by Kevin Allman
In May, New Orleans opened its first official bike lane, a 3.5 mile stretch along St. Claude Avenue. The city, of course, is behind the times compared to towns like Boulder, Colo. and Portland, Ore., where foot pedals seem to outnumber gas pedals in some neighborhoods. Groups like the Metro Bicycle Coalition are trying to make New Orleans more of a pedal-friendly place, and voters approved a capital improvements bond in 2004 that promises to bring more bike lanes all over town.But the bike-friendly West Coast seems to be undergoing a spasm of driver-biker hostility. No less than three major bicycle/car incidents have occurred in Portland in the last week (including this bizarre one between a cycling advocate who happened to be driving, and a bicyclist who actually hit the guy with his bike), and now comes this horrific tale from Los Angeles (warning: graphic photos):
Christian Stoehr recounts "We were riding downhill at approximately 30 mph when a car came up behind us, must have been doing 50 mph, and the driver started honking at us. We moved to the right in single file within seconds and the motorist pulled along Ron and started screaming at him. He then pulled in front of us with 3-5 feet to spare and slammed on his brakes, giving us no time to stop. I swerved and almost made it, clipping the car and flying through the air and landing in the street. Ron had no room to move and he went straight into the back of the car, putting his face through the back window."Biking in New Orleans presents a lot of dangers, and everyone I know who rides a bike has stories. (Motorists have their own stories about encounters with bikes, too.) And lets face it; a good percentage of people here are just pure-D nuts, whether we're on a bike, in a car, or just sitting around.But I dont remember any incidents quite like these in New Orleans.Anyone have any horror stories about biking on our rutted rues and potholed parkways? Is bike rage a problem here? And as more of us take to the two-wheelers as gas prices go crazy, will we be going crazy, too?