And yet another…..
Anonymous 11/14/2012 at 11:21am #
Very glad that you’re ok, Nick. Sorry to hear that your dad was also injured recently.
With the witnesses and plate number I think it’s only a matter of time before an arrest is made. I hope the punishment issued is significant and I hope this violent, aggressive driver is off the streets for a long time.
May I suggest that you consider a civil suit to at least take care of the medical bills? I don’t generally advocate law suits, but in cases like this I think they are appropriate and necessary.
Good luck, and I hope you’re able to do the Flock ride Friday. I think everyone would like to see you.
Awesome to hear from you Nick.
I really wish some genius attorney would set the precedent once and for all that a car can be used as a weapon, and should be treated as such. Someone was able to do it in this case;
I just love the tears. Interested law-y people should look into how that case was made.
Damn, Nick, you are one of the few people I know who would be gracious through this ordeal, use it as a teaching moment for the press, and still find a way to see this in a way that was not about you, and out others around you in a good light.
I don’t know the path you were in before, but the place your head is in now seems like a pretty good one (but for the bumps and bruises from yesterday….)
Nick, I’m glad you’re back at work, as I saw on the news last night, and are handling this so well.
I have to disagree with you about this not being an issue with infrastructure. Of course, treating the current situation as fixed, having drivers follow the law (not to mention treat cyclists with respect) would solve the problem. But underlying that are roads that are narrow and not well suited to joint use by cyclists and motorists. Some of the road infrastructure should be dedicated to cyclist use. Since bikes take so much less space than cars this would result in a more efficient transportation network overall, as well as increased safety for cyclists.
@Jon: In my opinion, promoting the idea that this was a problem due to lack of dedicated bike infrastructure minimizes the onus on the attacker.
It no more indicates an issue with infrastructure than a mugging indicates an issue with security…in both cases, the problem lies with the perpetrators, not the location or actions of the victim.
Well, if you have an area where a lot of muggings occur, that is a problem that can sometimes be solved best with redesigned infrastructure. Pointing this out doesn’t justify the actions of the mugger.
Nick’s point (unless I’m completely misunderstanding it) was that this is a sociological problem; that, for whatever reason, there are a number of people who seem to believe that attacking others with their vehicles is acceptable behavior. Attempting to use this as justification for better infrastructure detracts from attention being paid to the real problem.
In this case, what infrastructure would have protected Nick from an irrational assailant near the corner of Wilkins and Negley? The answer “physically separated paths”, while technically true, is impractical when applied to every road on which a cyclist may conceivably wish to travel. Painted lines, as we all well know, are ignored by many motorists at will, and certainly don’t prevent too-close passing.
Social problems can’t be readily fixed by physical infrastructure changes.
(This isn’t to say that infrastructure changes are not desirable, as they certainly are in many cases…but this situation had nothing to do with the lack thereof.)
Dan, I think you know that I agree that one problem here is that some people feel justified attacking people with their cars. However, I don’t agree that arguing for better bike infrastructure in any way diminishes or legitimatizes such attacks. It’s something like a poor area of town, which is poor as the result of being cut off from the rest of the city because of poor infrastructure. People commit crimes there. Arguing for better infrastructure to improve that area, which would also reduce the crime there, doesn’t in any way justify the crime there. Nor is it an argument that better infrastructure would prevent every crime.
I think jonawebb and reddan are both correct. And both incorrect.
jonawebb is correct that infrastructure can make a difference. When there is an area with a mugging problem, the installation of streetlights can act as a significant deterrent to crime. That having been said, in this case where a sociopath intentially struck a cyclist for “irritating” him, I think it is more important to we in the cycling community to focus on that criminal act and save the infrastructure narrative for later.
When reddan says that social problems can’t be readily fixed by infrastructure changes, he is correct only for the word “readily”. Infrastructure changes can change behavior (as in the streetlight example above) and if you change enough behavior then the social impetus driving that behavior changes as well. If there were better infrastructure, if there were bike lanes or better education about sharing the road, then this guy might not have been so irritated by the mere presence of a cyclist and his irrational aggression may not have been triggered. (like a mugger being deterred by streetlights in the single instance but more foundational changes, like a better economy so that he can get a decent job, leading to him not being a mugger anymore) But that is a long term, societal change.
So, while infrastructure is not relevant in this instance, at this moment, it is definitely part of the conversation in the aggregate long term. We need to have that conversation. Just not now. Now should focus on the criminal act.
I repeat:In this case, what infrastructure would have protected Nick from an irrational assailant near the corner of Wilkins and Negley? The answer “physically separated paths”, while technically true, is impractical when applied to every road on which a cyclist may conceivably wish to travel.
Infrastructure, by its very nature, is specific to a given location. It is not an answer to the question of “how do we get psychopaths not to try to kill us.” It may well be an answer to the question “how do we reduce cyclist injuries and fatalities at a given location”, but that’s not what Nick was talking about.
[Edited to add:]
@kordite:So, while infrastructure is not relevant in this instance, at this moment, it is definitely part of the conversation in the aggregate long term. We need to have that conversation. Just not now. Now should focus on the criminal act.
Well said, and I agree.
Come on! Yes, better infrastructure goes a long way to provide safer pathways for cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. But -did you read the news of what happened in this instance? The driver did not obey the 4′ safe passing law (perhaps he didn’t know, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt). HOWEVER, he then hit a cyclist/Nick on-purpose, and afterwards he left the scene, making it a hit & run.
This wasn’t an issue of infrastructure, but of an individual not driving according to the law, and then deliberately attacking another human being. Better infrastructure does not cure an asshole like this.
PS: If any, I would say that if the Police ticketed more people for driving like assholes and gave harder penalties on it, it might make drivers -and also cyclists- more interested in following the rules of the road.
Where/Who is the public figure who stands up and says, It’s Not Nice To Try To Kill Bicyclists And Then Leave The Scene?
Mayor? County Executive? District Attorney?
Any of the people who posed with their Bronze Friendly Award?
Glad to hear Nick is alright, hope this guy gets what he deserves.
It’s nice to see well thought intelligent points brought up that don’t attack others ideas.
No infrastructure would have protected Nick from an irrational assailant, in that you are correct, but increased infrastructure, increased education, more cyclists using that infrastructure and all of those things that drive a societal change from a car-dominated society to a more balanced society will reduce the numbers of irrational assailants and that will help to protect us all.
To repeat my parallel; a streetlight will not stop a mugger intent on robbing someone but lots of streetlights, patrols by police officers, an improving economy and a better social safety net will reduce the numbers of people choosing to mug people.
These are the things that Tom Vanderbilt talked about in “Traffic.” Changing behavior and changing society through infrastructure. Building a street differently so that it affects people on a subconscious level and they slow down without even realizing it. These are the things that people in Copenhagen talk about, building infrastructure that changes society.
We have crosswalks and pedestrian signals yet people still deliberately don’t let you cross or will gun it towards you with a smirk on their face.
Thanks for the refresher on why I stopped coming to this board.
When I said, “this issue” I meant the issue of people assaulting others. I wasn’t referring to the distaste for people on bikes or the lack of education, for you can really dislike someone irrationally or out of lack of education and not assault them.
Well. Anyway. SO GLAD that you are able to post, Nick! Sending quick-heal vibes your way! Please let us know if you need help with anything.
Just glad you weren’t seriously hurt. I wonder what the guy’s excuse is gonna be…
I’m sorry if I was a little belligerent in my previous post, but srsly -bottom line this is an issue of a person/dipshit attacking another human being.
I work as an architect, and know the benefits that better infrastructure, inclusive urban design, and good architecture can give to its users -one of the reasons why I love what I do. However, just like everything, it has its limits when the system in itself is faulty. And by system, I mean in this case the lack of better driver education and police involvement in upholding driving laws.
Thanks for taking one for the team, Nick. I’m too chickenshit to start shit on the road, I’ll let them deal with their own karma.
Anonymous 11/14/2012 at 5:22pm #
The issue is, as always, much more intangible, of course, than what we tend to want to talk about, which is infrastructure and laws. These are the physical representations of an attempt at teaching the unteachable. How do you teach a person what it feels like to be crushed by two tons, so that s/he may empathize? How do you make a person look at someone else and see not an enemy, not an Other, but the very flesh that constitutes their most beloved one? It is very difficult to pierce the Otherness barrier, which is as mental as it is physical. I cannot speak to these so-called ‘sociopaths’ and say that events like this will change their mind and life – but I can say with confidence that someone out there will get it. It will click for them; they will see someone carelessly taking a life (or attempting to!) and realize the insanity as close as their own annoyed huffs behind the wheel, their own frustrated honking, their own unnecessary speeding. It will click, and the next time they make the unconscious motion to perform one of these bouts of rage, they will consciously decide not to; not only because it won’t change the situation, which they are not in control of, but because they have realized they can indeed control their reaction, which is what colours their entire experience. This is the birth of a conscious human being, and it is happening all over the globe, at the expense of human lives, personal property, loved ones, etc. Casualties of a war we all implicitly know is going on – within ourselves. I’m not saying this is a good thing, I’m just saying this is the way it happens for most of us. Remember growing up, and “listening to the wisdom of your elders” – then promptly tossing it to make the exact same mistake, feel the cold sweat of déjà vu come down like a thunderstorm and realize, “oh, THIS is what they meant”? And the more crippled someone’s humanity is, the more they need that crutch of personal experience.
I am honoured to have met someone who ‘turns the other tire’ as it were – Nick, you are speaking volumes through your experiences and the way you handle them, and I promise you that even if it doesn’t seem apparent, people are learning from you. They are learning that there is a different way to react – that we are in total, utter control, whether we are behind a wheel, set of handlebars, or otherwise. You have shown the epitome of this sentiment by your phrase “turning this into a positive thing”, and proving the fact that, well, we aren’t going to give up riding. The very idea of seeing anything positive in this situation can be mind-boggling for some, but once again, that’s up to us: you make the experience what it is, for yourself, when you react.
All of the debating, counter-commenting, mayor speeches, bike lanes, and speeding tickets are just reminders, which will hopefully kick in before the bludgeon of manslaughter. As annoyingly sentimental as a long-winded speech like this might seem, this is what is at the heart of the matter, and I think that to talk about the problem, you can’t ignore the humans for their environment.
Pittsburgh, this is not us. We are not the rude assholes who angrily punch our way through life. We are not the jerks who can’t be bothered to put others before ourselves on occasion. We are not the jagoffs who trample on anyone who gets in our path to self-satisfaction.
We are the neighbors in the neighborhoods.
And I don’t even need to tell you what that means because deep down you know damn well what that means because it is an inherent truth you’ve got lodged in your heart and you will never be rid of it no matter how many people you flip off.
Was I a good neighbor when I lost my shit on that man? No. I wasn’t. I get that. It’s easy to lose your cool. But I’m going to do better next time. And honestly, I’m kinda proud that I didn’t punch his face in with one glorious jab.
It’s nearing the holidays and I’m fed up with these stories and the interactions in my own life. Stop the road rage. Remain calm. Give the pedestrians the right of way. Watch for bicyclists. Hold the door. Hold the elevator. Let others merge. Don’t let your kids grow up to be the kind of people who punch faces in for no reason.
@nick, I’m very glad to hear you were not seriously hurt!
I’m almost positive the PA Driver’s license exam covers not ramming into people with your truck.
It’s all the fault of the mother of the guy driving the truck. She probably did not pay enough attention to him as a child.
The person that did this is a jackass plain and simple.
Hopefully they see their day in court soon! I just hope that Zappala’s office does not plea the guy out to lesser charge as seems to be the norm. I would be nice to see an example made in this flagrant assault.
Anonymous 11/14/2012 at 5:51pm #
Reading the story about Nick, he did something I have done. Extended my arm to try and get vehicles to give me a bit more room. Seems this was enough provocation for the idiot pickup driver. He didn’t like that. I may have to rethink extending my arm although, I am pretty skittish if I see a pickup coming towards my tail and am ready for anything. Same goes with any testosterone vehicle, like a Hummer or big SUV. We can say we shouldn’t have to be ready because we have a right to be on the road, but to be honest we are the ones on a bike and very exposed to idiots with no protection. I guess what I am trying to convey to fellow cyclists is be careful and expect very little from the aggressive drivers out there. Pittsburgh driving is very different these days as far as speed goes. People are driving faster around the city and seem more angry. Not saying it is better or worse than it has been in the past. It actually might be better today because there are more bikes. When I first started riding a bike in this area, I would say very few motorists liked seeing a bike on their road. That part is better, but aggressiveness is worse. Glad Nick posted. Get well soon. Ride safe all.
Nice link Reddan, but I think that guy is completely wrong. We are no less violent or awful than New Yorkers or Angelenos or Dallasites. We are human beings, our entire history has been formed by the aggressive and destructive ones, who then return from their slaughters to make up noble mythologies to rationalize their actions. There have been small moderating forces in the onward march of the violence of humanity, but they are ephemeral and temporary at best. We have had to construct a sports culture to serve as a proxy for actual inter-personal violence. We are a society of winner take all. It is useless to tell people to chill out, because only the people who least need to hear it will register the message.
@edmonds:It is useless to tell people to chill out, because only the people who least need to hear it will register the message.
I wish I could say I disagree. But you are quite right.
Anonymous 11/14/2012 at 6:44pm #
a statement from the mayor would be more effective when coupled with a presence of a couple of them football people that a large portion of the city seems to admire,
maybe one or two of the hockey guys as well.
While it is intrigiung in concept, i am not a fan of actually wanting the roads to turn into a thunderdome-esque fight for survival just so i can ride to the grocery store.
This just came on my Pandora station and it seemed appropriate for this tread.
I’m glad Nick is relatively unharmed, and I’m hopeful that however he may continue in his life it will be with endless joy and resolve for goodness.
“We are human beings, our entire history has been formed by the aggressive and destructive ones”
I would agree with Stephen Pinker in “The Better Angels of Our Nature” that this characterization is not true. If we really were those sorts of uncooperative, destructive beings then civilization would not have advanced. We would have continued in the Hobbsian “state of nature” and our species would have gone extinct. That behavior is self-destructive for an individual as well as for a species.
As it is, we have become more and more cooperative, more and more tolerant, and less and less violent. We live longer. We live in larger groups. The crimes and wars we have suffered have diminished in both frequency and severity.
Pittgirl is right. “This is not us.” On the whole, we are not people who run other people over with our cars. Not because there are laws against it. Not because there is bicycle infrastructure to separate us. We don’t run people over because decent people don’t run other people over. This guy is an aberration. An exception. And, with history as a guide, an even more vanishing exception.
Look around you. Really, look at all the people you know. The people you work with, go to school with. The people here on this forum. Would you characterize the majority of them as “winner take all?” Would you characterize any good that they do as “ephemeral or temporary at best?” Even the majority of the people you might run into walking down the street, would you characterize them as merely a “small moderating force?”
That’s certainly not what I see.
Anonymous 11/14/2012 at 8:09pm #
Well put, well done, thank you, thank goodness
I heard Steven Pinker about three weeks ago speaking to the Commonwealth Club (90.5 plays that at 0600 Sundays). He made a cohesive argument and presented rational causes for his claims. I really enjoyed listening to his presentation
Lovely sentiment. I have deeply considered numerous responses to this.
But much as hundreds or even thousands of perfectly lovely motorists can pass a rider uneventfully during the day, it only takes one psychopathic bad angel to change the course of your day, or history.
I remain unswayed in my view of humanity.
OT: I love the Commonwealth Club show and got to visit it live once. They really do pound the gavel on a podium, it’s not some sound effect
@bikeygirl – Thanks for the Imagine Lennon link. New-Indie-music-listener that I am, I still include the song in my all-time favorite list. Good to hear it again.
Anonymous 11/15/2012 at 8:05pm #
I hope the victim is okay. Please spread the word on the 4-foot law and hit-and-run law. Tweet it, post it, pin it, blog about it, talk about it, whatever you can to make drivers aware. Our law firm is running the message on TV but if the bicycle community helps spread the message, it will save lives. http://www.edgarsnyder.com/bicycle/pennsylvania-bicycle-safety-law.html
Anonymous 11/21/2012 at 2:48pm #
Seems no one got the plate number, correct? If they did, this guy would have been brought in by now.
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