Be careful

Another reason why Houston is a hard city to bike in: Bicyclists harassed by man in black Honda

Another reason why Houston is a hard city to bike in: Bicyclists harassed by man in black Honda

With its big trucks, potholed streets and sticky climate, Houston certainly can't claim to be a city perfectly suited for biking.

A 2012 benchmarking report compiled by the Alliance for Biking & Walking put Houston near the bottom of the list — at 37 out of 50 — for city walking and biking levels. The same list ranked Houston worse than 40 other U.S. cities in the amount of bike/ped fatalities. 

These stats come as little surprise: Every week we hear reports of another cyclist injured or killed by passing vehicles, which we often blame on negligence, or unsafe thoroughfares, or the need for a greater network of bike/ped paths.

But one recent incident indicates that drivers' mentalities should be the first thing to change. 

Last week, cyclist Hayley Anna Jones posted a horrifying story in the Critical Mass Houston Facebook group: 

I have been cycling on a daily basis, as means for transportation in Houston for about a year and a half now. Last night something I thought was unthinkable happened. As I was riding down welch a few blocks from my house in-between probably hazard and dunlavy (about 5-6 blocks) a motorist decide to harass me. First it was honking and speeding up/ getting super close and eventually rubbing ip against my leg with his car. Then he decided to throw something out the window wich hit me in the face, I believe it to be food of some sort. So then I yell "fuck you" and he slams on his brakes puts in reverse and comes full force at me stoping just a few feet away.. I tried to catch up but he keep zig zagging and blocking me, causing my to almost hit his car several times while he is screaming "fuck you bitch I'm going to kill you" he then started to come at me in reverse again. Finally some people in a complex saw this and scared them off. It was a horrible experience and I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it. I just really hope that everyone is safe out there. I can't believe this happened a few blocks from what I thought as a safe neighborhood.
It was a black Honda civic coupe '08 or newer and a white guy around the age of 25 or so with I believe blonde hair. I couldn't get licence plate number.

A flurry of angry responses and accounts of similar incidents followed the post. Some cyclists recounted run-ins with a similar vehicle, and still more cited experiences with water bottles and other heavy items hurled at them from the window of a moving car.

The Critical Mass organization has a reputation for being sometimes militant in its pro-cyclist agenda, but the reality is that motorized vehicles always have the upper hand in this situation. It's all too common for drivers to use vehicles as a shield from and a weapon against cyclists and pedestrians. 

One can only hope that the recent local coverage of Jones' incident will shed light on the dangers of such behavior. In the meantime, keep an eye out for this cyclist-tormenting Honda. 

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