Recently, a journalist contacted me about a story he was writing about the (seemingly) increased vitriol between motorists and cyclists. We spoke for a while about the matter, covering several recent incidents. The Craigslist letter. The Washington Post anti-bicycle screed. But the question he kept coming back with was, Why? The only sensible answer I found that I good give was not much of an answer at all, I don't know.
We can speculate about numerous factors and perceptions that play into this war of sorts: The infrastructure sucks. Drivers are selfish, air polluting assholes. Cyclists are entitled, law breaking dickweeds. We can ponder whether there is even really a war between cyclists and drivers at all. Many of us drive and bike and do not define ourselves by the mode of transportation we choose to utilize at a particular moment. But the bottom line is that humans like to be able to travel safely, unmolested and unslowed. When something, or someone, gets in the way of our ability to do so tempers flare. It is probably not a biker thing or a driver thing. It is a people thing.
Perhaps recognizing this Transport For London has created a PSA video that holds up a mirror to all road users, pointing out the madness that may ensue when tempers flair. It is well done. Check it out.