He shook hands with, and wished good luck to, a fellow cyclist.
Such a scene is repeated before races all over the world, especially if they are amateur or club races.
Each rider might go home to his or her family or friends after the race. Or they might share a beer or lunch.
Neither, I reckon, imagined what happened next.
A few minutes after they shook hands, Tony Quinones would witness the other cyclist, whom he had just met, flipped onto the hood of a pickup truck, along with other cyclists and their bikes.
When that truck approached the road on which they were riding, Quinones said he expected the truck to turn toward a nearby parking lot. Instead, its driver aimed straight for the group of cyclists--and accelerated.
He didn't stop until he hit a utility pole. Other cyclists pounded on his window, screaming for him to get out. Instead, he made a U-turn and headed back toward the cyclists. Quniones feared he'd strike again. Instead, the driver sped away.
Later, that driver--identified only as a 35-year-old male--was shot by police when he didn't comply with their order to stop.
As many as ten cyclists were hurt, six of them seriously. One is in stable condition.
|Photo by Tony Quinones|
Authorities in Show Low, Arizona--the site of the incident--haven't ascertained the driver's motives. About all they know is that he didn't fall asleep or have a heart attack at the wheel.
Call me paranoid, but I can't help but to wonder whether resentment and the hyper-politicized environment of the past year and half had something to do with his motivations.
As more people cycle, and more bike lanes and infrastructure are built, I sense--and have experienced--more hostility from motorists. Some believe we are taking "their" streets from them. I also sense that some see riding a bicycle the way others (or, perhaps, they themselves) see wearing a mask. A former colleague of mine lives in an area full of Trump supporters and was, and is, ridiculed, harassed or even threatened for covering her face. Although she's vaccinated, she continues to protect herself because of underlying medical conditions that aren't readily visible.
And it just so happens that Arizona is one of the states where the election was most contentious. President Joe Biden was the first Democrat the state elected to the White House in decades, and the Secretary of State has been assigned a security detail because of the death threats she's received in the wake of her refusal to overturn the election results.
Of course, I can't speak of the driver's motivations. But could he have seen those cyclists, or anyone who wears a mask, as an "enemy?"