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Old 10-10-07, 07:45 AM   #1
mjw16
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What should I do?

Yesterday, on my way home, after running a couple of errands in Old Towne, I had an altercation with a driver. I was riding north on a two lane road (Commonwealth Ave) when a car came speeding up from behind and approached to within 3 feet or so of my wheel. I looked back and singnaled for him to back off. He did, he then proceeded to speed up and get similarly close to my wheel again. This time I looked back, waved at him to stop and yelled to back off, I could see that he was yelling unintelligably and making all kinds of hand gestures. I continued to ride and then noticed the light green fender of his car directly beside my left knee (within approx 1 ft.) as he approached yet again and tried to bump or squeeze me off the road. He was approaching so that he could roll his window down and proceeded to tell me how I "should get off the f@&cking street", "get on the sidewalk", and that he had "built a bike lane for me and that I should use it". I tried to reply that, in the state of Virginia, a bicycle is considered a vehicle with the same rights and responsibilities as a car and that I had a right to be where I was and that use of the bike path is not mandatory. We exchanged words (I invited him to get out of the car--he refused), I told him that I would call the cops on him, then he said "the next time I see you I'll run your @$$ over!". He then turned and raced off. I got his tag and called the police about a block later.

The cops were quick to respond, sending three cars, and I explained that this was a vehicular assault and that I'd like to pursue this to the furthest extent possible. They took my information, went to interview him but were initially unable to locate him. One of the officers later came to my house and informed me that the driver refuted my account of what happened and that, if I wanted to pursue this, I would have to present my account of the facts to a magistrate who would then determine if the facts amount to probable cause, sufficient to issue a warrant. I also found out that a simple assault is punishable by up to a year in jail and $25k in fines.

So, I need to determine if this is worth pursuing. I think it is, if not for me, for all the other cyclists and pedestrians who may encounter this guy (I counted no less than 3 other cyclists immediately after this occured and no less than a dozen later in the evening, plus I'm out there daily and so is my girfriend). Although it may mean a sworn statement and potential court appearance, I'm inclined to do it as I feel I've got an ethical and legal obligation.

The irony is that this occured over about a block, he was within 3 or so blocks of home when this happened. Either he couldn't be inconvenienced by me that it might delay his arrival by about a minute or, as I believe is likely the case, he has a grudge againts cyclists/pedestrians and was out to prove something.

I'm curious to see what others think I should do and to hear from someone who may have done exactly what I'm about to do. Please respond, I'll let everyone know what I decide to do and/or what happens.
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Old 10-10-07, 07:56 AM   #2
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I'd go after him if only to put it on record that a complaint was lodged against him. If it becomes your word against his w/ no witnesses and no damage done, it may not go to trial, but at least the complaint stays on his history if he's ever involved in another road rage incident.
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Old 10-10-07, 08:03 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by jyossarian View Post
I'd go after him if only to put it on record that a complaint was lodged against him. If it becomes your word against his w/ no witnesses and no damage done, it may not go to trial, but at least the complaint stays on his history if he's ever involved in another road rage incident.
+ 1. It may never go anywhere. But the next time he does this to someone else he'll have history... Who knows, maybe he already does!
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Old 10-10-07, 08:08 AM   #4
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...
So, I need to determine if this is worth pursuing. I think it is, if not for me, for all the other cyclists and pedestrians who may encounter this guy
...
Yes, I think we'd all appreciate it. I have no idea how these things go when it is your word against his. Even if they don't do anything to him at all I think the whole experience will change his attitude. I'm talking about his visiting with police and going before the judge wondering what his fate will be.

Also good to have this on record. Maybe they won't believe you, but the next time a cyclist complains about the same guy, they'll have some history to give more credence to the cyclists complaint. Furthermore, if you see him again and he does run you over then the police may not believe his story the second time with the previous complaint on record.

Edit: Do you know what he told the police? He would have had to make it up on the spot while being questioned. Maybe it's sort of not believable or inconsistent with itself.
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Old 10-10-07, 08:31 AM   #5
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He probably just dummied up and says "I don't know nothing" you got the wrong car or it never happened.
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Old 10-10-07, 08:39 AM   #6
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Actually, he said that I had been swerving in front of him (the implication was that I was intentionally blocking him) and that I banged on his car. 1) I never saw him until he sped up behind me and, 2) I never touched his car. The good news is that, at least, this places him at the scene, which bodes well for my claim. The cop just called to give me the case # so I can now proceed to the magistrate. I'll let him/her determine if this warrants future action and go from there.
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Old 10-10-07, 08:55 AM   #7
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Go after him, get onto Judge Judy, then post the episode on youtube!

Seriously, try to get him into a courtroom and at least put him in a position where he either coughs up the truth or lies before a magistrate (don't you just wish you had a video of the incident?) Maybe he'll crack under the pressure of having to lie in court to save his arse.
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Old 10-10-07, 09:39 AM   #8
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Go after him and make sure the media finds out, if you can get it in the news then other drivers might think before shoving their heads up their *****es.
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Old 10-10-07, 09:41 AM   #9
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Pursue it. 10:1 - he's done this before and will do it again. Be a thorn - and yeah it may not go anywhere, but we need to start somewhere.

And definitely keep us updated!


A motorist just got out of his car and spit in my face...
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Old 10-10-07, 09:43 AM   #10
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I'm of the opposite opinion. Let it go, forget it and move on. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this road rage episode is not as serious as some other accounts I've read recently. Scary as it was, nobody got hurt. You called the cops and they spoke with him, and they probably have a record of it. Maybe the JAM will think twice now about harrasing bikers.

However, keep an account of incident for your own records, and definitely pursue it if you tangle with him again.
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Old 10-10-07, 09:47 AM   #11
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Well maybe not what you want to hear but a car will always win in an assault against a bicycle/motorcycle/scooter. It sucks, but you may win your case and he might get more mad and hit and run next time. Sometimes you just gotta take a deep breath realize that he has something going on in his life, get off your bike and wait for him to drive away (what would buddha do?).
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Old 10-10-07, 10:02 AM   #12
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I think he put you at significant danger, and would pursue it to the ends of your own convenience (i.e. is it worth having to make multiple court appearances over?).

The question I think you will run into, however, is were there any witnesses? How far do you believe you'll get? Maybe having the cops come and question him was enough to put a scare in him.

I had an incident at my apartment complex with a pack of 6 pitbulls offleash attacking me, my wife, my six month old and our on leash dog. It was pretty vicious, and they knocked my wife down with the baby. I snatched the baby from her, and she jumped up and started kicking out violently and screaming! It was horrendous, and we called the cops, who spoke with them. They apologized and said it was not typical (a lie) and it wouldn't happen again. So, we didn't press charges, and for a week they walked the pitbulls on leashes. At the end of that week, they got lazy and started letting them out leashless again. I was furious, and was convinced we should have pressed charges for assault. Especially since the owners did little to nothing to try and control their dogs (they stood back and called their names while their dogs were attacking ours). These people were very flippant about it as though it was our fault. No, I'm no judge, jury and executioner, but I should have pressed charges, and so should you.
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Old 10-10-07, 10:10 AM   #13
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How much credibility will you have in the future if you tell the police of an alleged vehicular assault and then fail to press charges? It seems to me that you have no choice but to go all the way with this. Besides. I see it as your duty as a citizen.

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Old 10-10-07, 10:23 AM   #14
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GO GET HIM!

And please keep us informed.

Thanks
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Old 10-10-07, 10:30 AM   #15
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Get him. He threatened you. If nothing else,he'll think twice about screwing with another cyclist because there'll be a record of a previous incident.

Be glad you're in VA. In DC the cop's prolly wouldn't have showed up,and would've blamed you if they did.
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Old 10-10-07, 10:38 AM   #16
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If you can stand to pursue the matter a little further, I think you should. Obviously we have to pick our battles based on what we hope to win. The goal here is not to ruin the guy's life, but impress on him that his behavior is unacceptable. The fact that he's already lying about what he did, I think, shows that he already knows this. So now you just have to make him sweat a little. If you can make your allegations become a part of his driving record, that should do the trick.

But note, my first word was "If." If you don't have the energy to pursue this, you don't have to.
The whole event sounds unpleasant enough as is, and it may get uglier if you pursue it.
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Old 10-10-07, 10:44 AM   #17
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Take a stand.

There has been a steady erosion of 'common decency' in our culture. I believe this is due to more people not wanting to 'get involved'. To use the old phrase 'It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.' If you want to be a user of public roads, take a stand.
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Old 10-10-07, 10:53 AM   #18
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If I were you, I would go after him, and getting the fact that he said he was going to "run you over" is very important to get on file.

Go after him and possibly stop him from running someone else over or yourself if he sees you again.

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Old 10-10-07, 11:37 AM   #19
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If those were his exact words he could be done up for making terroristic threats.
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Old 10-10-07, 11:55 AM   #20
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Go get him! We need more people like you, who are willing to spend the time to stand up for their rights and the rights of others.

Last edited by jeff-o; 10-10-07 at 11:55 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old 10-10-07, 02:55 PM   #21
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Good job on getting his license plate, keeping your cool, and talking to the cops.

+1 on getting him on record for a complaint. Will likely go nowhere this time, but as others have mentioned will add credibility to future complaints against him, and protect you in the future.

-1 on the Buddha comments. Too f#$(in' bad if he had a rotten day. It's assault with a deadly weapon. It's no different from a person swinging a bat or a knife at you. A car will only "always win" so long as people don't stand up for what they think is right.

A helmet cam would be a good idea in either case.
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Old 10-10-07, 03:47 PM   #22
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Quick update:

Many of the comments here helped reassure me that my initial inclination to pursue this was for the right reasons. I decided to go to the magistrate today and swear in a statement, requesting a warrant be issued for his arrest. They will review the case, speak with the officer, consider my statement, and make a determination if there's enough cause to proceed with an arrest warrant. If they decide that cause exists, he'll either be arrested with the opportunity to post bail or, issued a summons to appear in court. I'll then be required to attend and bear witness, which I'll happily do. If they decide that there's insufficient cause, they'll forgoe the warrent, however, the initial complaint will still serve as a reference againts him in potential future incidents.

My goal isn't necassarilly to sink him, it's to be a good citizen and pursue the appropriate legal punishment for someone who is obviously a threat to cyclists and other pedestrians. I'll keep everyone updated.

Thanks for all the replies.
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Old 10-10-07, 03:53 PM   #23
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That's crazy!
I take Commonwealth whenever possible because it's a nice wide quiet street... I've never had that happen, and don't want to run into this same guy! I don't go down there as much since I moved to DC (now I use the Mt. V trail) but it always struck me as an ideal commuting street. I'd ride right on the white line separating the 'bike lane' from the travel lane, and there was still plenty of room to go around.
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Old 10-10-07, 07:27 PM   #24
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mjw16- Thanks for this thread. I had a similar incident recently, oddly enough also on Commonwealth Avenue- but in Boston, MA. The driver leaned on his horn, swerved his vehicle at me then backed it up at me, then jerked it to a stop near me and flipped me the bird and yelled out his window at me. I still have absolutely no idea what he was all bent out of shape about. I had passed him in the right lane at a light but stopped and went on the green. I whipped out my cell phone and feigned getting his plate number and calling the police. I probably should have actually called the cops. Another cyclist saw me stopped by the side of the road and said they witnessed the behavior and would back me up if I called.

I opted not to- but your thread makes me think it might have been a better choice to call the cops and pursue it further.

Good luck and keep us up to date. Drivers like this are incredibly dangerous to cyclists, pedestrians and other drivers.
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Old 10-11-07, 09:19 AM   #25
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Get a helmet camera and use it all the time. I use the same camera for both my bicycle and motorcycle. I've been doing it for over a year now. I live in "Podunk" Alabama and events like yours are not out of the ordinary, at least until I started pushing back as you are. With video evidence it's easy to get these DWS (Driving While Stupid) drivers arrested, brought before a judge, and issued huge fines. The look on the face of the person in court as he/she views video of them in the process of harassing the cyclist is priceless as is the look the judge is giving the offender right after the video is finished. I've never seen a judge give them anything less than the maximum allowable fine. I pretty much copied the Calvary CAPP06 camera system shown here.
http://www.k3pgp.org/bikecam.htm

This allows me to show the video to a policeman immediately.
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