Evan Wilder has posted the video of his experience with driver road rage, where the police wrote him a ticket, rather than the driver who swerved to a stop right in front of him, then threw his bike into the back of the truck.

Sarah Hughes from DCist points out that, according to the transcript, the driver seems to have thought Evan should have been in the adjacent bike lane. That is a contraflow lane, which lets people ride westbound from the Metropolitan Branch Trail to the rest of R Street along a one block section which is one-way. (To get to a parallel westbound street requires going up and down a hill.)

Motorist: What the f**k are you doing touching my car? The bike lane’s over there.

Cyclist: The bike laneā€¦.

Motorist: The bike lane is over there, dude

Cyclist: This IS the bike lane

Motorist: THAT is the bike lane.

Cyclist: Look at this.

Motorist: That’s the bike lane, dude.

Cyclist: See this arrow

Motorist: I don’t know about that but you ain’t gotta touch my car.

C See that arrow? It points that way.

Motorist: I don’t even know about all of that shit. I don’t drive a bike. Don’t put your hands on my f**king car.

The driver seems to have believed that Wilder should have been in the bike lane, and therefore that justified passing him too closely, stopping right in front of him, yelling at him, and then throwing his bike into the truck.

In DC at least, people on bicycles are allowed to ride in any lane (outside of freeways) where cars are allowed, as well as in bike lanes. It’s best to use the bike lane when it’s available, but there are a lot of reasons not to use one even when it’s not a contraflow lane in the wrong direction.

If you’re driving, it’s never okay to try to muscle a cyclist aside or drive in a way that’s aggressive toward the cyclist, even if the other person is wrong. (And the same goes for any other road user.) Particularly since sometimes, as in this case, it might turn out you are wrong instead.

Unfortunately, it’s too easy to ascribe hostile and nefarious motives to others on the road. Just look at this comment on yesterday’s Dr. Gridlock chat (hat tip, again, to Sarah Hughes):

I commute down Connecticut Ave via car to work and back and have noticed that cyclists are increasingly hostile to cars, confrontational and dangers to themselves. They now ride two abreast, one in each traffic lane, taking two of the four lanes available. The only reason they do this is to be hostile to drivers and express aggression. ...

More and more of them are wearing cameras on their helmets. ... Am I to be harassed by angry cyclists daring me to do something that they can record on their cameras?

Some people do ride recklessly (and some people drive recklessly). But nobody is putting a camera on his or her bike to “dare” drivers to do something; they do it because they’ve experienced, as in this case, many other people misunderstanding the rules of the road, taking offense at the cyclist’s behavior (even if it’s totally legal), getting angry, driving aggressively, and causing a crash… and then police ticketing the cyclist.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.