Bicyclists report increase in road rage incidents

As more and more bicyclists get on the road during the coronavirus pandemic, many of them have reported an increase in road rage incidents in the past several months.

Posted: Jul 31, 2020 6:13 PM

LANE COUNTY, Ore. -- As more and more bicyclists get on the road during the coronavirus pandemic, many of them have reported an increase in road rage incidents in the past several months.

According to Travel Lane County, bicyclists are increasingly reporting drivers who are getting too close, screaming at them and even throwing things from their vehicles.

Bike shops have been sold out of bicycles and parts for months as many community members pick up the hobby as a way to stay socially distanced and exercise during the pandemic.

Luke Demoe, the service manager at Landspeed's Fix, said he believes a combination of increased bike traffic and motor traffic on rural roads has raised tensions and brought out the worst in some drivers.

"There's definitely been an increase and a broader awareness of road rage," said Demoe.

Sean Wilson, a mechanic at Landspeed's Fix, recently encountered an enraged driver while biking down Highway 38 recently.

"A woman pulled up next to me and proceeded to drive at our speed in the oncoming lane, and rolled down her window to tell me how dangerous it was what I was doing just being a cyclist on the road (while there were) cars coming towards her," Wilson said.

Travel Lane County reported multiple incidents on Fir Butte Road just west of Eugene. Longtime bicyclist David MacFarlane said he was recently riding on that road side by side with his wife. He noticed a car approaching behind him and attempted to slow down so he could fall behind his wife.

"Before we even had a chance to react he slammed on his brakes, put it in reverse and came back at us at full speed. My wife was able to get into the other lane, but I had to dive off of the road into the ditch," he said.

Demoe recommends that bicyclists take special care to plan routes in areas they know will be low-traffic.

"Finding routes that are safe, learning the rules of the road," he said. "Who has the right of way. But more so, assuming you don't have the right of way. Just because you are a pedestrian doesn't mean that a car is going to abide by any laws or rules."

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