Yesterday, I got smacked in the face by an onlooker at a bicycle accident. I stopped my bike at an incident where a car had hit another cyclist, on a VeloVille bike, from behind. Made sure he was OK and helped with couple of photos at the scene – and a third party walked up from nowhere, kicked the VeloVille bike, telling him to move on, and then punched me square in the face. This is cycling in Brussels.
Thanks to the time stamp on the images, the time from my first photo, taken when I arrived, and the punch, was just four minutes. Let’s give a minute for my first chat and this all happened in five minutes. No, I was not able to get a photo of the attacker.
I had descended a main road near the city centre and a car and bike were in the bike safety square at the lights – both were positioned to turn left across the thoroughfare. It was clear in the exchange that the driver had rolled into the square and tapped the cyclists from behind and had done it deliberately. He was trying to impress the three young women he had in the car, whom he was driving to Midi station. They were mortified.
The cyclist, not happy at being a source of dangerous entertainment, said he was reporting the incident to the police. I took photographs to document the two vehicles, driver and license plate.
I tend to stay with cyclists in issues like this. Often crowds gather who are very much in favour of the motorist, and the environment can become hostile. He was being pressured constantly that he had not been hurt, it was a rental bike and not even his and he should let it go. Gratefully, the cyclist stood his ground.
Then a third man appeared, walked up and kicked the VeloVille bike hard a couple of times on the rear fender and was immediately threatening in his behaviour, shouting at the cyclist to move on. When I pulled out my phone to take a photo, he quickly hid his face, ran behind me and reached around to give me a solid blow to the face before running away.
Yep. A coward. I am used to that. .. Unfortunately.
The cyclist gave me his information, the police did not come, the driver eventually left and I rode to the nearest detachment and filled a complaint. It was actually taken seriously. Yes, that is unusual in Brussels, from my experience.
This is the war on cycling. It is not infrastructure. That is the manifestation. The war is the disrespect given to cyclists each and every day. A disrespect that is often life threatening. Certainly dangerous. And it comes from the entitled status far too many drivers think they have in a city traffic design.
If you have been following the blog, then you may have read the incident I had being sideswiped by a driver pulling out from her parking bay. When I shouted at her to look out for cyclists, turned out the police were there and stopped me for shouting in a residential area. The war on cyclists has its friends.