Velonews has a good article today on car v. bike conflict, including a description of the incident below. Although I've had a number of close encounters (like every cyclist with more than a few thousand miles under their wheels), I've never been in this type of situation - having a threat from a driver carried out. I'd like to think that I'd take their plate number and file charges, but I can't honestly say that in the heat of the moment I wouldn't do the same thing this guy did.
After the local Saturday group ride, three cyclists -Trek VW's Nick Martin, Chris Hopwood, and Dwight "Whitey" DuBroux, both members on the local Team Giant mountain bike racing team -were heading back into town when a honking, screaming Jetta passed within inches of them. The trio caught up to the car at a stoplight, and some ugliness ensued.

"The lady driving the car started yelling, and then the dude in the passenger seat got out of the car and he was pretty massive, but he got back in," said Martin. "Whitey got in front of the car, and the lady told him if he went before her he should wait and see what happens."

When the light did turn green and DeBroux started pedaling, the Jetta rammed him from behind, knocking him off his bike, taco-ing his rear wheel, and mashing his wattage meter.

The collision stopped traffic, and another group of cyclists gathered around to watch. DeBroux picked up his LeMond from under the car and swung it down on the Jetta's windshield twice, the second time shattering the glass with the seat post.

"I felt like I was acting out of self defense," he said. "I thought at worst I would have to buy her a new windshield."

The authorities felt differently, however, and after the Sheriff arrived on the scene, DeBroux was cuffed, charged with Criminal Mischief and Disorderly Conduct.

When Martin and Hopwood asked the officer why the motorist was not charged as well, he responded that, despite the witnesses and crunched bike, there was not sufficient evidence of any wrongdoing.

In related news:
FEBRUARY 21, 2005 -- BRUSSELS, Belgium (BRAIN)--The European Union, now 25 nations strong, may be on the verge of shaking motorists out of the unconscious fog some seem to be in when driving into cyclists and pedestrians. The method: slap 'em in their pocketbooks, where it may actually hurt.

The European Two-Wheel Retailers' Association (ETRA), reports that a bill making motorists automatically liable in an accident with cyclists and pedestrians has passed the European Parliament and will soon be before the European Council, the union's main decision-making body. If the council adopts it, all member nations will within the next two years have to pass similar laws guarantee cyclists compensation if they are involved in a crash with a motorized vehicle.

"In ETRA's view, assuring non-motorized road users of damages is making a clear signal to motorized users. Many accidents happen because of the dominant attitude of motorized users, as a result of which they seriously lack attention for non-motorized users. This attitude needs to change in order to get priorities right," said Annick Roetynck, the association's secretary general.

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