800-block Georgia street.

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