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Dr. Christopher Thompson was found guilty by a superior court jury in Los Angeles County for assaulting a group of cyclists with his car. The case, which has captivated the cycling community nationwide, resulted in six felony verdicts after a fairly ordinary exchange turned into a brutal assault.

If you want all the details, you can't beat VeloNews' coverage. Go here and use the links in the sidebar for various stages of development.

But the supposed facts are that a group of cyclists were descending Mandeville Canyon Road -- a beloved stretch of pavement for cyclists in car-infested LA County -- when Thompson allegedly demanded that the cyclists proceed in single file. There seems to be some disagreement on whether the cyclists complied and/or bristled at Thompson, but what happened next is beyond dispute. Thompson passed the cyclists, then slammed on his brakes in front of the group of riders descending quickly down the hill. The results: [don't read if you're squeamish]

Stoehr hit the back of the car and vaulted into the oncoming traffic lane. His injuries included a grade-three shoulder separation and road rash. Peterson went through the rear window of the car; the impact broke his nose, nearly severing it from his face, and shattered several of his teeth. More than 90 stitches were required to reattach his nose.

Incredibly, this incident on July 4 was the second time Thompson was accused of attacking cyclists; in an earlier incident he stopped short on two other riders, who deftly bunny-hopped out of danger. One horrified officer testified that Thompson said he "wanted to teach them a lesson." Thompson faces up to six years in jail.

And now my editorializing: as a cyclist -- racer and commuter for many years -- I truly believe that the American roads are chock full of drivers who view bikes as threats, intrusions, inconveniences, and second-class citizens who can be bullied at will. Ignorance is tough to stamp out, but things are changing. The political efforts of the Congressional Bike Caucus and the League of American Bicyclists are commendable. An article in today's LA Times details the rapid increase in cycling and bike commuting, and as the article says, there is safety in numbers. But this case matters a great deal too: harsh verdicts have some potential to wake people up to the dangers, and the rejection of Thompson's defense that the riders were rude to him is a HUGE deal. Most drivers have no idea what it's like to be as vulnerable as we cyclists are, and I personally am extremely defensive and unpleasant toward anyone who might prevent me from seeing my kids grow up.

Anyway, thanks for your attention. Please check out VeloNews for their coverage of legal issues generally. The LA Times has covered the trial as well.

Originally posted to el fuego on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 07:32 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  most people who drive/ride in cars (12+ / 0-)

      have no clue about the laws regarding bikes. How many times do I and others who ride have to hear "get on the sidewalk!" What, you are able to operate a fucking ton of mettle and still have no clue about the law?

      Unreal. Thank you.

      •  Laws vary from (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        yellowdog, twistedflatcat

        state to state about how close to curbs cyclists have to stay or whether more than one can ride abreast. Sometimes it's the cyclists who tease, weave, ride slowly holding back traffic etc. Until bike lanes have been built alongside the right-of-way, roads will remain the domain of the automobiles they were built for.

        Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

        by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 08:08:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Roads are for all of us (11+ / 0-)

          not just cars. Yes some bikers are assholes. Can you not see that the beer goggles that the car gives drivers is the problem 99% of the time?

          •  From my point of view (0+ / 0-)

            a LOT of bikers are assholes. Maybe one percent follow road rules. They ride in between lanes instead of in lanes, don't single lane changes if by some chance they are in a lane, run red lights (very, very common), don't wear helmets and ride on the street when their is a parallel bike path. All this has been observed on a commute from suburban MD to downtown DC. (And, no, I am not commuting alone in a car.)

            I can't respect people who think they are immune from the rules of the road.

            You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is "Never get involved in a land war in Asia".

            by yellowdog on Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 04:02:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  so..... (6+ / 0-)

          am i to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe you are not condoning this malicious behavior? because it sounds like you are blaming the rape victim for dressing "too sexy"...

          •  Excuse me? (5+ / 0-)

            The roads in this country were designed to convey automobile drivers, not cyclists. Not a single thought was ever given for cyclists. That has been the major complaint of urban cyclists for years, has it not? Of course I am not condoning this behavior, but the roads aren't for everybody. They can't be. They are not safe for handicapped users of wheeled carts, nor are horseback riders allowed on most automobile routes. You can't hitchhike on the interstates. In most states and towns, go-carts and four-wheelers are not street legal. Even truck routes exist because the passage of delivery and long-distance transport vehicles through neighborhoods and urban traffic zones clogs traffic. There is a reason that all roads can't be bike routes--it just isn't safe. Cyclists are arguing that they should be allowed wherever they want and that the traffic the roads was built for should give them special right-of-way.  A better use of time and energy would be for cyclists to advocate for bike trails, lanes and bike-only tracks.

            Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

            by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 08:54:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  who? (13+ / 0-)

              Who died and appointed you sheriff?  As a matter of fact, cyclists are allowed on the roads, and if you can't accept that, then I suggest that you stop driving.

              And, by the way, lots of research shows that bicycle lanes are dangerous--precisely because the give a-holes like you the feeling that you can race by cyclists, with no margin for error.

              •  Required, even, in some states. (7+ / 0-)

                GA Driver's Manual stresses that bikes are not to go on sidewalks.

                Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

                by Cassandra Waites on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:17:19 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Nobody (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                debedb, twistedflatcat

                appointed me anything. The laws say cyclists are allowed on the highways. Great. Now, design a highway where cyclists are SAFE! In case you have missed my other posts, I used to cycle, but oops! Now I am an asshole who races by cyclists. Great call. I not only do not race by cyclists, I am extra-cautious, having been in several near-misses on the open road when road cyclists have had to veer out into traffic. A sunning rattlesnake is quite a shock on a 15 degree slope.

                Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

                by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:33:22 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  OK, settle down (9+ / 0-)

              It's true that certain roads are not for nonmotorized travel. It's also true that very little thought was put into bicycle use in the design of most roads.

              BUT! When you (Crose) say "roads are for cars" you overstate the case -- the law says they're for transportation, and most jurisdictions recognize bikes specifically. WE HAVE RIGHTS, and when people say roads are for cars you are seriously pushing our buttons.

              "Milton Friedman's misfortune is that his policies have been tried."

              by el fuego on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:03:29 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The law is much clearer than that actually (11+ / 0-)

                "Bicycling and the Law" by Bob Mionske is an invaluable resource for anyone who spends a significant amount of time on a bike. Mionske is both a competitive cyclist and an attorney.

                Per Mionske (I would provide a quote but I can't seem to find my copy of the book, as usual), the law is pretty much settled in that cyclists have a right to use the roads to the same extent as motorists, subject only to certain limitations are pretty much common sense and don't really differ qualitatively from other forms of traffic law. There are variations from state to state but access to roads, unless specifically prohibited, is essentially universal. There are of course additional laws that govern proper operation of bicycles on roads and goodness knows there are plenty of cyclists out there who could use an education in that department. However, the fact that drivers operate vehicles that can function as weapons gives them an added responsibility when it comes to sharing the road with other forms of transportation.

            •  OK, you are excused... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil, bebacker, lazybum

              I'm happy to hear you aren't condoning the bad Dr's behavior, but you are still speaking from the standpoint that cyclists are a nuisance and don't have a right to be complaining because they aren't supposed to be there in the first place. horse shit. you sound like my mom.

              now there are of course examples of irresponsible riders on the roads, but if we're talking about commuters or roadies (the people we're referencing  here) you'd be hard-pressed to find any of them not using lights, reflectors, safety gear or all of the above, nor will you find them weaving through traffic popping wheelies. i will also grant you that the critical mass rides are pretty idiotic in that it only makes drivers mad at cyclists and doesn't help open up roads for cyclists or improve relations, in fact likely the opposite.

              Your examples of other users the roads aren't for is a pretty hack debate ploy: take it to the most ridiculous extreme and then equate the two. wheelchairs? really? wow, you really have a point, i suppose a motorized shopping cart isn't a wise road-worthy vehicle either so bikes shouldn't be allowed. what?

              but your point about cyclists would be better served advocating for "bike trails, lanes and bike-only tracks" shows how ill-informed you are on the subject because WE DO. the reality is that takes F O R E V E R and there's no good reason the vast majority of roads can't be shared today with a little effort. it's not like we want to take to the 101 with our trikes, we just don't want run over riding on surface roads to and from work or when we are exercising.

              •  Look, (0+ / 0-)

                all I want is for you and me to be safe. If I am driving a tank and you are pedalling a couple of pounds-worth of carbon fiber or steel tubes, guess who will suffer more if my or your distraction causes a mid-road meeting? And don't assume I am ill-informed on the subject of lanes and trails. Lanes and trails exist because cyclists and their advocates get them built. I want there to be more of them. We finally have one, yes ONE, bike lane in my town and about 60 miles of trails because the city recognized the need to build them.

                Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

                by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 10:12:51 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  there is a debate among cyclists (0+ / 0-)

                  about trails versus bikes on the road, FYI. Personally I don't know who's right  in that one.

                  "Milton Friedman's misfortune is that his policies have been tried."

                  by el fuego on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 10:21:32 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Road cyclists (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    adrianrf

                    of course need something more like a road, whereas trail bikers probably find that trails suffice. In my perfect world, the roads would have a road cyclists' trail running parallel to the main road. Of course in my perfect world, the interstates would host high-speed rail.

                    Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

                    by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 10:43:09 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Actually ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bebacker

              Paved roads predate cars. Paved roads make no sense for horses. Paved roads proliferated because of the growth of cycling in the late 19th century. Limited access freeways are not for bikes, but regular paved city streets are for bikes prior to being for cars.

        •  In my state, bikes are required to (7+ / 0-)

          stay out of the sidewalks.

          Additionally, in my area the curbside asphalt is allowed to decay to rough fragmentation before the roads get repaved. After repaving, the edge of the road beside the curb can have a significant drop down to the lower portion of the curb.

          This leaves little choice but for bike riders to share the right lane. And given the number of two lane roads where there's no easy way to pass, yeah I've seen drivers not happy at sharing the road (no violence, no attempts at violence, but the honking at drivers who slow to be safe around the riders is there). As a non-rider, I don't know what could be going on that I'm not seeing, the times when it's one car and one bike with no one else watching.

          ...

          One of my childhood friends had his bike hit by a school bus before we met.

          Hoping and praying that the empty chairs and empty tables in Iran when all is said and done are as few as possible.

          by Cassandra Waites on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:16:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Glad he's paying a price, but I've got to say (0+ / 0-)

      that bicycles on our rural Indiana roads terrify me.  

      This diary should just be about how awful this man is but someone disparaged "most" drivers and then it's let the ass-wuppin's commence!

      I commute along a county road the university students use for bike race training (what's the fancy word?) one or two abreast, per state law.  I know they are there in the spring in droves and then in lessor numbers later.  So I watch for them, slow up fast, hang back, watch for any wobbling, and pass carefully.

      So I'm flying down the 2 lane state highway towards the county road some miles farther down when I notice a cyclist on the highway, puffing along.  I slow down and pass and start to speed up as I reach the crown of the hill.  Only to find a pack of bikes 4 abreast and 6 deep down in the swale going a helluva lot slower than any vehicle would ever think of doing on a highway.  I slam on my brakes and manage not to hit anyone.  That lone puffer saved quite a few lives that evening.

      And then I realized that until I passed this pack I would be serving as their rear bumper!  The hell I will!   I laid on the horn and passed safely ASAP.  And I did want my constant horn to serve as an admonishment to not do that again!  

      I haven't seen them on the highway since.  They were the same people from the county road and had apparently decided to stretch their legs and thought that a chunk of bikers would be easier to see.  Well not really and certainly not on rolling terrain.  In fact a truck ran into a support vehicle following a group on a hoosier highway in 2006 and caused the support vehicle to kill and injure numerous riders.  The truck driver was not charged with any infractions.

      Crose has it right, keep the bikes off the roads where a car traveling fast enough that even a secondary glance at the radio dial can cause a drive to find himself in the middle of a bike pack.

  •  Wow.... (15+ / 0-)

    that's just sick

    there are certainly problems when roads carry vehicles ranging from huge trucks to bicycles...but...uh...assaulting people isn't the answer

    ...especially when we need MORE people on bikes

    PLEASE donate to a global children's PEACE project: Chalk 4 Peace

    by RumsfeldResign on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 07:36:08 PM PST

  •  Thanks for (13+ / 0-)

    your diary.  As a former bicyclist, I have had many encounters with sickos.  I've had my ass grabbed, run off the road, and suffered a hit and run with a broken leg in Portland Oregon.  This is not new.

  •  Six years is all? Bullshit! (13+ / 0-)

    This guy should be put away for six years for each cyclist he did that to. Then never drive or practice "medicine" again.

    The well-known phenomena of psychological projection and confirmation bias account for 198% of conservative so-called 'ideas'

    by power2truth on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 07:41:56 PM PST

  •  As a one time (10+ / 0-)

    ultra distance rider my greatest fear was riding late at night and having some  wacko driver decide I was a target.

    To ay I am overjoyed the DR got what was coming to him would be an understatement.

    Thanks for the update.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 07:47:04 PM PST

  •  A doctor, huh? A physician? (6+ / 0-)

    Too bad his license plate is published in the paper.

    Their real God is money-- Jesus just drives the armored car, and his hat is made in China. © 2009 All Rights Reserved

    by oblomov on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 07:49:45 PM PST

  •  I'm a commuter cyclist (19+ / 0-)

    and as far as I'm concerned I'm doing motorists a favor. I'm not competing with them at the gas tank, driving prices up, and I take up less space on the road, offering more road space back up to the motorists. And if I turn into a giant overweight couch potato, health care premiums go up.

    I have a car, and if I get back in it, the road gets more clogged up in front of them, gas prices go up, and costs generally go up. bad for them - bad for me!

    Mr. Angry Car Driver, you should be thanking me, and not getting mad about bike shorts, or whatever it is you're obsessed about.

    If apes evolved from humans, why are there still humans?

    by Bobs Telecaster on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 07:51:00 PM PST

    •  In a world where (1+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      Hoosier Al
      Hidden by:
      pHunbalanced

      the roads are lane-to-lane with semis, triple-trailers, motor homes pulling SUVs, "smart cars", smoke-belching clunkers, vans full of prison inmates, horse trailers being pulled behind broad-assed 5th wheels and herds of Harleys, a cyclist is just one more distraction I as a law-abiding driver has to deal with. You are not doing me any favors. You are a tiny, insignificant, unarmored, barely-clothed butterfly flitting through a nightmare of steel-encased bison. The highways of this country are no place for you. I will thank you when you use a route designed for cyclists where you are safe and out of my way.

      Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

      by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:03:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Geez, thanks for this news. My kids bike all the (9+ / 0-)

    time, but I dont follow this kind of news and websites and I hadn't heard this.  I worry about them the whole time they're out on their bikes training.
    We had a friend riding with her husband on a fairly rural road here a few years ago.  An oncoming car threw a full Gatorade bottle at her and hit her in the chest. Knocked her off her bike.  Given the rural road and all, she estimates that the Gatorade  bottle hit her at well over 60 mph.  

    This guy needs to chill. The cyclists have every right to the road, same as he does.  Cyclists like this are usually moving along pretty quickly and it isn't any big deal to wait for them.  This guy is just a serial killer looking for some extravagant press as far as I'm concerned.  

    He need the  book thrown at him.  Hard.

    Dancing Tom Delay - "That guy must have watched a lot of porn!" - Jon Stewart

    by Meggie on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 07:52:35 PM PST

  •  Good news (14+ / 0-)

    Since 1972, I have bicycled to every place I have worked or gone to school.  (I didn't do it every day.  I lived in Chicago and public transportation was an option.)

    I now live within a mile of my work and I walk or bike.

    I have bicycled from Paris to Warsaw and Paris to Athens and done some trips in the Midwest.

    My experience is that in areas where there are a lot of bikes people pay attention.

    There are times in politics when you must be on the right side and lose.

    by MoDem on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 07:56:53 PM PST

  •  Share the Road should not just (6+ / 0-)

    be a slogan, it should be the law.  Too many times I watch cars speed by bikers, just about blowing them off the road.  I'm glad this guilty verdictl worked out well for bikers.

    "Politics is not left, right or center ... It's about improving people's lives." -Paul Wellstone

    by maggiejean on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 08:12:21 PM PST

    •  Bikers need to share too. (9+ / 0-)

      I don't drive, but my pet peeve about bikers is the ones who think they don't have to obey traffic laws when they are riding in the street.

      They blow through red lights and pay no attention to pedestrians (like me) in the crosswalks.

      I have been knocked down and/or clipped by crazy bikers several times in Seattle and in Austin, Texas, where I now live -- and formerly lived, and rode with Critical Mass, so I'm not some biker hater.

      That doctor deserves a worse punishment for what he did, but bikers need to realize that there are pedestrians out there too and watch out for us.

      PS: When I lived in Fort Worth, Texas, many years ago, it was not illegal to ride on the sidewalks. In fact, it was preferred. I'm not sure when all the cities decided to make it a crime to stay off the street.

      "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

      by Brooke In Seattle on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 08:35:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True enough I guess but (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pHunbalanced, crose, IreGyre

        where I live in northern CA bikers use their bikes for transportation and I haven't experienced rude bikers.  My bias, therefore, is to give a pass to bikers.

        "Politics is not left, right or center ... It's about improving people's lives." -Paul Wellstone

        by maggiejean on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:06:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Philpm, codeman38

        Many cyclists show contempt for pedestrians. I can't count the number of times I've been passed from behind at speed while walking down a sidewalk or road shoulder by a cyclist who didn't bother to signal me in any way. What the hell happened to bicycle bells or horns? Or is it illegal now for me to turn suddenly, wave my hands, stop, or any of the other things that would turn such a situation into a crash? Add the jackasses who ride at speed with no lights and sometimes even no reflectors at night (which is illegal here, but people do it anyway), and as a pedestrian, I have far more of a quarrel with bikes than with cars.

        I've often thought that if one of those jerks actually did hit me from behind, he'd better do a good job of it, or I would be severely tempted to curb-stomp him.

        Memo to cyclists: get off the high horse. Pedestrians feel about you just the same as you feel about cars.

        •  Yesterday driving (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Philpm

          I was at a stop sign at the bottom of a hill, waiting for a pedestrian before making a right turn. The cross street didn't have a stop sign, so I'm watching in both directions for cars as well as people on foot.

          Despite the fact that I was quite close to the curb - deliberately, so that bikes couldn't pass me on the right - a cyclist managed to do so. She came down the hill going very fast, didn't slow down at all, and blew past me on my right. I could so easily have hit her. It would have been her fault, but the consequences for me would have been horrible as well. I almost chased her down so I could scream at her.

          Cyclists pull these kinds of stunts every day. It may be only a small percentage of them, but it's also only a small percentage of drivers who threaten bikers.

          "There -- it's -- you know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." --GWB

          by denise b on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 11:04:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  When they realized (0+ / 0-)

        that bikes are a threat to pedestrians. A bicycle on a sidewalk is statistically 16 times more likely to have a collision than a bicycle in a street. Probably less likely to be a deadly collision, but so much more likely that it makes sense for the safety of pedestrians and to some degree for cyclists themselves. I would fear to walk in a city where sidewalk cycling for people over 13 years old was legal.
        For a bike to ride safely on a sidewalk it has to be traveling at a speed so slow as to make it faster to run.

    •  I kind of disagree. I think we cyclists deserve (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lazybum, crose, adrianrf, codeman38

      our own lanes so that we are safe from motorists and pedestrians -- the way it is done in Copenhagen or in areas of the Netherlands.  I lived in Denmark for a year and was spoiled by their wonderful transportation system that enables safe bike travel and prevents car/bike conflicts.  What they have done there isn't just a wimpy line painted on to the edge of a road; it is a distinct lane raised a few inches such that a car would never venture to drive on it.  Furthermore, bike lanes in Copenhagen have a pretty decent buffer distance between the car lane and the bike lane.  Not only does this reduce the chances of moving vehicles encroaching on the bike lane, but it also prevents cars from parking in the bike lane -- an extremely common (and legal) occurrence here in DC!  The end result in Copenhagen is that cyclists can bike safely, and cars do not feel impeded or slowed down by bike traffic.

      In Denmark little old ladies bike to work on dreary winter days without a second thought.  In the US you basically need to grit your teeth and be a brave activist to fight your way through a biking commute.  Take a look at the photos at the following site to get a better idea of what I mean about Copenhagen:

      http://www.streetsblog.org/...

      The laws of physics are clear: cyclists will always lose in car/bike collisions.   The best thing we can do is separate the two as much as possible -- just the way we don't have freight trains sharing the roads with cars.

  •  lemme know if this fucker actually goes to jail (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bebacker, Philpm, lazybum

    Thompson faces up to six years in jail.

    "Hamlet" in Spanish is "omelette"

    by memofromturner on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 08:12:24 PM PST

  •  I hope he does go to jail (8+ / 0-)

    the majority of bikers I see on busy streets without bike lanes do the best they can in a difficult situation.   A few are assholes themselves -- weaving in and out, not stopping at stoplights, even endangering pedestrians.  But they are a minority.

    That said, the brutal fact is that without a bike lane, bikers on a busy thoroughfare are taking their lives in their hands.  Technically they may have every right to bike, but streets were designed for automobiles.   And those autos are frequently driven by people talking on cellphones (even bluetooth is a distraction), eating their Egg McMuffins, yelling at the kids in the backseat, or dealing with worse drivers than they are (notice how no one uses their turn indicators anymore?).

    I hope bikers keep pushing for safer multi-use roads.  But until streets are redesigned to accommodate them, you couldn't pay me to ride a bike anywhere but a quiet residential neighborhood.

    I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones. (John Cage)

    by dotalbon on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 08:25:49 PM PST

  •  On the one hand, we have Orrin Hatch; (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Philpm, adrianrf, greengemini, IreGyre

    on the other hand, the Salt Lake City police department has patrol officers on bicycles.  Some of them ride off-duty, too.  So that guy in lycra you want to Road Rage on may be carrying a badge & a .45.

  •  I never condone violence (0+ / 0-)

    against anyone. That said, the roads are for autos, not cyclists. Cycling is admirable--I used to do it for fun and exercise. But it became very clear to me years ago that highways are not safe places for cyclists to be. There isn't much between you and a semi, the body of a road-killed animal, a fast plunge off of an unguarded stretch of canyon or many other hazards. Road cycling has become a competitive activity and many scenic roadways are clogged with cyclists on weekends. When the road system was emplaced, no thought was taken for the comfort, safety or convenience of cyclists. Roads were built to convey autos as quickly and safely from place to place as possible, and that isn't possible when a group of cyclists has no access to a safe shoulder in winding canyons where they must instead ride in the automobile lane. Laws are being enacted all across the country that will cause nothing but more of this kind of violence because the roads are simply not made for bicycles. Cyclists would put their energy to better use by championing bike lanes along the choice routes, and they should also accept that they just can't go anywhere they want.

    Here's the rant part of my post. What the heck ever happened to just riding your bike? Why do people need thousands of dollars-worth of gear to enjoy their cjhosen activity? It seems that in order for most Americans to do anything outdoors, they need the right stuff for each "sport". Can anyone simply go outside and have a nice time without bettering their time?  When was the last time a road cyclist whizzing down Left-Hand Canyon actually enjoyed just being outside? When I have to put my vehicle in low gear to follow behind a group of cyclists who spent more on their gear than I made last year and yet they are giving me the stink-eye, I admit to being a little miffed myself. When the activity ceases to be about enjoyment and becomes the stuff, then it enters the realm of fantasy.

    Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

    by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 08:42:45 PM PST

    •  Bicycles Actually Existed (14+ / 0-)

      before cars. Cyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities, by law, as your newfangled horseless carriages. We made room for you, not the other way around.

      You can lead a mind to Consciousness but you can't make it think.

      by post rational on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 08:51:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bikes may have existed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kentucky Kid

        before cars but the roads were made for wheeled conveyances that hauled everything from people to cargo. You did not "make room" for cars. Early cyclists had to make room for horsedrawn wagons, carriages, hansomes and every other tow and four-wheeled gew-gaw. In many cities cycles weren't even allowed on the streets because they scared the horses.

        And as a former cyclist I am perfectly aware of the laws and responsibilities of both me and you. Ultimately it is neither the cyclist's nor the driver's fault. The highways are not designed for cycling. Until they are, there will be accidents and resentment and unfortunately, violence.

        Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

        by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:12:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  bizarre (5+ / 0-)

      Your bizarre combining of an assertion that roads aren't for cyclists with your rant about what cylists wear suggests that you are one obsessed sicko.  I suggest you get the therapy you need before you become the next driver arrested for road rage against cyclists.

      •  Suggests that (0+ / 0-)

        I am one "obsessed sicko"? How dare you? A month ago I had to maneuver around 260 cyclists on the loop road of Yellowstone Park while avoiding elk/bison/wolf jams, motor home drivers weaving about and gawking at geysers. If you have ever cycled Yellowstone you know that the roads are not only not designed for cyclists, they sometimes have no shoulder at all. I somehow avoided hitting 13 bikers as they suddenly had to veer out into traffic because the shoulder disappeared, there was deep gravel or there was some other unavoidable danger. It took nearly an hour to go 15 miles. Those roads are not for cyclists. They are barely roomy enough for modern cars, since they were designed for Model Ts. Perhaps you, as a spoiled cyclist, need some therapy so you can learn to accept that you can't go wherever the heck you want. And my rant about what cyclists "wear" had nothing to do with anything other than wondering why people can't have fun without spending big bucks on equipment.

        Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

        by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:21:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Listen to yourself, man (5+ / 0-)

          You couldn't make normal highway time driving through some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth... because bicyclists were in your way?  What better opportunity to stop and smell the flowers so to speak?  Why not direct the anger at a more appropriate target, ie the private vehicle model of "experiencing" our nation's treasures?  I don't think you are a sicko, but I am glad I don't have to vacation with you.    

          No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

          by Gator Keyfitz on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:31:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You sure assume (0+ / 0-)

            an awful lot about me. The bikes were not in my way. Normal highway time is illegal in YNP--the legal speed limit is 40MPH. I drive much slower due to the animals, the crowding, the motorhomes, the motorcycles and the cyclists. Even at 25 MPH, that was the most nerve-wracking 15 miles I have ever driven. It would be very presumptuous to assume that I am some wacko. I have seen cyclists blow by some pretty spectacular scenery--it would be very wrong to assume they were wacko.

            Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

            by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:50:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I never called you a wacko, crose (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil, lazybum, crose, adrianrf

              but I admit I did have a vivid mental picture of what those 15 miles must have been like for anyone else in the car.  As someone who also can get a little worked up behind the wheel, my response is as much to myself as to you.  Speed is not the only measure of human satisfaction available, and the irony of getting stressed out on vacation was just too irresistable.  To get totally OT, the infrastructure of our National Parks is a shame and I know YNP is one of the worst for crowding.  I'd be all for special routes for cyclists, or any other non-motorized visitors.  

              But bikes have a right to be on the public rights of way as well.  Not every cyclist is some Yuppie jerk.  Austin's newest dead cyclist was a 22 year old, probably riding a bike in the pre-dawn gloom because he couldn't afford a car and had to be somewhere.  He died yesterday morning and no charges will be filed.  

              No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

              by Gator Keyfitz on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 10:07:52 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The strange thing (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Gator Keyfitz, IreGyre

                about this last trip to the Park was that the car traffic wasn't bad at all. It was the motorhomes that were just plain ridiculous. They have gotten huge, bigger and bigger; and although there are ample turnouts now they simply aren't big enough for some of these behemoths. The mirrors alone are a huge hazard for cyclists and bison. And that's the other strange thing about this trip--the animals were all over the road. I have never seen so many elk and bison taking advantage of the roads. Even at 40 MPH it is a huge concern. The Park Service is considering dropping the nighttime speed limit to 30--I wish they'd drop it to 25. Too many dead wolves, bears and elk to justify 30.

                Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

                by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 10:25:20 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Copy that (0+ / 0-)

                  I think, pending some cataclysmic spike in oil prices, we are going to be seeing a big increase in recreational vehicles as the boomers enter their golden years.  I see this in my own family, though so far nobody has gone totally death star with their RV.    

                  No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

                  by Gator Keyfitz on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 10:51:18 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  And just for your info, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Gator Keyfitz

            I am not a man.

            Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

            by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:51:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  If the law permits bicyclists on those roads... (5+ / 0-)

          you have a choice. Share the road or find someplace else to drive where bikes aren't permitted; try a freeway or other limited access road. With very few exceptions bikes aren't allowed on those.

    •  Uh (7+ / 0-)

      so I shouldn't have a nice bike that's more fun to ride than the garbage we grew up with? It is NOT about possessing stuff, it's about a bike that goes faster, handles better and lasts longer.

      "Milton Friedman's misfortune is that his policies have been tried."

      by el fuego on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 08:57:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It may not be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        debedb

        about possessing stuff for you, but when I am standing in line at a cafe frequented by cyclists in Buena Vista and all they can talk about is speed, time, how good they look in their new jersey and how much their shoes cost, I am going to wonder if possessing stuff is what it's about for them. Of course we want something that helps us enjoy something better. When it becomes all about the thing you enjoy the outdoors with instead of just the outdoors, maybe it's the thing that matters more.

        Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

        by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:26:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  OK (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, lazybum, crose, adrianrf

          but I'm saying it's not vanity. It's more complicated. Cyclists tend to be very attached to their bikes, much more so than people and their cars. I suppose I could confess to the same here...

          "Milton Friedman's misfortune is that his policies have been tried."

          by el fuego on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 10:26:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, (0+ / 0-)

            before my dog ate a lot of the interior of my Xterra, I felt pretty tutelary towards it (him), but that sure changed. Now he's just a conveyance, albeit one of a pretty color (when he is clean). I can't brag about a car whose interior hatches wool moths from the dog hair, can I?

            Anytime you think you are a person of power and authority, try ordering someone else's dog around.

            by crose on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 10:36:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  focus on exceptions and make them (0+ / 0-)

          the rule that typifies all cyclists... generalizing... why?

          just ends up with straw-people to bash... a reality compare FAIL...

          All motorists, all cyclists... all Democrats, liberals, all Republicans... all Men, all Women, all Whites all Blacks...

          all...(fill in the blank) anything/anybody...

          followed by pet rant peeve mis-caricaturizations and stereotypes... may feel good and affirm an individuals notions of how reality is or should be ... and then what? Stuck with an immutable conclusion/opinion set in stone... Then they can stop really thinking about a particular topic anymore, questioning any assumptions they have etc...

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

          by IreGyre on Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 04:35:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  thanks (6+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting this.  As a Southern California cyclist, I've been following this story pretty closely, but I hadn't heard the results of the trial.  This guy is pure evil, and I'm so glad, and not surprised, that he got nabbed.  No matter how long he stays in jail I certainly hope that he permanently loses both his drivers license and his medical license.

  •  I used to commute by bike daily until (7+ / 0-)

    I became a mother and then the fear of death kept me off the roads for awhile. I ride and commute occasionally now and every single time I must use my anticipatory idiot radar to keep from getting nailed. Drivers are just too busy doing things other than driving. They also forget that they are operating a heavy machine. Notice that in almost every crash, the driver is described as "losing control." I think it should be a more active and true description---bad drivers should be termed "intentionally neglectful."

  •  Clearly criminal (0+ / 0-)

    Yes, what that guy did was clearly criminal.

    But, what should I do about the selfish, self centered cyclists who do not obey the rules of the road, who as a group clog the lane and hold up traffic, and who expect me to stop for them when they dive across the lane in front of me?

    I give all the room I can to cyclists who hold to the right of the lane and give me room.

    I take every inch of my lane with cyclists who do not respect others on the road.  If they're obstructing traffic, they get to hear my horn and see my bumper inches from their rear wheel.  Fuck'em.

    •  Try to imagine them in cars (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, sfbob, adrianrf

      and be thankful they are taking up far less space. At least you can pass the assholes on bikes. Good luck dealing with the assholes in cars.

      And as frustrated as you may be, even justifiably, remember that your bumper doesn't break as easily as a collarbone, or spine, or skull.

      "Milton Friedman's misfortune is that his policies have been tried."

      by el fuego on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:06:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's called assault (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, sfbob, adrianrf, greengemini

      in case you were curious.  Are a few minutes of delay really measurable to the worth of a human life to you?  Out of curiosity, do you threaten your loved ones with death when they annoy you?  Perhaps my least attractive quality as a human being is that I get easily riled behind the wheel, especially in heavy traffic (and this despite having been a bike commuter for years), so I have some sense of where you are coming from, but, for goodness sake, I hope you find some way to deal with your rage that doesn't involve the risk of catastrophic injury or death.  

      No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

      by Gator Keyfitz on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:24:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Threatening someone with your car (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      markw, Gator Keyfitz, adrianrf

      is just as dangerous as assaulting someone with it. And maybe just as illegal. Be glad nobody's bothered to take down your license number. I know I would if I could do it safely.

      I bike and drive. I can get frustrated at either end. However, if a cyclist slows me down for a moment, I am free, once I pass them, to press the accelerator down just a bit harder to make up for the ten or fifteen seconds I may have lost sharing the road with them, as the law requires.

  •  I ride a bicycle all the time and must say that I (7+ / 0-)

    frequently see groups of cyclists who embody a morally superior attitude toward the lesser beings who ride in automobiles.  They cop the attitude that they are the peleton in the Tour de France and no stinking car or truck is going to get by them on our little country roads.  I think that we could all learn to live together on the roads if we all just demonstrated a little more courtesy toward each other, but a gaggle of bicycle riders in a group blocking the road for other vehicles is not winning any friends for their cause.  Blocking other vehicles because you want to ride two, three, and four abreast on a little country road is not being a good neighbor.

    And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

    by MrJersey on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:29:41 PM PST

    •  I can agree with that... BUT... (5+ / 0-)

      Let's all be clear that motorists acting out at cyclists they perceive as being "in the wrong" isn't some sort of special category of vigilantism, it's just a subset of road rage, the same sordid cretinism that we all recoil from when it is some motorist shooting another motorist.  Somehow when the victim is a cyclist and the weapon is a car many people want to discuss the bad habits of cyclists, which I'm sorry but is largely irrelevant.  When the Andrea Yates trial was in the news I don't recall people feeling a particular need to reminisce about how annoying children can be.

      No one likes armed missionaries. -- Robespierre.

      by Gator Keyfitz on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:46:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "morally superior" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pHunbalanced, Tonedevil, lazybum

      I hate to say it, because I doubt you mean it this way at all. But your irritation sounds a lot like what republican voters say about democrats. Resenting them for your perception that they are acting "morally superior" is a slippery slope.

      "Milton Friedman's misfortune is that his policies have been tried."

      by el fuego on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 10:30:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We had a similar situation (5+ / 0-)

    happen where I live, though fortunately, not as severe.  

    Our local municipal airport has a road that goes around the entire perimeter.  Lots of cyclists and rollerbladers like to use this road because there is generally very little traffic on it except at rush hour.  Recently, a father and son were riding their bikes along this road when a woman drove up behind them and started honking and shouting at them to get out of her way.  The cyclists were already on the right side of the lane, and the driver could have easily swung around them.  Instead, when they didn't move over far enough for her satisfaction, she drove her car into them and then sped off.  The father was fairly seriously injured, the son less so, and the son was able to get treated and released.  He had managed to get the license number of the car that had hit them, and went back to the airport the next day to see if he could track the car down.  He found it, in the parking lot of the ATC tower.  Apparently, little miss "I'm better than you" is an air traffic controller.  I haven't seen much else on the story lately, but I do know that she did surrender to police and is up on vehicular assault charges.

    I wish I'd spent my $3.99 on a dollar bill.

    by Philpm on Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 11:17:44 PM PST

  •  Thank you for the update. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pHunbalanced

    I both bicycle and commute to work on my motorcycle and even then one sees just how cagers don't pay attention to their driving, much less deliberately causing injury.

    I just wish that bicycle lane design was mandated.  I keep on thinking that we have failed as a society to value the human dimension when we have allowed car centric behavior to distort how we live.

    Distrust of authority should be the first civic duty. - Norman Douglas

    by Fossil on Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 04:54:09 AM PST

  •  this reminds me of this jerk (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lazybum

    who pulled into the bike lane to pass someone illegally.  When he almost hit me he got out of his car and started yelling at me to get off the street.  The thing is that the bike lane is so narrow he couldn't have made it past any car.  He would have side swiped them.  I regularly get yelled at to get out of the street on my bike and if I am in a place I do not feel safe on the street and am on the sidewalk passing cars yell at me to get off the sidewalk.  It has gotten so that I love when gas prices go up because the drivers are nicer at these times.  I think they are afraid of ending up on a bike too and getting treated the way they treat others.  I do not feel all drivers are like this but just way too many.

    That passed by; this can, too. - Deor

    by stevie avebury on Tue Nov 03, 2009 at 06:47:49 AM PST

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