On zombies, boogey men, murderous drivers and Dr. Christopher Thompson

Evidently, drivers aren’t really like zombies after all.

I’ve been catching up AMC’s Walking Dead lately — a must for fans of the mindless flesh-eating oeuvre, especially those of us who prefer the classic slow-moving zombies to their zippier modern brethren.

Watching it caused me to briefly entertain the notion that those swarming undead masses hungry for human flesh might make a decent metaphor for some of the deadlier drivers with whom we find ourselves sharing the roads.

But it didn’t really fit.

While too many drivers operate mindlessly behind the wheel, and allow their cell phones and other distractions to divert their attention from the road, the simple fact is that most drivers aren’t actually out to get us, despite how it sometimes seems. And while there may be great swarms of them swirling around us, the overwhelming majority of motorists are more concerned with the minutiae of their own lives than the presence of those of us on two wheels.

And yes, that is every bit as good and bad as it sounds.

Still, there are some scattered in that great mass of humanity on our roads who really do want to cause us harm.

Think of it as the early stages of a zombie infestation, when there are still just a few infected souls feasting on the unsuspecting.

Take David Mark Clark, the Bay Area man accused of intentionally running down four separate cyclists in a six minute hit-and-run rampage, for instance.

Or the driver who made a U-turn to come back and hit Opus the Poet, nom de web of the author of Witch on a Bicycle.

As long time readers will know, Opus has made it his life’s work to report on collisions and assaults involving cyclists, and offer advice on how to avoid similar situations yourself.

But what you may not know is that he himself is a survivor of a horrific near-fatal collision that left him with lasting life-changing injuries. And the simple fact that he’s still here riding and fighting for other cyclists makes him far more than just another bike blogger in my book.

In the last few days, though, he revealed that he finally found the driver who hit him; ironically, by the time he finally found the driver, the man was already six feet under in a local cemetery, the victim of another collision. And for the first time I’m aware of, Opus explained just what happened — and what it’s like to know he’ll never have a chance to confront his attacker:

There’s not much to tell from before the wreck. Until I got hit Dallas and Richardson cops would shadow my commute route because as one cop put it “Son, you are an idiot magnet.” and they could get a month’s worth of tickets from people acting stupid around me on my after midnight commute home. Garland cops couldn’t have cared less. Just before I crossed into Garland someone in a white pickup shouted at me to “Get off the Fucking road!” and a few minutes later someone in a white pickup shouted the same thing doing about 65 MPH just before I got hit by him….

Well in spite of finding out the guy I wanted to torture to death with blunt impact trauma has already died life must go on (just not for him). I never will get to find out why he made a u-turn around a median to come back and kill me, what inspired that level of rage. I think that’s the thing that bothers me the most about this whole “resolution” thing, it doesn’t resolve anything. I want to know “Why?” so I can do something about it in the future. Of course if the answer to “Why?” is “Because I’m an asshole and don’t like bicycles on the road.” there isn’t much I can do about that except request some kind of screening during the driver’s license test that prevents people like that from ever getting a license, along with stricter laws against driving without a license, ideally the same penalties as carrying concealed without a CHL. Whatever, I’m just glad the asshole population on the roads in control of deadly weapons of mass destruction has been reduced by one.

Then there’s our own biking Boogey Man, the good doctor whose name we invoke to frighten young cyclists — knowing full well that the man who used his car to attack two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon is locked safely behind bars.

Except, as noted here recently, there’s no guarantee he’s going to stay there.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Christopher Thompson is appealing his convictions for mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon (his car), battery with serious injury, and reckless driving causing injury.

Surprisingly, though, cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels, who has followed the case from the beginning — and brought all of us into the courtroom with him — says he may have a point. While he’s still giving it some thought, he says it looks like Thompson may have some interesting, and potentially valid, arguments.

According to Wheels, Thompson’s appeal is based on six key grounds —

  1. Trial court erred when it allowed evidence of alleged prior conduct
  2. Trial court erred in finding appellant presumptively ineligible for probation
  3. Failure to object to jury verdict forms was ineffective assistance of counsel
  4. Trial court abused discretion in failing to grant probation
  5. Trial court abused discretion in awarding Peterson and Stoehr attorney fees of $20,000 each as restitution
  6. Appellant entitled to one additional day of presentence custody credit

Whether the appellate court will agree should be determined sometime next year. But it’s possible that 2011 may see Dr. Thompson back on the streets.

I think I’d rather take my chances with the zombies.

Especially the slow ones.


In a victory for Santa Monica cyclists, their City Council considers relaxing the penalty for riding on the sidewalk, while the City Attorney acknowledges that the city’s bike licensing law doesn’t comply with state law.

Now if someone could just tell Long Beach.


LACBC offers a cheat sheet courtesy of bike attorney Ross Hirsch in case you’re hit by a car. The new Elysian Valley segment of the L.A. River Bike Path is finally open. One of L.A.’s best wrenches (aka bike mechanic) has been running a great series of photos of bike shop decals from around the country, now gathered in one place; I have one I’ll have to send him. LADOT Bike Blog says December will be a busy month for local cyclists; you can add another Streetsblog fundraiser to the list. Highlights from yesterday’s Living Car-Free in Southern California live chat from KPCC, or read the complete transcript. The Mandoline Grill food truck offers a ride-up discount. SoCal mountain bikers will raise funds for five-year old Tyler Blick in his battle with leukemia on Friday with the 24-hour Le Tour de Tryptophan. Public bikes pop up in the Gap’s San Francisco flagship store.

Electric cars and hybrids will soon make noise to warn others on the road. Eugene, Oregon cyclists get a beautiful new car-free bridge. NYDOT Commissioner Jannette Sadik-Khan is interviewed in Esquire, while the city puts out a call for graffiti-resistant one-size-fits-all bikes for its new bike share plan. The head of AAA in the DC area insists bike lanes are part of a war on drivers. A cyclist killed Sunday in Gulfport, Alabama devoted his time to charity work, despite being homeless. Three — or maybe three-and-a-half — U.S. teams will compete on next year’s pro tour.

Here’s your chance to ride with one of cycling’s all-time greatest riders, as Eddy Merckx promises to ride in a new B.C. Granfondo. A London cyclist complains her coat seems to make her invisible to drivers; I’ve got a blue jersey that seems to do the same thing. A dog walker is upset when an off-road race blocks access to his favorite trails. A blind Scot pedestrian is injured by a hit-and-run cyclist. Spanish cyclists win the right to ride on the sidewalk.

Finally, a Kiwi writer says bikes and cars are a dangerous mix — and suggests banning them from the roads for our own good, since drivers can’t be bothered to drive safely. Tell that to Octavio Orduno, who’s still riding at age 102


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Steve Montalto, Ted Rogers. Ted Rogers said: Still up? Be the 1st to read about zombies, boogey men, murderous drivers and Christopher Thompson: http://bit.ly/hLHWlB […]

  2. […] DJ Wheels: Christopher Thompson’s Appeal Might Have a Chance (Biking in L.A.) […]

  3. Ted, do you know if he will get his license back if he is successful in arguing those points?

    • bikinginla says:

      There’s no way to tell at this point. If he wins on appeal, there would probably be a retrial; I doubt he would get it back until that is resolved. However, you never know what the courts will rule.

  4. Chris says:

    Thanks for the compliment, Ted. I really appreciate it, and the mention.