Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

Road Rage

Following another cyclist-car collision in Chicago, a Chicago Tribune writer takes a surprisingly sane look at the rage that exists between bicyclists and motorists.

He even gets quotes from psychologists and people like Bob Mionske:

“If every cyclist obeyed every single traffic law, I don’t think the [Internet] comment boards would change that much,” says Bob Mionske, former Olympic cyclist turned attorney and cycling advocate. “Drivers ask, ‘Why are they in my way?’ I think that in some of the more general ways, it’s competition for a limited resource: the roadway.”

Sadly, he’s likely right. Still, it’s easy to find misbehaving users of roadways in general – cyclists, vehicles, bus drivers, even jaywalking pedestrians. I’m sure we’ve encountered every one of ’em.

The question is, does encountering one, or even several, of these cause you to assume that all of them are outlaws? I’d bet that in most cases, it’s NOT universal. You’re more likely to assume that of specific groups. There’s a group identification.

Better roadway design is probably a start. Traffic calming measures have worked in Europe. They’re also used to high gas pricing there, which helps create some sanity in vehicle choice and use. In Minnesota, I wonder if some of the recent hue and cry is due to the recent gas tax upgrade (2 cents a gallon!) coinciding with gas price hysteria. The increase isn’t just the tax – the tax is a small amount of it all. But it’s hard to say who understands that.

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Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.


  1. I think the car – bicycle rage phenomena deserves a bit of research. My sense is there are class and cultural aspects as well. I think helmet wearing athletic cyclists are perceived as simultaneously ‘elite’, vulnerable, and irritatingly present. That’s a wicked combination.

    As boomer drivers age, and our brains deteriorate, there will be even more car-bike collisions. Montreal, with an aging population, has had a terrible record of bicycle deaths over the past few years.

  2. There was a British study, I believe, that suggested cars are more likely to pass a helmet-wearing cyclist more closely.

    I’m not sure about the eliteness. One of the most common red herrings I see is about how cyclists aren’t ‘paying for’ the roads because they don’t have vehicle stickers or gas tax participation, etc. When you take into account cycle-commuting numbers versus cyclist participation numbers, this is clearly not the case. These people are getting to work SOMEHOW, and buying these bikes SOMEHOW. If you also look at household income numbers for cyclists, it skews to the higher-income households, who are undoubtedly contributing to property tax base and other ‘use’ taxes in the sales tax realm, even if you do assume they have no car.

    Of course, a lot of the haters have no idea what a bike that might be ridden by the spandex brigade might cost. That my bike is worth more than their car is a completely unbelievable and alien concept.