The roads in Louisville may not be the most friendly for bicyclists today. It’s easy to see the struggles that bikes face daily, even when bike lanes have been provided on streets; but frustrations over auto-culture shouldn’t escalate into a pedal-powered version of road rage. A tipster points out that at a recent Critical Mass bike ride in Louisville, cyclists stepped over the bounds of promoting bike awareness and took vigilante justice into hand, vandalizing an SUV encountered along the road.
Critical Mass rides are in essence a protest against auto-dominance seen on roads across the country and world. Rides, usually held the last Friday of every month, tend to draw large numbers of cyclists and often fill up the roads they ride along. The local blog Milkyboots told the story that went down last week:
I have done Critical Mass before and I think it’s a good way to make a statement about how unfriendly cities are to cyclists and the enjoyment of life in general. For me, group rides and Critical Mass especially have been about showing how much fun bikes can be and that commuting to work or wherever can be a joyful experience. It’s not about making people driving feel like jerks.
It goes without saying then that I strongly disagree with the Critical Massers who looked up Pat’s address and then went out and SPRAYPAINTED HIS F***ING CAR. How are we supposed to get anything accomplished if we repeatedly prove to this city what assholes bike riders are? Yes, I know we are better because we ride all the time. So start acting like it. Don’t let your anger control you.
It is apparent that tensions between bikes and cars in Louisville may be escalating even as we are trying to improve our bicycle infrastructure. It can be tough to put your life in danger riding in many places around town only to be ridiculed by drivers who don’t understand how to share the road, but Louisville cannot allow an all-out bike-on-car, car-on-bike war to grow from these misunderstandings.
Events like Critical Mass will and should continue to promote awareness of issues faced by bikers in Louisville. We must all get over the temptation to become self-righteous about our transportation choices when we must all share the same roads. Communication and education is especially important here. Most motorists don’t realize their infractions against bikes, culture has always indicated that roads are for cars and motorists haven’t been prepared for a change. Driver education is pitiful when it comes to sharing the road and society should really think twice its decision to allow everyone to operate heavy machinery at high speeds daily; conflicts are sure to arise. Louisville is still an auto-dominated culture just beginning to come to terms with the presence of bikes on the streets; motorists and cyclists alike must cooperate and share the road if any substantial reform is to set in. Arrogant drivers and arrogant bicyclists make the roads more dangerous for everyone involved.