By Tom Held of the Journal Sentinel
Dec. 11, 2008
News of a bicyclist vs. bicyclist road rage encounter drew Bob Mionske's attention back to his college days at the University of Wisconsin Madison and his first meeting with Colin O'Brien, the victim in this troubling tale.
Mionske, now an attorney in Portland, has written several times about cyclist vs. motorist confrontations over what he described as a "summer of rage." His exploration of the underlying psychology was one of the best pieces I've read on the topic, carrying it beyond the simple us vs. them shouting match.
I have to respectfully disagree with the counselor on a significant point in today's piece in his Legally Speaking column.
Mionske asserts that the conflicts on the road will increase as the number of cyclists filling traffic lanes also grows. That does seem to be a logical conclusion.
Perhaps I'm naive, but I believe more cyclists on the road will have the opposite effect. As motorists become accustomed to cyclists as a routine part of traffic flow, and more cyclists set positive examples, the conflicts should decrease.
Mionske lives and focuses his lawyering on bicycle-related issues in Portland, the city with the highest percentage of cyclists on the road.
One result is that cyclists, in part because of their numbers, have carved out space for themselves and can set out on their commutes without having to put on their game faces. That comfort level should extend to other cities as cyclists become more than an odd annoyance, but a normal and accepted part of traffic.
One follow up note on the O'Brien case in Madison: Dustin Dunlavy, 28, has been charged with battery and disorderly conduct, based on the allegations that he attacked O'Brien. The court in Madison has scheduled a settlement conference in the case for Jan. 16, according to online records.