Hit-and-run driver who hit cyclist

JWZ was nearly hit by a crazy driver while on his bike in San Francisco; the driver then went on to hit his friend, and then took off. JWZ caught up with him and said, "Hey! You just hit that guy!" and the driver said, "Really? That's just terrible," and drove away. But there were witnesses, a paramedic's report, and a photo of the driver's license plate.

I was hit by a drunk driver on my bike when I was 21, and still have knee problems because of it. It was a hit-and-run, and the police caught him later with parts of my bike stuck to his grille. He was a repeat offender, too. But because of Ontario's screwy no-fault insurance and crappy justice system, I wasn't informed of the court date, didn't get to object to him entering a plea and merely losing his license for a few months and paying a $1000 fine. I got a new bike, a change of clothes, and three physio sessions out of it.

I can't think of anything more cowardly and vile than hit-and-run driving. I hope this guy loses his car, his license, and the respect and fellowship of his community.

Monday around 6pm, [info]netik and I were biking West on Harrison on the right side when a car passed me on the left, within a few inches. I had enough time to think, "Hey, that was close", look forward, and yell "Look out!" before the car's mirror hit [info]netik's handle bar from behind and sent him tumbling. The guy kept driving. I chased after the car, pulled up to his window and said, "Hey! You just hit that guy!" He look at me and said, in a calm deadpan, "Really? That's just terrible." And then he drove off.

[info]netik has a giant bruise, but isn't hurt badly, and his bike is ok. Knowing him, had this guy stopped and been even slightly apologetic, there probably wouldn't even have been a police report. But instead, the driver chose to turn it into a felony hit and run, with three witnesses, a paramedic report, and a photo of his license plate.

Enjoy your upcoming lack of a driver's license, loss of insurance, $1,000 to $10,000 fine, and possible jail time, scumbag.

You have a nice day too, Sir.


  1. I don’t get it when people don’t stop after they hit animals – but people? I mean – what the hell?

    Good on them for getting a photo of the license plate, chances are if this is the carelessness and subsequent attitude of the guy once it’ll happen again eventually. Bad man.

  2. My friend’s great aunt hit a pedestrian and drove home with him on the hood of her car. I don’t think that he was even injured (what with her always driving 5 mph), but she couldn’t see the guy sitting there two feet in front of her. I mean, why stop driving just because you’re 100 and legally blind?

  3. Earlier tonight I attended a traffic justice summit hosted by the Cascade bicycle club in Seattle. They’re trying to pass legislation that would make it a crime to drive in a negligent manner that harms vulnerable road users like bicyclists or pedestrians. Most collisions result in nothing more than a cheap traffic ticket, even if the cyclist or ped is killed.

    Cars are dangerous (SUVs moreso) and our culture needs to change in many ways so that the toll in human life is minimized. Changing the law to protect biking and walking is an essential part of this shift. If you live in Washington state please support the vulnerable roadway user law.

    1. Just remember sleepylemur the problem goes both ways. There are just as many erratic stupid bicycle drivers out there who have no consideration for the rules of the road or the cars on the road. Driving through Boston on a daily basis I see at least 20-30 bicyclists not using hand signals, not staying stopped at a red light, heck some just slow down look and go. Riding the wrong way down a one way street, or on the wrong side of the road, and riding in groups that aren’t single file.

      While I’m all for making it safer for bicycles on the streets, I’d like to see stiffer fines for those on bicycles who don’t obey the laws themselves.

      Not to detract from the seriousness of the post as netik is a friend of mine, I am glad he’s not seriously hurt and hope that jerk who hit him gets what her deserves.

  4. This is a huge problem in San Diego. I’m harassed at least once a day by motorists during my commute to work. http://aaronfulkerson.com/2009/10/04/my-san-diego-commute/ I had a some woman scream at me today: “Get a car” while honking madly in her SUV. I’m typically faster than the vehicles while on my bike so of course she was parked at each of the subsequent traffic lights for me to explain to her the law.

  5. Found this – license plate genie – pulls up all web info on license plates. I just punched in the license plate number on a whim.


    I know there are sites that do reverse-lookups for phone numbers, but surprised there’s only the one for license plates, given how many cars are stolen, involved in hit & runs etc.

  6. OK – this in-duh-vidual is a total jerk, and I really hope he gets what he deserves.

    However, could you bike-riding folk please ride on the far right side of the road when possible, especially on highways (i.e, roads posted 40MPH and up)? Otherwise, it makes passing you somewhat hazardous, especially if I’m dealing with oncoming traffic and being tailgated by some other jerk; thus making either avoidance maneuver – going left around the biker or hitting the brakes – a rather tight situation (a scenario I have to deal with on most days on one of the main roads that lead up to my house).

  7. i’ve been struck 3 times by motor-vehicles while bicycle commuting in Atlanta. Luckily none involved serious injury. 2 times were hit-and-run (and very likely drunk drivers). In both instances, I gave a full description of the vehicle including license plate to the responding police officer.

    The first case was closed without ever contacting the driver. They gave me no explanation for closing the case. The second case, the driver told the police “I sold that car” — records showed that he did sell a car ~3months after the hit-and-run, but he transferred his license plate to the new car (the license plate # I read was on his old car and his new car, what kind of sorry excuse is that?). Police told me “sorry, he said he sold it, nothing we can do”.

    It’s really frustrating when the police can’t be bothered to do their jobs. And it teaches people that they have a better chance of avoiding consequences if they run.

  8. I’m most certainly not blaming the cyclist, and regardless of whose fault it was, hitting-and-running is terrible and the guy should be prosecuted, but is there a chance that he was riding carelessly as well? A large percentage of cyclists I see in my area ride exactly on the white line separating the bike lane and the car lane, which puts their actual body into vehicular traffic. I’ve never understood why they do this when there’s approximately 3 feet of totally clear space for them to ride safely.

    1. The reason cyclists ride on or near the white line of the bike lane is because all the trash and junk that accumulates. What would normally just be in the gutter where it doesn’t bother anyone ends up in the bike lane. Nails. Broken glass. Sharp bits of metal. All hazardous to bike tires.

    2. @Lonin:

      skeletoncityrepeater’s answer is the standard one, and a very important one — the desire not to get “doored” which is as prevelant here in Boston as it probably is anywhere — but Michael Smith’s answer is also a good one that most beginner bicyclists don’t know: never be squeezed right up against the curb. If you do, cars will just go straight as if you don’t exist, figuring that they can get by, and if they either misjudge or if a pothole sends you a few extra inches out into the street, you’re going to get clipped.

      Rather, always be a foot or so away from the curb. This forces drivers to actually acknowledge you and to physically turn their steering wheel to get around you, even if only a few extra inches, or preferably into the next lane. Bikes need to assert their claim to the space around them or they’re going to get squished.

      Note that the above obviously depends on the specifics of the road you’re driving on, as well as the width of any potential bike lane that may or may not exist.

    3. That white line seperating the bike lane from the car lane doesnt mean shit. There is no law that says cyclist have to use the cycling lane. They have every right to the car lane and cars must still give 3 feet of clearance. If I am in the cycling lane and a parked car opens the drivers door guess where I am going? The car lane and I have every right to do so.

    4. skeletoncityrepeater and others have already noted this, but there are plenty of reasons which make riding far to the left of the bike lane the safest practice, although it is certainly not obvious without a lot of on-the-street experience.

      It is also worth stating that in almost all states in the USA it is entirely up to the biker’s own discretion as to what part of the street they use, and he/she can legally take the entire lane at any time and for any amount of time. If there is an accident the biker might be asked in court to explain why they decided to take the lane, but almost any reason will suffice.

      Just like a motorist, bikers are required to make sure they don’t jump in front of any traffic approaching quickly from behind, but also like a motorist they are allowed to assume that the vehicles around them will be driving safely. At least 3 feet of clearance is required when passing a biker in many states, and this applies no matter what part of the street the cyclist is using.

      However, the best accident is the one that never happens, so bikers should still go above and beyond the law to protect themselves. As a cyclist it is important for you to become very familiar with the bike traffic laws in your area so that you are familiar with your rights and responsibilities on the road, but also so that you know where the holes are in your local vehicle codes which might put you in unnecessary danger.

    5. Sometimes there’s glass in the bike lane, sometimes there are people in the cars parked next to the bike lane and the cyclist wants to avoid getting ‘doored’, sometimes the cyclist isn’t a very good cyclist.

    6. Easy – most bike lanes are woefully small, putting you in the ‘door zone’ (where you can be easily cleaned up by unthinking drivers swinging their doors open while parked, or darting out from the parking space across the lane without checking for cyclists. I’d rather hold up a driver for a few seconds and deal with that rather than get seriously injured/killed from a door.

    7. They ride on the inside of the cycle lane because the cycle lane is usually packed with rubbish including broken glass.

  9. “the driver chose to turn it into a felony hit and run, with three witnesses, a paramedic report, and a photo of his license plate”

    Yeah, they do that. Never really understood why: they’re not usually evil people, but something about screwing up while driving seems to set ’em off. There’s a weird “I’m right” default assumption that is jarred when a driver screws up, and I think the cognitive dissonance between being right and having a gory mess yell at you, that breaks a driver’s brain.

    Hope the bruise heals and the driver gets what’s theirs.

  10. Lonin – I can answer your question for myself, specifically, if not for other bike riders.. A common accident for riders is getting ‘doored’ – when a person accidentally opens a door right in front of them. It is REALLY common and is quite a bit more scary than riding near oncoming traffic. In city traffic (I live in LA) people are always opening their doors, and of course no one looks in their mirror every time. I personally ride near the edge to avoid getting ‘doored’ and also to avoid the cracks and potholes and manhole covers that tend to be near the edge of the road. I know a lot of riders abuse their space, but there are reasons to stay in the lane and not in the gutter..

  11. I have come to believe in the death penalty due to situations like this. Not just for cases that cause death, but for those cases that *could* have caused death. A few random variables or access to timely and top-notch medical intervention can make the difference between “manslaughter”, “criminally-negligent homicide” and a minor felony. Why should a a potential killer be let off the hook because of these random variables? Must they actually kill somebody before we take them out of the gene pool?

    This driver could have killed this fellow. And, he showed careless disregard. He drove off. And when notified of what he had done, he showed no interest and left.

    People like this should get the death penalty. We are far too lax in reciprocity.

  12. @lonin Here in San francisco, on streets without bike lines, cyclists are *usually* allowed full use of the lane.

    As the person who was hit, I had no bike lane to ride in, and there was only a narrow space between the far right lane and tons of parked cars, during rush hour. Given the traffic, there was hardly any room to ride, and all he really had to do was give me a small amount of space.

    The impact threw me into the parked cars, I bounced off of them back into him, and then onto the ground, where I could have been hit by the car behind him.

    All he really had to do was stop and apologize, or give me some space in the first place! Instead, I filed a police report with a picture of his plate.

    If only there was a proper bike lane on Harrison.

  13. Lonin, in addition to skeletoncityrepeater’s explanation (that we ride to the far left of the bike lane to avoid getting doored), it’s also worth noting that in California where the accident occurred, bikes are allowed the full use of a traffic lane in most traffic conditions. The wording states that bicycles should ride as far to the right as “practicable” (i.e. safe) UNLESS one of several exceptions exists — those exceptions include things like road hazards (i.e. potholes and trash, not to mention parked cars and pedestrians) or even if there’s an upcoming right turn (i.e. the exception applies to 90% of blocks in any urban area). Even if we assume none of these exceptions apply, the safety-line of the “door zone” is about 4-5 feet from the parked car — and a bike lane is typically 5 feet wide. Riding on the left white line of the bike lane is a pretty smart place for a bicyclist to be. And on most streets major enough to have a bike lane, that still leaves plenty of rooms for cars to pass you without having to cross the double yellow (this is based on my experience as both a San Francisco driver and biker).

    In any case, I don’t mean to pile on — it’s just an issue dear to my heart. There are plenty of other arguments to be made about bikers riding recklessly (I’m sure the anti-biking nutjobs that always come out of the woodwork online will show up soon to throw those around) — but riding on the white line is pretty smart biking.

    And people who hit-and-run are assholes, no matter who is at fault in the accident.

  14. I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of hit-and-run drivers, but I can think of a few things more cowardly, and many things more vile. Shooting someone and going to the toilet in their helmet, for example.

  15. Cycle commuting in Melbourne, Australia I have had a few close calls, and so have other people I work with who ride to work. I am currently off the road because I crashed on a tram line and broke my right humerus.

    Lonin: engineering standards in Australia allow for 800mm of door opening space and 250mm lateral clearance between the door and the vehicle. Many doors open to 1100mm and road authorities rarely follow the design standards anyway.

    A rule I apply is to do one of the following:

    1. In a wide curbside lane (> 4.3m) where space is available leave plenty of clearance to the overtaking vehicles.

    2. In a narrow curbside lane move right to reduce the available space. This forces the overtaking vehicles to use the next lane to the right, which gives you more clearance again.

    Summary: Never leave barely enough room to pass. Bus drivers and postal drivers are rightly proud of their ability to judge the width of their vehicle.

    My opinion: If we are going to improve things on the road we need to train and test our bike riders. Most of them are drivers too, and many of them are pretty bad drivers I reckon. The presence of bike racks on top of a 4WD Subaru gives me the horrors if I see it coming.

  16. It appears to be an iron law of online discussions that if someone reports being victimized, someone else will come along to speculate, based on zero information, that perhaps they did something to deserve it. Even with its prefatory hedges and caveats, Lonin’s remark is pretty annoying. If we were discussing a murder, would Lonin jump in to wonder whether the victim hadn’t done something to cause themselves to get murdered?

    That aside, skeletoncityrepeater’s answer is correct. Painted-on bike lanes that run flush up against parked cars are a bad idea for a number of reasons. The obvious reason is that unless you ride at the lane’s outermost edge, you run the risk of being “doored”–and one of the not-unlikely consequences of being doored is that you are thrown bodily into oncoming traffic and killed. But they’re also a bad idea because the existence of unsafe painted-on bike lanes creates in many drivers–Lonin evidently among them–the impression that bicycles are required to confine their travel to the bike lane, even when it’s obviously unsafe to do so, and that if they don’t they’re breaking the law.

    This may be the law in some places, but if so, it’s a crazy law. It’s certainly not the law in New York City — bicycles are supposed to use bike lanes when they exist, and keep generally to the right when bike lanes don’t exist, with a specific exception in all cases for situations where common sense and safety say to do otherwise.

    The general principle is that bicycles are vehicular traffic and that provided they follow the rules of vehicular traffic (stop at lights and stop signs; don’t ride on the sidewalk; obey one-ways) they’re entitled to take a lane just as if they’re a car. Obviously some cyclists don’t obey the rules; but then, many drivers are also scofflaws, and pedestrians jaywalk constantly as well. Speaking as a mostly law-abiding cyclist who rides daily in Brooklyn and Manhattan, while I’m enthusiastically in favor of the rapid transformation of our cycling environment that’s been happening over the last few years, I find that streets with “sharrows” are much safer for cars and bikes alike than streets with bike lanes painted on adjacent to the line of parked cars.

  17. I find it curious that the automobile is not treated like any other dangerous device. For instance, if one were to wield a shotgun — perhaps “accidentally shooting someone” — the consequences would be dire. But elicit the same conclusion using an automobile and the response is _never_ as strongly phrased.

    I can wax poetic on all forms of conspiratorial theories on the value of an automobile as a rolling room-with-a-view, but sticking to more concrete ideas, I think it’s simply that legislators do not use bicycles as primary transportation.

    As a pedestrian and cyclist, I conclude that laws mean absolutely nothing in this case. I consider that: (1) nearly all drivers are motivated to not want their car damaged, (2) nearly all people do not want to injure or kill someone, and (3) nearly all people are distracted at one point or another while driving. With that in mind, I try to be seen, be seen as a substantial object, be seen as a human being, and to ride like I’m invisible in areas where driving can be a passive activity (i.e. low mental stimulation leads to lackadaisical behavior).

    I have for a while, however, considered starting an illegal cycling gang that will shoot people who threaten us with their cars — sort of a “you point a deadly weapon at me, I’ll point one at you” kind of philosophy. Generally it’s just to try and wake people up to the notion that cars are dangerous to people not in cars, but most people believe cars give them a right to be irresponsible with other people’s lives.

  18. Some motorist actively hate cyclists. This has me consistently telling these people, whom have been my friends and sometime my lovers, that they are trite, sick, and pathetic. I’ve seen drivers purposely harass cyclists (verbally and by purposely getting to close to them) in the cleveland metro parks because they feel that cyclists should be on the trail; with the pedestrians and roller bladers. they have every legal right to be on the road, yet these fuck tards insist on being uncivilized jerks.

    Hit and run should be treated like any other assault with a deadly weapon. Heh, Hitting someone and not running should be treated that way also. Slow down, maintain control of your vehicle, and remember where ever the fuck you are going is not more important than someone else’s health.

    On a funny note… I have a friend who has been hit by a car 2-3 times… and HE HAS BEEN THE ONE TO RUN. Imagine you hit someone the get up and they take off.

  19. “On a funny note… I have a friend who has been hit by a car 2-3 times… and HE HAS BEEN THE ONE TO RUN. Imagine you hit someone the get up and they take off.”

    I would’ve assumed they were illegally in the country or had warrants. That’s usually the case here in Texas.

    Having BEEN a pedestrian on the receiving end of a hit & run, I can sympathize.

  20. I was hit by a car while riding my bike last month. I landed on my head and made the unwise decision not to see a doctor. Fortunately, I came out alright, and the guy who hit me went through a lot of effort to get the bike repaired.

  21. It seems like a lot of drivers just don’t care. I don’t ride a bike very often, but I do try to be aware of bikes and pedestrians when I drive, which often seems to frustrate other drivers since they can’t seem to understand why I would change lanes to give a cyclist space, and frequently try to pass me on the inside when I do.
    I have been squeezed off the road by a coach bus, and I was impressed that the driver actually did stop to make sure I was OK, since it was the only time I had ever even heard of a driver stopping.
    My brother was sideswiped by a car within a block of the local police station. He was thrown clear, but the rear wheels of the car went over the bike, and kept right on going. He limped to the police station, and the cops had no interest in investigating, even suggested that he was at fault. They may have been upset with him for bleeding on their floor, but they didn’t even offer first aid. On the way out, he saw the car in question parked in the police station’s staff parking lot.

  22. Some drivers are assholes, but all of them are unnecessarily dangerous. There’s definitely a need for something that would replace cars. Meanwhile, I suggest better infrastructure and more funding for public transport.

  23. There was a professor at one of the local universities here in J’ville who regularly cycle commuted from his home downtown. One day, as he was approaching the final leg of his hour long morning trek, a car passed him and turned right directly in front of him. Physics being what it is, he slammed right into the car, damaging himself and the bike.
    Police show up and issue a ticket to the driver, but then the officer proceeds to get onto the professor about how to ride a bike here in the Gateway to Florida; not the legal way, but the best way to avoid cars and avoid interfering with traffic, et cetera. The professor was a former judge; the rest was not pretty.
    I have myself been cut-off, nearly hit on numerous occasions and pummeled with fast food. For the life of me, I will never understand why this behaviour towards those of us who wish to find a better way. I don’t get it. Never will.

  24. The consequences for drivers who “accidentally” hit cyclists or peds are ridiculous. Cars are just as deadly as guns. If I “accidentally” shot somebody I’m sure the law would do a bit more than suspend my right to carry a gun for a year.

  25. Cory: “But because of Ontario’s screwy no-fault insurance and crappy justice system, I wasn’t informed of the court date, didn’t get to object to him entering a plea and merely losing his license for a few months and paying a $1000 fine. I got a new bike, a change of clothes, and three physio sessions out of it.”


    It may be too late to get “justice,” but it is never to late for “vengeance.” I’m sure that the court case produced some official documents that contain the offender’s name and perhaps his address and other identifying information.

    You have a rather popular website on which you could post such information (or merely post copies of the public court documents) and let human nature take its course.

    Don’t think of it as “vigilantism” — think of it as “open-source, peer-to-peer, D.I.Y., crowd-sourced retribution.”

    Or you could just take solace in the knowledge that you always *could* unleash the Dogs of the Internet on your assailant. (But where’s the fun in that?!?)

    — MrJM

  26. I think a large part of the problem is modal bias — people using one mode of transportation don’t understand people using another.

    Perhaps education can help, but I don’t know that you can always teach empathy.

  27. I graduated from college in May, and last year, in the first few weeks of school, one of the freshmen was riding his bike in town and was hit by a drunk driver. As the news broke around the community, everyone was really angry, as the guy who hit him just kept driving. Long story short, they did catch the guy and he was charged with DUI contributing to cause of death and fleeing the scene of an accident. The college had a huge memorial service for the student– I’ve never seen the chapel that full, except during the memorial for the Sago miners (my college was used for that too).

    Anyway, some links about the case: http://www.ghostbikes.org/buckhannon/daniel-duncan , http://www.therecorddelta.com/V2_news_articles.php?heading=0&story_id=2030&page=72 , http://theintermountain.com/page/content.detail/id/510295.html

    I don’t know how people are able to just drive on when they hit a human, intoxicated or not.

  28. Accidentally shooting someone is not treated as assault with a deadly weapon, either. Just ask Dick Cheney.

  29. Just to pile on: the reason cyclists ride to the right is for efficiency not safety. The safest place for me to ride is in the center of the lane, but I ride to the right when safe and practical as a courtesy. Obviously safety is paramount though.

    Think about it: (rhetorical question) you’ve seen cars driving 15 mph, or even 5 mph right? Did you hit them? Why not? You slow down and pass when safe. Apply that same obvious rule to bicycles.

    There are lots of types of accidents and graduations in fault. Hitting someone or something that is ahead of you and going the same direction simply because it is moving slower than you is the lowest of the low.

  30. In Texas, peoples addresses are public info and can be obtained from the DMV/DPS if you have the license plate number.

    Depending on how angry you are and if this is the same case wherever you are, you might consider taking down the guys license plate.

  31. “It seems like a lot of drivers just don’t care.”


    I had a girl squeeze me between her car and parked cars while cruising in the park as we approached a stop sign (lots of traffic, nowhere for her to go in a hurry). I turned around to find her and her friend laughing at the fact that she used her vehicle as an extension of her body. Let’s just say she needed a dent remover for her fender due to my kicking it. Got my blood boiling for sure. I still don’t get it. How is that funny?

    Also, a while back a female motorcyclist was taken out by a truck, intentionally, next to GG park. Seems the driver was pissed off that the motorcyclist was passing traffic legally. Best part, an off duty officer saw the whole thing play out from her vehicle and the angry dude payed dearly. Assault with a deadly weapon. So if there is evidence, charges will go accordingly.

  32. *edit: paid

    Also, can’t motorists see that cyclists are part of the solution, not the problem? I guess the EGO just gets in the way yet again.

  33. Most of the comments I would make regarding this incident have already been made here (or I have made them myself in other threads on a similar topic). That being said, I hope that both netik and JWZ are OK, and that the hit-and-run pussy coward asshole ends up in jail.

  34. For cyclists and pedestrians a poorly driven vehicle is an accident waiting to happen. No question. the law needs to be updated so that hitting a cyclist or pedestrian with a vehicle is the same as assault with a deadly weapon. period. drivers need to learn to equate hitting pedestrians and cyclists in the same way they worry about hitting a semi truck or driving off a cliff.

    remember if you hit me with your car i lose. if i hit you with my bike i lose. it’s a lose – lose for the cyclist / pedestrian. always. there’s no comparison.

    Drivers who complain about cyclists ignoring the rules of the road need to get off their high horse and ride a bike to work for a month, in the snow and rain. then we can talk. let them experience being cut off, doored + floored then have a debate about it.

    To all the govm’t types trying to get us to all use less fossil fules etc etc. u need to invest in bike infrastructure and better public transport all this eco talk is simply lip service. businesses need to step up too. neither local branches of my bank has a bike rack, i have to lock up to a no parking sign 50 ft away.

    Now i’ll be the first to admit cyclists and pedestrians often flaunt the rules of the road. and i’m not against the idea of a license system of cyclists or a road tax if that appeases the drivers out there who think it’s unfair that we should expect the same rights on the asphalt as they do. i might remind them that we pay our sales taxes like everyone else and our respective states divvy that up in part to make new roads. but if some kind of license system came into place i’d want ot see the fees we paid go directly to creating cyclist infrastructure, bike lanes, bike racks and advocacy within the judicial system to promote safe driving / cycling practices.

    in my city drivers expect cyclists to blow thru stop signs and at a four way stop will wait for me to go first even if it’s their turn. while some might view this courtesy as a nice thing, i actually think it makes the environment less safe for me. i would rather they went in turn and got out of the way. several times i have nearly been hit because while one motorist indicates i could go “out of turn” another is going “in sequence” hasn’t seen me in the intersection and brakes are applied hastily. i would much rather that everyone just obeyed the rules of the road period. i stop for stop signs always if there are cars present at at the intersection. if the intersection is clear i approach slowly and if still clear go thru. i stop for red lights. sorry that’s the game that’s how it’s meant to be played.

    as for the lane issue. in city traffic how fast can a car really go? u can’t realistically do 60 mph on a city street eventually your going to get ot a stop sign or a light. now i ride on the right. but i should right in the middle. if i’m buzzing along at 30mph too why should i move oveR? there’s a mind set that cyclists should be subservient to drivers. that’s part of the problem. i have as much right to drive in the center of the lane. but most drivers view that as a provocation. and will overtake dangerously or honk or whatever.

    i can’t get my head around all the parents who drive thier kids to school and back every day. 3pm in my city is the worst time to be out on the road coz their are a million SUV’s rolling around, laden with kids no one is paying any attention to the road and everyone is talking on their cell phones. it is a self perpetuating system. parents worry about their kids getting to school and back safely so they buy a tank to move them around in. then some tragedy occurs everyone worries and buys a bigger tank. before you know it we’ll all have our own survivorball suit just to move from the house to the SUV.

    and don’t get me started on talking on the phone and driving. hello. i wonder how many cylcists / pedestrians are hit while someone is driving distracted? again u don’t see many folk riding and talking on the phone do you?

    drivers should give up their cars and cycle for trips of a a couple miles or less. save some $$$ on gas. get some exercise. learn about how to ride a bike and how to interact with traffic. riding gives u a different perspective on life, u learn shot cuts and. so forth, you find out more about your surroundings.

  35. Logging in after about a billion years to discuss a subject that is near to my heart (and other parts of my body, 7 days a week). I was hit this past July and have huge empathy for netnik–may you heal swiftly and be back on the bike immediately if not sooner. Sorry for the novel-length comment, but I have a lot of thoughts on this topic.

    First, I have to say I am pleased that I only see one victim-blaming comment. (Boing Boing is better than the NY Times! Who knew?) Sorry, Lonin, I know you said you “weren’t trying to” blame the victim, but that’s exactly what you did. I choose to believe you speak out of the modal bias mentioned by Lupin–i.e., you don’t ride a bike, therefore you have no subjective understanding of what bike-riding entails. Most of the motorists I encounter every day are in your shoes. I think it would be a fine thing for all road users–bikes, cars, peds–to consider each other a little more, use our imaginations, turn on our compassion, maybe do a little research, so that we don’t end up hating each other to death. As I see it, we’re all out here together; there is no “them”.

    Michael Smith’s proposal for a bike license has crossed my mind before. I still feel that the best way to prevent cyclist casualties is *motorist* education. Protecting bikers by lecturing them about road safety reminds me of protecting college freshwomen from rape by lecturing them about not drinking or going out at night. In both cases, the lecture would be better aimed at the potential *perpetrators* of violence, rather than always at the potential victims. Which is not to say that bikers shouldn’t do their utmost to protect themselves.

    I also have a few thoughts about bike lanes. Most of the bike lanes I ride in are nothing more than a pleasant fiction. The happy paint on the road does not protect me from renegade motor vehicles, and in my experience motorists drift into these lanes alarmingly often. Also, many motorists seem to conceptualize the bike lane as an official double-parking lane, causing me to have to redirect into the car lane to pass their parked vehicle. My preference is for this organization: bike lane, THEN parking lane, and then car lane, as seen on 8th and 9th Avenues in Chelsea, NYC. Bikers are still not completely safe from negligent drivers (the Ghost Bikes on the freakin’ West Side Bike Path testify to that) but a little buffer zone is of the good.

    On sharrows: I was hit in one (on Boreum at Joralemon, ftr) and find them nerve-wracking. Yes yes yes to shared lanes asking everybody to pay more attention, but a. that doesn’t always happen and b. the aforementioned hostility that many motorists have for cyclists makes the shared lane feel like swimming in a shark tank. PNH, I am interested to hear why you prefer sharrows?

    1. “PNH, I am interested to hear why you prefer sharrows?”

      Just a general sense that on streets with sharrows, cars are forced to notice that I exist. This seems to me safer.

      Now, mind you, there are places in NYC where the DOT uses sharrows simply because there isn’t room for a bike lane, even one of the “let’s pretend” painted-on, hard-up-against-parked-cars kind. Fifth Avenue north of Union Street in Park Slope is one of those. But given reasonable room for cars and bikes to share–say, for instance, Bay Street in Red Hook–I find that sharrows encourage drivers to be conscious, in ways that painted-on lanes do not.

    1. The M79 launcher would be almost impossible to fire safely without a stock, especially for young or female cyclist. In addition they would have to dismount or risk a very good chance of being thrown off the bike.
      If you really want to exact lethal retibution I recommend a reliable compact automatic for your cycling commute.
      That said, a heavy bike chain with a big padlock requires no permit to carry and looks very scary.

  36. I live in Montreal, and drivers here have an infamously bad attitude towards cyclists. There have been a few PSA campaigns but rarely does anything go beyond the passive aggressive “please drive safely, or someone may be hurt.”

    I’m considering starting an aggressive aggressive road safety campaign with catchy slogans like the following:

    Signal your turn ahead of time,
    Lethal negligence is still a crime.


    Please don’t park in the bike lane,
    Or we’ll smash out your Goddamn brain.


    If you gun through another red,
    We’re going to blow off your fuckin’ head.

    The last one might need some polish. Until this project gets off the ground, my best advice to cyclists is to pedal softly and carry a big hammer.

  37. As others have stated, very few bike lanes are wide enough or positioned far enough to the left to avoid the “door zone” of parked cars. Check out what happened to Dana Laird (who was in a bike lane). The guy who killed her only got a ticket.

    I have also noticed that most cars will not slow down and wait to pass safely when faced with oncoming traffic, blind curves, etc. They’ll just make room by squeezing me off the road unless I take control of the lane. So I block them when I have to, and then move to the right and allow them to pass as soon as it’s safe. Seriously, slowing down for a couple of seconds until you can pass safely isn’t going to kill you.

  38. Queb, I know many cyclists that drive as well. They’ve spent years biking through the street in the snow and rain but when they have to drive they all come to one agreement: cyclist are idiots.

  39. hit and runs and fatal collisions while DUI should have a single basic punishment- permanent loss of license. You have failed the most important driving test of all, my friend.

    1. That solution or something like it has been proposed in my city, but its opponents managed to spin it (bizarrely) as anti-poor. Because obviously poor folks are the ones who can afford to drive cars in the city, while bikes are an expensive hobby for the yuppies.

      Incidentally, not to be a bore, but do you know what happened to my previous comment? It’s been some time.

      1. Well… I can imagine a scenario where that might be somewhat true depending on the city. People who can commute by bike tend to live nearer to where they work. So a San Francisco lawyer could ride his bike to downtown from the expensive Presidio neighborhood, whereas the cleaning crew who tends to his office building might have to lug their van full of supplies across the bay from Hayward.

        I’m definitely in favor of more alternatives to automobiles, though.

        1. So a San Francisco lawyer could ride his bike to downtown from the expensive Presidio neighborhood, whereas the cleaning crew who tends to his office building might have to lug their van full of supplies across the bay from Hayward.

          Closed to private vehicular traffic. If you drive a commercial vehicle, you get commercial plates.

          1. If you drive a commercial vehicle, you get commercial plates.

            The cleaners at my building don’t have commercial plates. Nor do the dog walkers, nannies, handymen or housekeepers who live in my neighborhood.

            I don’t mean to be contrarian, just pointing out some economic realities about the needs of many working poor.

        2. Beef here, can’t sign in on this machine.

          I hear you about how this is not as clear-cut as my initial comment implied. A Wall St broker (do those still exist?) who lives in Tribeca certainly has a more bikeable commute than, say, the concierge in that guy’s building who lives in Flushing. But, I see this “but what about the guy who lives in ENY and drives to his job in Harlem?!” used frequently as a strawman argument to demonize transportation reform. Disclaim: I am sure this is not what you are doing here, just giving you the background on why I made my initial comment. Living near work has become a privilege of wealth, and that is a symptom of a greater problem of civic misplanning and income dispartity and housing injustice. I am in big favor of addressing those extremely pressing troubles. And I surely don’t want to punish the hypothetical ENY-to-Harlem commuter. But I don’t want to shut down all discourse on traffic reform just because some (probably City Council member (who probably drives a car)) calls upon that hypothetical commuter to support. the status quo.

          I just get agitated because I often hear bicycling decribed as a purely recreational activity, done only by obnoxious white dudes wearing Lance Armstrong costumes who will zoom through your red light because their $3000 bicycle is designed so that they can never take their feet off the pedals to stop. Or by trust-funded fixie aficionados whose thighs are as skinny as their bike frames and who are too cool and rebellious for your silly traffic laws. And I do see those guys out there, and they are annoying. But I also see a ton of working joes and josies just trying to get from point A to point B. AND, I see a TON of dudes who are on their bikes in all weather at all hours balancing a pizza, or whatever. I feel like anyone who complains about bikes had better never have ordered delivery in their lives. And anyone who complains about bikes blowing red lights had better never have jaywalked in their lives. I think that basically covers the whole population of New York.

      2. do you know what happened to my previous comment?

        More than one link to the same domain will almost always trigger the spam filter, even if it’s something like Wikipedia.

  40. I saw a driver knock down a cyclist on Townsend in SF a few months ago and take off. I was a few cars behind, but on a motorcycle so I was able to zip around traffic and chase the car down. When I told the driver (who apparently was an off-duty meter reader from the uniform she was wearing) that she needed go back to deal with that cyclist, she looked pissed but started driving back to the scene. When we got there though, just a few minutes later, the cyclist was gone.

  41. sorry Trent cyclists are not idiots. nor are the majority of drivers. it’s an uneven playing field out there and it’s time it was addressed. in urban areas we use many different forms of transportation each method of travel should be integrated. cycling is sort of a hybrid of pedestrian and motorcylce culture, it’s a limbo land and as such cyclists get the raw end of the deal a lot of the time. but i’m not sure where this “Cyclists are stpuid” thing comes from. perhaps u and your friends grew up, got proper jobs and could afford to buy cars, the only car i ever owned got stolen and i was happy to see it go in many respects. life without a car is super hard in the USA but it’s doable, not idiotic.

  42. This is a tragic case and the driver should go to jail. That said… if car drivers were as routinely unsafe as cyclists (no signals, no full stop at signs and lights) then it would be totally unsafe to ride a bicycle.

    Cyclists, on the whole, *seem* to be incredibly hypocritical of drivers. Drivers who race each other = horrible unsafe people. Cyclists who race drivers through a series of lights = horrible unsafe people.

    I get crap from other cyclists when I come to a full stop in the bike late, at a red light.

    Again, this is not a comment on the current situation, but on the animosity between holier-than-though cyclists and the drivers who resent them for insisting that they have a right to impede the progress of most vehicular traffic.

  43. Hit and run is pretty much legal in SF. I was rear ended on my MC, hard enough to tear the front bumper off the car that hit me and total my 6 month old bike. called 911 and was told that they (sfpd) would not even send an officer. (2 blocks from the western edition substation!)
    luckily a witness was able to flag down a cop car (as the fire department tried to intimidate me into an ambulance)
    the cops took the bumper (plate still attached) and gave me a report number.
    after several months of trying to get follow up I was told that the dirtbag who hit me (shantavious lay) would not return phone calls to the police, so there was nothing they could do and they were dropping the case.

  44. RE: the “who is dumber, cars or bikes?” debate.

    I bike commute a lot. I also drive a fair bit too, so I’m not a “TWO WHEELS GOOD, FOUR WHEELS BAD!” kinda person.

    There are horrible bike riders out there who hugely ruin it for the rest of us by doing any number of very stupid things that make cars not trust us.

    There are also horrible drivers out there who seem to be absolutely clueless about the size of their vehicle (they go half way into the other lane to pass you) or that you exist within seconds of them passing you (they pass and then do a right hand turn and cut you off).


    Everyone is bad.


    In a physics-oriented confrontation, the bike always looses.

    Just put “He had the right of way” on my tombstone I guess.

    1. Well said holtt.

      For that matter “a few idiots are ruining it for the rest of us” applies whether you’re a bicyclist, a driver, a gun owner, a drinker, a pot smoker or a citizen of pretty much any country on earth.

  45. If anyone wants to post this guy’s details, it would be nice. Someone out there must have access to the right databases ;)

    1. If anyone wants to post this guy’s details, it would be nice.

      If having your BoingBoing account suspended is your idea of nice.

  46. As a Los Angeles pedestrian, I’ve been hit by 3 cars and 5 bicycles over the past 5 or so years. As an *alert* pedestrian, it’s never been a direct hit or resulted in worse injury than scrapes or bruising — I’ve been able to get almost entirely out of the way.

    Of those hits, 2 cars and all of the bicycles were on the sidewalk at the time of impact.

    Of the car drivers, only one acknowledged (or probably was even aware of) having hit me. That driver, who had been adjusting her iPod while making a right turn, waved to me merrily as she drove off. None of the cars stopped.

    Of the cyclists, two apologized without stopping, two stopped and apologized, and one threatened to kick my ass if I didn’t get the f* out of his way.

    Dunno what any of this means. My only conclusion is you can’t trust anyone to be looking out for you on the road, nor doing the right thing even if they see you. Be careful out there!

  47. This is for everyone who has stated their issues with bicyclists on the road. Bikes are only required to ride as close to the side of a full size lane AS POSSIBLE. Some of you fail to realize that the sides of roads aren’t always in rideable condition ie. pot holes, broken glass, sewer covers, general disrepair. In those cases we are completely allowed to take the lane. Also when a lane is not full size it is too narrow for a car to give the cyclists the legal and mandatory 3 feet of space so a cyclist is not only allowed but encouraged to take the lane. And as far as red lights go if the light is operated by a sensor bikes will not set off said sensor and as long as there is not traffic that is setting off the sensor bikes are legally allowed to wait until traffic is clear and proceed through the red light. Now bikes are not allowed to impede traffic but impeding traffic does not equate to you slowing down for one fucking minute of your day so you can change lanes to go around me.
    I see plenty of other cyclists running stop signs and lights and all sorts of other things and it certainly annoys me. But not nearly as much as when I see cars and suvs et-cetera doing the same things, I can’t recall the last time a bike running a red light killed an entire family.

  48. Here’s some food for thought. When the laws that designate bicycles as vehicles were drawn up. The speed and weight differentials between bikes and vehicles were a lot smaller. Cars were a lot lighter and a good bike could keep up with them on the downhill.

    Nowadays the weight and speed differential is so great, perhaps it’s time to get bikes off of the roads and onto the sidewalks and trails. Then the cyclists can get yelled at by the pedestrians they clip, rather than yell at the SUVs that clip them.

    In all seriousness, what we really need is a 3-tiered road design with a full 3/4 lane dedicated to bikes, mopeds and scooters, but until that happens, many roads are just too unsafe. Here in suburban Florida, the bicyclists ride on the sidewalk even when there are bike lanes without parked cars because so many of the car-driving loonies down here really are out to get them. Or at least drive like they are.

  49. Okay, I’m way late in this, but here’s my spin on it- I blieive someone else already pointed out that drivers don’t want to ruin their cars (or something to that effect, I can’t find the post in all this stuff :).

    Anyway, I think you said the wrong thing. Instead of, “Hey, you just hit that guy” you should have said, “hey, that guy back there just hit your car.” At the very least he’ll stop to get out and see how bad the damage to his car really is.

  50. “Think about it: (rhetorical question) you’ve seen cars driving 15 mph, or even 5 mph right? Did you hit them? Why not? You slow down and pass when safe. Apply that same obvious rule to bicycles.”

    Well, actually, no… distressingly often, I am almost rear-ended in such a situation, and have been actually hit three times! In the city (where I’ve been hit two out of the three times) it’s not nearly as bad as on the highway; the third time it was a Jetta coupe (tiny encono-box, perhaps 2000 pounds?) that ran into the Avalon I was in (4000 pound 4-door), and had the situation been reversed, I probably would not be around to post this today…

    Now, *I* am watching out for you folks on bikes, but please remember, many other drivers *are not*; so please help by trying to avoid creating situations that they aren’t expecting!

    bwcbwc – I agree completely, in my car I outmass the average bike by a factor of 25, and cruse about 20 to 25 mph faster than them on a highway…

  51. I must agree with queb. I would much prefer it if motorists would just obey the rules of the road and not try to give special “courtesy” to cyclists. I appreciate the thought, but as mentioned, other motorists don’t always do this and it just causes confusion. I’m glad to see all those speaking up for cyclists’ rights on the road. From my perspective, when talking to my driving friends and colleagues, the problem is really a entitlement issue. We all really think we own the road, even if there is not road rage issues, we all drive like everyone should just get out of our way and everyone else is the problem. If we all calmed down and drove or road our cycles like compassionate human beings, with a little patience, I really think there would be fewer accidents like this. Everyone just needs to take the ego out of driving. It’s not a race, it’s not about how fast our car can go. It is a mode of transportation, not a show of how cool or well-off you are.

    I’m not sure how many people agree with me on that last note, but I think there are probably lots in agreement about the patience issue.

  52. Many of the comments here are typical of the prevalent attitude in this country: BBF. Blame bicyclist’s first.

    Whenever there’s a collision between a motor vehicle and a cyclist, the first thing out of their lips is how badly cyclists ride. This seems to imply that cyclists “bring accidents on themselves.”

    However, cycling is not inherently unsafe. Only the presence of motor vehicles adds the danger.

    If you read Tom Vanderbuilt’s book _Traffic_ you’ll see that the cyclists you hate the most, the ones that don’t follow the rules that you wish they followed make the roads the safest. This is counter intuitive. You need to read the book and THINK.

    Finally, prevalent in the BBF attitude is completely ignoring how motorists kill 40,000 of one another each year. Motorists kill far fewer cyclists and cyclists kill almost nobody at all. Thus, the onus is on motorists to make things safer.

    However, I suspect, we’ll have the BBF attitude for a long time. That’s because cars are sacred and any criticism will be ignored.

  53. Instead of suing the asshole don’t dirty your day, I your passionate, do the following instead:

    Ask the city official who’s duty it is under law to prosecute the case. That would be the DA of San Fransisco – no?

    If you get no action, the coroner’s office has quite a lot of power. The coroner can hold an inquiry and shine a whole lot of light on this/similar cases.

    Instead of just suing the owner of the plates, create a community event (a party), to raise money to pursue all of the above.

    You’ll get press by going to the DA. And more press by going to the coroner. Use that press to advertise the fund raiser. Once all this is rolling you’ll find Lawyers are willing to do public good cases, choose one who understands that the politics are the most important part of this, not whether you win/lose the actual suit (although that would be nice).

    Use multi-media to your advantage: i-phone audio/video all your meetings with public officials, pre-package news for the dying old style news outlets, use the Bloggosphere, Youtube and Twitter.

    You’ve got a slam-dunk morally righteous case, good luck.

    Need to talk more?
    Google: Michael Holloway’s FilterBlogs —> gmail


  54. I was struck by a hit on my bicycle by a hit and run driver in Cambridge New York on 1/20/2010. The driver and the vehicle was identified. Witnesses were identified and came forward. This is a class E felony in New York. The local police refuse to investigate. New York State Law states that the driver of the motorized vehicle must submit an accident report. The bicyclist does not have the right to file the accident report. If you want to get drunk and hit a bicycle and get away free, come to Cambridge, New York.

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