One of our Streetsblog Network member bloggers had a terrifying encounter with a pickup truck full of drunken men the other night. The author of the blog Imagine No Cars, wrote of being chased through the streets of Missoula, Montana, in fear for his life:
Is terrorizing people wth motor vehicles just part of the American way? (Photo: Unhindered by Talent via Flickr)
All of a sudden the engine revs and the tires squeal and the hunt is
on. I didn’t have time to think of what to do, the adrenaline just
kicked in and I was off pedaling as fast as I could. I rode through the
cobblestone street where the Farmers Market is held in the summer and
hopped up onto the sidewalk as if that extra 4 inches of cement would
be an adequate buffer between me and the lifted truck.
"Woof, woof, woof!" "Run ‘im down!"…
As I turn, I hear, "Want a
beer!" screamed out the window, and an empty beer can hits me on the
leg. I speed off and gain some space on them as they try to turn
around. The gap doesn’t last long and I turn onto Pine before their
grill almost makes contact with my back tire. The sound of the V-8 is
deafening. They were going fast enough that the truck goes wide on the
turn and I hop back up on the sidewalk because I can keep a few cars in
between them and me.
Amazingly, he made it home alive. But he was left feeling that the harrowing incident was somehow his fault:
I realize that I am at least partially responsible for the events that
happened. I made a bad decision to be out on my bike when I ultimately
shouldn’t have been. I placed myself in that situation which, had I
made better choices, wouldn’t have happened.
Perhaps it’s not surprising he felt that way, considering what the police said to him when he reported the assault the next day:
Officer: "Do you ride a lot around here?"
Officer: "Don’t expect this to be the last incident like this."
As several commenters pointed out on the original post, he had every right to be out on the road at any hour of the day or night — certainly more right than an evidently drunk driver who found fun in terrorizing a bicyclist with his buddies. But the cop reinforced the idea that somehow, people who ride bicycles are "asking for it" — perhaps like women who wear short skirts in public places?