Russ and Laura are no strangers to Seattle. Then again, they aren’t strangers to many places, considering they travel the world with their bicycles, documenting their inspiring trips with beautiful video at their blog the Path Less Pedaled.
The Portland-based couple are currently in New Zealand, where they have been highlighting the country’s stunning bicycle routes and growing urban bike cultures. But a recent incident does not leave the kind of impression a national tourism official would like.
Russ was punched in the face after an enraged New Zealand driver aggressively pulled over and attacked him. Russ is okay, though shaken up, and the incident made it into several national media outlets. From the New Zealand Herald:
But [cycling advocates] are struggling to remain upbeat after Mr Roca, 33, was tackled off his bike and – after picking himself up – punched by a motorist in Wellington on Tuesday afternoon.
They were riding single file in the inner of two southbound lanes along Riddiford St towards Newtown about 4.30pm when they say the driver cut them off, and then got out of his car.
“Words were exchanged, he stopped his car in front of us, Laura managed to swerve in front of him and he just came and knocked me off my bike,” Mr Roca said yesterday.
“He barged into me and knocked me over. I got up and he came towards me and punched me in the face and I went down again.”
He said other motorists stopped to help as the man sped off through a red light, and they provided licence-plate details for a complaint laid with the police yesterday.
He said he was lucky to be left with only a cut lip and sore shoulder and back from the attack, which would not deter him and Ms Crawford from exploring cycle trails in the South Island next week.
“The guy was just so angry that I think it was just his personal problems,” he said.
If you have met Russ and Laura or follow their blog, you know how ridiculous it is to think that someone would want to punch them. They are consistently positive, happy and friendly people who concentrate as much on the unique people and cultures of the places they go as they do on promoting cycling.
And, in sync with this attitude, Russ and Laura made sure to boost cycling in their interviews with media instead of merely concentrating on this one negative interaction, as Russ told NZH:
“I don’t want to diminish it, because it was absolutely awful, but it was a fluke thing – I don’t think anyone should take it as a reason not to cycle.”
One glance at a PLP video from their trip, and it’s clear that a punch in the face isn’t going to stop them. The stunning beauty of their adventures is far more powerful than one jerk, and perhaps the whole incident will raise the profile of bicycle travel in the country. If nothing else, it will lead more people to watch this awesome video: