Greater Greater Washington

Driver assaults bicyclist, police ticket bicyclist

Cyclist and photojournalist Evan Wilder encountered a road raging driver on R Street. He says the driver tried to force him off the road, caused a collision, then threw his bike into the truck. A police officer later wrote Wilder a ticket while he was in the hospital. Here is his story:


Image from video by Evan Wilder.

A driver came alongside me on a narrow, sharrow painted part of the R Street bike route just before the entrance to the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

He should not have tried to pass me, since there was no way to pass and give me the required 3 feet minimum. What he was doing was intentional because he kept pace with me then moved to his right in order to broadside me.

I braked hard in order to avoid a collision, but the driver had stopped at stop sign as he swerved right, so I ran into the back of his truck.

He then got out and berated me, yelling and screaming that I shouldn't mess with his truck and that I should be in the bike lane. When I said I would call the police he picked up my bike and threw it into his truck. The bike bounced out and landed on the other side of the truck in the road.

MPD officers arrived and I told them what happened. EMS took me to the ER, and while I was waiting, the MPD officer gave me a $100 Notice of Infraction for "following too closely." The driver got nothing.

The officer wrote the following on the police report:
D1 states he was traveling east bound on his bicycle when D2 drove past him on the left. D1 states D2 passed him too closely. D1 further states that D2 stopped at the stop sign in front of him and he was unable to stop his bike in time. D1 struck the back of D2 with his bike causing a scratch to the right side of D2's tailgate.

D2 states he was stopped at the stop sign when he heard D1 strike the rear of his vehicle.

[Witness] W1 states D2 was stopped at the stop sign and D1 struck his right rear bumper. W1 also states D2 was walking perfectly fine after the accident.

W2 states he came out side of his house after the accident and seen D1's bike behind D2's truck as in a rear end.

D1 was issued an NOI [Notice Of Infraction] for following too closely.

D1 had no complaint of injury but was transported to Howard University Hospital by Medic 17 for further evaluation.


The driver passing Wilder.

This narrative resembles Wilder's, but in a way that is clearly more sympathetic to the driver's point of view. What seems most conspicuous is that it makes no mention of the driver throwing Wilder's bike into his truck. It seems very strange not to include that, since it is certainly also an illegal action. And did the officer ask the witnesses about this?

Wilder says he indeed told the officer, both at the scene and later at the hospital. And he says that both witnesses indeed saw the bike-throwing incident; they came outside after the crash because the driver was yelling so loudly. He writes, "When I asked about it and how that wasn't an offense, he said that it was a separate incident from me being ticketed for striking his car, and that was it."

It certainly seems relevant to the question of whether the driver was in a road rage state of mind before the crash. If you're just sitting stopped at a light and a cyclist for some reason hits your car and makes a small scratch, you usually wouldn't respond in this way.

As it happens, Wilder has a camera on his bike, which captured video of the whole incident. He's not yet ready to release the video, but I've seen it and it seems to corroborate the fact that the driver suddenly cut off Wilder just before stopping. It also certainly shows the driver yelling, throwing the bicycle, and so on. Wilder is initially (and understandably) fairly angry as well, but then starts more calmly talking about calling the police while the driver rages on.

Certainly Wilder was asserting his right to space on the street. Some cyclists would have just slowed way down to give this driver a wide berth. But sharrows on this block mean emphasize that the cyclist has as much right to be in any road space as a driver. Passing a cyclist too closely (a violation of the law) and then swerving in front of the cyclist to stop at a stop sign is fairly clearly an aggressive move that's likely to cause a crash. Not to mention throwing the bike into a truck.


View from the bike as it's flying into the truck.

Cyclists have had constant problems with police officers doing scant investigation, assuming a cyclist is at fault, and going all the way to the hospital to give the cyclist the ticket. It's not one jurisdiction or one police force; this happened just last Monday in Rosslyn with the US Park Police.

We know from Zach T.'s story that many police officers strongly believe that a cyclist is just about always at fault for any crash. We don't know if this officer is one of those people or not, but given Wilder's video, it's clear that either the officer was biased, or else the type of investigation he conducted is simply not adequate to find the truth.

Update, May 20: Here's the video.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

Add a comment »

These stories never fail to baffle me.
Driver - WTF?
Police - WTF?

by Brent Bolin on May 12, 2014 1:16 pm • linkreport

Like it really matters whether or not you pass somebody on that stretch -- it's like a ten mph area with large speedhumps, stop lights, stop signs.

Anybody who would even contemplate passing in this zone must be driving crazy -- it's not going to get you anywhere.

Especially since bikes can usually go faster over the speedhumps anyway.

This is a case of police bias and at some point, we're going to need some really large lawsuits to get the attention of the Police Chief and management that this kind of discriminatory harassment is illegal.

Police actively enabling crime should be a crime in itself.

by Greenbelt on May 12, 2014 1:23 pm • linkreport

I am glad he had a camera (unlike the poor young woman who got the ticket in Rosslyn.) Maybe this can force a change in the discourse.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 12, 2014 1:28 pm • linkreport

How is throwing someone else's bike in the back of a truck - without the bike owner's permission - not attempted theft? The cyclist should have pressed charges immediately. It is clearly illegal to pick up someone else's property and throw it into the back of your truck. Just because the property "bounces out" after the attempted theft doesn't erase the crime that just occurred. No way the driver should have left the scene in anything other than handcuffs.

by Alan on May 12, 2014 1:33 pm • linkreport

Reckless driving, assault with a deadly weapon, road rage, attempted theft.

by steelm on May 12, 2014 1:39 pm • linkreport

I think you're creating the impression with these stories that DC streets are full of biker provocateurs (typically, whiny young white males) who go looking to get into accidents with car drivers and then publicize the "incidents" on GGW. So it plays well with the choir who already the sing the same tune, but generally makes a certain segment of the DC population come across as self-indulgent and annoying.

by Grown A Pair on May 12, 2014 1:41 pm • linkreport

FYI, this is the same cyclist that was also assaulted by a driver (incidentally, of a pickup truck) back in 2011. Seems like the camera has come in handy more than once.

It should be pretty easy to get the ticket overturned, but it is still frustrating to go thru the hassle of an uphill battle against police who are supposed to protect you. The police know that harassment of cyclists, passing too closely, etc occur on a regular basis but still issue these tone deaf citations that they ought to know are going to be broadcast on social media causing PR headaches.

by Scoot on May 12, 2014 1:41 pm • linkreport

Good thing he got the video. That will be pretty good evidence for when the bicyclist petitions the ticket. Especially seeing as this shows the officer "left out" some important information in the report. If the MPD officer even bothers to show up at court.

by CB on May 12, 2014 1:44 pm • linkreport

but generally makes a certain segment of the DC population come across as self-indulgent and annoying.

This is DC - nearly everyone in this city is self-indulgent, and many are annoying. Remember, in the video the driver actually threw the cyclist's bike into his truck. Is that something you'd personally do, even if you were confronted by a provocative cyclist?

by Scoot on May 12, 2014 1:44 pm • linkreport

Name and shame.

MPD perp / officer's name and precinct, precinct commander's name, precinct phone number.

Civilian perp's description, vehicle make, model, plate number.

by nameandshame on May 12, 2014 1:46 pm • linkreport

This officer needs to be put on desk duty. What a moron.

by MLD on May 12, 2014 1:47 pm • linkreport

...who go looking to get into accidents ...

Wow. That's just amazing. I don't know how anyone could get that from this story. And I think the number of people who are getting the impression that bikers are looking to have cars crash into them is an exceedingly small number of people. A list of them might read:

Grow A Pair

That is the end of the list.

by David C on May 12, 2014 1:48 pm • linkreport

@Grown a Pair
I think you're creating the impression with these stories that DC streets are full of biker provocateurs (typically, whiny young white males) who go looking to get into accidents with car drivers and then publicize the "incidents" on GGW.

And I assume your solution to the problem of this impression is to just not post any stories about how drivers pull dangerous crap like this all the time?

Nobody on a bike goes out LOOKING for an accident. Not sure what to tell you if you think that - go ride a bike sometime.

by MLD on May 12, 2014 1:50 pm • linkreport

The driver has $270 in unpaid parking tickets - one $205 ticket for parking on the sidewalk (!) and one $65 ticket for parking in a no parking anytime zone.

by Scoot on May 12, 2014 1:50 pm • linkreport

Not surprisingly Mr. Macho in his pick-up truck has a paper trail including parking on the sidewalk:

Inquiring Document: Plate DCDF0381

The following tickets issued to this vehicle plate are due:

Ticket Number Issue Date Violation Location Amount
8122290492 02/27/2014 NO PARKING ANYTIME 1400 BLOCK P ST NW SOUTH SIDE $65.00
8125183905 03/02/2014 SIDEWALK, ON 1400 BLOCK MERIDIAN PL. NW NORTH SI $205.00

by Aldo Kelrast on May 12, 2014 1:53 pm • linkreport

Violation of the 3-foot law is clear as well.

by Craig on May 12, 2014 1:57 pm • linkreport

What can be done to get the officer reprimanded or put into training?

by JJJJ on May 12, 2014 2:00 pm • linkreport

Though the driver is clearly in the wrong here (and how he got off free for grabbing and throwing a bike in beyond me), one way to prevent things from escalating is to NOT be a dick back to a dick driver. If you look at the cyclist's Twitter feed, he is clearly LOOKING to engage with people breaking the rules...perhaps almost obsessively. As someone who drives and bikes to work about 50/50, I think if I actually reacted to the neverending multitude of people around me on the streets breaking the law and sometimes putting me in danger, I would go insane. The video hasn't been released, but I'm not surprised he's not ready to release it yet because it probably shows him egging the driver on. No one is gonna change people's behavior in one on one confrontations like that. I hope the cyclist was not injured.

by rab26 on May 12, 2014 2:01 pm • linkreport

Ooh and 3 speeding violations as well:

Inquiring Document: Plate DCDF0381
You have a total of 3 ticket(s) in these jurisdiction(s).

Ticket Number Issue Date Violation Location Amount

MC015914129 07/21/2011 SPEEDING 9000 BLK GEORGIA AVE S/B $40.00
MC016146902 08/12/2011 SPEEDING 9000 BLK GEORGIA AVE S/B $40.00
GB002310065 06/13/2012 SPEEDING 500 BLK S. FREDERICK AVE N/B $40.00

I presume MPD checked to make sure he has a valid license though of course no one gets their license suspended these days for camera infractions.

by Aldo Kelrast on May 12, 2014 2:01 pm • linkreport

Based on the evidence at the scene for the officer, why was he wrong?

by selxic on May 12, 2014 2:02 pm • linkreport

I can see Wilder getting a nice, and deserved, settlement for this in exchange for not releasing the video. I don't think the bike throwing truck driver or the DC police want that video on YouTube. And by the way, I'm not a police hater. I'm a DC resident who the police have responded quickly to twice, and I appreciate that, but this incident seems to clearly be violent road rage and aggression by the driver and egregious dereliction of duty by the officer. That driver has anger management problems and is going to hurt someone if he's not stopped.

by likedrypavement on May 12, 2014 2:03 pm • linkreport

I am disgusted and horrified by this. I will be following this story very closely.

by Atlas on May 12, 2014 2:04 pm • linkreport

@rab26
If you look at the cyclist's Twitter feed, he is clearly LOOKING to engage with people breaking the rules...perhaps almost obsessively.

Calling people out on their bad behavior isn't OK?

As someone who drives and bikes to work about 50/50, I think if I actually reacted to the neverending multitude of people around me on the streets breaking the law and sometimes putting me in danger, I would go insane.

That's you. Other people have different levels of toleration, both of bad behavior and of teaching people a lesson. You choose to not engage because doing so would make you "insane" - other people are not bothered by engaing.

by MLD on May 12, 2014 2:11 pm • linkreport

Aldo, don't tell Mary Worth she can look up people's ticket history...

by Ian Cameron on May 12, 2014 2:16 pm • linkreport

Sue this MFing driver!

by h st ll on May 12, 2014 2:23 pm • linkreport

Insane. It is always my fear when I bike that something like this will happen to me, and the driver of the car will have a gun or baseball bat or something. I'd like to see the video though - please post/link when the victim is willing to share.

by Nick on May 12, 2014 2:27 pm • linkreport

"But sharrows on this block mean the cyclist has as much right to be in any road space as a driver."

No. The cyclist has as much rights to be in any road space as the driver ... period. The sharrows are there to (1) remind _drivers_ that cyclists have a right to the road and (2) encourage cyclists to take the safe position in the center of a too-narrow-to-share lane.

Naturally too-narrow-to-share means too narrow to share laterally instead of sequentially.

by Geof Gee on May 12, 2014 2:34 pm • linkreport

Based on the evidence at the scene for the officer, why was he wrong?

He ignored all of the information about the bike being thrown into the back of the truck. At the very least this should have been mentioned in the report. And it probably should have resulted in some sort of citation for the driver or, if the officer wasn't empowered to deal with that, a call to an officer who is. It also should have changed the way he interpreted the stories from both of the participants.

Finally, at best, he had a he-said, he-said incident with neither witness shedding much light on the crash itself. Yet, he ticketed the cyclist.

by David C on May 12, 2014 2:34 pm • linkreport

I haven't been biking very much lately, but had a pretty horrible incident as a pedestrian yesterday. My wife and I were walking down Sligo Ave, at the corner of the MoCo police station property, and I edged out into the crosswalk with my daughter in a bright red stroller well in advance of oncoming traffic. I could tell that an approaching SUV either wasn't paying attention or didn't intend on stopping, so I didn't go any further--though I was definitely in the crosswalk. Sure enough, it drove right past me, and then it pulled to a stop just down the road. I yelled about the neon-colored signs staying to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. The driver drove off.

There was a police officer sitting on the other side of the intersection, and he made no effort to follow the car. Instead, he noticed that I was looking at him after we crossed, and he pulled up. He said he didn't realize that there were signs there, and that he wasn't sure at any rate if he could actually pull someone over for that. I was flabbergasted.

I actually thought he was being sarcastic at first because he thought I was overreacting, but then I became fairly certain that he was actually seriously saying that he didn't know it was an offense, which is even more frightening to me. I sadly didn't think to take down any of his information, but I'm thinking I should at least report this generally to someone in the MCPD because it's incredibly distressing. Does anybody have any ideas?

by Gray on May 12, 2014 2:42 pm • linkreport

yeah on this stretch of R st NE I frequently encounter drivers who accelerate past me really fast and close only to have me pass them when they slow down for the speed hump, repeat. These drivers are f***ing a****** that risk my life for what? they don't even go any faster. Reminder: i'm a middle aged lady on a 30 year old bike. They deserve every bad thing in life that befalls them. EVERY bad thing. Hemorrhoids, plantar fasciitis, shingles, severe poison ivy...etc.

by Tina on May 12, 2014 2:43 pm • linkreport

on this stretch of R st NE I frequently encounter drivers who accelerate past me really fast and close only to have me pass them when they slow down for the speed hump, repeat.

So take the whole lane. Don't give people enough room to drive around you. That's safer for everyone.

by MLD on May 12, 2014 2:45 pm • linkreport

Geof Gee: You're right, that was inartfully worded. I've fixed it.

by David Alpert on May 12, 2014 2:45 pm • linkreport

@MLD -I do take the whole lane. they squeeze by dangerously or follow dangerously close.

by Tina on May 12, 2014 2:47 pm • linkreport

@MLD

No, I think it's great to point out people breaking the rules. And while I think I would go crazy trying to appoint myself as police officer, as others have mentioned, my main concern is someone responding with violence toward me. Let's be honest, we can all appoint ourselves as law enforcement but until the culture within the police changes, don't expect much to change.

by rab26 on May 12, 2014 2:48 pm • linkreport

I hope I'm wise enough not to get into a game of chicken with a shit-for-brains sadistic driver. Its sadistic and perverse what they do to me/other people on bikes in this section of R st NE. They are sick in the head twisted sociopaths.

by Tina on May 12, 2014 2:50 pm • linkreport

First point, "throwing" someone's bike isn't illegal. Had the driver driven away with it, it would have been theft.

The second point is, I was all on board with this guy, and upset about how he was treated, until I read his twitter feed. This guy clearly goes out if his way on the "gotcha" scofflaw-isms in a daily basis. As another poster said, he clearly is spending his time in the bike seat looking for any and all conflict with driver , whether it's real, or a stretch, and then runs to the blogosphere to get blogosphere justice.

by Evan on May 12, 2014 2:51 pm • linkreport

I'm pretty sure taking someone's property and throwing it is illegal...

by Goldfish33 on May 12, 2014 2:53 pm • linkreport

Did the cyclist tell the cop before he went to the hospital that he had a video? Did he tell him at the hospital when he got the ticket that he had a video?

If the cop knew there was a video its hard for me to believe he would have ticketed the cyclist as described by the cyclist.

Why is the cyclist holding back the video?

We need the video.

by turtleshell on May 12, 2014 2:53 pm • linkreport

"throwing" someone's bike isn't illegal.

Yes it is.

by David C on May 12, 2014 2:54 pm • linkreport

" This guy clearly goes out if his way on the "gotcha" scofflaw-isms in a daily basis."

He likes to take pics of folks blocking bike lanes. All I can say is more power to him.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 12, 2014 2:57 pm • linkreport

Well, it sounds like he was definitely guilty of menacing the biker, which is illegal...though the biker may have been guilty of same toward the driver. Don't know since we don't have the video. But still, I think if you are that obsessed with taking pictures of drivers breaking the law, you are probably looking to get into it with someone.

by rab26 on May 12, 2014 2:59 pm • linkreport

Out of curiosity, I looked up the section from the DC code:

"Whoever maliciously injures or breaks or destroys, or attempts to injure or break or destroy, by fire or otherwise, any public or private property, whether real or personal, not his or her own, of the value of $1,000 or more, shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01 or shall be imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both, and if the property has some value shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01 or imprisoned for not more than 180 days, or both."

http://dccode.org/simple/sections/22-303.html

by Goldfish33 on May 12, 2014 3:00 pm • linkreport

Why can't we see the video? It seems as though that would clear up everything from both the police side and bystander point of view.

by Vidal on May 12, 2014 3:03 pm • linkreport

Most likely because the cyclist did something that was illegal as well...

by rab26 on May 12, 2014 3:04 pm • linkreport

The video may not be released if there is legal action pending.

by steelm on May 12, 2014 3:06 pm • linkreport

I would suspect that the video is not being released because the cyclist would like to use it in a legal case, either to get his ticket dismissed or action against the driver.

Any speculation about the bicyclists behavior is just that... speculation.

"Being a dick" is not illegal. Running someone off the road, cutting them off and then slamming on your brakes, and picking up their property and tossing it around is illegal and also can get someone hurt. Christ people, get some perspective here.

by MLD on May 12, 2014 3:10 pm • linkreport

Steelem,
If that were true then wouldn't the photos and even the online discussion of it be off limits as well?

It just seems weird that with the video handy, he wouldn't have shown it to the police or uploaded it here to accompany the narrative.

by Vidal on May 12, 2014 3:10 pm • linkreport

I don't see that rab. If I had a better camera/phone than I have, I would be uploading pics of bike lane scofflaws right and left. I wouldn't tweet it, but thats because I'm too much of an old fogey to tweet.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 12, 2014 3:11 pm • linkreport

None of the pics above has anyone's face in it, and I guess the video does, and IANAL, I suppose that could matter.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 12, 2014 3:12 pm • linkreport

@rab26 That is very presumptuous. Might there be legal implications if the footage is released? Also, I've had footage go briefly viral where I did absolutely nothing wrong. Zero. 100% legal and 0% profane. And still I had people stalking my twitter feed for dirt and trying to find fault with my actions. Evan is smart for keeping it offline until it is resolved. In my opinion at least

by Atlas on May 12, 2014 3:13 pm • linkreport

I'm no lawyer but taking and throwing someone else's stuff must be illegal.

@David C. Great fix. Thanks for the effort.

by Geof Gee on May 12, 2014 3:21 pm • linkreport

If I were driving or biking, and someone physically threatened me first, I would beat the crap out of them. I don't go picking fights. Part of the reason I and all other cyclists have to deal with nutbag motorists doing stuff like this is because people look to take things into their own hands and then give bikers the reputation of looking for a fight at any chance. You know who those types are....and yes, there are drivers that fit the same bill, but unfortunately the ill begotten reputation seems to stick on cyclists more so than it does drivers.

by rab26 on May 12, 2014 3:22 pm • linkreport

Also I love how since nobody can actually find fault with the account of what took place, and the fact that the officer gave the cyclist a ticket is obviously ridiculous on its face, then the discussion pivots to "well clearly the video isn't public because the cyclist is doing something wrong!"

by MLD on May 12, 2014 3:24 pm • linkreport

@rab26
If I were driving or biking, and someone physically threatened me first, I would beat the crap out of them. I don't go picking fights.

Who is "picking fights," the person who instigates by passing too closely (against the law and unsafe) and then brake-checks? Or the person who decides to respond to that?

Intimidating people with your car is a threat.

by MLD on May 12, 2014 3:26 pm • linkreport

@David Albert
Was any consideration given to obscuring the vehicle's license plate?

Now that people have gone and, presumably, looked up the driver's driving record this is an example, combined with this present incident, where I think we, as a society, should be looking to remove driving privileges before someone is killed.

All the punishment in the world after a death never will bring anybody back.

Also - I was on a bike shop ride this Sunday with a young lady who was injured in a like manner where the driver passed then quickly stopped in front of the cyclist. She said she suffered deep bruising on the hip and leg when she was knocked to the ground. But because she was aware of the recent intersection of doom incident she declined to involve the police for fear of being unjustly ticketed.

Is a message being received by cyclists not to involve authorities even when you are injured in a collision?

by jeffb on May 12, 2014 3:27 pm • linkreport

"Part of the reason I and all other cyclists have to deal with nutbag motorists doing stuff like this is because people look to take things into their own hands and then give bikers the reputation of looking for a fight at any chance."

Wait, the reason that motorists do violent, dangerous, reckless things that endanger human life is because people post pics of cars parked in the bike lane? Really (I'm not so good with twitter, thats all I got googling the guy's twitter - if he did more than that, please help me find it) And therefore we should stop taking this minimal effort to get motorists to obey the law, because if we do they will take violent action against us? Feh.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 12, 2014 3:29 pm • linkreport

Well if someone tried to hit with their car, unless they got out and came after me on foot, no I would not go after them because that sounds like a losing battle. I just don't think two wrongs make a right, unless you find yourself in a situation where you have to act in self defense. I don't think anything is accomplished by appointing oneself law enforcement.

by rab26 on May 12, 2014 3:32 pm • linkreport

Glad you agree that the cyclist wasn't "picking fights" in this case.

by MLD on May 12, 2014 3:33 pm • linkreport

@jeffb -- that is precisely the message the police are sending. They don't want to enforce the laws on car traffic, period, and they don't want anybody complaining about it either. Therefore, arrest the victims and Presto, no more complaints.

by Greenbelt on May 12, 2014 3:34 pm • linkreport

Lol, well I wasn't there, and I didn't see a video of it. So all we have is the one-sided account of the cyclist. So, I'm glad you agree you don't know either.

by rab26 on May 12, 2014 3:34 pm • linkreport

Sadly, drivers know full well that recklessness, speeding, and bullying are either tolerated or excused after the fact. There's no police deterrence for this type of driving at all. And after somebody gets killed, it's always just an accident.

by Greenbelt on May 12, 2014 3:40 pm • linkreport

David A saw the video, and I tend to trust him. And the record of the driver speaks to charecter.

But we will see how this plays out.

I do find your posts about "two wrongs" confusing. I do not see how shaming a scofflaw who parks in bike lanes or similar actions is even a wrong, let alone on par with an act of violence. From what I can gather, though, the police encourage citizens to report violations of the law, and certainly such reporting has helped to advance the cause of justice, even when LE does nothing, or worse, is itself unjust.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 12, 2014 3:41 pm • linkreport

I've also seen the video. Evan and I used to ride together every day before I got a new job, and he wanted another opinion.
As I told Evan after viewing the video, MPD screwed the pooch on this one. When/if he releases the video, it will be another well deserved blot on the DC Police Department's record of handling auto/cyclist collisions.

by thump on May 12, 2014 4:29 pm • linkreport

To those who complain about Evan's twitter feed, consider his POV as documenting the MPD and motorist's treatment of bikes.

He was deliberately assaulted by a former MPD cop, and the MPD sat on the issue for a long time. Now, some d-bag assaults him and Evan gets the ticket. The twitter feed shows that the MPD doesnt enforce the law in a fair and transparent manner.

by SJE on May 12, 2014 5:07 pm • linkreport

You can use the shadows in image 2 to help prove that the driver passed with less than 3 feet of clearance.

But because she was aware of the recent intersection of doom incident she declined to involve the police for fear of being unjustly ticketed.

Assuming the driver didn't drive away, get their insurance info and file a claim for injury. Also, depending on the severity, one could sue civilly as well.

by Falls Church on May 12, 2014 5:40 pm • linkreport

Regardless, in many ways, in terms of traffic accident investigation, ticket writing, and the criminal justice end of things (prosecution) the bicycle planning "E" of enforcement needs a serious upgrade.

Motor vehicle operators would counter with cyclists and red lights/stop signs, and yes, in that regard I am a strong proponent of the Idaho Stop.

Even so, the "accident" end of motor vehicle operation is seriously weighted or privileged in favor of the motor vehicle operator in ways that condone illegal behavior based on the excuse of not paying attention (a/k/a "I didn't see...").

2. I was surprised to learn when on grand jury duty that "reckless driving" is only a misdemeanor, although it is taken seriously from the standpoint of accruing points wrt drivers license suspension matters.

by Richard Layman on May 12, 2014 5:44 pm • linkreport

sorry, meant to include this cite:

http://gladwell.com/wrong-turn/

and 2. in the Netherlands they change laws wrt operation of motor vehicles to put more burden on the motor vehicle operator for accidents/traffic safety than on pedestrians and bicyclists.

http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/sustainable-safety/

by Richard Layman on May 12, 2014 5:47 pm • linkreport

"Assuming the driver didn't drive away, get their insurance info and file a claim for injury. Also, depending on the severity, one could sue civilly as well."

--

Sure - *IF* the driver assumes culpability. But if there is no investigating officer and therefore no fault assigned and given that, I think, most drivers would naturally assume that anybody striking them from behind is the one at fault I wonder what the chances of a cyclist recovering damages are.

I too had a quick pass and motorist slamming on brakes crash. I went into the back of the car and then took off their side view mirror. I was a little more worse off. Separated shoulder and the deepest, darkest collection of bruises down 1/2 of my body I ever could imagine. 2 years later my shoulder remains painful and separated.

In my case the investigating officer did not issue anybody a ticket. Basically said let the insurance companies figure it out. About a week later I was contacted by the motorist's insurer. First words out of their mouth was a layman's recitation of contributory negligence. They said since the driver was not ticketed I could not receive any compensation.

I didn't purse the matter as I had health insurance and damage to the bike was under $200. But even if I had I don't think my chances would have been good.

by jeffb on May 12, 2014 6:17 pm • linkreport

"Swoop and squat" is one term for where a motor vehicle swerves in front of another motor vehicle, or bicycle, then slams on it's brakes. In this case it's not the fault of the following vehicle if there is a crash, but it is obviously fraudulent behavior by the swoop-squatter.

by DaveG on May 12, 2014 6:58 pm • linkreport

I for one am grateful for Evan's photo/twitter documentation of the level of respect (low) drivers in DC show for the city's expensive investment in infrastructure (by the way he IS a photojournalist!). Perhaps some real enforcement by real police officers would help change attitudes about whether it's okay to double park, park or drive in bike lanes, turn right on red without really thinking about stopping, etc. Lord knows there are enough police authorities in DC that SOMEONE should be able to display some competence. I've not seen the video of this incident but I've seen the stills. And even if his twitter feed showed him to be a total jerk (which I don't think it does), it has no bearing on this incident of road rage by a truck driver. On the other hand, as a former prosecutor, that guy's respect for the law is clear from his stack of paper. My advice to Evan: contact a bike lawyer!

by In the Burbs on May 12, 2014 7:33 pm • linkreport

@ Richard Layman:in the Netherlands they change laws wrt operation of motor vehicles to put more burden on the motor vehicle operator for accidents/traffic safety than on pedestrians and bicyclists.

The law is fairly simple. When there is a crash between a motor vehicle and a non-motor vehicle (biker, pedestrian, limping turtle), the driver is at fault by default. Theoretically, this can change in court, but the burden on the driver is enormous. If the biker was drunk and texting. Sorry, driver should have seen it and taken evasive action. If a kid darted from between cars, sorry, driver should have anticipated children near a school/playground/suburb.

The law has two goals. First, to imprint on drivers that they are the ones protected in a heavy vehicle. That is a heavy responsibility towards the 'weaker' participants in traffic.

Second, to create clarity for insurance companies. It happened too often that a injured biker or pedestrian (in a hospital) got in financial trouble because the determination of fault of the crash was pending in court. That is clear now. Insurance has to pay assuming the fault was on the driver. In rare cases where the fault gets removed from the driver, insurance companies can re-imburse each other.

[I should note here that the Dutch as ridiculously overinsured (compared to Americans). There is never a question whether insurance will pay. Just which insurance.
By law the Dutch carry at least general liability insurance and health insurance. Drivers need (as they do here) car insurance. Being employed also means you are insured for short- and long (=infinite) term disability.]

by Jasper on May 12, 2014 8:34 pm • linkreport

The DC pigs stink.

by NE John on May 12, 2014 8:45 pm • linkreport

I didn't purse the matter as I had health insurance and damage to the bike was under $200. But even if I had I don't think my chances would have been good.

I don't know how good your chances would have been but a bike lawyer could have told you. I believe you can get a referral for a good one through WABA. I don't know whether there's any kind of free consultation service to determine whether you have a case worth pursuing but hopefully there is one. Maybe there's pro bono help too.

by Falls Church on May 12, 2014 9:01 pm • linkreport

Part of the problem is, too many officers are macho, road-raging motorheads themselves.

by Ed Lincoln on May 12, 2014 9:09 pm • linkreport

^

+1

by Nick on May 12, 2014 9:32 pm • linkreport

Funny,

When bloggers, vehicle drivers or news media video bikers ignoring all manner of laws and treating the public ROW like their own private property, they are labeled "road ragers" by the GGW set, or Cranors Wash Cycle. Yet when a cyclist does the same thing, and videos himself slamming into the rear of a truck at a stop sign ( what, you didn't see the stop coming Evan?), he is a responsible, heroic member of the road using public. Then again, he purposely hasn't shown the video to the public, only a few purposely selected photo stills of the video. And before the pseudo lawyers chime in, he has already ruined his case by revealing photos, blogging about it and showing d Alpert and another guy here the video, so no...it isn't going to be used in any "lawsuit", not now.

More than half the stuff on Evans Twitter is beyond ridiculous. Oh, so a car has 3 inches of its bumper stick into a bike lane 50 yards ahead of you, you've been so wronged! Or the photo actually documenting Evan running the red light, and still giving the car in front if him grief for have the audacity if being in front if him! This guy us a simple bike vigilante, looking for a conflict. He found one when he (the person in the rear) ran into the truck in front of him, then got belligerent with the driver. Karma issued you that ticket Evan, not the MPD.

by Huh on May 12, 2014 10:12 pm • linkreport

Sigh. If you're going to denigrate me as a hypocrite, I'm going to need actual examples of what I've said that makes me one.

As far as I can recall, I've never once called someone who recorded a cyclist intentionally causing a crash, picking up the victim's car and throwing it into their panniers a "road rager." I don't know if I've ever called anyone a road rager.

I'm not sure how to defend myself against accusations without any evidence or citation.

he has already ruined his case by revealing photos, blogging about it and showing d Alpert and another guy here the video, so no...it isn't going to be used in any "lawsuit", not now.

I don't know where this idea is coming from, but showing your video to other people does not somehow make it inadmissible. If it were, then Marion Barry would never have gone to jail.

by David C on May 12, 2014 10:25 pm • linkreport

Proud to be part of the "GGW set"!

by Biking=Activism! on May 12, 2014 10:46 pm • linkreport

GGW commenter: Enforce the laws!
GGW cyclist: Runs red lights and blows stop signs

by HTTR. on May 13, 2014 1:03 am • linkreport

I don't know where this idea is coming from, but showing your video to other people does not somehow make it inadmissible. If it were, then Marion Barry would never have gone to jail.

You beat me to it. What a puzzling suggestion. And hilariously, propounded by someone, @Huh, complaining about others being "pseudo lawyers."

by dcd on May 13, 2014 8:42 am • linkreport

I guess I should feel sympathy for the biker. Clearly, he got the short-end, and the police response is questionable on several levels.

But I'll check the outrage. These kinds of stories make me uncomfortable. One side of a story, is still one side of a story.

by kob on May 13, 2014 9:19 am • linkreport

The lack of enforcement on these kinds of matters is bad enough on its own, but it turns into a glaring double standard when I consider how many news articles I've read about cops firing multiple rounds into a car of an unarmed (besides the car, of course) person attempting to flee a traffic stop, and that action being found to be justified because the cops felt threatened. Suddenly when it's a regular civilian feeling threatened by a motorist, it's the victim's fault.

by burgersub on May 13, 2014 9:36 am • linkreport

I'll check my outrage too in exchange for police/local gov'ts actually giving a crap.

This is just the latest incident in a pattern. Despite the progress we've made on getting "some" basic infrastructure. The basic attitude towards cyclists is that they're on their own.

by drumz on May 13, 2014 9:37 am • linkreport

Shouldn't this "article" have the word allegedly in it (multiple times)?

Or is this 100% proven fact?

by CaseNotProven on May 13, 2014 9:40 am • linkreport

I hope the video winds up on local news stations, naming both the driver the dumb cop who wrote the ticket. The only way to change anything is public shaming.

by Chris on May 13, 2014 10:16 am • linkreport

@SJE
A car driver could make a similar Twitter feed almost more easily. When I bike to work down the 15th St. cycle track to Penn. Ave, there is rarely a red light I encounter where some idiot on a bike blows by me and the other bikes waiting right into the intersection, often with zero regard for car approaching with the right of way. People breaking the rules is a fact of life and while law enforcement mitigates this, people will always break rules to some degree (both cyclists and motorists). So if he thinks documenting that by photo is a good use of his time, more power to him I guess. I find cars blocking the bike lane just as annoying as everyone else, but objectively, I think flying into an intersection on a red light is a greater offense.

by rab26 on May 13, 2014 10:47 am • linkreport

I encounter where some idiot on a bike blows by me and the other bikes waiting right into the intersection, often with zero regard for car approaching with the right of way

If that were true, we'd have a lot more dead bodies to show for it. Try riding from Georgetown to Anacostia going through every intersection without regard for the traffic lights or cars that have the right of way. I'd be amazed if you made it to Capitol Hill alive.

If you think running red lights is a more serious problem, they you're welcome to try and solve that problem. But that no way diminishes from the need to solve this problem.

by David C on May 13, 2014 10:54 am • linkreport

One side of a story, is still one side of a story.

While your statement is true in the simplest sense, I think the driver grabbing the dude's bike and throwing it into the truck--attempting to steal and damage someone's property--kind of abrogates the need for tempering one's outrage.

by worthing on May 13, 2014 11:03 am • linkreport

I don't see this as a car drivers vs cyclists thing at all. I see a guy with anger issues in charge of a potentially lethal weapon weighing several tons. He shouldn't be on the road. Maybe the next guy he goes after will be another cyclist. Maybe it will be you in your car. We all know these drivers exist. If this cyclist manages to get recourse against a dangerous driver, he will have done everybody a favor.

by renegade09 on May 13, 2014 11:09 am • linkreport

@rab26.
What you are talking about is documenting things of which you disapprove. Thats solely a whine.

Evan's documentation is of things that are actually or potentially harmful to HIM: cars that force him off the road, out of a protected lane and into the main motorvehicle lane, or people that assault him. The documenting is part of forcing change. That's a big difference.

by SJE on May 13, 2014 11:31 am • linkreport

At a bare minimum, the police should have impounded the truck over the two outstanding bootable / towable tickets on that plate. From the DMV website:

8122290492 02/27/2014 NO PARKING ANYTIME 1400 BLOCK P ST NW SOUTH SIDE $65.00

8125183905 03/02/2014 SIDEWALK, ON 1400 BLOCK MERIDIAN PL. NW NORTH SI $205.00

This guy parks on the sidewalk, doesn't pay his tickets, swerves into cyclists, steals their property, and drives a Tundra in the city. Sounds like a real gem to me. I'd like to see this driver arrested for intentionally causing an accident and his truck impounded over the unpaid tickets if not for causing this crash. That might teach him a driver etiquette lesson he so sorely needs.

by ShawGuy on May 13, 2014 12:36 pm • linkreport

Had the cyclist instead been another motorist, he would have been ticketed, because the one doing the rear-ending is the one at fault 99% of the time, simply because the car in front doesn't have eyes in the back of their head.

Sure maybe the driver of the car in front was a douchebag who cut off another car, but that doesn't mean it is okay to rear-end them or not yield or not control your vehicle. Standing your ground just to prove a moral point is only going to hurt you and isn't going to make the other guy any less of a douchebag.

So we cyclists have to ask ourselves, what do we have to gain by trying to fight every single motorist on the roads? Are we detracting from any respect we might gain, or erasing any enjoyment we might get from the freedom of cycling, by becoming outraged at every insensitive douchebag with a driver's license?

by Stacey on May 13, 2014 1:13 pm • linkreport

Sure maybe the driver of the car in front was a douchebag who cut off another car, but that doesn't mean it is okay to rear-end them

Actually it does. When changing lanes in front of another vehicle, the operator doing the lane changing (in this case the passing car) has a responsibility to make sure they are far enough ahead so as not to create a dangerous situation. Cutting someone off is the opposite of this. And then coming to a stop turns the dangerous situation into a crash. In car crash fraud this is called a "swoop and squat".

by David C on May 13, 2014 1:38 pm • linkreport

Stacey I was waiting for someone to post that. You run into someone ahead of you, you get a ticket. The driver is obviously a jerk and the bicyclist has an axe to grind. Bunch of fools on the road. Par for the course in DC area.

by JamesM on May 13, 2014 1:48 pm • linkreport

A couple years ago I was involved, as a driver, in a rear-end collision in which another driver cut me off and then slammed on their brakes too quickly for me to stop. The other driver admitted as much to the responding police officer, but I was found at fault by both the police and my insurance company. I was not ticketed because the damage (in the officer's estimation) did not reach the threshold in VA.

I believe the 'swoop and squat' typically refers to a scheme with 2+ other cars trying to commit insurance fraud, not this type of incident.

by MikeyS on May 13, 2014 2:07 pm • linkreport

by becoming outraged at every insensitive douchebag

I'd argue that reckless driving, assault, and attempted theft take one out of the "insenstive douchebag category" to "criminal" category.

by drumz on May 13, 2014 2:14 pm • linkreport

Regardless of the outcome of this case, here is how NOT to set a good example while biking. In NYC, Alec Baldwin gets a ticket for biking the wrong way, then gets arrested for not having his ID, if I 've gpt tje facts right:

http://www.tmz.com/2014/05/13/alec-baldwin-arrested-bike-riding-no-id/

Riding against traffic is just so plain unsafe, and thus stupid, that he deserved the ticket. Sounds like he needs ID on him if those younger cops don't know who he is LOL

by DaveG on May 13, 2014 2:33 pm • linkreport

Running into someone is presumptively your fault. But if someone cuts you off and stops, and especially if its caught on video, its a whole 'nother story.

by SJE on May 13, 2014 3:02 pm • linkreport

Alec Baldwin: How long before we have articles about "entitled" cyclists? Of course, as I have often said, this is just another example of someone who is a d-bag in other areas being a d-bag on a bike. Great actor. But still a d-bag.

by SJE on May 13, 2014 3:06 pm • linkreport

"If that were true, we'd have a lot more dead bodies to show for it. Try riding from Georgetown to Anacostia going through every intersection without regard for the traffic lights or cars that have the right of way."

Maybe cars are better at avoiding bikes...who knows? I can't deny what I watch in front of me every day both when on my bike and behind the wheel of my car.

The majority of cyclists heading north on the 15th street track also disregard the instruction to obey the pedestrian signal, which works in combination with the left hand turn signal at Rhode Island. I don't know if people in DC are unfamiliar with the concept or a dedicated turn traffic signal (as I also see cars blowing through the left turn red light on 15th at I St.) or if they just expect cars that have the right of way to yield to them, but it happens every day all day.

We can go in circles and circles and circles and circles about which group is a scofflaw and which isn't. Everytime someone says cyclists are scofflaws, we can respond that motorists are worse scofflaws. I don't think that discussion has accomplished anything. Or we can do our part to obey the law in our own actions first and foremost. We also have the right to take pictures of cars parked in the bike lane and obsessively post them to Twitter in the hope that someone will look at our Twitter feed and care. I don't begrudge anyone their right to do that....but if we are talking about improving the situation for cyclists, I think our time may be better spent elsewhere. I do question the posting of articles of this particular type on this blog. The title of the post does not refer to the assault as an alleged assault, something which strikes me as a bit risky given the absence of definitive publicly shared proof. But I guess these types of articles are important when fueling the us vs. them mentality that inhibits any real change and which characterizes this blog in general.

by rab26 on May 13, 2014 4:22 pm • linkreport

Yes, unfortunately for us bicyclists who try to be good, Alec Baldwin is bringing his d-bag-ness to cycling and making the rest of us look bad. His arrest was actually for disorderly conduct, not wrong-way biking or lack of ID.

by DaveG on May 13, 2014 4:24 pm • linkreport

"Everytime someone says cyclists are scofflaws, we can respond that motorists are worse scofflaws."

I think you miss the point of that - its not to play a blame game, but to simply point out the absurdity of people who turn every discussion of biking into a discussion of scofflaw cycling - the majority of people using each mode break some laws, and if you don't know the mode and its charecteristics, its hard to understand why. But most people drive, and most people walk, but few bike, so most dont understand why many cyclists break certain laws. While taking their own law breaking for granted.

But thats quite a different matter from addressing a serious incident like this, which is not in the same class as driving one mph over the limit.

" I don't think that discussion has accomplished anything. Or we can do our part to obey the law in our own actions first and foremost. We also have the right to take pictures of cars parked in the bike lane and obsessively post them to Twitter in the hope that someone will look at our Twitter feed and care. I don't begrudge anyone their right to do that...."

I happen to think thats an important issue. Of course I also dislike double parking in a regular lane - but its easier for me as a driver to get around that. Cycling doesnt get much in this country, considering its potential, and when what we do get is taken away by a scofflaw, its particularly annoying. If yuo feel otherwise, you are of course free to not participate.

"but if we are talking about improving the situation for cyclists, I think our time may be better spent elsewhere."

I agree that volunteering on BTWD or in bike advocacy groups is a good way to spend your time.

"But I guess these types of articles are important when fueling the us vs. them mentality that inhibits any real change and which characterizes this blog in general."

Who is the them? Again, I own a car, and am a driver, and I simply do not see this as directed against me. But then I don't park in bike lanes, and I do cut off cyclists, and I certainly don't grab their bikes.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 13, 2014 4:32 pm • linkreport

Rab is right. Ride safe, represent and document. We should also work with WABA et. al. to get better, fairer traffic enforcement and unbiased police. It would also be a very good thing if every officer was certified in knowing ALL the traffic laws, plus spending some time on foot and then bicycle patrol duty, including riding the various bike lanes, cycletracks, etc. Then maybe the police might better understand what bicyclists have to deal with.

by DaveG on May 13, 2014 4:32 pm • linkreport

Everytime someone says cyclists are scofflaws, we can respond that motorists are worse scofflaws.

Yes. And the material effects of drivers breaking the law are much more severe than cyclists breaking the law.

Of course if one doesn't acknowledge that I can see where the circular argument comes into play.

Or we can do our part to obey the law in our own actions first and foremost.
See, I (and others) think that the law re: bikes and their operation is either inadequate, or unfair. Moreover, I see enough evidence that when bikes do have the law on their side, it's tough to get help from the authorities.

Therefore, my motivation to obey the law out of some sort of social contract obligation is low. If we fixed the laws, I think much of this issue would go away.

But I guess these types of articles are important when fueling the us vs. them mentality

Clearly, the driver who assaulted a cyclist for simply being in the road had an us v. them mentality.

I'd certainly like to eliminate that. But I think the problem is that many drivers don't realize that is the way they're thinking/acting when behind the wheel. At least that's how I feel every time someone shouts at me to get on the sidewalk.

by drumz on May 13, 2014 4:44 pm • linkreport

So, where IS WABA et. al. on this?

by DaveG on May 13, 2014 6:54 pm • linkreport

I can't deny what I watch in front of me every day both when on my bike and behind the wheel of my car.

I don't doubt that you see cyclists run red lights and stop signs. What I don't believe is that they do this without regard for cars that have the right of way.

We can go in circles and circles and circles and circles about which group is a scofflaw and which isn't.

We can. But that isn't the issue here. What I'm pushing back against is the idea that cyclists are regularly ignoring both the law and traffic at great risk to themselves. If cyclists were really taking great risks, there would be more of them dead. That's how risk works. If cyclists are doing something millions of times a year and almost never dying, then it probably isn't that risky.

If people don't want to go round and round about scofflaw cyclists, then they shouldn't bring it up. In response to a comment about one person's twitter feed showing bad driving "shows that the MPD doesnt enforce the law in a fair and transparent manner", they shouldn't reply that "A car driver could make a similar Twitter feed almost more easily." Since the issue is about how the law is being enforced, not about how cyclists are breaking it as well.

but if we are talking about improving the situation for cyclists, I think our time may be better spent elsewhere.

OK, and where does rab26 spend his time to improve the situation for cyclists?

The title of the post does not refer to the assault as an alleged assault

That's because the video shows pretty clearly the assault. Just grabbing the bike and throwing it is assault as I read it.

"Assault is an intentional threat by word or act that seeks to physically harm another person, plus, the person making the threat has the ability to carry out the threat and does some act which creates fear in another person that violence
is about to happen."

The AP style guide saysnot to use alleged "to describe an event that is known to have occurred". This event is known to have occurred.

by David C on May 13, 2014 10:20 pm • linkreport

The key sentence in this story is this: "Certainly Wilder was asserting his right to space on the street. Some cyclists would have just slowed way down to give this driver a wide berth."

I'm in the later category. Any driver's behavior is an unknown and a threat, and the risk is seemingly one-sided.

There are a lot of people in this forum who argue for looser rules for bicyclist. They argue that is bicyclist behavior on the roadways was reckless, it would be reflected in higher mortality statistics. That's a fair point. But, conversely, it also speaks well to the vast majority of drivers who are apparently successful in avoiding collisions with bicyclists. The majority of drivers are far more respectful and responsible toward bicyclist than they get credit for in this forum. But the bicycle advocates (and I'm one; I gave up my car) would have you believe that bicyclists are no more dangerous than water water lilies. This view doesn't account for the heart-attack moments imprudent bicycle riding gives to motorists. There may be a cumulative emotional cost to drivers when reckless bicycle riding prompts a close call. This view will not get a lot of sympathy here, but it's real and I suspect that anger that bubbles up in this forum partly stems from it.

Wilder's account works as a launching pad for discussion, and it succeeded in that respect. But as an anecdote it's empty and meaningless and says nothing. Despite Wilder's account, it seems as if we are making a lot of progress in making this city bicycle friendly (especially over the last 15 years), and the vast majority of drivers are sharing the road.

by kob on May 14, 2014 8:56 am • linkreport

"If people don't want to go round and round about scofflaw cyclists, then they shouldn't bring it up. "

here here.

"This view will not get a lot of sympathy here,"

it doesnt get much sympathy from me and I drive far more miles than I bike. Even if you exclude limited access highway miles, I drive more miles than I bike. And I don't think I've EVER had a heartattach moment from a bike while driving, and I have had a few from drivers while biking (though as you said, most drivers are safe and polite.) As a drive I HAVE had a few heartattack moments with pedestrians - yet we rarely hear the kinds of vitriol against pedestrians that we do against cyclists.

We are making progress on infrastructure. We are I think slowly getting better behavior from drivers (and one factor in that is that as cycling grows more drivers ARE cyclists - another is that drivers are more likely to expect cyclists.) But the minority of real jerks is still there, and may not have decreased - and there are still some amazingly bad reactions from LE. I think its worth calling those out, and that when they are, the problem should be addressed directly.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 14, 2014 9:10 am • linkreport

really? bicyclists are unsafe because they give drivers heart attacks? do you have any evidence whatsoever for that? and why would interactions with cyclists cause heart attacks, but interactions with bad drivers aren't an issue?

OF COURSE most motorists aren't hitting cyclists. Some are even careful. Most are simply careless and don't acknowledge the danger posed by their carelessness. And then there is a significant minority that is actively reckless--and those actively reckless drivers pose an enormous threat to other road users (far beyond any hand-wringing potential for heart attacks that is possibly caused by cyclists). Until the majority of motorists actually acknowledges that and ceases to brush the danger off by laughing about how bad someone drives or shrugging and saying something about how that's just the way things are, yeah, we're gonna need to hit hard on the messaging about unsafe drivers; any individual driver might not be one of the highest-risk drivers, but they are still a part of a culture that permits high-risk driving to thrive.

by Mike on May 14, 2014 9:12 am • linkreport

The majority of drivers are far more respectful and responsible toward bicyclist than they get credit for in this forum.

Should someone really get credit for being able to drive without hitting someone?

But it doesn't matter in this case anyway, because here we have evidence that a driver was being reckless and used his vehicle in commission of several crimes and is walking away scot free basically. I don't see why we have to give credit to good drivers in a story about a bad one.

This view doesn't account for the heart-attack moments imprudent bicycle riding gives to motorists. There may be a cumulative emotional cost to drivers when reckless bicycle riding prompts a close call.
Maybe, but is there evidence that any of this actually leads to material harm?

by drumz on May 14, 2014 9:13 am • linkreport

@drumz

I don't have evidence that a driver's close encounter with a bike produces cumulative emotional damage. But I do have evidence that when one jerk has an encounter with another jerk, bad stuff happens.

by kob on May 14, 2014 9:16 am • linkreport

Whether or not someone else is reckless, careless, etc. on the roads is not an excuse for anyone else to do the same. Just because you are involved in a close call is not a license to make things worse by doing something illegal or unsafe.

All road users should remember this especially if you are driving a +3000 lb. motor vehicle as opposed to a bicycle.

by DaveG on May 14, 2014 9:19 am • linkreport

I don't have evidence that a driver's close encounter with a bike produces cumulative emotional damage.

Well until we have some, we can't really make a decision on whether its a real factor or not. Meanwhile, I'm worried more about my phsyical safety on a bike which helps inform how I ride.

But I do have evidence that when one jerk has an encounter with another jerk, bad stuff happens.

Again, in this story. Only one person is a jerk. The driver. And he actually goes way beyond being a jerk into being someone who robs and assaults people. I don't see why the cyclists' personal life matters at all.

by drumz on May 14, 2014 9:20 am • linkreport

This is what happens when we consider the poor drivers who have to deal with the scourge of cyclists everyday.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/18671/the-ideal-cyclist/

by drumz on May 14, 2014 9:23 am • linkreport

"But I do have evidence that when one jerk has an encounter with another jerk, bad stuff happens."

yes. And when person A passes person B to closely and cuts them off, and tosses their bike in the back of a truck, person A is a jerk. Person B is not a jerk just because they keep a twitter feed of people park in bike lanes. Some would even say that to equate the two is being a jerk.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 14, 2014 9:24 am • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Tommy Bagodonuts on May 14, 2014 9:31 am • linkreport

The other day I was biking down a sidewalk at top speed. There was a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk and texting on his phone. I know theoretically pedestrians are allowed to be on the sidewalk too but I decided to teach him a lesson. I zoomed by him within a couple of inches to give him a scare, then stopped directly in front of him. The guy had the temerity to run into me! What a jerk! I got off my bike and started yelling at him, grabbed his phone, threw it on the ground, then put it in my pocket. It fell out of my pocket, though, and the jerk took it back. But he got his comeuppance when the police visited him in the ER and gave him a ticket! Serves him right!

I found out afterward that the pedestrian likes to take pictures of bicyclists doing things that endanger him and post them on twitter. What a huge jerk! Nothing I did is in the wrong since he obviously has an ax to grind with bikers and was just out walking around looking to start trouble. Good thing the cops ticketed him!

by Ampersand on May 14, 2014 9:58 am • linkreport

The majority of drivers are far more respectful and responsible toward bicyclist than they get credit for in this forum.

But, and I think many are missing this, this post is not about drivers as a group. It is about this ONE driver - whom we should all be able to agree, if the account is accurate, behaved badly. And more importantly, it is about one police officer (and thus MPD training and attitudes) who handled the whole situation badly.

But as an anecdote it's empty and meaningless and says nothing.

Actually it says quite a lot about how the police are going to handle these kinds of incidents, which is to say poorly. In light of recent claims by MPD to behave better, this is disheartening.

I don't see why we have to give credit to good drivers in a story about a bad one.

It's just like how when the Post reports about a murder, they make the point to say that "Most people don't murder old men outside of the 7-11."

by David C on May 14, 2014 10:03 am • linkreport

I'm not the least bit surprised here having once been tackled off a bike by a crazy dude from MD with a long rap sheet. Somehow the police turned it into a no fault, no damage hit and run by me and refused to charge a guy with assault for tackling me ex post facto and admitting it to them. It took going to the Chief Lanier to get them to correct the report and to charge the insane road rage guy with assault, which of course went no where because the police were too lazy to interview any one of a hundred people (pedestrians getting out of Metro, off a bus, leaving a coffee place, etc) there. One or two of the nice cops, but not first responders, gently urged me to take photos and not to let it go because they too were cyclists. So MPD has some bad apples and some good ones. Unfortunately, this guy probably got the same idiot cops I had writing my report.

by T1 on May 14, 2014 10:11 am • linkreport

"the driver had stopped at stop sign as he swerved right, so I ran into the back of his truck. "

Well, that's the bicyclist's fault. Seriously- if you don't allow enough space and run into the back of someone else, it's always your fault.

I realize we all love a good anti-car driver circlejerk, but it's not justified here. The cyclist should have allowed more room, backed off a bit, and not gotten so rage filled that he attempted to block other traffic from merging/turning.

Gives the rest of us cyclists a really bad name, and the ticket is deserved.

by Sensible Biker on May 14, 2014 12:36 pm • linkreport

How on earth can you "allow enough space" if the person is cutting you off?

by MLD on May 14, 2014 12:38 pm • linkreport

"How on earth can you "allow enough space" if the person is cutting you off? "

If you see a vehicle (car, another bike, whatever) is trying to pass and you're a safe & courteous driver, you slow down and allow them to pass safely. Instead of being a courteous citizen of the shared road, the cyclist admits he aggressively sped up to the point where he was unable to control his vehicle and effectively stop without crashing into the vehicle he knew was attempting to pass.

by Sensible Biker on May 14, 2014 12:54 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

>yes. And when person A passes person B to closely and cuts them off, and tosses their bike in the back of a truck, person A is a jerk. Person B is not a jerk just because they keep a twitter feed of people park in bike lanes. Some would even say that to equate the two is being a jerk.<

You are absolutely right if that's what you believed happened or was written. But that wasn't the reference. Almost every day in the news there are stories of people who have ugly, and sometimes violent confrontations, and you wonder how does it happen? How do some people acquire the skills to diffuse and deflect, while others escalate? That's the point. I don't know what happened in this bicycle incident, and I'm not suggesting that either party was in search of a confrontation. But how did it escalate? There had to be a series of triggering events. The GGW report is only a partial view, understandably, as to what happen. And that's all it is.

by kob on May 14, 2014 12:58 pm • linkreport

@David C

Comment 1
But, and I think many are missing this, this post is not about drivers as a group. It is about this ONE driver - whom we should all be able to agree, if the account is accurate, behaved badly. And more importantly, it is about one police officer (and thus MPD training and attitudes) who handled the whole situation badly.

Comment 2
Actually it says quite a lot about how the police are going to handle these kinds of incidents, which is to say poorly. In light of recent claims by MPD to behave better, this is disheartening.

These two comments seem to contradict themselves. First you said the story is about one single driver and the behavior of one single officer. Then you said that the story is representative of how the police force as a whole is likely to act. Which is it? Perhaps you can clarify.

by Scoot on May 14, 2014 1:19 pm • linkreport

Policy around the country are in desperate need of education about how to properly enforce traffic laws for all vehicles and not be biased against cyclists. I have both witnessed and been subject to inappropriate police behavior towards cyclists. The Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition has teamed with local police departments and the state DOT to produce an education video specifically for police: http://massbike.org/blog/2014/05/07/massbike-releases-bike-safety-training-video-for-police-departments/. While based on Massachusetts-specific laws, it is a great model which could be replicated nationwide.

by Seth on May 14, 2014 1:21 pm • linkreport

@"Sensible" Biker
Instead of being a courteous citizen of the shared road, the cyclist admits he aggressively sped up to the point where he was unable to control his vehicle and effectively stop without crashing into the vehicle he knew was attempting to pass.

Maybe you need to reread, because that's not what it says:
"A driver came alongside me on a narrow, sharrow painted part of the R Street bike route just before the entrance to the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

He should not have tried to pass me, since there was no way to pass and give me the required 3 feet minimum. What he was doing was intentional because he kept pace with me then moved to his right in order to broadside me.

I braked hard in order to avoid a collision, but the driver had stopped at stop sign as he swerved right, so I ran into the back of his truck."

The driver attempted a pass even though there wasn't enough room to give 3 feet, and there wasn't enough room in front of them to complete the pass before stopping at the stop sign. And no, the "sensible" thing is not to brake and move around unpredictably every time someone wants to pass you. The passing vehicle has a duty to pass only where/when it is safe to do so.

by MLD on May 14, 2014 1:26 pm • linkreport

"I don't know what happened in this bicycle incident, and I'm not suggesting that either party was in search of a confrontation. But how did it escalate? There had to be a series of triggering events."

I dont go by a priori assumptions that both folks in a confrontation are reasonable, and its only poor conflict management skills that causes confrontations. I don't rule out that some people are jerks - something I have found in my years as a driver, walker, and cyclist. It seems quite possible to me that the driver actively disliked a cyclist taking the lane, and deliberately tried to cut the cyclist off. He probably did not expect a strong verbal response, but that the cyclist be an "ideal cyclist" and slink off. When the cyclist failed to do so, the driver got violent.

Transportation issues aside, thats also my experience of bullying. They bully, and expect the victim to take it, and are outraged when the victim pushes back. And they take advantage of our tendency to see fault on both sides, regardless of whether there is or not.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 14, 2014 1:29 pm • linkreport

"These two comments seem to contradict themselves. First you said the story is about one single driver and the behavior of one single officer. Then you said that the story is representative of how the police force as a whole is likely to act. Which is it? Perhaps you can clarify."

Its quite possible that this behavior is uncommon among motorists, but the issue with the police response is systemic. Is there evidence for that - well I think we have abundant testimony from cyclists that most drivers do not act like this. QED. Is there a systemic problem in MPD? I don't know, I leave it to others to suggest if this fits with other incidents, and also if there are many examples of police really getting it re biking. It happens to come right after another incident of apparent police bike-blaming, but that involved NPS, not MPD, and took place in Va.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 14, 2014 1:33 pm • linkreport

@kob
But how did it escalate? There had to be a series of triggering events.

Maybe, but the driver probably considers "riding a bike in the street" as the first escalation. Considering some of my experiences while on a bike, there is a not insignificant minority of drivers who feel this way.

There doesn't have to be a series of triggering events. A portion of the driving public are often frustrated when they can't operate exactly as fast as they would like to be going, or when they perceive that someone else is impeding their progress. That's not a "triggering event," it's a fact of life that they just need to accept.

by MLD on May 14, 2014 1:39 pm • linkreport

@Sensible Biker

As I read the post, it seems to suggest that the driver cut the cyclist off. Now if it were me personally, upon seeing that the driver passed me too closely I would have just assumed that his behavior is likely erratic and/or aggressive, and would have probably slowed down significantly to get away from him. That's just my thought process as a cyclist against a big heavy truck with an unpredictable driver. My behavior might be different than others, and I have not seen the video in question myself to know exactly what happened.

Although the law prohibits vehicles from following too closely (DC Code 18-2201.9), it also requires "proper passing" which means that the overtaking vehicle must pass at a safe distance and must safely clear the overtaken vehicle (in this case the bicycle). See DC Code 18-2202. The fine for improper passing is $100.

by Scoot on May 14, 2014 1:41 pm • linkreport

Scoot, it's right there in the parenthetical. By being about 1 police officer it is relevant to all, since it's about the training, information and culture of the entire force. That's different from drivers, since drivers get almost no training.

by David C on May 14, 2014 1:46 pm • linkreport

Its quite possible that this behavior is uncommon among motorists, but the issue with the police response is systemic. Is there evidence for that - well I think we have abundant testimony from cyclists that most drivers do not act like this. QED. Is there a systemic problem in MPD? I don't know...

Huh? you just said in the first sentence that it was systemic.

by Scoot on May 14, 2014 1:47 pm • linkreport

Now if it were me personally, upon seeing that the driver passed me too closely I would have just assumed that his behavior is likely erratic and/or aggressive, and would have probably slowed down significantly to get away from him.

Sure, but in the moment it is difficult to make such an assessment. I don't slow down when I'm being passed, even if it is someone who is passing too closely. By the time he knew this guy was going to cut him off, it was already too late to brake.

by David C on May 14, 2014 1:53 pm • linkreport

@David C

Sure, but in the moment it is difficult to make such an assessment.

I don't find it very difficult, but maybe that's just my personality. In part because of stories like these, I'm usually more cautious than normal while on a bike.

by Scoot on May 14, 2014 1:59 pm • linkreport

Just this weekend (!) my brother was driving on Lee Highway when another driver tried aggressively to merge from the (terminating) RH lane into my brother's lane, literally coming over with a quarter car length of overlap remaining. My brother honked to no avail, then braked, letting the fellow in. The other driver was angered by the honk, I guess, and immediately slammed on his brakes, causing my brother to plow into his rear end. The airbags deployed, my brother's wrist was caught in front of the stick shift, and was fractured in four places. The police apparently understood the dynamic of the incident well enough to cite the other driver for changing lanes in an intersection, or some other provision of code that he'd violated.

It's the right outcome and it sounds like the police did a good job of getting to the bottom of it (witnesses confirmed my brother's rendition). It's just anecdotal of course and doesn't prove much of anything, but it presents an interesting contrast to a couple of the bike / auto stories we've read about lately.

by John on May 14, 2014 2:04 pm • linkreport

"Huh? you just said in the first sentence that it was systemic."

No sir. I said its POSSIBLE its systemic. Thats simply to establish that a systemic MPD problem is logically consistent with this being about one driver. IOW its about one driver not only because only one driver is in the video, but because we know about the behaviors of drivers in general. Now Dave C says that this shows only one cop, but it speaks to police training, etc. I would add that while it shows only one cop, we coujld have knowledge about other cops that this is an example of. that is an empirical question, and that is the question which I do not know the answer to.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 14, 2014 2:12 pm • linkreport

I don't find it very difficult, but maybe that's just my personality. In part because of stories like these, I'm usually more cautious than normal while on a bike.

I don't think I'm alone in finding it difficult knowing what someone will do next. Especially when I can't see their face.

I don't normally treat every driver who passes too close as though they are then going to cut me off and slam on the brakes. Anyone who does so is indeed a very cautious cyclist. But, such a person is not correctly deducing danger, they're just assuming that everyone is trying to kill them. I'm not ready to live like that yet.

by David C on May 14, 2014 2:31 pm • linkreport

@David C

It's one thing to presume to know what someone will do ahead of time (which I did not say I could do) and another to modify one's behavior to prepare for possible bad behavior.

I don't assume that everyone who passes me too close will then cut me off or kill me (if I did, I wouldn't be on a bike), but it's a risk-reward analysis. What do I gain from trying to ride along with (or pass) someone like that? If someone is passing too close, what else are they likely to do, or not do?

You said yourself that drivers "get almost no training". What little training drivers do get has almost nothing to do with how to behave around cyclists, which is all the more reason to be cautious.

Whether it is "correctly" deducing behavior I have no idea, but I've never been hit by a car. Maybe I've just been lucky.

by Scoot on May 14, 2014 10:12 pm • linkreport

What do I gain from trying to ride along with (or pass) someone like that?
You have not seen the video, just as all of us but three here apparently. You have no idea whether there was an effort made to "ride along" with the passing vehicle or what. Nobody on a bike is ever looking to put themselves in harms way.

I'm not sure why there's all this discussion to try to excuse the behavior of the driver, who clearly passed when it was unsafe to do so (illegal) and then cut off the cyclist (also illegal).

Whether it is "correctly" deducing behavior I have no idea, but I've never been hit by a car. Maybe I've just been lucky.
Or maybe you just don't ride as much as Mr. Wilder, who rides a lot every day. Exposure time is important when comparing how likely two people are to have been hit by cars.

by MLD on May 15, 2014 8:23 am • linkreport

@MLD

I'm not sure who these comments are being directed to but personally I'm not excusing the behavior of the driver. Maybe someone else is.

And there is a difference between looking to put oneself in harm's way, and making a decision that one knows might put oneself in harm's way. Like you said, some people are not bothered by engaging, even though engaging could put them in harm's way.

I also clearly stated that I didn't see the video myself and so did not know exactly what happened. Neither did you but that doesn't seem to be stopping you from making assumptions about what did or did not occur and even what was going thru the driver's mind at the time of the incident.

by Scoot on May 15, 2014 8:57 am • linkreport

To those arguing that this is a single datapoint, I'd note that BOTH times Evan Wilder was hit, it was documented, and the police did not distinguish themselves.

by SJE on May 15, 2014 5:43 pm • linkreport

I am handling a strikingly similar case here in OH without the benefit of video. In my case, though, the motorist was known to the cyclist as he had "buzzed" the rider before, to such a harrowing degree that the cyclist called 911 a few months earlier. Very similar crash scenario - close pass, tried to nudge off the road, sudden stop - except my client suffered extremely severe injuries. Very small town LEO did nothing to the motorist and filed a report, in essence, blaming the cyclist - we aggressively reached out to the LEO and filed a 4 page affidavit from the rider explaining his side, including the prior history of run-ins with the same driver. Cops didn't change anything, but our side of the story was made part of the public record. We also thoroughly investigated and are pursuing the civil claim - the prior reported run-ins with this motorist helped carry the day as his insurer has finally accepted liability - given the magnitude of the injuries, we are uncertain if this is an "under-insured" case

The lessons here, from this case and mine, would appear to be
- CALL IN those close calls by aggressive motorists, reporting license numbers and such - it may not mean squat in your situation but may help the NEXT guy
- Don't be afraid to supplement the police report with your own statement and ask that it be included with the official report. Often the cyclist is carted away in an ambulance and the LEO completes his "investigation" without thoroughly discussing what happened with the victim, or talking to the cyclist after his/her mind has been made up as to what happened...
- Get a GoPro if you are riding frequently in areas known for or prone to aggressive motoring…
- Local, state and national cycling groups need to do a better job of developing a good rapport with LEO's and educating LEO's about the aggressive/criminal behaviors we experience. Here in OH there are some 900 different LEO's. I've done 300+ bike cases and have seen crash investigations and reports ranging from stupid and ridiculous to incredible, detailed, precise and professional… its' a long…long… struggle...

by steve magas on May 20, 2014 10:26 am • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or