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DC Bicyclists Push For Protection

5:10 PM, Sep 12, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- A new low in the war between some DC drivers and some bicyclists.

Police are tracking leads on a truck driver caught on tape apparently running down a bicyclist -- on purpose.
Bicyclists are pushing for a new law to punish drivers who harass them.

The video shows a bicyclist on Rhode Island Ave NE late last month who was wearing a helmet cam to protect himself. He captured the apparently unprovoked attack.


The pickup driver pulled up cursing, and it looks like he edged purposefully into the cyclist. Bike advocates say this kind of attack happens all too often.

"There's no obvious issue. The cyclist was riding safely, was riding properly in the lane where he should have been," says Shane Farthing of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

Nearly everyone seems to agree that DC's developed a nasty case of bike-car road rage. "Some of them are doing some crazy stuff out there," one driver told me. "They're in your way, they're never on the side like they should be all the time."

When bikes and cars collide, the car almost always wins. Bike advocates say it's the same way in court. It's the cyclist's word against the car driver's word -- and that is almost always always too little to win a criminal assault conviction. That's why advocates are pushing for greater access to civil lawsuits.

The Bicyclist Association wants DC to pass a law giving cyclists the right to sue over harassment -- and collect lawyer's fees if they win. "If you have two stories, a jury can hear which one resonates, and which one the surrounding evidence might support," says Farthing.

But even the Cyclist's Association admits some riders do dumb things.

A cabbie described a bicyclist going the wrong way down a one way street without looking. "He landed right here," says the cabbie, pointing at the top of the windshield. "And this windshield came all the way here," he says motioning to his lap. The cabbie says the cyclist jumped up and tried to attack him.

Further evidence of the hostility here: There's even an anti-cycling blog and Facebook page that's sprung up in DC.
It's called Spare The Road. And it says it's entirely dedicated to getting annoying "blankety blank" cyclists off the road.

Written and Reported by Bruce Leshan
9News Now & wusa9.com

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