Cyclist films his confrontations with drivers to raise awareness for bike safety
Jersey City cyclist Ollie Oliver says that he just couldn’t help himself. For the umpteenth time he found himself sitting at a red light behind a car that just a few moments prior was on his tail, honking at him to get out of the way so the driver could make it to the light before he did.
Then Oliver waits as the distracted driver fails to notice that the light turned green.
“Go, go, go!” Oliver screams. “It’s a green light. We have to go, we’re in a hurry.”
“I had had enough that day. And I couldn't help do a little performance art,” Oliver says about why he started to film his encounters with drivers.
Oliver is a Jersey City resident and certified bicycle safety instructor. He says that he finds himself in conflict with motorists often because he rides his bike near the middle of the lane, where it is the safest.
Riding in the middle means he is less likely to get hit by a parked car’s opening door. He also has every right to be there by law.
“If you pass me with less than a foot or two to spare and there's a pothole and I lose control of my bike, I'm going to go down under your wheels and I'm going to die,” he says. “So you think I'm doing it to be mean. I'm doing it to ensure both of our safety.”
The New Jersey Department of Transportation cycling handbook advises cyclists not to hug the curb and to ride 4 feet away from parked cars to avoid getting hit by a door opening. It also tells cyclists to "take the lane" on narrow streets.
But Oliver says that following these rules often drives motorists crazy.
“You’re holding up the [expletive] traffic is the [expletive] problem,” one driver tells Oliver.
When Oliver explains that he is also part of the traffic, the driver says, “No, you’re not. You’re a [expletive] bicycle.”
Oliver says that he gets honked at even when he's going as fast as the car in front of him. He's been told to use the bike lane when there isn't one. He says that he has even been told he needs to move over because “cyclists don't pay insurance.”
Critics say that he is provoking drivers. But he says that if the choice is between a driver’s convenience and his safety, keep on honking.
Oliver says he started filming all his trips with a camera mounted to his helmet for safety reasons after being hit by car.