By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.
— Macbeth, Act 4, scene 1
Just in time for Halloween, the Good Doctor returns to frighten cyclists once again.
Yesterday marked the beginning of the long-delayed trial in the infamous Mandeville Canyon Brake Check — one of a number of bike-related cases currently working their way through the legal system — in which a respected ER physician verified the stopping power of his Infinity by slamming on his brakes directly in front of two cyclists.
The incident left both riders seriously injured — one with a separated shoulder, which eventually led to surgery, metal implants and arthritis; the other, who ended up embedded in the driver’s rear windshield, with a broken nose and front teeth, his nose nearly peeled off his face.
And even after identifying himself as a physician, Dr. Christopher Thompson refused to treat either victim.
Amazingly enough, he admitted the act was deliberate. According to the LA Times, Thompson told police he did it to “teach them a lesson,” complaining that he was tired of the cyclists who frequently ride through the canyon.
Later he reversed course and pleaded not guilty, claiming it was just an accident. Though how it’s possible to buzz two experienced riders, exchange insults, cut in directly in front of them and accidently slam on your brakes is beyond me.
Then again, this wasn’t the first time it happened. The Good Doctor also faces charges for another incident four months earlier, in which he is accused of stopping in front of two other riders, forcing one off the road and the other into oncoming traffic, then attempting to hit them again before speeding off.
These are the actions of a monster. A psychopath with no regard for human life.
And yet, by all accounts, Dr. Thompson was an excellent physician — a man who dedicated his life to saving accident victims just like the ones he is accused of causing.
And that’s what is so frightening.
It would be easy to argue that the pressures of a high stress job, combined with what he considered rude, if not illegal, behavior from the cyclists pushed an otherwise good man over the edge. Yet the fact that he did it at least once before suggests someone who felt justified in his actions — that he felt he had the right to use a motor vehicle to violently enforce his mistaken interpretation of the law.
And he’s not alone.
Consider this comment by James Sullivan on the Times website:
My sympathies are with the doctor. Far too often I see pretentious idiots wearing tights who think they are Lance Armstrong riding bicycles recklessly. This incident is an excellent example. How fast does a bicyclist have to be moving to generate enough force to ram their head through the rear windshield of a car.? The fact of the matter is that these bicyclists were riding way too fast and were a hazard to everybody on that road. By their own admission when the doctor told them to ride single-file (AS REQUIRED BY LAW) they hurled profanities at him and made threats. I’ll bet they were chasing the car and thought they could catch him at the bottom of the hill.
Or this one from Alex:
His only misdeeds were to admit he was tired of these stupid road hazards and stop to give assistance to these jerks who deserve their pain.
Lets do the right thing here, let Doc go, charge the bike twits and ban non-powered vehicles from public roads/sidewalks/spaces.
And BTW bike jerks next time you get on someone’s butt remember what happened to these guys, and wonder if you are next. I hope you do it to me.
You see Officer, a chipmunk ran out in front of me so I attempted to stop.. and that why Lance is stuck to my trailer hitch.
If the Good Doctor had used a gun instead of a car, would these people still feel he was justified? Or he could have used a bat, like the men who recently beat and robbed an 18-year old cyclist in the Mid-Wilshire area, leaving her with massive facial fractures, and four suspects under arrest.
So the challenge will be to find 12 honest men and women who don’t reflect the attitudes demonstrated above, and don’t think that the crime of riding a bike in a place and manner you don’t approve of justifies a violent attack with a 2,000 pound lethal weapon.
According to L.A. cyclist and attorney DJwheels — whose own girlfriend was seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver — yesterday’s court session was dedicated to assigning a new judge to the case, and the hearing of motions.
Today, they’re scheduled to select a jury, with testimony slated to begin Thursday.
I won’t be attending.
As much as I’d like to report on every detail, I don’t trust myself to sit silently in a courtroom and listen quietly as lawyers justify the potentially murderous actions of a self-appointed traffic vigilante.
So if you have the stomach for it, be my guest. And if you want to report the details, you can find my email address here.
But be careful out there. Because these people drive among us.
And that’s the really scary part.
Here’s your chance to rework the proposed new bike plan — or better yet, write your own. A perfect example of carhead succinctly summed up in a bumper sticker. Riding along the Hudson River with bike writer David Byrne. NY Times readers debate the new New York bikeways, while a Denver initiative would make bikable and walkable streets a priority. A bold vision for an Embarcadero bikeway by the Bay. Seattle riders ask if killing a cyclist should be a crime (I vote yes). An Aussie writer rides the Marvin Braude bikeway end-to-end. Taking London’s new bikes-for-hire for a test ride. China considers charging passengers of drunk drivers as accomplices. An Aussie driver was high on wine and LSD, and on his way to buy more drugs, when he killed a cyclist on Christmas Eve. The ideal recumbent for anyone who wants to leave this world the way they lived in it. Finally, Bike-friendly Santa Monica limits itself to six new bike racks per year; I guess you’re welcome to ride through the city, as long as you don’t stop.