Summer heat, hot tempers, construction and breaking the law can lead to road rage

Summer heat, hot tempers, construction and breaking the law can lead to road rage

Mercurial tempers are rising alongside the humidity and sweltering temperatures.

Video of a cyclist going up behind a man, then attacking and throwing him to the ground before fleeing on his bicycle went viral Friday. The man attacked alleges the cyclist ran a red light, then kicked his car when he honked at him.

“I got out of the car to ask him what he was doing and after a brief verbal exchange he pulled out a U-shaped bike lock and struck me with it,” Brett New told CTV News. “… the cyclist then grabbed me from behind and threw me to the ground. As I was getting up the cyclist rode of.”

Bicycles in Ontario are designated as vehicles, meaning riders have the same responsibilities to follow the rules of the road as motorists.

“In 2018 Toronto Police Service issued almost 300 tickets related to cyclist violations,” said Sgt. Brett Moore, of Traffic Services. “There is a whole range from signal issues to equipment.”

A cuclist shares the road with cars on Friday July 5, 2019. (Stan Behal/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)

The latest dust-up between a cyclist and driver on a busy Toronto street comes at a time when City Hall continues to promote more cyclists on the roads. The city is also in the midst of the busiest road construction season ever, cramming vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists into more confined spaces on the streets this summer.

Weather reports show the hot weather isn’t going to subside soon, further compounding the situation.

“What is going to make us angry is if something has happened and we perceive that there’s been a harm to us or it’s been unfair,” psychologist Amber Mckenzie, of mental health clinic CBT Associates, told the Sun. “So if you’re a cyclist, perhaps, and you’re in danger, and there’s more danger, then it’s going to be more likely you’re going to be having a more heightened response…”

“If there is a pre-existing pain, like heat for example … plus a new provocative situation pain — that’s more likely to light a spark (for road rage),” she explained.

Police couldn’t provide a breakdown of what cyclist infractions were ticketed last year. Most infractions listed on the Ontario government’s website show riders get slapped on the wrist with an $85 fine — for things such as improper lighting, riding the wrong way, attaching to a vehicle, failing to stop or identify, failing to signal a turn. But motorists who fail to slow down for pedestrians, stop for a school bus, or stop at a red light can be fined $150, $400 and $260 respectively.

“Mayor Tory knows that Toronto Police officers work hard every day to enforce the rules of the road for everyone and ensure that all people feel safe travelling in our city,” said Tory’s press secretary Lawvin Hasidi. “The Mayor is focused on making the roads safer for both pedestrians and cyclists through the introduction and implementation of Vision Zero 2.0.”

Parts of Tory’s plan to reduce what he called “carnage” on Toronto roads is lowering speed limits around the city, installing more red light cameras, changing road designs and mid-block crosswalks.

The city is also pushing a plan to install more bike lanes.

Mckenzie says following the rules of the road is an important part of keeping road rage at bay.

“Absolutely … enforcement is a useful strategy because then if people are following the rules — obviously a pain point could be if someone is doing something (like) cutting someone off because they’re not following the rules that rule (breaking) is one of the biggest things that will lead to anger.”

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