The attitude and ignorance of Dr. Christopher Thompson
is all too familiar for most bicyclists, exemplified by the fact that he admitted to police at the scene that he slammed on his brakes "to teach them a lesson". Now who is receiving the lesson? And what is the lesson?
This reminds me of the time I was riding while pulling Anya on the trailercycle down La Jolla Blvd and stopped in the middle of the lane at a red light which soon turned green at which time we proceeded. While still in the intersection we were passed by a honking raging maniac shaking his fist at us. It was a good opportunity to teach Anya how to ignore and dismiss such occasional and very rare nuts (that was 3 years ago and none since), but the next car following him turned out to be San Diego police. The officer and I exchanged knowing glances and he turned on his lights and pulled over the guy in front of the Su Casa Mexican restaurant. We slowed to watch. Before we left I overheard the man, in a Jekyll/Hyde change in demeanor, claiming he was just trying to teach me a lesson because I was putting my child in so much danger, and the officer explaining that we were doing nothing wrong.
That said, and it's nice to see this ahole in handcuffs, but I don't feel the rejoicing many other cyclists have expressed about this and agree with one of the victims here who said, "It's sad for both sides, I lost a lot of my time and my life, and he's losing a lot of his." There is much to be sad about here, including what the other victim said, "Our hope is that this brings to light how vulnerable cyclists are out there". That's not my hope, and it's sad to me to hear that that is his hope. Everyone is already all too aware
of how vulnerable cyclists are, this doctor included, I'm sure. Cyclist vulnerability is what ironically justifies this kind of rage, for it based on the belief that riding in the road is so inherently dangerous that it is irresponsible and wrong behavior. That's the lesson these guys (and, yes, it's usually men) think we need to learn: "you're so vulnerable it's insane to be bicycling out there... here, let me show you why". Luckily, the lesson plan is usually ultimately harmless: honking, gunning of engine, shaking of fist, screaming, a close pass. This situation, where motorist behavior actually physically harmed the cyclists, is very rare.
My hope is that this brings to light that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of vehicles (CVC 21200). I hope prudent cyclists who know and follow the rules and safe practices ignore, rather than engage with, the rare ignorant motorists who try to teach us lessons about our vulnerability.