Firefighter allegedly shoots cyclist in head to teach him not to ride on a busy street

200907271421 Police say firefighter Charles Diez was upset that a man was riding a bike with his 3-year-old son on a busy street so shot the cyclist in the head. The bullet embedded itself in the rider's helmet.

Diez was arrested on attempted first degree murder charges, but lucky for him the fire department in Asheville, NC is keeping him on paid investigative leave, so he will continue to draw a salary.

Asheville Firefighter Shot Bicyclist -- Officers Say Pair Argued Over Child Safety


  1. Correction the story at the link clearly says “Diez pulled a gun and opened fire, hitting the victim in his bicycle helmet, according to police.

    They said the bullet penetrated the outer lining of the helmet but did not actually hit the victim’s head.

    Police arrested Diez and charged him with ATTEMPTED first degree murder.”

    Regardless, the guy is a dick.

  2. Since the bullet lodged itself in the helmet, can we assume that he was arrested for *attempted* first-degree murder?

  3. If you read the article, Mr. Diez has been charged with ATTEMPTED murder. Usually, when bullets embed themselves in helmets rather than the heads they encase, death is less certain.

    Regardless, I can’t see how Mr. Diez is going to be able to justify his actions.

    Rescuing infants from non-certain doom with a handgun.

    I really want to hear the logic on this one.

  4. An important correction – the arrest is for “attempted first degree murder”. The difference is pretty significant – namely, the cyclist is alive.

    As to the matter of the paid suspension – would it be preferable that the alleged perpetrator be placed on unpaid suspension for the duration of an attempted murder investigation and trial (they can get rather long), and be forced to pay not for only his defense, but also his family’s living, out of his savings?

    Also of interest to me – the bullet lodged in the bicycle helmet, but did not reach the cyclist’s head. So, while a certain BB commenter may deride bicycle helmets as laughable foam beanies, proof positive that the wearer as succumbed to paternalistic safety-stalinist groupthink, yet I shall continue to wear mine, as they are clearly powerful talismans that render the wearer bulletproof.

    1. This thread is NOT going to devolve into another Bicycle Helmet War. You have been warned.

  5. It’s not the shooters’ fault, that it’s not a murder case. Props to the helmet manufacturer: over-engineering is often a plus when it comes to safety equipment.

    As to the situation, I’m reminded of the Doctor’s line, delivered at the close of ‘The Bridge Over The River Kwai’: “Madness!”

    A link for the flick:

  6. Yeah BULLSHIT he was concerned with the child’s safety. Sounds like another bully who was too mentally unstable to become a cop, where he’d be able to shoot cyclists in the head all day long with just a slap on the wrist.

  7. Glad to hear the bicyclist survived- I was guessing from this description that the bullet went through the guy’s head and embedded itself on the opposite side of the helmet or something.

    Let’s hope that’s a double attempted murder charge since the three-year-old could have died too if they’d veered into traffic.

  8. Yeah, being in the kid seat of a bicycle whose rider is dead would be much safer, clearly.

    I’m astonished that a bicycle helmet could stop a bullet. Either that’s an unusually good helmet, or I’ve been seriously underestimating the things.

    Or it was at extreme range. That’s possible too.

  9. Anyone else really curious as to the brand of helmet the victim was wearing? I’m pretty sure that this is too morbid of a story to build an advertising campaign on, but the word of mouth should do wonders for the company–I don’t ride a bike, but I want one of those helmets now.

    Regarding the shooting itself, I choose to hold my tongue until further details are released.

  10. I think this is the most insane thing I have ever heard of. I could only read it and ask, “Really? Shot him? Really?”

    I used to feel a bit overdressed with my bike helmet while riding. Now I’ll feel a little naked without a bullet proof vest.


  12. I’d hate to see what this guy would have done had he encountered the father of the “world’s youngest smoker”.

  13. You know, I don’t have a teaching degree or anything, but I feel like killing someone is not the best way to help them learn something. Learning in humans usually involves a brain, which I’ve heard doesn’t work as well when it’s dead.

  14. it’s almost a certainty the firefighter was an unwanted and abused child, the product of forced pregnancy on some impoverished single mother.

  15. Do firefighters usually carry around weapons or was he off-duty and just carrying it around for fun?

  16. There is already too much animosity between people riding bicycles and motorists, can’t we all just get along?

    If I was the judge, I would make sure that he never drives again. Make him ride a bicycle on a busy street, see how it feels. All those motorists behind you at the red light, revving their engines and when you politely get over on the shoulder they speed up to make up for all the precious lost time they had to wait behind you.

    What an asshole.

    (I’m trying hard to write a coherent post, but as a cyclist this stuff really pisses me off.)

  17. Note to President Obama: Don’t call the firefighters actions “stupid” otherwise every wingnut in the world will accuse you of attacking all firefirghters int he universe.

  18. Where is this at? North Carolina? Well, thank god firefighters (and all civilians) are allowed to carry firearms because in this case, the system appears to have worked. Or could have, if only the system were FULLY IMPLEMENTED. if the firefighter knew that cyclist also had a firearm, no way is he going to shoot him! See, we’re almost there: firefighters, who have no possible reason to carry firearms are apparently armed. Now we just have to have ALL adult-age civilians, especially those cycling with their 3-year-old children, to bear arms.

    props and lol to #8/Canuck for his “madness” meme.

  19. Can I vote for this thread not turning into a ‘right to bear arms’ thread, also?

  20. I’d bet dollars to donuts that the intent of the article was to say the bullet passed through the rider’s helmet but missed his head. I’d bet, as others have noted, no inch of styrofoam is going to stop bullets. It seems unlikely that he’d be facing attempted murder one for an airgun shot or a ricochet. Of course, the standard IAASBHNPTE* disclaimer applies.

    *I am a scientist but have not performed this experiment.

  21. 1. I just want to know what helmet he was wearing. I want one!

    2. I had a cop clear his holster on me once, because he *insisted* that I get off my bike and walk it across a street instead of letting me finish making a legal right hand turn. The vehicle code where I lived clearly stated that I was a vehicle in that situation, but he was having none of it. Just goes to show that it isn’t just random firemen who have power trip issues with bicyclists.

  22. Arkizzle, you’re a moderator now. Don’t be so timid! Say “This is not a gun control thread. Attempts to make it one will be dealt with.”

    If you want, that is. I defer to your superior judgment; no one’s about to give ME the keys to the disemvoweller, after all.

  23. @26 just another example of how police are out of control everywhere and need to be whipped to heel.

  24. If you bike often, you discover that some people become enraged at the sight of a cyclist. Weird but true.

  25. Takuan: Either no god or just a really lousy god. I didn’t vote for ‘im.

    There, now maybe it’ll turn into a religion vs. atheism thread.

  26. look very closely at the picture of Diez above. The underlying bone structure does not match the apparent features, there is even a hint of scales at the hairline.

  27. what caliber was the handgun? I cannot find this anywhere. I cannot believe a bicycle helmet would stop a bullet, even a glancing shot, etc.


    OMG WTF? why isn’t the shooter in jail?

    not only did he shoot at the father, but that guy was also pointing at the kid. ugh ugh. this gives me pain on so many different levels…

  28. is there any truth to the rumour going around that this was a hate crime since the shooter thought the cyclists were a same sex married couple with an adopted child?

  29. my main concern is that this isn’t some shameless attempt by Mark to promote his new book on insane firemen

  30. Let’s petition the trial judge, if it gets that far, to allow him to perform community service as a bike safety lecturer.

  31. Xopher, my man, you are quite correct.

    My disemvoweler is loaded and comfortable on my hip. I was down at the ‘range today and was managing single-vowel accuracy in a paragraph of 500 words, at a distance of around 90 feet.

    Not bad for a beginner.. :)

  32. A well regulated Mod staff being necessary to the civility of a blog thread, the right of the people to keep and bear disemvowelers shall not be infringed.

  33. Okay, I don’t even ride a bike and I would buy that manufacturer’s helmet. Link to the product page, please?

    As for the fireman’s actions, they are perfectly legitimate. It’s unAmerican to ride a bicycle. Don’t he know it’s a recession. Buy American people! And fill ‘er up early and often! These cyclists are gonna screw up the economy!

  34. There really is no limit to the power trips that these people have.

    I was looking into buying a kevlar helmet for my motorcycle because they’re supposed to be lighter. I told my girlfriend (no, really!) that it was practically bullet-proof and she asked if it was pavement proof. Maybe I should show her this? After all, I am a brown-skinned man living in Cambridge, MA…

    (oh no! flame-bait! yikes!)

  35. If I was the judge, I would make sure that he never drives again. Make him ride a bicycle on a busy street, see how it feels. All those motorists behind you at the red light, revving their engines and when you politely get over on the shoulder they speed up to make up for all the precious lost time they had to wait behind you.

    Not that I don’t find your comically liberal punishment interesting, but if I was the judge I would probably put him in jail… you know… without a car or a bike. Preferably for a long time.

  36. it wasn’t a good helmet it was cheap, low quality Chinese made bullets.

    You can tell they’re Chinese because of the high lead content.

  37. I’m interested that this happened in Asheville NC. My sister lives there and I’ve been a few times. There is a large hippy enclave there that I suspect grates on the more typical Southern conservative types. I’m willing to bet this was redneck on hippy violence.

  38. I’m about an hour away from Asheville; They feel they’re progressively ‘green’, so unlike many municipalities, there’s a large number of scooters, motorcyles and bicyclists.. So there is more awareness among car drivers..

    Of course, this is a previously unknown method of safety enforcement. I guess he wasn’t accurate enough to shoot out the tires..

  39. #34, you’re right. Some people just get all red-misty when they see a bike rider anywhere nearby. I’m glad they’re not armed in the UK, though this is a special case of utter (alleged) fracktardedness.

  40. Did I miss the announcement? Is July now “Don’t F*ing Argue with a Man Who Owns a Uniform” Month?

  41. there’s an idea; suppose EVERYONE gets their generic might be cop/fireman/mail man/renta-cop uniform? They lose all credibility and bullying power if they come to be meaningless. Like that fake cop thread; you now have a built in alibi to shoot first since there is real possibility you are being shook down by a phoney with murderous intent.

  42. I’m a strong proponent of establishing a system whereby civil servants suspended with pay be required to repay that money upon conviction. If a violent sociopath can get off on an aggravated assault beef for time served, then a bad cop or firefighter can forfeit his or her pay from the point they were charged onward.

    Second, the animosity toward cyclists is getting out of control. It’s bad where I live in Philly, but it might be worse in the surrounding countryside. On a recent charity ride, an older man in a Buick saw me coming down a hill at 30 mph and then pulled out into my path. If I had been in a car, I would have had trouble stopping. Since I was on a 20-year-old racing bike, my choices were to pass on his left and immediately slow down in front of him on the upgrade or go through his back window. He then motored along beside me yelling for half a mile before he stopped and challenged me to fight. Insane.

  43. so many people asking for the make of the helmet.

    Clearly the bullet perforated the helmet, skimming the guys head. There’s no way it stopped it in its tracks. If it was a kevlar army helmet, sure.

    it’s the misleading title that does it. When I read it, I too thought the guy was a gonner.

  44. I hear they are moving up the alphabet. Next week they will be out to get you if your name starts with “T”. That’s what the rumor is anyway.

  45. this “saved by helmet” thing doesn’t wash. If he was carrying a case of beer and the bullet had gone through that because the fireman was a lousy shot, would he have been “saved by the beer”?

  46. @34

    “If you bike often, you discover that some people become enraged at the sight of a cyclist. Weird but true.”

    I don’t bicycle, and I don’t become enraged at the sight of them, but I *do* get irritated when I see them blow-through stop signs and expect everyone in a car to jam on the brakes. Because a) I certainly don’t want to hurt anyone, b) the person in the car is “automatically” assumed to be the unsafe one, and c) the bicyclist is pretty much guaranteed to be seriously hurt if hit by a car.

    That being said, anyone who shoots at someone else and who is not defending themselves or their family deserves time in “the gray-bar motel” if convicted.

  47. A few years back I passed a guy with one of those Alley Cat third wheel trailers for his kid. The kid was so small there were 2x4s attached to the pedals so he could reach them.

    As the parent rode along a busy street in the bike lane, the kid was standing on one pedal, sticking the other leg out in the air and holding on with one hand to the handlebar. It was really quite astonishing – he was definitely circus material! But one bump and that kid would be off that bike. Keep in mind the 2×4 blocks. We’re talking LITTLE KID.

    I pulled up (on my bike) next to the parent and expressed some concern about what his kid was doing. The parent’s reaction? “Whatever”

    I proceeded onward, metaphorical gun and tongue firmly held in mouth.

  48. Good thing the guy wasn’t packing those biker killer bullets – those ones that are designed to penetrate a bike helmet. Those things oughta be outlawed!

  49. I don’t bicycle, and I don’t become enraged at the sight of them, but I *do* get irritated when I see them blow-through stop signs and expect everyone in a car to jam on the brakes.

    Think of it as an opportunity to watch a more efficient, more complex, and more sustainable mode of personal transportation in action, as well as a more organic, less rigid, way of reacting to the urban environment: traffic as practice rather than traffic as what the blinking light says to do. Or just get used to it, ’cause we’re not stopping for your car or your red lights or your laws, Mr. Policeman!

    /aggro bike snob lecture parody

  50. what really happened? Joe White-Guy North Carolina fireman was having a bad day. A bad year actually, since things stopped looking like Joe-White Guys were not going get the brass ring anymore after a decade of Bush and company and the general unravelling of the latest Big Lie. He’d been what he thought was good for seventeen years of firemanning, seen a bit, saved a couple and also cleaned up some roadkill. The kid squashed by the truck that hit the bike never quite left him. A little kid. Maybe he had one too? Anyways, he’s tooling along and fuming along for a hundred reasons that even he doesn’t fully understand. He sees the guy and the kid on a bike and something almost snaps. So he decides to do something. The father, first taken aback, realizes he’s dealing with a semi-unhinged angry white guy, which ain’t really his fault now, is it? So he looks askance and sez, ”
    ah fuck off buddy” and turns away. Well, Joe White-Guy a la Falling Down snaps all the way. His little internal dialogue goes “why you fucking jerk, I oughtta kick your yuppie ass you and your faggy bike” and then the little kid squashed comes up in his head. So he draws and lets his little metal dick do what the one in his pants hasn’t been able to for a couple of anxiety filled years now.

  51. I don’t bicycle, and I don’t become enraged at the sight of them, but I *do* get irritated when I see them blow-through stop signs and expect everyone in a car to jam on the brakes.

    I see bikes blow through stop signs all the time, “Idaho stop law” style, but I don’t see them expecting cars to stop for them. Quite the contrary, it’s quite dangerous to presume that cars will yield right-of-way to a bike, even when the bike legally has right-of-way.

    So, for example, for every empty intersection that a cyclist rolls through, there’s another intersection where the cyclist has no stop sign, but must stop anyway because the cars pulling up to it happily cream or run off the road any bike that comes along.

    And they’ll yell at you for getting in their way after they do it.

    For twenty years I just always biked off-road to avoid this problem. But in my current location the off-road biking is very limited compared to the road biking (which is spectacular). So I’m learning to be very, very defensive in my cycling.

    Also, see this article:

    which mentions that bike accidents involving cars are rare in the Netherlands, where they are not required to obey traffic laws.

  52. @71, TDAWWG

    OK, it’s a parody, you say. So I won’t engage in a philosophical discussion about organic vs. inorganic transportation, etc. etc. etc.

    The laws of physics are (generally) on the more massive vehicle’s “side.” More momentum, more mass (therefore more inertia). It’s got nothing to do with who’s right and who’s wrong, and everything with who would get more seriously hurt by a collision.

    Anyone who expects a massive vehicle to be able to stop instantly is living on borrowed time.

  53. Crappy gun, meet really good helmet. Helmet, gun. I’m sure you two will get along splendidly.

  54. tell ya what; you put on the bicycle helmet of your choice and I’ll use the cheapest .22 saturday night special I can find and we’ll do a test.

  55. If I was this fireman I’d be having a word with my ammo dealer, seriously.

    I really do think though that you’re overdue an amendment to that Americans Shall Forever Have The Right To Shoot One Another In The Face amendment. Even just a No Guns For Thin-Lipped And Permanently Pissed-Off Looking White Guys Who Keep Themselves To Themselves amendment would help I’m sure.

    Takuan @ 72: you OK mate?

  56. Also in Asheville this weekend, a man pulled a gun on someone at a children’s film because the other fellow wouldn’t stop tapping his feet.

    And there’s tape of a 911 call from a woman alleging that a man (turns out to be off-duty officer)is banging on her door and trying to teach her a lesson for honking at her. He says she was driving erratically.
    Asheville Citizen-Times for all three stories

  57. mind games? two human beings interacted, there is an infinite constellation of possibilities to explain it and you are acting put upon to come up with even one?

  58. That’s what happens when you give social adoration and power to idiots with muscles who sit around and do nothing except berate each other for 8 hours a day. A broken system, I tell you!

  59. Actually, I haven’t heard a lot of stories about firemen turning out to be violent crazies like this guy. Not even enough to make a pattern. Not like with cops, where a week doesn’t go by without a story about one (one, not all) being an authority-crazed bozo, or even postal workers, who were involved in so many incidents in the 80s and 90s that the phrase ‘go postal’ was invented and has stayed with us to this very day, despite the lack of recent events involving them.

    If someone points me to a whole bunch of firefighter-goes-berserk incidents, I’ll change my mind, but that’s how it looks right now.

  60. I think he didn’t mean to shoot the guy in the head. In fact, it makes no sense. Why would he shoot for the most protected part of the guy’s body? No, he was shooting for the heart and aimed high.

    Or…he had decided “Wow, that poor kid. His father is a jerk who puts him at risk on a bicycle in traffic. I’ll put him out of his misery!”

    That’s right. He was aiming for the kid.

  61. He was cleary trying to get the cyclist’s attention, by offloading a signal round ‘toward’ him. He was going to offer them both a lift in his car, so as to remove the child from the dangers of a busy road.

    Hats (helmets) off to the man.

  62. “The bullet embedded itself in the rider’s helmet.”

    Where did you get this from? Nowhere in the article does it imply embedded. A bullet would penetrate a piece of paper but not be embedded in it. From the article it would be fair to guess that the trajectory was close to tangential to the guys head. Whether it left his hair parted is open to conjecture.

  63. It is a strange phenomenon, the rage against bikers. I found it more strongly than ever when I lived in West Virginia for a year. Several times, people rolled down their car windows to yell at me for riding my bike: “get off the road!” or just tried to frighten me and make me have an accident. Teens on the sidewalks yelled homophobic epithets at me, and another time someone tried to run me over. I wasn’t wearing a Bruno suit or riding a clown bike. I was just in a town where I was perhaps the only man who rode a bicycle not for sport but to commute and run errands every day.

    My interpretation is that it has something to do with heterosexist attitudes about the construction of male identity. Some disturbed men police other men, sometimes violently, for signs that they are stepping outside of patriarchal gender boundaries. They derive their own sense of identity from external loci and seeing another man doing something outside of heterosexist male gender norms makes them feel endangered, that they might lose their identity, “die” somehow. Threatened, they respond with violence. I think it is also for similar reasons that we see violence against LGBT people.

    This off-duty fireman may invent some other reason because he lacks self-understanding, but I think we can see his own explanation doesn’t make any psychological sense.

    What is it about bicycles and manliness that does this? I think it’s because American culture and the auto industry has so tightly wrapped together the concepts of the physical power of the car with the search for male power in a patriarchal society. Witness “Macho cars” and the like, as well as most car ads not geared to women.

    Much social interaction occurs between men in cars and when such disturbed men are out in public, in their cars, they find their identity in relation to a pecking order of other men’s cars. Is it an old beat up car? Is it a fast sports car? Something staid and uninteresting, lacking plumage?

    Such men are completely taken aback by seeing other men on bicycles. A male bicyclist interferes with this narrative of car=male rank order. Combine that with the concept of such men finding an externally localized identity through male rank-order, and you can see why they feel threatened. It’s a recipe for all sorts of threats and violence towards bicyclists.

    Anyway, that’s my interpretation of what I was experiencing. Maybe it’s my own make-believe, but it helped me to make sense of the assaults I kept experiencing. An important question I think is what happens if oil prices start spiking again and these kinds of disturbed men lose their cars to high gas and personal bankruptcy? Will they become even more violent, and not just towards bicyclists?

  64. Geez, I lived in asheville for two years and for one of them my only transportation was a bike. Once I got a car, I was a pizza delivery guy. I can’t avoid the feeling that I might have worked with the shooter. That’s not to say that I did, I just kinda get the feeling he might have been a pizza guy at some point

  65. “#5 posted by P1rat3, July 27, 2009 2:34 PM

    If you read the article, Mr. Diez has been charged with ATTEMPTED murder. Usually, when bullets embed themselves in helmets rather than the heads they encase, death is less certain.

    Regardless, I can’t see how Mr. Diez is going to be able to justify his actions.

    Rescuing infants from non-certain doom with a handgun.

    I really want to hear the logic on this one.”

    This is great…anyone remember Waco?

  66. “#10 posted by echolocate chocolate, July 27, 2009 2:42 PM

    Yeah BULLSHIT he was concerned with the child’s safety. Sounds like another bully who was too mentally unstable to become a cop, where he’d be able to shoot cyclists in the head all day long with just a slap on the wrist.”

    “too mentally unstable to become a cop”

    You are kidding…..Aren’t you???????
    This would be an asset

  67. Uniquack – Yeah, I’ll buy your explanation. Makes more sense to me than any other at this time. For myself I’ve never run into this anti-bike attitude but given I live in a metro area that very diverse that’s not so surprising. Though currently I haz a sad ’cause my bike has a flat and a broken spoke. :(

  68. “#88 posted by Anonymous, July 27, 2009 7:00 PM

    So after a man shoots at another for being a danger on the roads the local politicians start proposing their improvements to road safety.

    No one dares touch the idea of gun safety?”

    “GUN SAFETY”?????????
    Give the guy a chance…
    There’s always self infliction

  69. @95, I would have thought your explanation was crazy, except I have experienced the same phenomenon while bike commuting in car-centric towns. I found it liberating once I was finally able to ditch my car for good, but I was never into “macho” rides anyway.

    @74, Please note that even Idaho stop law requires the cyclist to slow, look, and yield to oncoming traffic with the right of way (a far cry from blowing through the stop). I know that I am in the minority of cyclists who think this is important, but the more bikers act like they are part of traffic the more drivers will respect their right to be there.

    Also, if you are in an accident while breaking a traffic law or not wearing basic protective gear you may still be found to be negligent. You could win the overall case, but the damages awarded to you will be reduced. If my legs get crushed beneath an SUV I sure as hell want to take the driver for all they are worth!

  70. #95 – “Where did you get this from? Nowhere in the article does it imply embedded. ”

    The answer is that the bullet very briefly embedded itself in the helmet before going along, slightly deformed, on its merry way, as is the general custom in North Carolina.

  71. @ Xopher: in a fire, I’ll let you have the narcissistic, steroid fed, dehydrated one to save you and I’ll take the one with a nice 15-20 pound of insulating blubber, the heart of a lion and the care of a mother. I hope that we will both be happy ;)

  72. OK, so the helmet didn’t stop the bullet, I confirmed that hours ago.

    However, the helmet may have saved the life because it increased the size of the target.

    It is hard to shoot someone in the head, that is why COPS are trained to shoot at the succulent torso.

    If aiming at the head, and if that head is disproportionately large, the shooter is more libel to miss the meat.

    This is why gang bangers wear parkas in july and why I wear a wig when going through airport security.

  73. #104 posted by noen:

    For myself I’ve never run into this anti-bike attitude but given I live in a metro area that very diverse that’s not so surprising. Though currently I haz a sad ’cause my bike has a flat and a broken spoke. :(

    First, fix yer bike!

    2nd, your “metro area” obviously isn’t NYC (or, if it is, you’re not riding enough!).

    Long dull story somewhat shorter and marginally less dull: I cycle-commuted from Astoria Queens to downtown Manhattan for three years, year-round (including 9/11, which is what allowed me to get the hell outta Dodge after the first tower came down). Traffic was OK. Some aggro, not much, (except towards the end of my time there when I was all crazy and PTSD-ified and pounded on the hood of a black-windowed limo that had cut me off, which was being driven by someone who pulled a Federal badge on me).

    I moved away (in cycle-friendly Santa Barbara @ the moment), still have cycling friends there, still hear from them about the street-level scene.

    It has gotten MUCH worse. Active hostility on the part of drivers (as in: deliberately running into cyclists, verbal abuse, chasing, spitting), coupled with suddenly-fashionable cruisers and fixed-gear bikes owned by people who who don’t know how to ride, has created a real powder keg. I hear a lot of this from someone that I know is not a Critical Mass, FuckAllCars, in-your-face kind of rider.

    The turning point, I think, was the 2004 Republican Convention. Cops locked up a lot of CritMass riders and cycling protesters, impounded a lot of bikes. Cyclists got pissed, cops got pissed. Ticket enforcement went up, just as car influx and casual cyclist numbers went up.

    Diversity’s got nothing to do with it. It’s heavy iron vs. muscle power, and it seems to me that it’s highly dependent on local transportation culture, infrastructure, and population density, to the exclusion of other factors. Drivers do stupid shit, cyclists do stupid shit, conscientious people just trying to get from point A to point B get are trapped in a hostile infrastructure and sooner or later, everybody gets pissed. But in Europe, the transportation infrastructure reflects a less car-centric culture, so things are better for cyclists there.

    I still remember how amazed I was the first time a car yielded to me on my bike out here. Whenever I ride back in NYC, it takes at least a day to get my city legs back…

  74. At the risk of starting an entirely different flame war, the video linked to by #52 where the spokesman explains the firefighter’s behavior by saying that some people apparently feel very strongly about certain safety issues brings to mind parents who advocate slapping, spanking, or hitting their child to prevent them from doing something unsafe, such as running into the street or touching the stove.

    The same solution that works to keep young children safe would work here, too: create a safer environment. Build some bike paths separate from the road. Problem solved.

  75. @ #74

    “which mentions that bike accidents involving cars are rare in the Netherlands, where they are not required to obey traffic laws.”

    Let me inform you that dutch cyclists have to obey traffic laws like everybody else.
    A lot of people here just don’t care though, and accidents do happen because cyclists were not carefull.

    I am very happy that the attitude on cyclists is a bit more relaxed here and that we have cycling paths and lanes everywhere.

    The Netherlands

  76. I live in Sweden. They seem extremely considerate towards cyclists on the whole, and there are bike paths all around the place. I do often ride on the street anyway as that is often the shortest route and must say that the drivers don’t seem to have a problem at all.

    But that is in a country where a mans masculinity is not measured in horsepower.

  77. Folks, the helmet didn’t deflect the bullet. The bullet was going to miss his head anyway. The bullet just passed through the edge of the helmet. Stop going on about the helmet saving his life; all it did was to provide excellent evidence to put this loon away when the trial comes.

  78. So unfair. I have to lug around a .50 cal to teach SUV drivers a lesson or two, and it’s a biaatch to mount on a bicycle.

  79. Not that this has anything to do with shooting at people, but as for attitudes towards bicyclists in general, I should say that it isn’t all about “threatened masculinity” or whatever.

    I live in NYC. I don’t have a car or a bike. I don’t particularly feel the lack of either (I like walking, and the front door of my building is a few feet from a subway entrance), but if the city were a bit more bike friendly I would probably get one. I look whistfully at places like the Netherlands where bikes are almost dominant (by account – I’ve never been there).

    That said, even I, theoretically very sympathetic to the plights of cyclists, find prejudices develop. Moron hipsters who can’t ride and macho, death-seeking bike messengers (both of whom favor the newly fashionable fixed gear bikes) seem determined to kill me. Cyclists complain of aggressive disregard from motorists, and that’s undoubtably true, but pedestrians end up on the bottom of the totem pole, in a city where they greatly outnumber the other two groups combined. Cyclists, in blowing through intersections, riding on sidewalks where convenient, etc., have done more to personally endanger ME than motorists ever have. This, combined with the self-righteous, how dare you ask us to follow the rules attitude you see so often, and yeah, sometimes you get fed up.

  80. UGH!!!!!!!! I am a cyclist in Asheville. I will say that particular road where the incident occurred, I would never EVER ride on, but STILL. This story makes me want to vomit. Why people have to have a problem with cyclists is beyond me. I have been honked at, yelled at, FOLLOWED by creeps, and had objects thrown at me, but this is unreal. MINUS ONE, ASHEVILLE.

  81. I guess the only thing the poor kid probably learned was to fear firefighters. How do you get over that kind of trauma?!

  82. #96 Uniquack, – I like your explanation – but it doesn’t explain how I get treated. I am very definitely a girl and I get yelled at, spat at, I’ve had bottles thrown at me – for absolutely Nothing! I’m not always perfect – but I do try to follow the rules of the road and behave like a vehicle.
    I do have to say that most people are pretty good – even too good sometime – yielding to me when they have the right of way.

  83. To the “bicyclists don’t stop at stop signs” folks: I’ve been hit because I stop at stop signs. I stopped, the car behind me rolled through, tagged my rear tire and knocked me down.

    Don’t give me that crap, the only thing we cyclists have going for us is speed for maneuverability, if we stop we’re static targets for every texting soccer mom in an SUV, and drivers kill a hell of a lot more people every year than firearms users.

    Despite getting hit, I still stop at stop signs, but I do so knowing that I’m taking a greater risk to make a point.

    To this incident: Spiro Bikopoulis, where are you when we need you most?

  84. @21 TAKUAN

    I’m the product of an impoverished single mother

    and I read boing boing. can’t be that bad.

  85. Why don’t they invest in public transportation systems and let the car industry die? No, even better, prohibit cars in city areas.
    It’d be safer, better for the environment, and it would piss off rednecks.

  86. how about free passports for rednecks, T-shirts that read “I voted for Bush!” and free plane tickets to anywhere in the mid-east, Africa, South America or Europe for that matter?

  87. I walk to work and have to worry about cyclists hitting me on the sidewalk. They come up from behind and whiz by, inches from me. One day I might decide to turn in my path just as one is creeping up from behind.

  88. I don’t have a problem with cyclists that don’t stop at stop signs. Do what you need to do.

    It really bothers me when cyclists go the wrong way- against traffic. I find this dangerous and freaking scary for me when you pass my car!

    Is there an explanation for this? Or are these just bad cyclists?

    1. It really bothers me when cyclists go the wrong way- against traffic.

      Decades ago, you were supposed to bicycle against traffic. I remember seeing a bike safety film advocating it. It probably came from the pedestrian rules.

  89. For what it is worth I have seen the level down of this interaction and it isn’t pretty either. Bicycle vs. Pedestrian in the DC area on the C&O Canal on a sunny busy saturday.

    Adult male cyclist with kid trailer hits old lady with knee brace on the braced knee. She goes down. No cyclists stopped to help her but a couple folks on foot did.

    Cyclist didn’t stop and didn’t like it when the lady called him a bad name. He didn’t look like a bad guy, just too caught up in what he was doing and wasn’t comfortable addressing he did something wrong.

    Power struggles suck whenever there is an imbalance.

    I think a lot of the discussions about these power imbalances could be viewed as such as opposed to black vs. white or bike vs. car or gay vs. straight.

  90. People here are outraged that the family was cycling with a child on busy roads while wearing helmets. The real outrage should be that the firefighter is on PAID LEAVE pending the outcome of this case.

  91. Anonymous 130: That’s called Presumption of Innocence. It’s basic to our legal system. If they fired him before he was convicted a) he could sue them and win, and b) he would have an appealable issue because their firing him is a statement that they think he’s guilty.

    What I’M appalled by is that he was granted bail at all. Someone crazy enough to take a shot at a bicyclist allegedly to protect the kid who was also on the bike is too dangerous to be let loose pending trial. What’ll he do next, open fire on a playground because the toys there are unsafe?!?!?

    Also, I see very few people here being appalled that the parents were on the busy street. The majority appears to want to hang the firefighter.

  92. One wonders why they didn’t see it coming– take one look at the guy! Crushed by life. One might also investigate the Department he works for– often workplace stress and bad supervision can lead to drastic measures.

    Or let it slide, it’s really not my care!

  93. Presumption of Innocence was once a primary feature of the US legal system, but it’s being eroded away by forfeiture and child protection laws these days.

    To those who don’t believe that some people freak out if you ride a bicycle: some people freak out if you drive a Prius – at the beginning of Desert Storm I had people literally spit at my car – and some people freak out if you drive an SUV (I have both, so I get it coming and going). There are crazies everywhere.

  94. If the handgun in question was a very short-barrel version loaded with .22 shorts, I’d have no problem believing that a shot at the right place in some helmets would have failed to go all the way through. A number of the headcrab-style types have places where they’re as thick as two inches (in the back, usually), and the foam from which they are made is quite a bit denser than the fluff used in cheap coolers. I can picture it; the cyclist decides that the time has come to get the fleep out of there, and starts to pedal off; Flippo the Firefighter gets even more incensed at this flagrant dissing of his Authoriteh, and whips out his boot gun to take a potshot at the fleeing target (which, in this wholly unresearched and entirely speculative scenario with no basis in anything published) is not too far over the head of the kid. If that is actually what happened, BTW, the cyclist would likely have been dead if the shot had been an inch lower and missed the tail of the helmet. The center of the back of the neck is a particularly lethal target.

    Power trippers of any type can be an instant menace.

  95. From a different source with more details, “The bullet blew a hole through the outer lining of Simons’ helmet and went straight through both sides of it, but he was not hit.” Most of these helmets have standoff pads which space them off the head a bit; my guess is that the bullet’s path went through one of those areas.

  96. – Charles Diez Gets 120 Days for Shooting Cyclist in the Head

    In August, 2009, a grand jury reduced charges against Diez from attempted first degree murder to felony assault. While assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill certainly sounds like an offense worthy of a lengthy prison term, the presiding judge apparently agreed that this was a case of a stand-up guy having a bad day. reports:

    “Convictions on such a charge result in an average 20-39 months in prison for the defendant. But in the sentencing, Superior Court Judge James Downs found that Diez’s military service, along with testimony from former colleagues about his good character, were mitigating factors, and chose to sentence him to 15-27 months instead. Downs suspended all but four months of that sentence unless Diez breaks the law again in the next 30

    Diez must also undergo anger management counseling and pay Simons $1,200 “for damage to his eardrum.”

  97. Having just got out of a 3-week stint in the ICU thanks to a collision with a US Mail Truck, this story RESONATES with me.

  98. > but I *do* get irritated when I see them [cyclists] blow-through stop signs and expect everyone in a car to jam on the brakes.

    Yeah. Well, as a full-time cyclist, I get a little irritated when I see cars do the same thing. I also get irritated when I see motorists texting, talking on their cellphones, putting on makeup, screwing with their radio, driving in bike lanes, driving drunk, speeding, running red lights, backing up without looking, failing to give cyclists the legally required 3-foot passing buffer, driving down the street with their blinkers on, driving with obviously unsafe vehicles … I could go on like this all day.

    Cyclists do run stop signs, and this is illegal. But every time I see article comments on some outrageous act of violence against a cyclist, someone always chimes in that cyclists are a bunch of irresponsible yahoos.

    As if motorists aren’t. Gimme a break. And get the hell off the phone when you’re driving, please.

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