Friday, February 11, 2011

Hit on Purpose

Ken Walker, who writes the blog Bike View in Ottawa, just posted this: video of his bike being deliberately rear-ended by an SUV in Old Ottawa South. (Mom, don't look.)

I'm in total awe of the guy's restraint. I would have been swearing and yelling like mad at the driver. It's a reaction when I'm scared. And although it's never happened to me I would bet there's not much scarier, in the cycling world, than having someone in charge of a half-ton of motor vehicle deciding that it's okay to strike (or, okay, 'nudge' or 'bump') you with it.

I ask: would the driver have done this to a car that was stopped in front of him in the same situation? No. The other car would be seen as having every right to be there waiting for the light. Would he have done it if the vehicle in front of him had been a motorcycle? Nope. Would he have done this to a pedestrian who happened to take that moment to cross the street in front of his grill? Again, no. What on earth gives him the idea it's okay to do it to a cyclist? And why does it seem that this attitude is not so uncommon?

"Well, move over," he says, when Ken protests. I've been down that stretch of Bank a lot. When the right lane isn't full of parked cars, it's so clogged with slush you're forced into the middle lane anyway. Besides. Traffic was stopped, what does it matter if the bike was in his lane; no one was going anywhere anyway. And, he'd already hit Ken with his mirror while he was trying to signal: oh, and look at the video. At that point the bike couldn't have been any further right.

To the driver: you are in control of a deadly weapon. Try to behave like a grownup.

To Ken: bravo. And thanks for getting it on tape. And thanks for reporting it to the cops.


  1. Thanks for commenting, my thoughts exactly. I'm a very respectful biker. In the summer I'm mostly on paths but in the winter I really don't have any options other than the road. I stop for lights and signs. I signal all the time (maybe too much). I have bright lights and reflection. I wave at cars who cut me some slack. In this incident, I was signalling my intentions to merge left around the Mayfair Theatre.

  2. Hey, well put. As crazy as it is to do, it isn't completely unexpected. How sad is that?

    Get this! My captcha was "mindsigh". How fitting...

  3. Wow, that's crazy!

    I tend to yell/scream/bellow/airhorn at near misses. When they actually make contact, I tend just to be in stunned silence. Especially if what they're doing is as incomprehensible as what this jerk did.

    Maybe the silence is from all the insults in my vocabulary trying to come out at the same time and bottlenecking in my throat.

    - RG>

  4. Last night (on my way to a CfSC advocacy meeting, no less), I was going north on Bronson to take a left on Carling. I'm firmly in the middle of the left turn lane (having risked my life to get over there), and this woman right next to me in a white minivan changes her mind and turns into my lane. It is clear she's not looking, and I can't avoid her without going into head-on traffic. So I kicked the side of her van, which got her attention. And she stopped, and I got in front of her. And she never so much as acknowledged my hand symbols.

    A resolution I have for 2011 is to not give bad drivers the finger. I'm doing okay so far, but it is only February.

    - A

    - A

  5. My brother once punched through a guy's window. The driver was on a cell phone and forced him into a sidewalk in Mtl. I was so proud yet I kept thinking of what this driver would do next time he had a cyclist in his sights.
    So what are we to do when we are nearly hit? Yell, kick, present impolite hand signals or are we supposed to gently remind people that they are driving deadly weapons and with their inattention have nearly damaged us permanently? I always struggle with this.
    Ken handled this well. I want one of those cameras...

  6. When you bike in Ottawa - you know that one day you will get hit - it is just a matter of time. I have been hit 3 times in 40 years.

    I now ride more defensively - I am older and wiser... But not wise enough to give up cycling!!!

    I have to laugh - really belly laugh - when I heard that the new Laurier Street segregated bike lanes are designed to be safe for 12 year old cyclists!!!

    I wouldn't let my twelve year old to walk down Laurier let alone bike down Laurier!!!

  7. Where can I get such a camera for me?