The Right Coast
December 03, 2005
Second Amendment Cycling
By Tom Smith
I was hoping to do a more elaborate post on this, but here I just want to put the idea on the table. Should cyclists, that is people who ride bicycles lawfully on our roads and streets, arm themselves? The idea would be to carry little but powerful pistols in a small rack where a water bottle would go. If cyclists were armed, would low-life, redneck, meth-addled motorists be less likely to harass them (i.e. us) on the road? I grant it is an empirical question, but I think the answer might be, yes.
Last weekend I finally got back out on the road again, and coming back on the wide but scarily steep Skyline Truck Trail I was once again impressed at how many mostly pickups swooshed by me, close enough for me to touch, even though there was plenty of room to give me a few feet of leeway. It really does seem as if some drivers in what passes for their brains are thinking "I'll teach the little fag a lesson." If every one in 10 cyclists or so was packing, maybe another little part of the brain-like organ in the driver would think, "Uhnn. He has a gun. Mebbee I shouldn't sceer him." I don't see how close I can get to cyclists without hitting them when I drive, nor do I hit them on purpose, it being attempted murder to do so, both a moral and legal crime. But if you put yourself in the old boots of the people who do consider it recreation to expose their betters to violent and lonely death on the side of the highway, you can imagine that a pistol might make the intended victim seem more formidable, and less vulnerable, even if the effect would be mostly illusory. Of course, you would be just as vulnerable, since the whole idea is to come up behind the victim and scare or kill him before he even knows you are there. There would not be time to pull out a pistol to defend yourself. But I still think a gun would have a psychological effect. You might think, if I scare him, I might enrage him, and if I enrage him, he might catch up with me and shoot me. Even if you did plan to hit a cyclist, you might think, I might not kill or disable him, and if I don't, I may end up facing an angry, armed man down the road. As I said, it's an empirical question.
I am not completely kidding here. Motorists harass cyclists all over the country. Just google it and see. The culture of cycling is such that spokespeople say we must "raise awareness" of the problem, as if people who threaten others with death are not aware what they are doing is wrong and illegal. What these miscreants need is not more awareness but more fear. Fear can be a good thing.