PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A confrontation between a Pittsburgh City Councilwoman, who is also a mayoral candidate, and a bicyclist over the city’s controversial bike lanes was caught on video.
Stu Strickland is a cycling advocate who wears a GoPro camera mounted on his chest to document any cases of motorists behaving badly.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “You’re an advocate. Some people might say you have a chip on your shoulder. You’re going around with this GoPro, you’re looking for people to offend you?”
Strickland: “I’m not looking to offend people, but I’m looking for people who are offensive.”
This past summer, on the computer programmer’s daily commute from McCandless, he says he had one such encounter with a driver in an SUV, whom he says drove up on his tail and honked.
When he confronted that driver, Strickland says it turned out to be City Councilwoman Darlene Harris, who is a mayoral candidate. The confrontation was caught on the GoPro.
Strickland: “What’s your problem?”
Harris: “Stay in the damn bike lane.”
Strickland: “I am entitled…”
Harris: “Why do you think we put them there for?”
Strickland: “Pull over!”
Harris can’t actually be seen in the video, but when KDKA’s Andy Sheehan showed the councilwoman the video, she confirmed the voice is hers, and she makes no apologies for it.
Harris: “That’s what I told him, stay in the bike lane.”
Sheehan: “Stay in the damn bike lane?”
Sheehan: “And that’s what he ought to do?”
Harris: “Well, don’t you think if there’s bike lanes that the city put in, he should be in the bike lanes? ”
But Strickland says there was not a bike lane in the location where the incident happened.
“Stay in the damn bike line… there was no bike lane,” he said.
Just who is in the right is a matter of dispute. Strickland contends he had a right to the road since there is no bike lane on that section of East Street or on the overpass. He also says Harris’ horn made him jump through his skin.
“To a cyclist, coming up behind you and putting the horn on is not dissimilar to coming up behind you and firing a gun off, ” says Strickland.
Harris contends that the incident started before the video began. She says Strickland exited a bike lane and cut her off.
“I could have hit him. I could have hit this man, and then it would have been my fault to hit a bicycle that comes out in front of my vehicle,” Harris said.
Regardless, it highlights the continuing controversy over bike lanes laid down under the Mayor Bill Peduto administration. Critics like Harris have cited a lack of public input and contend they are under-used and often ignored by the cyclists themselves.
Sheehan: “This is an issue for you in the mayor’s race, right?”
Harris: “What’s the issue?”
Sheehan: “You don’t like bike lanes.”
Harris: “No, it’s not about not liking bike lanes. It is about – there have not been safety studies done or traffic studies done.”
While advocates like Strickland say people like Harris should learn to share the road.
“She should know how to interact with other fellow travelers on the roadways, so as to not cause them grief, to be respectful of them. She was disrespectful of me,” said Strickland.