By Dom Nozzi
Why are so many American bicyclists are so paranoid about motor vehicles — particularly compared to bicyclists in western Europe?
I’d speculate that the comparatively high fear of American cyclists has to do with the fact that more so than any other nation, Americans have placed motor vehicles (and their “rights”) on a pedestal. The inevitable outcome has been twofold:
- American motorists are extreme in their expectation of happy, free-flowing, high speed, “free roads” driving. Since the enormous size of cars makes such a thing nearly impossible, road rage (and the resulting driver hostility to “anything in my way”) is high.
- American bicyclists experience this motorist rage in two ways. First, as bicyclists. (American motorists are less courteous and more reckless). Second, when many of these cyclists make trips by car (which are times when the cyclist can then feel those American Happy Motoring expectations, and come to expect other motorists to have such feelings when they are back on a bicycle).
The working assumption for bicyclists, then, is that nearly all American motorists are high speed, hostile, homicidal, enraged maniacs. Only a tiny number of us are able to escape such irrational, counterproductive conclusions.
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