Tuesday, August 31, 2010

WHOA! Scary

Universal Hub,  a local news aggregator here, is reporting that the Cambridge police arrested a man last night for "Armed Assault with Intent to Murder " for trying to run down a biker with his car.
Anyone know where or what happened?

On one hand, I am very happy that the Cambridge police are taking this extremely seriously,  as anyone on the street knows that a car can be a lethal weapon.

On the other, it's terrifying that someone could be so crazy with (presumably) road rage that they would actually try to run someone over with their car.  While I'm very careful with my middle finger, and am not going to try to get into arguments or fights, I've been known to use my vocal cords as a horn and yell at people who aren't respecting my space on the road. This is my worst nightmare, about riding vehicularly, that someone controlling a huge steel vehicle is riding behind you, and if they go crazy and act sociopathically, there's not a lot of protection.  It is at least a relief that the police in Cambridge are treating it with gravity.  Makes me even more curious what happened.

If anyone knows any details, or sees them reported, please share, and I'll post any updates I find.


  1. Such events are the ones that those operating under vehicular rules are most vulnerable to. If you are attempting to deliberately kill someone, the one operating predictably is the easiest target. I do hope, however, that such a person is less likely to provoke murder than someone cluelessly cutting off the enraged one.

  2. The same thing happened on the J-Way last week or the week before. Some guy actually drove down the path next to the road, chasing a cyclist. Got himself arrested. Idiot.

  3. Drivers really get irate waiting behind a cyclist who is acting as a "car" on narrow streets. They don't get nearly as enraged when forced to drive slowly behind a tractor, for example. I think the psychology of it boils down to "small bicycle is less threatening than a huge, slow tractor."

    So, until harassing a cyclist is perceived as a dangerous action by drivers (retribution from police, the weight of legal precedent, social/peer criticism, etc.), vehicular cyclists will remain open to this unfortunately frequent behaviour. Only fear can control rage.

  4. Steve A,
    I agree that a predictable biker is less likely to provoke the average driver. However, I think that the people who are easily provoked and unreasonable in their responses are less likely to believe in sharing the road, and more likely to believe that bicycles should be on the sidewalk or in the gutter.

  5. We used to refer to this sort of behaviour as "acute on chronic testosterone poisoning."

    Unfortunately, those who suffer from it are equally insufferable and dangerous whether in a car, on a bike, on skis, on snowboards, on motorbikes, in trucks, on jetskis, in motorboats...(though less commonly, it should be noted, in sailboats).

    Was at a red light in Somerville not long ago on a lovely summer late afternoon when a bicyclist raced along, ran into the passenger door of my (stationary) car, denting it as I later found out, ran the red light, zoomed up the sidewalk and disappeared down the bike path. I do not attribute his behaviour to the bicycle. Perhaps I should be glad he was only armed with two wheels!

  6. The difficulty in a case like this is that it's not the average, normal driver that's the problem. Unless the driver thought he was being seriously threatened by the cyclist and was acting in self-defense (which seems unlikely), it would seem to be the case that the driver was responding in a basically irrational manner--his action was likely WAY out of proportion to the cause. In other words, you can't predict what actions on your part will set that off, and you can't predict who is going to snap. If somebody has a stick up their butt about bikes, and a short fuse, they're a danger to you, no matter what you're doing. So the way I see it, you only have a choice between a) getting scared off the road, or b) continuing to ride in a legal and responsible manner, within your rights to do so.