May 29, 2010

Rage

I've witnessed a number of crashes and other incidents while bicycling: bikes running into other bikes (usually on accident, but not aways), cars running into bikes on accident. I've never seen a car intentionally hit a bicycle. Until last Wednesday. As far as I know the victims suffered only minor injuries and property damage.

A group of around 20 riders was traveling west on Champaign county road 1100N, ½ mile East of county highway 6 (Seymour slab). I had just rotated to the back of the group when a short while later I heard a car horn honking several times in rapid succession. There was already enough room for the car to pass, but as is customary in this situation (even if the driver is an asshole), I was preparing to hug the shoulder to provide the driver an excessively wide berth. I don't like to take chances.

The driver had different plans. Just a very brief moment after I first heard the honking (and I was at the back of the group, so I heard it before anyone else) the driver was already up along side of the rider next to me, passing within maybe a foot or two. This scared the hell out of me. As the driver continued passing the group he (I'm assuming it was a he, I'd like to think women aren't this stupid) moved closer and closer to each rider. As the car moved up I could see a good four feet of pavement and at least one or two more feet of solid grass shoulder to the left of the car. It was absolutely, unmistakably clear this was no accident. This was intentional.

I obviously don't know whether the driver intended to hit anyone or just to drive really close to teach us a lesson for daring to travel on his road, but after passing within inches of a few people he finally bumped one (who managed to stay upright), then struck the next one pretty hard knocking him halfway across the road into the other riders. Fortunately, they all also managed to stay upright. Then, as would be expected from any individual this classy, he sped off, leaving in his wake at least three crimes, 20 witnesses, and one photograph which clearly shows his car and license plate number. What a fucking idiot.

Taking a look at Illinois state Rules of the Road we can see the following:

On most roadways, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other roadway users. Bicyclists are prohibited on limited-access highways, expressways and certain other marked roadways.

Following are laws and safety tips you should know:
  • Drivers must yield the right-of-way to a bicyclist just as they would to another vehicle.
  • When passing a bicyclist do so slowly and leave at least three feet of passing space.

And:

Offenses for which your driver’s license may be revoked include, but are not limited to:
  • Felony Offense – A vehicle was used while committing a serious crime.
  • Leaving the Scene – Leaving the scene of a crash that killed or injured someone (minimum three-year revocation).
Offenses for which your driver’s license may be suspended include, but are not limited to:
  • Traffic Crashes – Refusal or neglect to report a traffic crash.

As of now the incident has been reported to the police and the police have identified the owner of the vehicle. Hopefully, this reckless driver can be brought to justice in the near future.

Stay safe out there.

6 comments:

SiouxGeonz said...

In the meantime s/he is still prob'ly driving out there...

Anonymous said...

GOOD FOR YOU GUY- QUICK THNKING!
I HOPE HE GETS WHAT"S COMING TO HIM (her).

Thank God no one was seriously injured.

Be Safe,
Mom

dtwright said...

I don't know who's involved in pressing charges in this case, but I *really* would like to see this jerk's driver's license revoked. I feel like that happens much, much less often then it should -- driving a car is a privilege, not a right, and he's clearly not someone we want operating a motor vehicle. If people knew there were real and lasting consequences for behaving like this, they might do it less...

epon said...

We are/were incredibly fortunate that day. The group that person tried to drive through is filled with some of the brightest minds, bodies and personalities in the area. A real tragedy was avoided by quick communication, stellar bike handling and I cant help but to think the presence of a protective force after having witnessed it. Thanks for being brave and telling your account.

Tim said...

Will you post a follow-up with the ultimate resolution?

Here's to hoping that the GOOD GUYS win this one...

**Raises cup of Gatorade**

Chris Turner said...

I'd also love to hear a follow-up. My wife and I just completed the DALMAC last weekend, a 300+ mile ride from mid-Michigan to Mackinaw City, and had a particularly boisterous and negative encounter with a pickup truck as well.