So, this is downer news. There are two different reports from the past week of people riding bikes being assaulted by people driving.
The most recent report comes from Nina Shapiro at Seattle Weekly, who happened to be on the scene yesterday on Alaskan Way:
SW happened to be on the scene, and saw the driver after he had gotten out of his car and was in the process of throwing the biker–a 40-year-old bell captain for the Westin Hotel named Brooks Groves (pictured above)–against the wall. Then Mr. Bike Rage picked up the bike and hurled it at Grove. Bike Rage jumped back in the car, which had an older man in the passenger seat, and sped off.
The victim, Brooks Groves, described himself as “OK, but a little shaken” after the incident. He later emailed SW with more details of what happened:
So, I am as close to the side as possible, not taking up a whole lane, like some other cyclists do. The car came close to me once–like six inches away, which was way too close, and clearly unnecessary. Then, at the next light, it changed from red to green, so I passed them on the bike. Then the car sped up, and did the same thing again. Clearly, these people have a problem.
So, at the next light where, we met, I came to a stop, and they were there. There where words exchanged between us, and that’s when the driver said, “That’s it–you are done!”
Just as disturbing, he said he reported the incident to a nearby police officer who “only seemed vaguely interested.”
The second assault this week was in Belltown after the Sounders game May 14. Seattle Crime reports that the driver of a black sedan assaulted a man riding a bike at 4th and Lenora shortly after midnight following Saturday’s Sounders game.
From Seattle Crime:
The man told police he riding his bicycle back from the Sounders game just after 12:30 am, when a black sedan drove past him. The cyclist heard someone in the car yelling at him, but couldn’t understand what they were saying.
When the cyclist stopped at 4th and Lenora at a red light, the sedan pulled up next to him, and the driver—who the cyclist described as a “handsome man” in his mid 20s, 6’0, 170 pounds short blonde hair, and clean shaven—got out of the car and punched the victim in the face four times, knocking him to the ground.
The driver then got back in the car and drove off. The victim went to the hospital for stitches.
After the shooting of cycling congresswoman Gabby Giffords in Arizona, there was a lot of talk around the country and within the cycling community about the effect of violent rhetoric in the media on the actions of people on the streets. We shared our thoughts on the topic, too. When you have people on the radio shouting about the “bike nazis” and framing the request for safer streets as a “war on cars,” you can’t help but be concerned about how some already hot-headed or unstable people might react.
The streets of Seattle are not war zones. The media in this city needs to stop using such outrageous metaphors for what boils down to debates over safe and efficient road design standards (and I’m not just talking about Dori Monson). Groves was not biking down Alaskan Way to make a statement about the rights of cyclists on the roads or to make drivers feel guilty for burning gas. He was headed to the ferry to go on a ride around Vashon Island and enjoy the sun.