Bicycle HarassmentReturn to Blog
There’s a lot of anger out there against cyclists. In my years of bike commuting, I’ve been swerved at, “bumped” off the road, screamed at by people trying to startle me, had a fast-food soda cup (half-full) thrown at me out the window of a minivan, and honked at for no reason (other than to scare me). There’s no question that motorist harassment makes it scary to bike commute and seriously diminishes from the joy that comes from getting out on a bike.
Columbia, Missouri’s City Council has reacted by passing an ordinance that officially makes biker harassment a crime. (Via TH.) According to The Missourian,
The ordinance, which is modeled after similar ordinances in South Carolina and Colorado, makes it a misdemeanor to do the following: throw an object at or in the direction of a cyclist, threatening a cyclist to frighten or disturb the cyclist, sounding a horn with the intention to frighten or disturb a cyclist, knowingly placing a cyclist in the path of physical injury, or knowingly engaging in conduct that creates a risk of death or serious physical injury for a cyclist.
Residents who spoke at the meeting said they have experienced all of the above, and those who remained after the deliberation stood and cheered when the ordinance was passed.
“If you’ve ever been in a subcompact car and had a semi get on your back bumper and blow the horn, that’s what it was like,” ordinance supporter Steve Epstein said of being tailed by frustrated motorists.
(emphasis mine). I think we can all agree that the items detailed by the ordinance are all bad things that drivers should not do to cyclists. That’s pretty uncontroversial. My question is, Does this ordinance help, by providing recourse to the bikers? Does it cover something the law already addresses? Does it fan the flames in Columbia’s dispute between bikers and drivers?
Feel free to weigh in on these questions or share your bike vs. car stories in the comments (whether your perspective is from behind the wheel, or from behind the handlebars).