Warning – I was almost attacked last evening while biking home

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mikemsb
Participant
#

Just wanted to post this out there to alert everyone to be careful. I was riding up Stanton Avenue from Butler Street in Lawrenceville. Someone chased me and when I turned around, he was ready to lunge on me. I yelled and he ran. I don’t know if this is an isolated incident or not, but wanted to post a warning.


nickbikes
Participant
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ya your definately vulnerable in that area while riding up that long section of the stanton hill.. that is a bad area full of riff-raff as well…definately an area I will stay away from at night if I can help it. thanks for the heads up..


nickbikes
Participant
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I have had similar things happen to me while riding, but not so much of an all out lunge attempt that happenned to you. I get more of the mocking when I go through bad sections of east liberty and garfield and even in areas of where I live in the Morningside/Highland Park area. I think these folks are sensing the biker trend that is taking over the streets to a degree and alot of them are upset that there precious ELB is now one lane, and they act like we are a bunch of idiots that they can make fun of because we are not driving a car, then they assume we must be some type of sissy of something.. there have been many such occasions where I have wanted to get off my bike and wack people with my U-Lock that I keep strapped to my chest…but my temptations always fade and I usually ride on, usually not hearing the rest of what they say or I just turn my ipod up..most of the time I feel I dont want to get sucked into a situation where they egg me on, and get me to confrant them, and they could then try to just overpower me and take my bike, thats my biggest fear, as much as I want to tell them off and stare them down, I usually sense that these groups that usually start the trouble would have an obvious advantage over me in their neighborhood and I just ride on and try to avoid eye contact. Unfortuantely I live in a part of the city, Highland Park, where there really is no easy way back home, and sometimes I just have to have thick skin when I come in contact with these types…..has anyone else experienced such situations? it really bugs me, cause I see biking as such a cool thing to do, and it irks the hell out of me when people try and start trouble with me, and thus all bike culture…what is it that makes them feel this need to start trouble?? When I walk down the streets or walk my dog, I obviously receive no harrasment. But I cant go a week being on my bike without hearing a negative confrontational comment from either a person walking by while I ride or a driver, and I am doing nothing but minding my own business and obeying all traffic laws in most situations. I think with the heavy bike traffic that is starting to creep into the city, I feel more people are having run-ins with bikers, and they are venting their frustrations out on any biker they see if they feel like it…Its like a case of road rage that is delayed, and when they see a biker it brings up those thoughts….this is the explanation or the other possibility is that I’m just running into alot of idiots and ignorant a-holes..I hope soon Drivers Education will start incorporating how to drive in proximity to bikers, unless that already has takin place, but I am not aware…I feel the more people here about bikers the more comfortable they will feel around them…I just wish people would wake up…its our road too, and we are not idiots who ride, we ride for many varied reasons….If biking was not important then why did Penn Dot do what they did to ELB..wake up its 2008 not 1988…


blacklimestone
Participant
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In my experience, among other things, obeying traffic laws on a bike is actually a way to earn yourself disrespect from some folks.

If I remember right, I once was waiting for a red light going north on Negley at Black. Some kids were hanging out in front of a house by the intersection. Next thing I know, it’s “Hey sir…Hey sir!” [waits to be sure I’m looking at him, turns around and drops trou]. Don’t have any idea what that was all about.

I’ve had a couple things happen in the past on Negley around there. Nothing major. I’ve gotten to where I make a habit of staying off streets where kids like to hang out after school and at night. It’s their neighborhood anyway.

A couple people in cars have honked and yelled at me for waiting to turn right at the blind intersection from Hamilton (or is it Thomas?) onto East Liberty Blvd across from the post office parking lot, heading to Highland Park…

Excuse me Mr. driver, my bad, I should have turned out in front of that bus you couldn’t see so that you would have the chance to roll over me after it was done. Actually, I just let it go and rolled on about my merry way.

Since I started riding here a bit over a year ago now, the number of near problems or exchanges I have with drivers has dropped to practically nothing. Some people are just jerks looking for something to vent at, but for everybody else I think your style and route choice can make a huge difference.

You might try ditching the iPod. Maybe get a mirror for your left side too. Seriously.

I feel like my having less trouble with people has corresponded to me getting better at tuning in to the street and riding as a part of it rather than “through it” or “past it”. I try to stay hyper-aware of what’s going on, and for stuff behind me, hearing clearly is critical.

I also think it makes a big difference to be deliberate about what you’re doing and to let drivers and pedestrians know that you are aware of them. People can smell fear and uncertainty, and lots of times it pisses them off.

In areas where the locals like to jaywalk like mad, I ride around them mostly, but I try to show some respect by picking a line and speed so they’ll know I’m not gonna run them down. Sometimes I’ll just slow or stop (old lady or somebody with a kid).

Acknowledging people with your attention and speed, showing respect, and picking clean lines are all huge. Riding fast is good. Riding so you slow but don’t stop is also good — makes you pay attention and keeps you ready to move. I try not to put my feet down any more than I necessary these days.

I think TimZ has posted some stuff more or less on this subject before somewhere around here. He’s definitely got more cred than me.


nickbikes
Participant
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Well I dont obey all traffic laws(i.e.the non-practical ones) and like you said, speed is sometimes the cool image and attracts less attention..

I have a left mirror and use it frequently, not sure what that has to do with this post…and hey, I will keep my ipod…and i will keep it at a safe volume, haha honestly my ipod helps me to zone out the distractions I refer to above, and for me makes me ride better (I listen to music in my car at an even higher volume anyway)..

And hey man there is no fear in my riding…I have lived in the stanton avenue area my entire life, nothing around there strikes fear into my heart, and for that matter I have been to Iraq as well on a deployment with the Army and been blown up on occasion just riding down the road…my point is fear has nothing to do with any of this..riding a bike anywhere in Pittsburgh would not make me change my approach, I think I look like any normal biker, and in fact being that I have no fear, means I go through some of the not-so-good sections of Pittsburgh and maybe set myself up for some of these problems….(in actuality the one place at night in the city that I will never ride my bike down is Warrington Ave in Beltzhoover)

I am not saying these people are dogs, and they sense my fear, no come on, its more than that. maybe I am letting it get to me in a way that I shouldnt, but hey thats why we post these messages, to clear the air on things….

I feel these harrassments have nothing to do with me the rider, they are not commenting on what I am doing…I believe these are indiscriminate attempts to isolate bikers and subjugate them to humiliation in some sinister way, they obviously dont understand bike culture or else they wouldnt be blatantly offending it, they feel threatened by it in some way and therefore take to verbal abuse…

When I am trying to ride and watch out for my own back, the last thing I want is to worry about some person loitering around and trying to solicite some sort of attention from me to make themselves feel better…what are they bored, whatever they are they need to get a life and stop worrying about the guy on 2 wheels…..there now I feel better.


brian j
Participant
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I feel these harrassments have nothing to do with me the rider, they are not commenting on what I am doing…I believe these are indiscriminate attempts to isolate bikers and subjugate them to humiliation in some sinister way, they obviously dont understand bike culture or else they wouldnt be blatantly offending it, they feel threatened by it in some way and therefore take to verbal abuse…

I think a lot of the folks that are saying things to cyclists are also probably saying things to pedestrians and people in cars, too. Don’t take it too personally. I’ve seen plenty of kids comment on a pedestrian or a driver, then say something to me as I pass on my bike. Yeah, we probably stick out a bit more, but I don’t think it has anything to do, really, with our choice of transportation.

I live in Morningside, and ride through the Negley/Black intersection twice a day. I’ve had “trouble” once, I think, when I turned up Black to get to Chislett and some kids lobbed rocks at me. Isolated incident. Considering that I’ve had numerous items thrown at me while climbing Neville below Forbes Avenue, Negley and Black seems kinda safe.

And, I know I’ve said this before but, some drivers are just jerks (or, perhaps I should say, people are just jerks). When I’ve been in my car, I’ve had other drivers pass me on two roads (like Lexington in Point Breeze) because I was doing the speed limit. Also note the number of road rage issues on the highway. We’re just easy targets, especially for verbal attacks.


nickbikes
Participant
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good point…i guess I have just had a latent anger issue and intolerance about this issue, and it came out when I heard about Mike’s almost attack and the lunge attempt…but I should also note here that its not just kids, I wouldnt be angry at kids, I would stop and scold them and ask them where there parents were, and then thy usually get the point. But I have no tolerance for the 15-21 year olds, and especially the older ones, i understand even 15-17 is still an impressionable age….but its these groups that just know Im not gonna stop and say anything cause its not worth my time, and I would never get through to them anyway.

But these are the same ones that will eventually be just a quick to jump you if they had the chance, like almost what happened to mike. If they are that willing to verbally abuse, I dont feel physical abuse is far off for them…just irritating thats all


alankhg
Participant
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Once, headed back down Frankstown Ave. on a group ride during the afternoon, I got lunged at, presumably merely mockingly because I was with enough of a group that I would have had help, but it was nevertheless disconcerting.

Occasionally, I hear something-or-other coming out of car windows, but I generally do fine. It probably helps that I’m usually in Oakland/Shadyside/Squirrel Hill, where there are plenty of cyclists on the streets.


blacklimestone
Participant
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nickbikes,

Nothin’ personal… just sharing my opinion.

Hope I didn’t come off sounding like a jerk. How you ride is up to you.


varun5
Participant
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I’d like to second what Brian has written.

I do think we stick out easily especially because we share the road. I think some drivers feel entitled to the road more than they should. I mean, that is part of what we are trying to disprove here, isn’t it?

That being said, I think I haven’t gone a day in the past two weeks without some sort of harassment. Tonight it was being tail-gated (I mean, fender-gated?) on my way home from the library. Other nights, I find neighbors down the street in Bloomfield heckling me. Sometimes its been being honked at and passed and then confronted at a light. But really, why waste yr time yelling at a cyclist on Penn ave. when yr argument is that you are in a hurry?

However, I should mention that at the corner of S. Millvale and Cypress there’s a house that always heckles me. Actually, one time one of the people who is a regular on that porch was wearing a clown mask and started chasing me up the street. He didn’t seem to commit, and other nights I’ve walked by with a friend and they’ve been nothing but nice. Who knows. I guess that’s how they get their kicks, trying on their new juggalo lifestyle and showing it off for everyone to see.


Kordite
Participant
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> other nights I’ve walked by with a friend and

> they’ve been nothing but nice.

That’s because they don’t see you, they see the bike. I know of dogs that behave the same way. Walk by their yard and they ignore you. Ride by on a bike and that “chase it down cause it’s running” hunter instinct kicks in and they will chase you for a quarter mile. People are the same way. Walk by and you are a person, just like them. But ride by on a bike and suddenly you are no longer a person. You are one of “them”, an alien creature unlike anything they understand.

I believe it’s this me:unlike me behavior goe on with drivers as well. They are in cars. They relate to people in cars. They understand others in cars. But we on bicycles are beyond their understanding and thus are inherently hated and feared.


Nick D
Participant
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I get lunged at a lot on Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights in Oakland by drunk college guys. This happens almost every time I am riding late at night.

It’s always one person in a group. I dont quite understand it because these aren’t delinquents [for the most part]. They are college kids, people that are supposed to be furthering themselves and maturing.

But I think a lot of you are right. The city is changing and people fear change.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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There’s something about some people that makes them lightning rods for negativity.

My wife and I argue constantly about riding the bus. I’ve ridden 15,000 PAT buses (not an exaggeration) and rarely have had any trouble with surly drivers, passengers, others at a stop, or just walking down the street. She, OTOH, rarely rides alone, but has a track record of something like 1 in 3 for encountering said stupidity.

I’m sure this Walking Lightning Rod Syndrome carries over into the cycling world as well.


blacklimestone
Participant
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I support the Lighting Rod Syndrome theory. I think that’s a nice concise way of articulating what I was getting at in my earlier post.

There are plenty of people who, given the right circumstances, find it appropriate to make trouble for other people. “Kids”, or adolescents if you prefer, have a particular reputation for this. Same goes for drunk college students in Oakland. I think everybody (not excluding myself) indulges from time to time though.

I think Kordite’s point on me vs. unlike-me thinking gets to the core of what flips the switch on nasty behavior. Human nature makes it easy to toss abuse at faceless stereotypes. When we see a person and they become a “crazy biker”, “dumb driver”, or “clueless pedestrian”, the stage is set for something bad to happen.

I’ve never had that much trouble, but I feel like I have become even less of a “Lightning Rod” as a result of tuning my riding style. When I hear people tell all their war stories about exchanges with drivers, I just can’t understand how they have so many dust-ups. I don’t log as many miles as some folks, so maybe that’s part of it.

The big change I’ve made to my riding style is that I abandoned my initial fixation with the “rules” about right of way and such from the PenDOT manuals. These days I try to ride in a way that lets everybody on the street get where they’re going safely and without any extra trouble from me. Part of that is claiming and defending my chunk of pavement. Another part is being hyper-sensitive to what everybody around me is up to and ignoring, acknowledging, or interacting with them accordingly.


HiddenVariable
Participant
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The big change I’ve made to my riding style is that I abandoned my initial fixation with the “rules” about right of way and such from the PenDOT manuals. These days I try to ride in a way that lets everybody on the street get where they’re going safely and without any extra trouble from me. Part of that is claiming and defending my chunk of pavement. Another part is being hyper-sensitive to what everybody around me is up to and ignoring, acknowledging, or interacting with them accordingly.

i think this goes along with how i feel. i almost never have any problems with people on the road, and when i do, it’s just that occasional fool who just can’t wait to get to that red light, or feels the need to speed by at 50 mph in a 25 (or the people who just don’t see me–but i see them and i see it coming). i ride a ton in the city, on errands, leisure rides, and exercise rides (and formerly as a commuter), and i’ve become very comfortable with my part of the road. i’m polite and predictable, and if the two conflict, i go with predictable.

this isn’t to say that i do things drivers think “those kids and their bikes” do, like never stop at red lights (i just about always do), blaze through stop signs (i never do that), and that sort of thing. i just make sure i don’t make any unexpected moves, and i signal my intention when someone might not be able to anticipate it. it seems to make drivers more comfortable around me, and that leads to fewer incidents. people look and say “he’s done this before”, and don’t get twitchy. which makes me more comfortable.


ccrider
Participant
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mikemsb,

can you post a few more details of your experience? particularly what time of day? several weeks back i was riding up that stretch of stanton at around 9.30 pm on a weeknight (probably a thursday) and feel like i came across some young-ish teens harrassing what appeared to be a college student age, back pack wearing, pedestrian. they were walking several steps behind him and i heard something about “you back pack wearing …” something or another. then they stopped quickly when they saw me and the backpack dude scurried down past the chinese resturaunt on butler. i’ve never been hassled per se there, but it can be a bit unnerving riding there at night. you’re moving slowly and have few options to get away from someone fooling with you. i feel like this in general on any hill.

as for cypruss and millvale, i’ve on multiple occasions gotten a “pop a wheelie” cheer from that house, but nothing more. i just ignore them, they’re “having fun” and appear to be harmless.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I think it’s a pack thing. I almost never have trouble in Millvale, which I ride through at least four times a week, but today, around 3:30 p.m., I rounded a curve to find six or seven high school boys standing next to a car in a driveway. One was on a bicycle, and upon seeing me, the one on the bike took off after me, several of the others yelling catcalls. The kid on the bike gave up after only 100 feet, and nothing else came of it, but it’s still a little unsettling.

My guess is that if any single one, maybe even two, passed me on the street, they wouldn’t have given me a second glance.


gwprice
Participant
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this happened to me on mellon park behind reizenstein. some kids in a group chased me and told me they wanted my bike. luckily they were all on foot and i sped up to around 20 and got away.


nickbikes
Participant
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Can you say trend, this seems to be happening at an alarming rate around Pittsburgh…I know we all have our theories on what the problem is, regardless of opinions I find that this is happening at all makes it disconcerting, Im sure most cities have their anti-biking thugs that want to disrupt bikers everyday routines just for their own kicks, but Im sure there are also cities that this does not happen in, I’m upset that Pittsburgh is part of the former, but I guess we must deal with it.


HiddenVariable
Participant
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my guess would be the cities that don’t have anti-biker thugs simply don’t have the bikers. in fact, i’ll go so far as to say i think this is probably a negative component of an overall good thing, which is there are just many more people on bikes these days. even in the past week or so, at night, with the weather being not-so-good, i’ve seen way more bike commuters than i remember in the last five years. it wasn’t just the nice weather and high gas prices (or it was, but people realized they liked biking once they gave it a try).

so i suspect the fact that there are more bikers being harassed is due mostly to the fact that there are more bikers to harass.


nickbikes
Participant
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We are only in the early stages of this harrassment, because it seems like a novelty to the anti-bike people, even though people have been biking around here for decades, but not in large quantities like today. When people can start to establish an image, that bikers are a group and not just a tiny minority, that is where this trend is starting from. 1st its the recognition by these people that there are a large amount of bikers out there, its like they are testing the waters of harrassment to see how we respond. They want to see how we stack up as a group, are we cohesive or are we disjointed, do we refrain from verbal harassment back at them in order to make bikers as a whole look more mature and unprovockable…..I feel all these things are at play, and in no way are these anti-bike youngster groups aware of the sociological experiment that they are participating in, but I believe there is one at play here…and eventually they will realise that we are here to stay, and it wont be worth their time to harass any longer, or else bike culture will begin to reach a boiling point sometime much farther down the road if the harassments and childish behavior dont cease…right now its annoying but still to new to be that angry about…but in 5 years, I would at least hope to see an improvement in the relations with city folk who are intolerant to bikers.


mikemsb
Participant
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mikemsb,

can you post a few more details of your experience? particularly what time of day?

Yes….here you go…..

The incident occurred at about 6:30pm. It was a Tuesday night. It was a single person – a man probably in his mid to late 20’s. He was on foot…not a driver and not a group. It wasn’t provoked in any way. He didn’t say a word. When I turned around, I believe he wasn’t expecting it so the element of suprise caused him to then run the other way.


mikemsb
Participant
#

mikemsb,

can you post a few more details of your experience? particularly what time of day?

Yes….here you go…..

The incident occurred at about 6:30pm. It was a Tuesday night. It was a single person – a man probably in his mid to late 20’s. He was on foot…not a driver and not a group. It wasn’t provoked in any way. He didn’t say a word. When I turned around, I believe he wasn’t expecting it so the element of suprise caused him to then run the other way.


mikemsb
Participant
#

mikemsb,

can you post a few more details of your experience? particularly what time of day?

Yes….here you go…..

The incident occurred at about 6:30pm. It was a Tuesday night. It was a single person – a man probably in his mid to late 20’s. He was on foot…not a driver and not a group. It wasn’t provoked in any way. He didn’t say a word. When I turned around, I believe he wasn’t expecting it so the element of suprise caused him to then run the other way.


mikemsb
Participant
#

mikemsb,

can you post a few more details of your experience? particularly what time of day?

Yes….here you go…..

The incident occurred at about 6:30pm. It was a Tuesday night. It was a single person – a man probably in his mid to late 20’s. He was on foot…not a driver and not a group. It wasn’t provoked in any way. He didn’t say a word. When I turned around, I believe he wasn’t expecting it so the element of suprise caused him to then run the other way.


mikemsb
Participant
#

mikemsb,

can you post a few more details of your experience? particularly what time of day?

Yes….here you go…..

The incident occurred at about 6:30pm. It was a Tuesday night. It was a single person – a black man probably in his mid to late 20’s. He was on foot…not a driver and not a group. It wasn’t provoked in any way. He didn’t say a word. When I turned around, I believe he wasn’t expecting it so the element of suprise caused him to then run the other way.

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