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Old 12-04-08, 08:32 PM   #1
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"Get a Light" comment leads to beating of 50+'er

One of the Madison LBS owners was harassed and beaten for telling another cyclist to "Get a light."

This even after he gave them a light.

http://www.madison.com/tct/news/stories/317158

The bicyclist who felt "extremely insulted" when a fellow biker told him to get a light on his bike and ended up beating the commenter was arrested and tentatively charged with battery and disorderly conduct Wednesday, police said.

Dustin Dunlavy, 28, Madison, allegedly grabbed Colin O'Brien, 51, around the head in the confrontation on South Shore Drive the night of Nov. 26.

O'Brien is the owner of Cronometro, a Williamson Street shop making custom bicycles.

Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said many citizens helped in identifying the "bike rage" suspect.

Dunlavy was biking with a woman who DeSpain said was Dunlavy's girlfriend.

"She was interviewed but wasn't charged," DeSpain said.

According to police:

The incident started about 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 26 as O'Brien was biking home on South Shore Drive, on the south side of Monona Bay.

Two bicyclists came up behind O'Brien, with one saying they were going to pass him on the left. As they passed, O'Brien said, "Get a light."

Dunlavy apparently asked him to repeat himself so he did, with the couple then telling O'Brien to mind his own business. Dunlavy apparently then tried to run O'Brien off the road.

The pair followed O'Brien to his home, where the light talk continued.

The female said it appeared O'Brien had plenty of lights and asked for one, so he gave one to her, but Dunlavy still was upset and clamped his hands around O'Brien's head, according to a police report.

The report added that he twisted O'Brien to the ground and kicked him in the ribs, but Dunlavy denied doing so when he was arrested.

"He also said he didn't think it (grabbing his head) would cause pain because the victim was wearing a bike helmet," DeSpain said.

When asked why he didn't just ride away after the "get a light" comment, Dunlavy apparently told police he felt extremely insulted by the statement.

"He didn't think anyone had a right to tell him he should have a light on his bike," DeSpain said.
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Old 12-04-08, 08:42 PM   #2
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This is a pretty common response to any unsolicited advice to idiots on bikes. Keep in mind that those that ride without lights and with general disdain for the safety of themselves and others are in some way disadvantaged, either socially, mentally, or both.

Kent Peterson found a wellspring of compassion to respond to the problem.

Is he a saint?
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Old 12-05-08, 04:08 AM   #3
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Was Dunlavy ticketed for not having a light? From Wisconsin statutes:
347.489(1)
(1) No person may operate a bicycle, motor bicycle, or electric personal assistive mobility device upon a highway, sidewalk, bicycle lane, or bicycle way during hours of darkness unless the bicycle, motor bicycle, or electric personal assistive mobility device is equipped with or, with respect to a bicycle or motor bicycle, the operator is wearing, a lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle, motor bicycle, or electric personal assistive mobility device...
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Old 12-05-08, 04:14 AM   #4
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I don't know what makes the cycling community think it is immune from the dross that makes up much of the broader communities we live in. Thoughtless, aggressive and easily insulted drivers become thoughtless, aggressive and easily insulted cyclists.
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Old 12-05-08, 05:00 AM   #5
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There are folks who tell me that those cyclists who routinely run stop signs and flout the laws appear to come from the upper percentiles of the arrogant part of our society. This may or may not be true but I have yet to see anything to disproove it. I'd have to agree with Rowan that the cycling community appears to be a relatively proportional slice of humanity.
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Old 12-05-08, 06:25 AM   #6
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Unfortuneately, these kind of things are not uncommon. The reason why the wife and I carry pepper spray in an easy to reach location when we bike either road or trail.

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Old 12-05-08, 07:46 AM   #7
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I had a similar reaction from a rider many years ago while riding on a rural section of roadway. The rider was riding on the wrong side of the road and we began a game of "chicken" as we approached each other. I held my ground and the "insulted" rider turned around and chased me down wanting to know what my problem was. I told him that he was riding on the wrong side of the road and I didn't feel like I should have to move. The guy totally went beserk and I promptly dropped him for fear of my life (literally) and left him while he fed me a fading barage of expletives.
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Old 12-05-08, 07:56 AM   #8
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I had a similar reaction from a rider many years ago while riding on a rural section of roadway. The rider was riding on the wrong side of the road and we began a game of "chicken" as we approached each other. I held my ground and the "insulted" rider turned around and chased me down wanting to know what my problem was. I told him that he was riding on the wrong side of the road and I didn't feel like I should have to move. The guy totally went beserk and I promptly dropped him for fear of my life (literally) and left him while he fed me a fading barage of expletives.
I had the same situation last time I rode in New Brunswick, NJ, although I avoided the confrontation by yielding. I'm not strong enough to drop anyone.
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Old 12-05-08, 08:37 AM   #9
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I had the same situation last time I rode in New Brunswick, NJ, although I avoided the confrontation by yielding. I'm not strong enough to drop anyone.
Fear is a great motivator!
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Old 12-05-08, 08:49 AM   #10
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Interesting thread. During the winter I do Tues./Thur. evening rides on the local MUPs (Coyote Creek and San Gabe to Seal Beach and back to Whittier, 30 mi.) and often see riders without lights.

Some of them are the homeless, who camp out along the trail, others vary but include the socio-economic examples noted above. On the other side of the coin, though, many riders have lights, and many of those have hgh-power lights, so the situation is not all bleak.

Fortunately, my light (Nite-Rider Blow-Torch) will pick up the pedal reflectors on most (Magnum and similar) bikes, plus most (not all!) still have their front and rear reflectors mounted. So, while not an ideal situation, neither is it hopelessly dangerous. How they see the MUP at night is a mystery, but they must have excellent night-vision.

Thus, I have never shouted out to any of these riders "Get a Light!" because, really, I didn't think it would do any good. On the other hand, it never occured to me that it might actually be dangerous! So thanks for the heads-up on that!

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Old 12-05-08, 10:35 AM   #11
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I always ride with lights at night. While riding down a busy residential street last month, someone passed me and yelled "Get a light!" At first I didn't like being yelled at from a passerby, but I cannot imagine becoming enraged like the guy in the story. Next, I wondered if my lights are strong enough, and as I got closer to home I noticed that the beam was indeed weaker and the batteries were fading.

If the girlfriend has any sense she'll dump that guy. What will his reaction be when she says something to him that he doesn't like? People who react as he did have a sense of entitlement and are human time bombs. It's not the "get a light" comment that's truly bothering him..... something much, MUCH bigger than that has been smoldering for a long, long time.
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Old 12-05-08, 11:16 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
I don't know what makes the cycling community think it is immune from the dross that makes up much of the broader communities we live in. Thoughtless, aggressive and easily insulted drivers become thoughtless, aggressive and easily insulted cyclists.
/OT: I love your use of the English language. Thank you.

/Back OT

I agree. Just because people ride bikes doesn't make them smarter than the average bear.

I want to take an oil-soaked 2x4 and whack the stupid ones upside the head.
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Old 12-05-08, 11:59 AM   #13
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I held my ground and the "insulted" rider turned around and chased me down wanting to know what my problem was.
I never "hold my ground" when it comes to wrong-way riders. They are obviously woefully ignorant, stupid, or convinced of their own self righteousness. I just take the lane with traffic where it's safe and let them pass on next to the curb.
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Old 12-05-08, 12:07 PM   #14
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I've shouted "GET A LIGHT!!" at cyslists while driving simply because I couldn't see them until they became visible just a few feet away from me.
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Old 12-05-08, 12:53 PM   #15
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I want to take an oil-soaked 2x4 and whack the stupid ones upside the head.
What? And waste a perfectly good 2x4?

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Old 12-05-08, 03:17 PM   #16
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Was Dunlavy ticketed for not having a light? From Wisconsin statutes:
347.489(1)
Enforcement probably requires having an officer of the law witness the offense, in this case, the lack of light on bike.

There should be enough in the record to establish that there wasn't a light on the bike, but still might not be able to charge him for that.
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Old 12-05-08, 03:40 PM   #17
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I might have said, "I thought you said a Bud light, not a Butt light".

You would have had to be there.
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Old 12-05-08, 03:55 PM   #18
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I'm thinking civil suit for a nagging neck injury..... Hmmmmm, a second house somewhere would be nice.

I suspect this guy is a jerk pretty much anywhere he goes. He's one of the reasons I've studied martial arts for the past 30 years. Reaching for my head would be a definite no, no. On the other hand, I'm hopeful that I would find a more tactful way to "educate" the other rider that his actions (not riding with a light) put he, his girlfriend and others in danger. Calling out "get a light" is probably not the best way to do this. Perhaps striking up a conversation and introducing the idea in a more friendly manner would be more effective.

However, what happened is what happened. Hence, I think it is important to keep in mind that the guy following him home after trying to run him off the road can't be seen as anything other than aggression. And when dealing with aggression you're a half step away from dealing with violence. Hence, despite wanting to "teach the guy a lesson" by inflicting physical pain on him when and if he reached toward my head, I would hope I could avoid that by behaving in a submissive manner... That it, I would apologize for upsetting him. You never know, he could have a gun, and 30 years of martial arts training hasn't yet prepared me to outrun or block bullets.

It is truly an unfortunate incident.
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Old 12-05-08, 04:14 PM   #19
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I suspect this guy is a jerk pretty much anywhere he goes. He's one of the reasons I've studied martial arts for the past 30 years. Reaching for my head would be a definite no, no. On the other hand, I'm hopeful that I would find a more tactful way to "educate" the other rider that his actions (not riding with a light) put he, his girlfriend and others in danger. Calling out "get a light" is probably not the best way to do this. Perhaps striking up a conversation and introducing the idea in a more friendly manner would be more effective.
I agree about the "Get a light" comment. Even something like, "You should put a light on your bike" is less confrontational.

That said, this conversation continued for several minutes. And it wasn't until after the guy gave the punk's girlfriend a free light (probably a decent one too, as his LBS is the most elite LBS in town), that he was attacked. There is really no excuse for not being able to curb one's temper after several minutes. I hope the guy gets a stiff fine.
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Old 12-05-08, 04:21 PM   #20
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/I want to take an oil-soaked 2x4 and whack the stupid ones upside the head.
Maybe we should just offer free lobotomies for mean people.
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Old 12-05-08, 08:54 PM   #21
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BikeSnob already has several rather entertaining references to Dustin Dunlavy.
http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/
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