Friday, July 17, 2009
Rage Against The (Pedal) Machine
Tonight a young guy with an Irish accent asked me if it is safe to ride the jail trail at night. I told him it's a lot safer than riding the streets any time. The incidents of road rage against cyclists is just absolutely out of control.
The picture to the left is of my Motobecane Cyclocross bike. The picture was taken when I rode it from Pittsburgh to DC on the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath Trail. Good times: me and my Motobecane. The good times ended on Monday evening as I was riding home. A Ken Zvirman of Plum and owner of Jo-Mar Provisions in the Strip decided to punish me for an unthinkable sin. As I was riding down a grade on Walnut Street, without any turn signals Zvirman starting backing up toward me, apparently not looking where he was going. Afraid he was going to run me over with his black Nissan SUV, I yelled "Watch Out!" Zvirman then launched into a profanity laced tirade at me for yelling "watch out." Admittedly, I was mad and yelled back at him emphatically explained it was him and not me who was the asshole.
The next thing I know Ken Zvirman:
1. Said "I should take my gun and kill you."
2. After I asked him if he really had a gun he said "you should take a gun and kill yourself"
3. He then got out of his SUV, started puffing his chest out like some type of tropical lizard while saying "what are we going to do about this"
4. He jumped back into his truck and while I was just inches from the side of his truck while I was trying to mount my bike, he again starts backing up with reckless disregarded of where I was
5. To get his attention and keep him from hitting me I slapped his fender with my open hand, which worked half way. I got his attention, but he cut his wheel so the SUV would come straight at me, gunned his engine and ran over my Motobecane.
When I pointed out that he just ran over my bike, the lovely Mrs. Zvirman said "well you touched our $50k truck." I pointed out that it is not justified to ruin someone's bike and use a vehicle as a weapon as retribution for getting finger prints on one's fender, but I was actually thinking what kind of idiot spends $50k on a Nissan SUV and brags about it. Later, when explaining things to the police, Mr. Zvirman indicated that he wanted to make an insurance claim against me because I "got finger prints on his $58k SUV." After he stopped laughing, the police officer told Mr. Zvirman that he couldn't make an insurance claim for that. Fortunately I wasn't seriously injured.
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. Since Monday there have been several other reports of road rage against cyclists on the Bike Pittsburgh website: http://bike-pgh.org/bbpress/
This type of behavior has to stop. Motorist have to realize that when they lose their tempers and control of their actions their vehicles become deadly weapons. Is it worth killing someone or subjecting yourself to jail time because a bike is in front of you going slower than you want to go, or a biker yells "watch out" instead of blowing a horn? Bikers have to take precautions. They are not surrounded by a ton of sheet metal and airbags. They have no protection , but they have a right to be on the road. Please checkout and support the Bike Pittsburgh website and protect cyclists when you drive.