Road Rage

Road Rage

Road Rage Aimed at Cyclists
Date: 3 Jun 1998 08:08:28 cst
From:[email protected]

I thought everyone would be interested in this Tamnet article:

Cyclists victims of road rage, too
By Julie Dupuis / The News Banner (St. Tammany Parish) / June 2, 1998

It was a lovely spring day for cyclist Paulo DuFour, who was
out enjoying a strenuous ride down
Million Dollar Road. Lovely, until he made eye contact with
an 18-wheeler truck driver who
didn’t feel like sharing the road.

DuFour says the truck driver laughed at him, turned into his
path and then slammed on his
brakes, trying to force the cyclist to slam into the side of
his truck. After he forced DuFour, an
avid cyclist of 14 years, into the ditch, the truck driver
cursed at, yelled at and mocked him,
DuFour said. The truck driver exited at his place of
employment and then got into his personal
vehicle and continued the verbal assault on the cyclist all
the way to Lee Road.

“This rage just wasn’t directed at me,” DuFour said. “It was
at all bike riders.”

Road rage against cyclists is on the increase as cyclists
take to the streets, said Stephen Short,
an officer for the Covington Police Department’s bike patrol

“More and more (cyclists) are beginning to show up on the
road, especially here in St.
Tammany, where it’s more rural and not as crowded as New
Orleans,” Short said. A large influx
of riders comes to the North Shore on the weekends; and with
summer weather upon us, those
numbers are only going to go up.

Todd Swalm, cyclist and assistant manager at the Bike Zone
in Covington, said he hears about
road rage against bikers all the time in his shop. Motorists
honk, curse, make nasty gestures and
throw bottles, cans, even bricks at cyclists, he said.

“There’s a real resentment for people who ride bikes,” Swalm
said. “Down here, they think
you’re a target.”

Swalm thinks that if people knew more about cyclists’ needs
and rights, there would be fewer
incidents of road rage. For example, “roadies” or “road
riders,” as they are called in cyclists’
circles, need to ride on long stretches of road. Locally,
that means state Highways 1088, 1077,
36, 40 and 41. Those rides may be scenic, but that’s not why
roadies ride there, Swalm said.

“You can get a good long 50-, 60-mile ride” on those
highways, he said. Of course, those roads
are generally more deserted, which makes it easier for road
rage perpetrators to get away with
the act.

Scenic riders tend to stick to the Tammany Trace bike path,
Swalm said.

“With the opening of the Trace, it’s going to give a lot
more of an outlet (for cyclists), but it’s not
very good for training,” he said. Cyclists-in-training often
achieve speeds of 30 miles per hour
and even sprint to 45 miles per hour.

“You can’t do that on the Trace,” which has a speed limit of
20 miles per hour, he said. “It’s
starting and stopping, starting and stopping.”

Officer Short said that cyclists have every legal right to
ride on local roads and that they must
follow all the same laws as operators of motorized vehicles,
including obeying stop signs, yielding
right of way, and using hand signals. Just because cyclists
are not going to be able to maintain
speed with cars doesn’t mean they don’t have every legal
right to be there.

Cyclists can help their own causes by filing police reports
when they are victims of road rage.
Drivers can be more considerate by exercising simple caution
towards cyclists as they approach
from behind.

“Usually it’s only going to delay you for a moment,” Short
said. “It irritates you, but you can’t run
them off the road for that.”

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