Woman assaulted on bike – Manitoba cyclist assaulted for ‘not riding in the bike lane’
Cycling in traffic can often seem dangerous, but a cyclist rarely fears being mugged in the process. Unfortunately, it still happens.
“I just got physically attacked by a man because he didn’t like the way I rode my bike,” said the Manitoba architect and host of the Ordinary Bike Podcast Erin Riediger tweeted Tuesday, April 12. “I was changing lanes off the bike path on McDermot so I could turn left at Rorie. He walked in front of my bike a [sic] slapped me telling me the bike path is over there. I’m fine but shaken.
His series of Tweets about the incident racked up nearly 300 shares and comments, and more than 1,900 likes. The response was largely sympathetic, but, as often happens in these Twitter stories, there were a few trolls in the audience.
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Comments included, “So why are you wasting time posting this here and not calling the cops? Surely that would be the best use of time.
Spoiler alert: she did. Some of the other comments are not worth copying in this article, due to their high level of offense and obvious “trolling” nature.
Unfortunately, some commentators used this incident as an opportunity to campaign for cyclists to have licenses and pay for insurance, which seems a bit out of sequence in this case. Having a license (or not) has nothing to do with physical assault. (It is worth it noting that in many countries, a large percentage of cyclists actually have a driver’s license and insurance. Studies also showed that cyclists are generally safer drivers than most non-cyclists.)
In fact, Tweets that a) explained how Riediger “should have” handled the assault or b) explained why cyclists should stick to bike lanes/be fired reached such high volume that she later wrote a reply thanking those who clapped back at trolls, saying, “I wanted to thank everyone for their kind words. It means a lot. I can’t like them all because there are literally hundreds of them and I had to turn off the notifications 💕. Thanks also to everyone who counted those trolls who tried to explain what a woman should do after being hit.
Discussions around bike lanes, safe riding/cycling maneuvers, and whether a cyclist is allowed to ride off the bike lane can be interesting in some situations, but in this case discussing one of these questions sounds like a straw man argument, and potentially dangerous. Physical assault is never acceptable, regardless of the rules of the road or the bike paths. Even if a driver or cyclist makes an illegal turn – Riediger did not, for the record – there is never a justification for an assault.
She later tweeted“I endured a lot of verbal abuse on my bike, that’s never okay, but today I wasn’t even doing an illegal road move to protect myself. I changed my lane. I’m a vulnerable road user but I’ve never felt more vulnerable than I do now. I’m used to shaking it, but this was particularly aggressive.
This incident is a grave reminder that cyclists are incredibly vulnerable and exposed on the roads. And while all cyclists are vulnerable, there is arguably another layer of vulnerability at play here for female cyclists.
Many have commented on Riediger’s story, pointing out that it was not only an assault on a cyclist, but also an assault on a woman. And although situations like this are not common, most female cyclists can recall at least one incident where they were verbally abused by a driver for their bike as well as their gender or were followed/harassed by a car (or another cyclist).
If you are involved in an altercation with someone while riding, remember that you can take action to report abuse of any kind, even verbal ones. While you may question the effectiveness of filing a report, it’s worth doing so to make sure there’s a record, because often times drivers who are out to assault a cyclist can eventually target one. another.
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