Author Tom Vanderbilt rides with Joe Simonetti, who's exurban home is a three-and-a-half hour bike ride from Manhattan.
"Over the years and the miles, Simonetti has experienced just about everything a cyclist can on the roads today: honked horns, cramped bike lanes, close calls with cars, and even a few crashes-the last one landing him in the hospital. I was curious to ride with him for the sheer novelty of it, and also to get a handle on what seemed to be an increasingly prevalent culture war between cyclists and drivers, one that was claiming actual lives. At least for one beautiful morning, I wanted to move beyond the alarming headlines and toxic chat rooms and into the real world, to get a sense of how, why-and if-things had gotten so bad.
My interest isn't because I'm a cyclist, though I am, in the loose recreational sense. Rather, the issue was forced upon me by the publication of my 2008 book Traffic, which looked at the oft-peculiar psychology of drivers. Cyclists were among the book's most devoted readers, although I'm still not sure if it's because they found my dissection of drivers' foibles educational or cathartic. After all, the little things that drivers think are excusable-forgetting a turn signal, weaving a bit as they fumble for their Big Gulps-can range from frustrating to life-threatening for a cyclist."