The Chainlink

Cyclists assaulted by driver at Lincoln & Leavitt this morning

My friend was riding down Lawrence this morning on his way to work, stopped in the bike lane.  Behind him was a green Mercedes, also in the bike lane.  Another cyclist was beside the Mercedes, and the car was edging him out, trying to get ahead of other cars so it could be the first in line when the light changed. The car pushed the first cyclist into the curb, and the bicyclist responded by yelling at the driver.  My friend turned to see what was going on, and as the car kept pushing the second cyclist, yelled to draw his attention to the fact that the car was about to run down the cyclist.  The driver kept going, so the second cyclist thumped on the car to get the driver’s attention. The driver gunned the car through the red light, speeding down the street about a hundred yards before jumping out in front of an auto shop at Lawrence and Leavitt.  The driver then ran toward the second cyclist and punched him in the head and ran back to his car to drive away.  The second cyclist went to the car while my friend scrambled to get his phone out to get a picture of the car’s plates.  The second cyclist grabbed the driver’s side window to prevent him from leaving, and the window shattered as he tried to drive off.  The Mercedes once again stopped and the man jumped out of the car while the second cyclist dropped his bike on the curb.  The driver attacked the man, ripping off his helmet and punching him.  My friend grabbed the driver to stop the beatdown and also got punched. This happened in front of the Lincoln Square Service auto shop.

The best part - workers at the auto shop (you can see them briefly in the movie) were standing around watching like it was their morning entertainment and wouldn’t help until my friend screamed at them to call 911. After reviewing my friend’s cell phone vid, the police put out an assault warrant for the driver (they said they know who he is).

Stay away from the driver: Older pea green Mercedes, driver’s side window now missing.

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Yeah. And after watching that video I've decided to be more consistent about wearing a helmet… if not to protect my head from the pavement, from assholes who want to get into fist-fights. 

Also contemplating body armor like motorcyclists wear under their jackets.

I'm so looking forward to assault getting added to the criminal record this driver indubitably already has.

I assume that ANYONE in a car is inherently rage filled.  The metal boxes act like an anger over.

I totally agree. In my experience, the richer the neighborhood, the fancier the car, the worse the aggression. 

Fergie, Thanks for sharing the story with us. Please let us know how it goes. I hope your friend is ok. I really hope the police arrest that man and prosecute him for assault, reckless driving, etc. 

DNAInfo picked up the story and did a follow up:

OMG the comments :(

Can't tell if they're trolling or serious, but wow.  Just the fact that those attitudes exist makes me sad and scared.

DNAinfo articles seem to attract a lot of that, I don't know why...  but it really seems like a small handful of trolls to me.  Too bad the Trib didn't run it: those comments would make these seem mellow!  OK, I'm glad the Trib didn't run it!

Me too. I find it incredibly sad something like this could be documented on video and there are angry people out there that still want to find a way to blame cyclists. 

We do need an active, well-placed campaign to humanize cyclists and communicate on a larger scale just how positive the bike traffic is to the city - less cars on the road, less pollution, more alternatives to get to work, etc. 

Yasmeen, what do you envision as a humanizing campaign for cyclists, when the problem we face is with the few people we encounter who are barely human and recognize and treat us as nothing more than some annoying thing that is in their way?

Agreed. there will always be some lunatics that want to punch us in the face. I think we need to work on the overall perception and minimize our interactions with the lunatics. When I see someone being a lunatic, I will get off the road to get out of their way if I have to.

Ok, so the general (non lunatic) population... So here is my opinion of what we can do to "humanize" cyclists:

1. A campaign where cyclists are identified as people we know e.g. nurses, firefighters, shop owners, moms, etc. So people can see their brother or sister or neighbor in that cyclist.

2. Recruit more commuters and cyclists. Since becoming a cyclist, I am far more aware and careful (and patient) of other cyclists when I am behind the wheel. 

3. Make it the norm, not the exception (see #2 about recruitment). The more cyclists that ride to work, the more "normal" this is. 

I do think it's important when I ride to think of myself as an ambassador. Sometimes, like when I get cut-off and yelled at, it's hard not to yell back. I really want to. I want to say "derp, derp, derp" at every ped in the bike lane standing there, looking lost and ignoring that they are standing in the bike lane. Sorry, it's true. I'm not always at my best. So I try to tell myself to shut-it. I worry that once people getting into a yelling/swearing match with a cyclist, this is how they see us as a whole. And then they jump on an article and start ranting about how cyclists "have it coming" to them. Ugh. Drives me crazy.  

"2. Recruit more commuters and cyclists. Since becoming a cyclist, I am far more aware and careful (and patient) of other cyclists when I am behind the wheel."

This, I think, is a huge unspoken benefit of Divvy.  It increases the number of people who ride a bike or know someone who rides I bike.

Yes, good point.

I really make an effort to make eye contract with drivers, wave them through intersections when it's clear that they were there first even though I'm still rolling slowly, and thank people for giving me space. 

If I have to ride on the sidewalk or on a bike trail, I ding politely and thank people for moving over to let me go by.

It's the cyclists who have an entitled attitude about cutting through traffic, busting through intersections at full speed and running red lights that create the animosity. Don't be part of the problem.


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