Update: Cyclist describes brutal Sunday assault by road raging Ventura Blvd driver

A cyclist reports being brutally beaten by a driver in front of Mel’s Drive-In on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks on Sunday.

According to comments from someone claiming to be the victim, the assault took place after he stopped to confront the road raging driver who had angrily buzzed him moments earlier.

I was almost done with my ride, and on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks. It is not the best street to ride on, but it has multiple lanes, and a car can pass around. I usually don’t ride on it during mid-day hours but the side street I was on had a fallen tree a little bit before and was closed which caused me to turn onto Ventura.

The guy in the pickup wanted to pass me (honking alot), and he wasn’t interested in changing lanes. With parked cars on one side there was no place for me to go. I had the right to use the lane and he could have gone into the left lane to pass. Instead he decided to pass me leaving about two inches of clearance. I didn’t yell or do anything, but I noticed the car and license plate. I eventually saw him pull over at the diner, I guess to eat lunch, so I stopped to let him know I didn’t appreciate what he did. I wasn’t picking a fight, but after about 1.5 seconds he came over to me, knocked me over and then started beating me mostly with kicks to the face. I’m glad my helmet stayed on. Once my skin broke blood was all over the place. I’m sure the witnesses would agree with my story. And people that know me know that I’m not a voilent (sic) person. I never got in a fight in my life.

The writer claims to have the full plate number of the Oregon driver’s truck, as well as his attacker’s phone, which was dropped at the scene. Yet he says that as of Tuesday, the detective assigned to the case hadn’t begun looking into the case.

The guy also dropped his cell phone on the scene, so that is another important piece of evidence. I called the LAPD detective yesterday, and he didn’t even start looking into the case yet. He also didn’t seem interested in tracking down the cell phone information (and there is a good chance is has phone numbers on it of places he may be staying in Los Angeles).

Really this guy could have been caught within 10 minutes of the incident since he has an easily recognizable car with out of state plates, if the police would have acted quickly after talking to the witnesses.

As a number of comments in the long, long thread made clear, stopping to confront an angry driver is never a good idea.

Even if that is something I do myself far more than I should.

You never know who you’re talking to. Or how short a fuse the driver or his or her companions may have.

And yes, I’ve been threatened by angry women almost as much as angry men. In fact, the driver who ran me down in a road rage assault was an otherwise pleasant — or so I’m told — middle-aged woman.

If you see someone who threatened you or drove dangerously around you, the best course of action is usually to let it pass, and just chalk it up to another unpleasant experience on the road. Or if you think it’s serious enough, call the police and let them handle it — bearing in mind that there’s usually not much they can do if they didn’t witness it themselves.

If you do stop, keep your bike between yourself and the person you’re talking to; it could give you just enough time to get away.

I’ve also found the quickest way to defuse an angry confrontation is to pull out your cell phone and snap a photo of the other person and their license plate.

Whatever you do, don’t throw the first punch. Or any punch, for that matter — especially if you were the one who started the confrontation.

If any time has passed between the initial encounter and when you stopped to talk to the driver, the police will consider it a separate event. Which makes you the aggressor, rather than the angry idiot who just tried to run you off the road.

Not fair, perhaps. But they would argue that you had a chance to avoid the confrontation, and didn’t do it.

Meanwhile, it’s a little scary to think a rider could give the police that much information, and nothing has been done two days later. Let alone an arrest made.

Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in.

Update: I’ve received word from a third party confirming that there were several witnesses to the beating in which the victim did in fact receive significant injuries, and that a police file has been opened; unfortunately, a heavy case load raises fears that the attacker may flee the state before police can get around to this case.

Don’t blame the cops this time. Blame the budget cutbacks that have left the department understaffed, and officers unable to do their jobs in a timely manner.

Thanks to Weshigh for the heads-up — and my apologies for failing to credit him sooner. 

9 comments

  1. Sounds like we’ve found the perfect test-case for the LA Bicyclist Anti-Harassment Ordinance. This is why we need to give bicyclists the tools to seek redress in court; they often won’t get it if they have to rely on others.

  2. Ross Hirsch says:

    I now ride with my Contour video camera rolling at all times. Recommend.

  3. Severin says:

    I just can’t believe how self entitled people become behind the wheel, it’s frightening.I think if we’re going to invest technology into cars have it be a device that automatically stops the car after 5 repeated honks or when the driver’s body gets too stressed. I really hope we see justice here.

  4. Greg Spencer says:

    Count me among the many who’ve had this experience. Last year, I was ‘buzzed’ by a petulant driver of a delivery van. When he pulled into a service station along the road ahead, I stopped to tell him it was a dangerous thing to do. The driver started spouting off and as we exchanged insults, his work buddy came around from the other side of the van — a large, muscular, shaven-headed guy who looked like he could eat me for breakfast — in fact, it seemed he wanted to eat me for breakfast. “What’s the problem?” he growled. He didn’t attack me, but the driver, a much smaller guy, was emboldened to spit on me. I rode away. I agree it’d have been smarter to let it pass. Nothing good was accomplished there.

  5. Biker395 says:

    The needs to see an attorney about a civil suit. You have his identity, and there should be multiple witnesses.

    And let me second the notion that it is worth reporting the incident to the police, even if they decline to respond. That sort of evidence might be useful if the motorist were to assault someone else. Remember the case of good Dr. Thompson.

  6. Probably neither here nor there, but one thing I’ve learned is that during a confrontation if/when motorists respond to me aggressively — and especially if they exit from their vehicle — my first action is to get completely clear of my bike. To remain straddling the top tube is to implicitly trust that this irate stranger you’ve engaged is a reasonable human being who means you no harm and wouldn’t dare throw a punch or a kick while you’re in such a defenseless position with a bike between your legs. That’s something of a naive rationalization given that their behavior behind the wheel has already demonstrated that not to be true.

  7. [...] on Biking in LA there was an article on a cyclist getting [...]

  8. Yoga Gurl says:

    I am so sorry. May you heal quickly. I second the motion for anti-harrassment laws…even as I get sick of so many laws passed, this one is necessary. Also, I do think civil action is needed. Some need to learn a hard lesson.

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