Just for the record, in no way did I want to make afraid or intimidate anyone from riding their bicycles, ever! Conversely, I just wanted to share a few incidents that have occurred, discuss it in a safe place, and get some input from folks around town.
In my mind, there really are two separate safety issues at stake:
1) There are motorists who will not share the road, who make poor choices, and in frustration say and do things that put everyone at risk. This can happen anywhere; and, it seems like most people on this forum (myself included) agree that completely not engaging said idiocy is the smart way to beÃ¢â‚¬Â¦and is a positive move for the sake of other bicyclists on the road too.
2) The threat from pedestrians and/or traffic that see a rider and consciously decide to bring harm to her. People that make these kinds of decisions are in all walks of life (it just seems they have decided to target cyclists lately, although as Nate has mentioned, this is maybe not the norm). I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important not to be in fear from this, but to stay alert to the fact that it exists, and consider it just like you would any other safety issue for you and your family.
While these things can hardly be prevented (except for trying to follow the rules of the road as best as possible in the first case), the point of all this is that by not reacting belligerently to 1) you can possibly prevent it from escalating into 2). This is common sense I suppose, but I thought maybe it was worth saying.
What seems a much more complicated issue, one that lately I have been struggling with, are sheer incidents of 2). I think most of the riders I know do carry pepper spray for this reason; as a completely non-lethal form of self defense, and in case you find yourself in a similar situation, I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t recommend having it more. Of course, this is not really an answer, but a sensible precaution. Until then, be safe everyone. -W