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The Psychology of Cyclist-Hating Drivers

It seems safe to assume that you, the reader of this post on a site dedicated entirely to bikes, are intimately familiar with the special vitriol American drivers reserve for bicyclists. The worst rhetoric presents itself in the comments underneath nearly every mainstream media story that so much as mentions bikes (it’s hard to get in a full rant as you speed by that bastard cyclist rudely using the road built for your car. “Get off the rooaaaa” is usually the best they can muster). Comments range from screeds about bikes not paying for the roads therefore not deserving to ride on them to disgusting quips about injured cyclists getting what they deserved for riding where they don’t belong.

The ignorance and faulty logic of bike-hating Internet commenters is frustrating to no end, but it’s somewhat benign in the grand scheme. When that same hatred manifests in the mind of someone behind the wheel of a two-ton vehicle, however, it is incredibly dangerous. Enraged drivers suddenly feel justified as they try to scare cyclists by “buzzing” them, honking, cutting them off, yelling, or throwing something.

What the drivers often don’t take into consideration (at least I don’t think they do) is the razor-thin line between a scared cyclist and a severely injured cyclist that’s been hit by a car or run off the road. Occasionally drivers take that hatred to extremes and try to intentionally injure or kill cyclists. On of the most sickening examples of this happened in late February when a 47-year old man intentionally plowed his car through a large group of cyclists riding in critical mass in Porte Alegre, Brazil.

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