As Atlanta bicycle accident lawyers, we constantly monitor bicycle safety stories from around the country. Often, we find that these issues are mirrored very strongly in our very own Georgia. We have been following closely an incident in California, involving a doctor on trial for causing serious injuries to two bicyclists in a fit of road rage.
Dr Christopher Thompson admitted during his trial that he had been angry at frequent violations of traffic rules by local bicyclists. The good doctor apparently found this frustration reason enough to pull over in front of the two bicyclists, and slam on the brakes. The two bikers were minding their own business cycling along when they crashed into Thompson’s sedan. Both of them suffered serious injuries, and one of them required plastic surgery to correct severe facial damage. Last week, the doctor was sentenced to 5 years in prison. The judge noted that he showed no remorse for his behavior.
In Georgia too, we have noticed increasing public impatience, and even anger, towards bicyclists. Ask any Atlanta bicyclist, and he will tell you of the taunts, the yelling, the glares and the rude gestures that he suffers. Many motorists labor under the assumption that the streets are built solely for them, and all other users are intruders.There’s even a Facebook group that is dedicated solely to beating down bicyclists.
As Atlanta bicycle accident lawyers, we believe that these increased confrontations between motorists and bicyclists will not continue forever. As more and more numbers of bicyclists join others, motorists will get used to sharing the roads with these people, thereby helping change their driving behavior. However, for this to happen, local agencies in Georgia must invest more in education and awareness programs. This is especially so on narrower streets in Atlanta that may not have enough space for a dedicated bike lane. Education on its own won’t be enough.We also need stronger laws that protect bicyclists from the harassment they are increasingly beginning to see.