Intentionally bumped by a car

Two years ago, the driver of a red BMW pulled up behind me, intentionally bumped my bike and ran. Santa Cruz police responded to my 911 call with admirable swiftness, but the plate number I rattled off in the heat of the moment was incorrect, so Mr. Wonderful got away.

Something similar happened to Kate in Washington DC last February. She stopped at a red light while biking home from work. The driver behind her stopped. Maybe this driver is a fan of Tony Kornheiser — the ESPN announcer who told his listeners to “run them [cyclists] over” — because the driver pulled up and nudged Kate, pushing her forward into the intersection. The car occupants started laughing and bumped Kate again. Then things got interesting for the driver.

Kate pulled over, whipped out her police badge and ordered the driver to stop where he was. The driver tried to run, but this is DC traffic, and Kate catches him a couple of blocks away. That’s when the driver tries to run Kate down. Kate by this time has radioed for help, and half of the DC Metro police force show up to apprehend the idiot driver.

I bring this up now because Kate has an update: she talks having to overcome Grand Jury bias against cyclists and police officers to even bring this assault to trial, and then her assailant eventually pled to other charges. In exchange for the plea, the vehicular assault charges were dropped, but Kate asks cyclists to show up en masse at the sentencing hearing to let the judge know that harassment of cyclists is important to us.

Read Kate’s full story at her Girl And Her Bike blog: Victory (Sort Of).

14 Comments

  • June 14, 2011 - 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Met Kate Saturday night.  She’s awesome.

  • Bryan
    June 14, 2011 - 10:34 pm | Permalink

    After reading that story, I really wish i could be there at the hearing. People die when motorists act recklessly like this and I think Kate is doing the right thing by showing to the court that bullying a cyclist like this is a serious crime!

  • Bryan
    June 14, 2011 - 10:34 pm | Permalink

    After reading that story, I really wish i could be there at the hearing. People die when motorists act recklessly like this and I think Kate is doing the right thing by showing to the court that bullying a cyclist like this is a serious crime!

  • Anonymous
    June 15, 2011 - 1:22 am | Permalink

    I appreciate the story. Another I’d like to hear are what steps you’ve come up with in the 2 years since you got bumped on how you could deal with it. What I got from Kate’s story is “train yourself to get the license number and a description of the driver.” That and most of what else cyclists do makes things worse. No easy feat and impossible if you don’t practice.

  • June 15, 2011 - 2:22 am | Permalink

    Thank God Kate survived. A similar situation occurred here in Toronto in August 2009 – except the cyclist ended up dead, and the driver (the former Attorney General of Ontario) was let off the hook.

    Here’s the video where you can clearly see the car run into the cyclist, then try to get away: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFISP_PrhFo

    When the cyclist approached the car to confront the driver, he eventually grabbed on to the door as the driver tried to speed away. The driver then drove the side of the car into a mailbox slamming the cyclists head and then he left the cyclist to die and left the scene.

    Here’s a newspaper article written the day after the incident: http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/689220

  • June 15, 2011 - 4:21 am | Permalink

    you gotta look deeper at that one the cyclist was a total douchebag and was looking for a fight that night. there were multiple witnesses who came forward telling stories of him harassing them that night 

  • June 15, 2011 - 4:23 am | Permalink

    unless your in china where they knife you for having the gall to capture their plate numbers…

  • Matthew
    June 15, 2011 - 2:10 pm | Permalink

    The cyclist died though, after being run down.

  • June 15, 2011 - 2:45 pm | Permalink

    @Steve, I won’t disclose what my dad did for a living, but let’s just say I
    grew up knowing to take didn’t routes home and watching my back for
    potential kidnappers. It’s a ludicrously paranoid easy to live, but I still
    automatically watch make, model, color of cars around me, look at the
    plates, and note driver appearance.

    Texas plates are trivial to remember – 3 characters, Texas icon, then
    another three. California plates are 7 characters jammed together:
    typically a digit, 3 letters, then 3 digits. Even w/ practice, remembering 7
    characters w/ a single look is very difficult.

    In a more serious crime, the police likely could have found the vehicle
    based on my vehicle & driver description and partial plate. If I really had
    a big in my shorts about it, I could have found the car myself: we came out
    of a deadend road that leads to the Santa Cruz harbor.

    Sent from my Googaw

  • June 15, 2011 - 8:09 pm | Permalink

    I take photos of drivers driving suspiciously. Almost daily. I carry my camera around my shoulder 24/7.

  • June 15, 2011 - 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Me too. 

  • June 15, 2011 - 8:16 pm | Permalink

    She wrote the story pretty well on her blog. I liked it. I wish I could be in DC for this. 

  • Colinut
    June 17, 2011 - 10:40 am | Permalink

    Reading this, all i can think of is why would you live in a crap country like that?

  • June 18, 2011 - 12:27 am | Permalink

    A good idea, and given the ubiquity of insanely cheap and small (but good enough for id purposes) digital cameras these days, eminently practical.  Maybe duct-tape a little bag holding one to the handlebars… :]

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