Valley cyclist’s leg run over by road raging driver; check out Sweet Ride USA and UCLA Bicycle Academy

Let’s catch up on a couple items I haven’t had a chance to mention this week. As well as  frightening news from this week’s commute.

……….

I’ve just gotten word of a violent road rage attack against a cyclist in the Valley Wednesday night.

Road rage driver

The car’s license plate has been blurred to avoid interfering with the investigation

I’ll let the victim, John, tell his story; I’m withholding his last name to protect his privacy and help prevent possible retaliation.

I left my work on Owensmouth in Chatsworth around 5:20 pm Wednesday, riding north towards Lassen. It’s two lanes there; I take up the right lane, since there’s no room and the street is messed up on the shoulder.

A white car passed me very close and very fast. He had to almost immediately slam on his brakes because there were 10 stopped cars in both lanes in front of him. I passed him while he was stopped, then as traffic started moving I was now in front of him again. He started laying on his horn and yelling for me to get out of the road, so I stopped in front of him and asked him what his issue was.

He told me bikes can’t be in the road and I needed to be on the sidewalk. We argued back and forth, then he said he would call the police if I didn’t get out of his way.  I told him to please call the police. He then threatened to come move me himself, so I said go ahead (I’m 6’5” and 300 pounds).

After that, he got back in his car and honked awhile longer. I was trying to explain to him my rights as a cyclist but he would not listen to me. He then drove slowly forward, making contact and slightly pushing my bike. I yelled at him, then he just nailed the gas. He knocked me to the ground and ran over my bike and right leg, then had to stop because there were two cars in front of him at the light.

As I got up, he got out of his car and told me that I am an asshole and I’m the reason people hate cyclists. I took the pic of him and his car about that time.

2013-09-04 18.15.14He then got back in his car, made a left on Lassen and drove off.  I tried to get witnesses from the over 20 people there, but only got two to stop. Then I called 911. My leg looked like I had 2 tennis balls under my skin on my mid and lower shin, as well as a few cuts and both chain and tire marks; after a minute or two it was hard to walk.

They took me to Northridge Hospital. There is a possible fracture of one of the bones in my foot and crush injuries to my leg. I need to see another doctor in a couple days when the swelling goes down, but meanwhile, I can’t really walk because it hurts to put any pressure on my leg. The reporting officer said he went to the guy’s address but he was not answering the door and it appeared his car was in the garage.  Now I guess the case is in limbo between that officer and the detectives.

Hopefully, John will be okay. And hopefully, the police will take this case seriously and get a dangerous driver — one willing to use his car as a weapon — off the streets.

And that’s exactly what the charge should be, assault with a deadly weapon. It doesn’t matter that they were arguing before the impact, any more than it would matter if two men were arguing outside a bar when one took out a gun and shot the other.

But as this case clearly shows, it’s almost always a mistake to stop and argue with an angry driver, no matter how wrong or how much of a jerk he or she may be. Let alone stop in front of them.

I learned that lesson myself. The hard way.

Your best move is to get out of the way, and photograph — or better yet, video — the driver’s actions, and get the names and numbers of any witnesses.

Then let the police deal with it.

On the other hand, this could also be a good test case for LA’s bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

Correction: I originally wrote that this incident occurred on Thursday; it actually took place on Wednesday.

………

A few months back, I ran into a guy with a brilliant idea for a web-based video series.

Steve Isaacs told me about Sweet Ride USA, devoted to exploring the sweet side of life by bike.

If you ask me, the only thing that goes better with bikes than dessert is beer. And it’s a lot easier to ride home after a few pastries than it is a handful of beers.

He promised to send me more details. And then… nothing.

At least, until I went online the other day to dig through my email server’s spam filter looking for another message that didn’t get through. And found the one he’d sent me over two months earlier.

Sorry about that, Steve.

For the last few months I’ve been developing a new web series called Sweet Ride USA, about exploring a city by bicycle with friends, seeking out delicious desserts and ultimately burning off every calorie we consume on the ride. It’s a homemade effort, all done with a partner and a bunch of friends donating their time & talent, and we just launched our first episode!

WATCH EPISODE 1 http://bit.ly/srusaep1

The bike culture and its people have been very good to me, and I wanted create a show that would bring viewers into the unique thrill of checking out a city on two wheels and use the sampling of desserts as a universal hook, for the non-biking folks.

The long view for the show is to eventually travel the world and find out what their bike cultures have to teach us… while eating their donuts.

I’d love it if you’d check out the show – http://bit.ly/srusaep1 and if you like it – please subscribe, follow, like or share with your audience.

Steve Isaacs
Facebook Twitter
Check out our Teaser Trailer
http://bit.ly/srusateaser
Subscribe to the Sweet Ride USA YouTube Channel
http://youtube.com/sweetrideusa

………

Former LACBC board member, and UCLA and Cambridge lecturer Dr. Michael Cahn writes about the revival of an erstwhile bike group on the Westwood campus.

There used to be a little group called UCLA Bicycle Academy. We had a blog http://www.bicycleacademy.blogspot.com/ and a monthly lunch appointment, the first Friday every month.

This Friday, 6 September, we will resume this little routine. Donald “High-Price-of-Free-Parking” Shoup is joining us for a little update about campus developments and opportunities.  Do join us for a good start to the new term!  We meet at Lu Valle Commons on Friday 6 September at 12 noon.

………

Finally, Mark Goodley forwards a photo of the Ghost Bike for Debra Deem, killed in a collision while riding in Newport Beach last week.

Beautiful. And just too sad for words.

We can all look forward to the day when the last bike rider killed on our streets is the last bike rider killed on our streets.

Photo by Mark Goodley

Photo by Mark Goodley

13 comments

  1. JD says:

    One of the most beautiful memorials I have ever seen, overflowing with love.
    As for the attempted murder of John, Proverbs 27:3; A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool’s wrath is heavier than them both. (Sheet metal is heavy, and cars weigh tons, but the rage of the jerk behind the wheel stepping on the accelerator increases the mass involved to magnified levels.) Get well soon!

  2. Phil says:

    For John, if there is any hesitation by the DA to file assault with a deadly weapon with intent to cause great bodily harm, a felony, then he should refer the DA to the Jeffrey Ray Adams case in Santa Monica (2011) where a road ranging driver took out a cyclist with his car simply because the cyclist was in the street and Adams eventually pleaded guilty to the felony. There were no broken bones in that case so this time there should be significant jail time. Also, the car driver will loose his license for ever.

  3. Biker395 says:

    I’m not understanding why LAPD hasn’t tracked this guy down and arrested him. They have his license plate. They have witnesses. They have his picture (it is floating around on FB). This is a felony, and a serious one. Why hasn’t this guy been at least questioned and witnesses interviewed?

  4. Jerry says:

    I do hope that this guy – like the guy on Mandeville Canyon gets what he deserves. I try to stay away from raging drivers when riding. But no excuse to do what he did. I hope you keep us up on the progress of this case.

  5. kdbhiker says:

    Figures it’s a hybrid owner!

  6. Tom says:

    to John in Chatsworth,
    Even if the LAPD & DA drag their feet on your road-rage injuries, you should contact a competent Personal Injury attorney and SUE HIS ASS INTO BANKRUPTCY. You need to be compensated for your injuries,loss of wages, quality of life, etc.

    The “standard of proof” in such a civil case is lower than a criminal conviction.

    I am not an attorney, and I have NO financial or professional connection to this law firm in the So Bay beach cities,
    http://www.agnewbrusavich.com,
    but they have good reputation and have gotten good results for cyclists who are collision victims.

    Good luck!

    • Phil says:

      I’m not a lawyer, but my lawyer sued in a similar case as if it was an accident and also it was not an accident. His car insurance might not pay if it was intentional as car insurance is just for accidents and not for criminal activity, so I am told. Still a good lawyer will get the money out of the insurance company cause chances are a low life like this has no money. So lets hope he has insurance.

      • Biker395 says:

        That is true … insurance policies typically do not cover damages caused by intentional behavior. That’s an important thing for road-ragers to remember … if they ARE sued, they may lose everything they have, even if they are insured. Judgments are good for a long time and can be renewed, and decades of penury can hurt.

        My guess is that the guy has money enough to pay significant damages.

        • I am a lawyer, cyclist (mostly mountain because of all the negligent drivers), and I can answer any questions. As the commenter above stated, car insurance policies will not pay for intentional acts of the drivers, but the driver will almost always say his/her actions were not intentional, triggering coverage. (The reason a driver will claim the act was not intentional is so they don’t expose themselves to criminal liability.) The practical effect is that the the insurance company will almost always pay for injuries caused by road rage. The bigger problem, which many victims face is lack of adequate insurance coverage. Car vs cyclist usually results in a serious injury. The minimum car insurance limits in California is $15k per person. This means that a driver can kill or maim you and if they only have $15k in coverage, that is all you will ever recover from the insurance company. Going after the driver’s assets maybe be a fool’s errand because they either have no assets or can file bankruptcy later. The solution to this is to get high UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED motorist coverage. If you are a cyclist, and you don’t have at least $250k in coverage, you are doing yourself a disservice. It is essential coverage and not expensive. If anyone has anymore questions, feel free to call.

  7. Michael M says:

    Wow more and more I think I should be commuting with a camera…

    Praying for a quick recovery.

  8. fatboss says:

    Just goes to show you, that you need things like “share the road” signs. Some people are ignorant and don’t know bicycles have legal right to be on the road.

  9. I once had a moron honker in a van follow behind me for a while on Olympic Blvd., which has three lanes in each direction. As you know, on multilane roads a cyclist need not move aside for traffic, five cars following or not In this case there was one car following, and almost no other traffic on a bright weekend morning.

    Rather than confront the driver or yell at him–thus changing the count of belligerents from one to two, a definite escalation–I politely waved to indicate that he could pass in the lane to my left. He stayed behind and kept honking–possibly trying to get me mad so he’d have an excuse to get rougher. But I just kept waving to indicate that he could pass on my left.

    Meanwhile, with every few seconds a little more traffic appeared, often passing us both on the left and making him look like more of an idiot.

    Then a police car appeared in the opposite lanes, and Captain Hornblower magically shut up and disappeared.

    Don’t let them pull you down to their level. If nothing else, that will work against you in court if the incident does escalate–the perp can then claim that you escalated it.

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