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Old 09-12-10, 09:09 AM   #1
mconlonx 
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Hit by goons in car

Couple of weeks ago, commute home, uphill on a straightaway, two lane road without any kind of shoulder. Was cranking along on the umpteenth hill on my way home and instantly felt a car too close and then something hitting my back. Let out a yell (not some girly scream, more like manly tenor output, ahem), car was past, I was still upright and on the road. Gold SUV with people on the passenger side arms out. Someone on the driver's side put up a hand in a wave, could swear I heard hootin' and saw the arms that hit me do victorious arm pumps. F**ckers.

I pulled off in the next driveway, called the cops and reported an assault. Note to drivers: if you're going to mess with cyclists, DON'T have vanity plates. I make it a habit of training to remember plates, so NH reg CHICE-D was not too hard to remember. Cops were responsive and said they would follow up, asked about injury, said they would send a car out. I said I'd meet them at the station since it is right on my way home; they found be a few miles down the road and we pulled off into the Post Office to discuss the situation. Cop from neighboring town showed up as well. I filled out a statement, they said they would track them down, had notified all surrounding towns.

Later that night, cop called who was going to deal with the case, said they found the people, who admitted to what had happened, but said it was due to inattention, that the passengers had their arms out the windows because it was a warm day. I asked the cop if he really believed it, no comment; he asked for my opinion and I said I thought it was 70% likely that their account was total bull****, that I was pretty certain they meant to harass. They needed my input to gauge how to proceed.

Couple weeks later, I call in to follow up. Since our stories don't match up, and it's my word against theirs with no witnesses, they are going with a civil charge of passing within 3' of a cyclist, $100 fine. I'm OK with that.

They basically admitted to hit and run, and since there was no arrest and thus no arrest record, in retrospect I wish I'd pushed a bit on the matter for misdemeanor hit and run, but any record is better than none, and at least there's an official file on all four goons in the car with a violation attached to it.

I'm guessing about 499 out of 500 cars pass without incident, that 500th car might get too close. But in 6 years of bike commuting, this is the first time I think someone screwed around with me on purpose. Sucks that the charges weren't a bit more severe, but again, I can live with enforcement of the 3' passing law.

Was wearing a helmet, dark clothes in shady area, no mirror. Road is posted in that area at 45 mph, again, no shoulder, I was riding about 18" from the shoulder, maybe 6" into the road from the fog line, right third of the left hand tire track for motor vehicles.
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Old 09-12-10, 09:13 AM   #2
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Good on you for pursuing this matter. Well done.
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Old 09-12-10, 05:15 PM   #3
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Sounds like you did the right thing, and so did the cops. If you are really only "70% sure" that they meant to harass you, then criminal charges don't make sense. A jury won't (or at least, shouldn't) convict because they think someone is probably guilty; they need to be sure beyond a reasonable doubt.

Of course, you could still push for a hit and run charge, on the grounds that even if the passengers didn't mean to hit you, the driver should have stopped. That one might stick...but still probably not. I'm not even sure that a passenger smacking someone with their hand counts as a traffic collision -- especially if you didn't lose control of the bike -- so the driver might not be obligated to stop. Even if he is, the DA would have to prove, again beyond a reasonable doubt, that the driver knew what his passenger had done.

The one thing that's undeniable is that the driver passed you too close, and that's what they got him for. And if the passengers are under 18, which from their behavior it sounds like they are, I hope it will be a long time before their parents let them ride in a friend's car again, let alone drive.

(I know, I'm expecting way too much good sense from the parents. But hey, it could happen...)
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Old 09-12-10, 05:25 PM   #4
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Maybe next time they'll get something worse than a $100 fine -
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Old 09-12-10, 09:35 PM   #5
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Two decades ago I had a friend give up cycling because of a similar incident. She was riding along a local rural road that generally had no traffic other than bikes due to a nearby parallel highway. She heard a car overtaking her at a suspiciously slow speed. She looked in her mirror and the passenger had his arm out the window preparing to strike her. She quickly got her frame pump off and, when the car pulled alongside, she beat the would-be spanker bloody with it. The driver laughed and drove off. Neither the Yolo County Sheriff nor the California Hwy Patrol would even take a report; attacks on cyclists don't count as crimes.
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Old 09-13-10, 06:34 AM   #6
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Maybe next time they'll get something worse than a $100 fine -
Instant karma indeed. IIRC, the guy died from head injuries.
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Old 09-13-10, 08:36 AM   #7
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Hey a $100 fine is at least one good reason for 3 foot laws. Good job... too bad this just goes to show that there are some real idiots out there in cages.

I've been yelled at and had stuff tossed my way. Really gets the ire up.
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Old 09-13-10, 09:03 AM   #8
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A visit from the cops and a $100 fine is probably a LOT more than they bargained for.

Add to this the fact that it is probably on a record somewhere (ie if they do it again their story won't be so believable) and it may even affect their insurance.

Nice job.
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Old 09-13-10, 09:16 AM   #9
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Come on, you can admit that you did the gurly scream, we've all done it...especially when having a nightmare about being attacked by mean-assed alien kitties, right?









right?
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Old 09-13-10, 09:50 AM   #10
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I think you got a favorable and reasonable result.
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Old 09-13-10, 09:51 AM   #11
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Instant karma indeed. IIRC, the guy died from head injuries.
Just another point for mandatory helmet laws in cars.
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Old 09-13-10, 10:34 AM   #12
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Cone on, you can admit that you did the gurly scream, we've all done it...especially when having a nightmare about being attacked by mean-assed alien kitties, right?








right?
I about screamed when I saw a skunk on my way home last night, but figured that would just make things worse. The Magic Shine, Fenix L2D and Terralux (all on high) didn't phase it much, and I was glad to see it happily wander away.

OP, good for you for doing the right thing.
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Old 09-13-10, 10:42 AM   #13
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Maybe next time they'll get something worse than a $100 fine -
He shoulda been wearin' a helmet.



Seatbelt woulda be a good idea, too.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 09-13-10, 10:54 AM   #14
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Just another point for mandatory helmet laws in cars.
Technically he wasn't 'in' the car. There certainly is an argument to be made for mandating helmet use for those who ride cars by hanging outside from the door, LOL. Not that it would have helped this guy (unless he was wearing a full face motorbike helmet) - the car hit him right in the mouth.

By the way, he didn't die. Apparently he was knocked unconscious, lost five teeth, a chunk out of his upper lip, some of his memory and is not quite as pretty as he once was.

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Old 09-13-10, 10:59 AM   #15
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By the way, [the guy in the video] didn't die. Apparently he was knocked unconscious, lost five teeth, a chunk out of his upper lip, some of his memory and is not quite as pretty as he once was.
Guy only had like five brain cells to begin with; he couldn't really afford the ones he lost there...
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Old 09-13-10, 11:00 AM   #16
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That didn't kill him?


Whoa.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 09-13-10, 11:08 AM   #17
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Back on topic, well done to the OP - and the cops - for pursuing it. I've had stuff - an egg, a banana, an empty coke can - thrown at me from passing vehicles. I've never had a driver or passenger actually strike me.

It is, of course, only my prejudices that give rise to my feeling that this sort of thing is more likely to originate from gold SUVs...
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Old 09-13-10, 11:20 AM   #18
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Back on topic, well done to the OP - and the cops - for pursuing it. I've had stuff - an egg, a banana, an empty coke can - thrown at me from passing vehicles. I've never had a driver or passenger actually strike me.

It is, of course, only my prejudices that give rise to my feeling that this sort of thing is more likely to originate from gold SUVs...
Really, what is it about gold/champagne coloured cars... the ones around here with opaque tint - watch out - either they are high or can't see **** through the tint.. i dunno.
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Old 09-13-10, 11:38 AM   #19
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Come on, you can admit that you did the gurly scream, we've all done it...especially when having a nightmare about being attacked by mean-assed alien kitties, right?
I'm trying to figure out what this is a response to. Last year i did the Anakin Skywalker "Nooooooooo!" when a car was just about to pull out in front of me when I was descending a hill too fast to avoid it. I think it actually saved me, but it was embarrassing.

Years ago i was punched by a goon in a car. Turns out it was my scout leader's son. Don't think I said anything, but I got their license and called the cops.
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Old 09-13-10, 12:19 PM   #20
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I'm trying to figure out what this is a response to.
uh, the OP?

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Couple of weeks ago, commute home, uphill on a straightaway, two lane road without any kind of shoulder. Was cranking along on the umpteenth hill on my way home and instantly felt a car too close and then something hitting my back. Let out a yell (not some girly scream, more like manly tenor output, ahem), car was past, I was still upright and on the road. Gold SUV with people on the passenger side arms out. Someone on the driver's side put up a hand in a wave, could swear I heard hootin' and saw the arms that hit me do victorious arm pumps. F**ckers.
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Old 09-13-10, 12:25 PM   #21
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I'm trying to figure out what this is a response to. Last year i did the Anakin Skywalker "Nooooooooo!" when a car was just about to pull out in front of me when I was descending a hill too fast to avoid it. I think it actually saved me, but it was embarrassing.
I shouted "HEY!!!" like a barking sea lion once, going down a hill when a car was about to merge into me. It was summer, the windows were down and the sun roof was open; the driver jumped, then stayed in his lane until I zoomed past. This was down hill and some speed, and I'm sure yelling is the only reason I didn't hit the asphalt.
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Old 09-14-10, 01:46 PM   #22
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Maybe next time they'll get something worse than a $100 fine -
Along the same lines, a friend of my son showed me a video of some people jumping off a pier into the water which was, oh, maybe 20-30 feet down. One guy didn't jump out far enough and landed on the abuttment with his face. It cleaved it up from bridge of his nose to his adams apple. The video showed him in the hospital, conscious, while they were putting him back together. Apparently he lived. It was one of the most hideous videos I've ever seen though.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 09-14-10, 01:46 PM   #23
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I shouted "HEY!!!" like a barking sea lion once, going down a hill when a car was about to merge into me. It was summer, the windows were down and the sun roof was open; the driver jumped, then stayed in his lane until I zoomed past. This was down hill and some speed, and I'm sure yelling is the only reason I didn't hit the asphalt.
I use the HEY! thing too. I think of it as my horn.
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Old 09-14-10, 01:56 PM   #24
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I use the HEY! thing too. I think of it as my horn.
I yell "STOP" at cars when it looks like they are about to run a Stop sign in front of me. It has saved me a couple of times.
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Old 09-14-10, 03:13 PM   #25
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wearing dark clothes in a shady area ?



as a commuting cyclist with a pretty strong mindset of self-preservation, i'm of the opinion that i make myself as visible as possible on the roadway. not doing so decreases my chances of being seen AND my right to claim negligence on the part of that motorist, who has more legitimacy in saying "i didn't see him".....



seems to me you're a bit complicit in your predicament.
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