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Old 04-23-08, 10:52 AM   #1
bakunin
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Trying a different approach to law enforcement?

I was reading this thread

Plain clothes bike cop + Moto to curb road rage

And felt its absolutely ridiculous to expect assistance from police. I also do not feel I want any more police around than necessary in the places I frequent. Also, frankly, they make me nervous, as a cyclist and as someone who has had negative personal experiences with police (unwarranted), and watched complete inactivity when cyclists around me were actually in need of assistance and law enforcement.

So I want to hear opinions from other cyclists. Would you encourage slightly more direct action against drivers who create blatantly/purposefully dangerous situations? I think a broken window, a dent in the door, or a missing mirror would probably teach them a lesson. A U-lock is a pretty solid instrument, I feel.

This isnt necessary advocating the tactic, but it does pose an interesting opportunity to enforce the law without getting tied up in red tape, witnesses, and unconcerned law enforcement.

Also, hi Adam. Thanks for telling me about the boards.
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Old 04-23-08, 11:28 AM   #2
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So I want to hear opinions from other cyclists. Would you encourage slightly more direct action against drivers who create blatantly/purposefully dangerous situations? I think a broken window, a dent in the door, or a missing mirror would probably teach them a lesson. A U-lock is a pretty solid instrument, I feel.

This isnt necessary advocating the tactic, but it does pose an interesting opportunity to enforce the law without getting tied up in red tape, witnesses, and unconcerned law enforcement.
No, don't do this... if drivers feel the need to retaliate, cyclists don't stand a chance. Motorists have speed, mass, and power on their side. Let's not start a "range war."

And as far as "enforcing the law... " all you are proposing is vigilantism.

As bad as it may get, this is not the solution.
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Old 04-23-08, 11:37 AM   #3
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Only if you want to go to jail for criminal damage....if you're lucky and survive the encounter with a 2000+ pound vehicle.....

Thanks but no thanks. I'll just keep pedaling and make sure my temper is in check.
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Old 04-23-08, 12:06 PM   #4
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Motorist anger and retaliation may not come back on you. It may come back instead on some other cyclist.
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Old 04-23-08, 12:31 PM   #5
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If I were to see you riding in a way I considered dangerous, would you advocate me making a fine taco of your wheel or should I give it a good try in creating some frame damage?
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Old 04-23-08, 05:28 PM   #6
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I certainly feel like it sometimes, but really, such things rarely end well for anyone involved.
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Old 04-23-08, 05:35 PM   #7
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Would you encourage slightly more direct action against cyclists who create blatantly/purposefully dangerous situations? I think being squeezed against a curb would probably teach them a lesson. A motor vehicle is a pretty solid instrument, I feel.

This isnt necessary advocating the tactic, but it does pose an interesting opportunity to enforce the law without getting tied up in red tape, witnesses, and unconcerned law enforcement.
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Old 04-23-08, 06:14 PM   #8
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ulock justice only works for bike messengers in bumper to bumper newyork traffic where they can escape but the cars cant.

violence never works. violence is easy to counteract with violence. peace however is harder to counteract with violence.

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Old 04-23-08, 07:17 PM   #9
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So I want to hear opinions from other cyclists. Would you encourage slightly more direct action against drivers who create blatantly/purposefully dangerous situations? I think a broken window, a dent in the door, or a missing mirror would probably teach them a lesson. A U-lock is a pretty solid instrument, I feel.

This isnt necessary advocating the tactic, but it does pose an interesting opportunity to enforce the law without getting tied up in red tape, witnesses, and unconcerned law enforcement.
I would advise against unreasonable action against a motorist, with "unreasonable" meaning anything a grand jury or trial jury would figure a "reasonable man" would not do. This "reasonable man" standard is well-covered in legal circles; look it up. Keep in mind that grand jurors and trial jurors these days are not likely to be avid cyclists, but are very likely to be motorists.

Retaliatory damage to a vehicle is very difficult to justify, and if the near-miss or close call is over, even by a second or two, any damage inflicted is indeed retaliatory, not defensive. I am not a lawyer, but do wear a badge, so this is not legal advice. If I ever see a motorist using a vehicle as a weapon against a cyclist, or anyone else for that matter, I will try to get the DA's office to accept a charge of Aggravated Assault against the driver. Admittedly, that can be an uphill battle. When motorists run us (police) down, it is very difficult to get the DA to prosecute, unless the driver is legally drunk. And, even if the felony charge is filed, an acquittal is common, sadly.
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Old 04-23-08, 07:29 PM   #10
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^^^ The biggest problem is that there are not MORE POLICE out there LIKE YOU! ^^^
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Old 04-23-08, 07:50 PM   #11
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Admittedly, that can be an uphill battle. When motorists run us (police) down, it is very difficult to get the DA to prosecute, unless the driver is legally drunk. And, even if the felony charge is filed, an acquittal is common, sadly.
If they won't do it for the police, they won't even think about doing it for the employers of the Police and Justice System.
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Old 04-23-08, 08:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bakunin View Post
I was reading this thread

Plain clothes bike cop + Moto to curb road rage

And felt its absolutely ridiculous to expect assistance from police. I also do not feel I want any more police around than necessary in the places I frequent. Also, frankly, they make me nervous, as a cyclist and as someone who has had negative personal experiences with police (unwarranted), and watched complete inactivity when cyclists around me were actually in need of assistance and law enforcement.

So I want to hear opinions from other cyclists. Would you encourage slightly more direct action against drivers who create blatantly/purposefully dangerous situations? I think a broken window, a dent in the door, or a missing mirror would probably teach them a lesson. A U-lock is a pretty solid instrument, I feel.

This isnt necessary advocating the tactic, but it does pose an interesting opportunity to enforce the law without getting tied up in red tape, witnesses, and unconcerned law enforcement.

Also, hi Adam. Thanks for telling me about the boards.

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Old 04-27-08, 08:37 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by bakunin View Post
I was reading this thread

Plain clothes bike cop + Moto to curb road rage

And felt its absolutely ridiculous to expect assistance from police. I also do not feel I want any more police around than necessary in the places I frequent. Also, frankly, they make me nervous, as a cyclist and as someone who has had negative personal experiences with police (unwarranted), and watched complete inactivity when cyclists around me were actually in need of assistance and law enforcement.
The idea was proposed, and after thinking it over I decided such a plan might have some positive benefits:

1. It might net a few of the most aggressive drivers, putting them on notice that they can't always expect a free pass to abuse cyclists.

2. It might act as a general wakeup call to the driving public that there are a significant number of cyclists on the road, and that they have a right to be there.

3. I had hopes that such an operation might sensitize the officers involved to the plight of riders who must deal with aggressive drivers. If this outcome was achieved, reporting an incident of road rage against a cyclist might become a real possibility, and not the baby-on-a-doorstep proposition that it is now.
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Old 04-27-08, 02:15 PM   #14
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Admittedly, that can be an uphill battle. When motorists run us (police) down, it is very difficult to get the DA to prosecute, unless the driver is legally drunk. And, even if the felony charge is filed, an acquittal is common, sadly.
Yup, everyone drives, everyone makes mistakes, and Juries know it. Furthermore, there is no _standard of care_ established for driving. Funny (funny sad), but true.
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Old 04-27-08, 05:25 PM   #15
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I would advise against unreasonable action against a motorist, with "unreasonable" meaning anything a grand jury or trial jury would figure a "reasonable man" would not do. This "reasonable man" standard is well-covered in legal circles; look it up. Keep in mind that grand jurors and trial jurors these days are not likely to be avid cyclists, but are very likely to be motorists.

Retaliatory damage to a vehicle is very difficult to justify, and if the near-miss or close call is over, even by a second or two, any damage inflicted is indeed retaliatory, not defensive. I am not a lawyer, but do wear a badge, so this is not legal advice. If I ever see a motorist using a vehicle as a weapon against a cyclist, or anyone else for that matter, I will try to get the DA's office to accept a charge of Aggravated Assault against the driver. Admittedly, that can be an uphill battle. When motorists run us (police) down, it is very difficult to get the DA to prosecute, unless the driver is legally drunk. And, even if the felony charge is filed, an acquittal is common, sadly.
Your legal points, though not "advice," are spot on.

I'm curious-- why is it such an uphill battle to get the D.A.'s office to prosecute on appropriate charges? I mean, I understand that their hands are often bound by the requirement to show something like recklessness, or intent, but I would think if somebody is using their vehicle as a weapon, intent has been demonstrated. Any insights from your experiences in talking with prosecutors?
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Old 04-27-08, 05:29 PM   #16
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No, don't do this... if drivers feel the need to retaliate, cyclists don't stand a chance. Motorists have speed, mass, and power on their side. Let's not start a "range war."
There's a lawyer here in town who represented a cyclist who resorted to some "u-lock justice"...and whom the driver promptly ran down in retaliation for the "u-lock justice."

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And as far as "enforcing the law... " all you are proposing is vigilantism.

As bad as it may get, this is not the solution.
It's not law enforcement, it's assault.
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Old 04-27-08, 08:37 PM   #17
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If you want to get the Police on your side, join or start a bicycle club then organize rides and give the proceeds to the Police Department. You could even organize the ride and publicize it as a Law Enforcment Benefit ride. You could also invite some officers to join the club or join some of your rides.

If you scratch their back, they will scratch yours.

However, acting violently toward jack@ss drivers will only attract negative attention to cyclists and make everybody hates. Be the bigger person.
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Old 04-27-08, 09:01 PM   #18
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I remember a time that I was making a long right hand turn and a van came up beside me turning in the same direction. He inched close enough to almost push me into the barrier (within a couple of inches) on the right hand side. I reacted by first yelling and then, when he didn't give me a little breathing room, I smacked the side of the van as hard as I could. He then realized what was happening and moved out but he could have just as easily gotten pissed , nudged me into a very high concrete barrier and kept on driving.
My reaction was out of panic and anger but I agree with genec. It's a battle you can't win and if I had it to do again I would have simply hit the brakes
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Old 04-27-08, 09:05 PM   #19
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So I want to hear opinions from other cyclists. Would you encourage slightly more direct action against drivers who create blatantly/purposefully dangerous situations? I think a broken window, a dent in the door, or a missing mirror would probably teach them a lesson. A U-lock is a pretty solid instrument, I feel.

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Old 04-27-08, 09:17 PM   #20
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I wonder how fast you'd decelerate if you actually fired a rocket out of the front of your top tube? Never mind the burns!
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Old 04-27-08, 09:52 PM   #21
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I wonder how fast you'd decelerate if you actually fired a rocket out of the front of your top tube? Never mind the burns!
No doubt...
You'd have to rig up some pre-ignition, pressurized air system... like they have with "boomer" subs.
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Old 04-27-08, 10:59 PM   #22
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a long time ago I was a far more aggressive cyclist than I am now with regards JAM's. And some of my cycling friends were like a renegade tribe on some rides. They broke mirrors, ripped out car antennae, keyed cars, spat in open windows- stuff I didn't do but I would be riding with them and didn't exactly protest their actions.

At this point, I can say there's little pay off that's positive from those kinds of acts. Most of the targets of our aggression were guys like us who were behind the wheel of a car instead of a set of handlebars. The only difference between us and them was our mode of transport and we were all jazzed up on adrenalin from a bike ride. We got away unscathed from most of our encounters but one time a friend and I got cornered by a car load of kids and a knife fight ensued between my friend and another kid. Fortunately, it ended with a few scratches in a stand-off but it could just as easily have ended really badly. As my wife's mother says, "It's all fun and games till someone gets a stick in the eye."

My suggestion is to go all zen and peaceful in response- oddly enough it takes more courage, intelligence, discipline, strength, self-esteem and balls to do so but it actually has a positive impact- at least one less act of violence- yours.
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Old 04-28-08, 07:37 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by bakunin View Post
I was reading this thread

Plain clothes bike cop + Moto to curb road rage

And felt its absolutely ridiculous to expect assistance from police. I also do not feel I want any more police around than necessary in the places I frequent. Also, frankly, they make me nervous, as a cyclist and as someone who has had negative personal experiences with police (unwarranted), and watched complete inactivity when cyclists around me were actually in need of assistance and law enforcement.

So I want to hear opinions from other cyclists. Would you encourage slightly more direct action against drivers who create blatantly/purposefully dangerous situations? I think a broken window, a dent in the door, or a missing mirror would probably teach them a lesson. A U-lock is a pretty solid instrument, I feel.

This isnt necessary advocating the tactic, but it does pose an interesting opportunity to enforce the law without getting tied up in red tape, witnesses, and unconcerned law enforcement.

Also, hi Adam. Thanks for telling me about the boards.

Hmmm...I suppose there is a time and a place for everything, though vigilanteism usually ends up costing more than ya ever thought as things spiral out of hand.

Police patrols on bicycles (and to a lesser extent, motorcycles) might go a long way toward making the police more sympathetic to the cause of cyclists, especially commuters for whom equal treatment on the road is such a crucial part of their long term viability.

And don't forget....one of the best ways to change the behavior or motorists is to set an example when you are behind the wheel. Always best to start with #1.

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Old 04-28-08, 08:05 AM   #24
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Hum, Lets think about this from a simple view. The officer gets a complaint of a motorist and a cyclist not playing well together. Senario 1: cyclist calm & explains what happend , motorist may be there to explain may not, but it ends up being he said vs he said. Not to much to go to court on. As a citizen I do not think I would like my tax dollars used to put this through court.
Senario 2: Motorist calls cops on a out of control cyclist and has proof, via a large dent or broken mirror. Criminal damage to property sound about right and as a citizen I would expect the officer to take action. .
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Old 04-28-08, 01:19 PM   #25
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Your legal points, though not "advice," are spot on.

I'm curious-- why is it such an uphill battle to get the D.A.'s office to prosecute on appropriate charges? I mean, I understand that their hands are often bound by the requirement to show something like recklessness, or intent, but I would think if somebody is using their vehicle as a weapon, intent has been demonstrated. Any insights from your experiences in talking with prosecutors?

Well, you said it; the prosecutor has the burden of proof on him/her, and has to convince a jury that there was intent, in order to prove assault. All a defense attorney has to do is plant reasonable doubt in the mind of ONE juror.

From experience, I do know that a prosecutor would much rather file a hit-and-run "accident" charge than assault, because the damage and the intent to flee the scene are self-evident. I am no authority on this; I work for a large agency that divides the labor, with a specialized detail that works this kind of stuff, unless I happen to be lucky enough to catch the bad guy, and then I will sometimes work the whole case, if there are no serious injuries. I still like being a first responder, after 24 years. It's been a wild ride. Let's see if I can make it to April 2012.
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