Severe Road Rage



In case you didn’t hear, there was a recent case of extreme road rage outside Los Angeles, CA. From The Reeves Law Group (link to original content removed at request of Reeves Law Group) website:

On the 4th of July, about 300 cyclists set off on a holiday bicycle ride to the top of Mandeville Canyon road in Brentwood. The event is a popular one with cyclists in the area, and takes place at least 5 to 6 times a year, drawing plenty of LA cyclists.

On the descent, one of the cyclists was injured, and had to be taken to the hospital. Two of his buddies, 40-year-old Ron Peterson and 28-year-old Christian Stoher, stayed back and tended to him, while the ambulance arrived. Later, as the two set off back down the hill, a car passed close to them and shouted obscenities. Then, as it moved ahead of the cyclists, the driver of the car pulled in front of the cyclists and slammed on his brakes. Christian was able to dodge in time, but was still injured after losing control of his bicycle, while Ron was thrown through the back window of the car, breaking the windshield. His nose was partially severed, and he received severe facial lacerations.

The driver of the car, Dr. Christopher Thompson, stopped and identified himself as a doctor, but offered the two severely injured cyclists no help or emergency care.

I was relieved to keep reading and see that

the police have now said they are treating this as a road rage incident and as a felony criminal assault, and not as a bicycle accident. The doctor has been arrested, and has been released after he posted $30,000 bail. He is due in court next month.

Not only do I hope he is found criminally guilty for this horrible act, but I also hope he looses his medical license.  At least one LA council member was reactionary enough to call

for a meeting soon with cyclists in the area, council members and traffic police to discuss the rising conflicts between cyclists and motorist on the road. More and more people are choosing to cycle, not just for recreation, but as a cost saving measure in these days of rising gas prices. As more cyclists take to the street, there are going to be more such “road rage” incidents that we see.

Perhaps it’s time we do the same in Providence, before we have such an incident on our hands.


  • Jul 22, 2008 at 5:11 am

    The LA Time had a followup article to this story and made mention of another aspect often overlooked:

    What didn't make headlines was another Mandeville Canyon incident that day. Resident Lisa Block was finishing a morning walk on the narrow, winding road when she realized a clump of cyclists were coming up the hill straight at her.

    "A guy heading right for me couldn't move over because there were at least two other bikers to his left," Block said. "I had to dive off the street and jump into the bushes."

    I realize these two incidents are significantly different in the injuries sustained, but it is a reminder that we, cyclists, need to be good citizens too. The paper gave almost no details of this incident, but it's still important to remember the possible threat we cause to other users of the public spaces.

    The article continues by saying that

    "It's a citywide issue of people sharing the road, whether on foot, a bicycle, a Vespa or in our cars," said Jeanne Field, a Mandeville Canyon resident. "Manners have just gone out the window."

    and I couldn't agree more. I've mentioned it many times before here and I still don't understand the root cause, why do people have so much caged up anger and feel a need to unleash it on random people?

  • David Fanale
    Aug 17, 2008 at 3:07 am

    I've been a rider since I was a child, and as an adult, I've made several 200 mile overnight camping trips. Notwithstanding my love for cycling, it still PISSES ME OFF when I'm on a main roadway with or without a shoulder, and there are two or more inconsiderate, selfish, self-centered cyclists completely obstructing the roadway. There is no need for this. Mommy and Daddy told us, as has STATE STATUTE that riders are to maintain travel to the right, and in single-file. Knowing full well that there are motorists behind them waiting to pass, you still obstruct the roadway, indifferent. I think it's ironic that the same group that displays bumper stickers that state, "Share The Road" are the same individuals that don't practice the very policy they are endorsing. There is a name for that…hypocrisy. This type of behavior is the rule, and not the exception. Don't believe me? Take a drive through a state park, or perhaps observe the BRAG ride in Georgia. It has long made me embarrassed to be a part of the cycling community. Those two do-bags got what they deserved, and I hope the Doc skates.

  • Aug 19, 2008 at 9:02 am

    The actual law in RI does allow cyclists to ride two abreast

    § 31-19-7 Number of bicycles abreast. – Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two (2) abreast except on bicycle trails or paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two (2) abreast shall not unduly impede traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.

    As I read this, as long as the cyclists make a best effort to minimize any negative impact on passing motorists, they are within the law. This doesn't mean they have to ride single file at all times and it also doesn't mean they need to react instantly. It all depends on your definition of unduly, which Merriam Websters define as:

    in an undue manner : excessively

    As I read this, cyclists are within their rights to ride two abreast and cause reasonable delays to motorists. Even if these two cyclists were riding two abreast and delayed the motorist unduly, it hardly gives him permission to assault the cyclists. If he was really upset with the cyclists, he should have called the police and ask them to cite the two cyclists.

    Let's turn the tables a bit… Say I'm driving in my car and approach another car that is driving below the speed limit. In my opinion, they are unduly delaying my travel. Should I be permitted to pull aside them and use my car to bump them off the road? I think any motorist would be up in arms if I did this to them and demand compensation and charges be filed against me. This is equivalent to what the motorist did to the two cyclists, although the motorist that is run off the road in my example is still likely to suffer fewer injuries.

    The motorist in this case was pissed that the cyclists delayed him, chose to take the law into his own hands, and assaulted them. Regardless of whether the cyclists were riding legally, the motorists actions are inexcusable.