Report Those Incidents



Report Those Incidents

Bob Mionske is a well know lawyer who writes a weekly column for VeloNews.  This week, he discusses Bikes vs. Cars and the recent apparent rise in tension between these two groups.  I’m sure you’ve all heard about some of the high profile cases of late and I won’t bore you by repeating what Bob has to say in his article.  However, I do want to highlight something Bob mentions.

On July 4th, two cyclists were injured when they collided with the back of a car, driven by a Dr. Christopher T. Thompson.  They cyclists claim that Dr. Thompson purposefully slammed on the brakes of his car, thus causing the accident.  However,

Speaking on behalf of Dr. Thompson afterwards, his attorney emphatically denied “that there was any road rage incident. It was a very unfortunate accident.” Unfortunately for Dr. Thompson, the “accidental” nature of the alleged assault was quickly called into question when it was revealed that he had been involved in a strikingly similar incident a few short months before, in March of 2008.

Cyclist Patrick Watson, one of two cyclists involved in the March incident with Dr. Thompson, recalled that, as on the July 4th incident, the driver had braked suddenly and hard, sending a cyclist to the ground; the driver “then ran me off the road and as I jumped back onto the pavement he slammed on his brakes right in front of us.”

According to Watson, the driver then drove straight at the fallen cyclist, then again “drove straight at me.” The quick-thinking Watson entered the driver’s license number into his cell phone and reported the incident. Although the Los Angeles Police Department promptly investigated the March incident, the Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley declined to file charges against Dr. Thompson, saying the case wasn’t “a winner.”

If this coddling left Dr. Thompson feeling enabled to continue assaulting cyclists, the feeling didn’t last long. His luck with prosecutors ran out after the second assault in Mandeville canyon; in connection with the July 4th incident, he has been charged with two felony counts of reckless driving causing injury, and two felony counts of battery with serious bodily injury. Although no charges have yet been filed in the March assault, Patrick Watson’s quick-thinking and subsequent complaint to the LAPD present a serious obstacle to any defense claims that Thompson’s actions on July 4th were just “a very unfortunate accident.”

Bottom line, whether you think the police will take your complaint seriously, it’s important to file a police report.  At the time, I suspect Mr. Watson was frustrated that charges were not brought against Dr. Thompson.  However, it could turn out to be extremely fortunate for the cyclists in this recent case that Mr. Watson followed through and filed a police report in March as it might help to establish a prior history of such behavior.


  • MC
    Aug 15, 2008 at 10:42 am

    One day I was biking to work and an aggressive motorist yelled at me to get off the road. I made the appropriate gesture back. Then, as I started to get closer to his car, he opened the passenger door and stepped on the brakes. I was angry and annoyed, and I got the plate.

    I called the police, but it was right on the border of two cities, so they bounced my call back and forth a bit. I asked to file a report, and though I don't remember the reasons now, the police talked me out of it (maybe it had to do with being named publicly?).

    Instead, the police offered to go to the guys house and talk to him on my behalf. The officer stopped by my office later and said that I wouldn't have any more trouble from the guy.

  • Aug 15, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Motorists continue under a delusion that they own the road. In fact of law, they are obligated to give way to all other users of the road, namely bicyclists, pedestrians and wheelchair users, who are ALSO TRAFFIC!!!! Bicyclists are entitled, by law, to use the right side of travel lane, not be forced into gutters, shoulders or sidewalks. Just because there's a bikeway nearby doesn't mean you can't use the street, too. It's 3 feet from edge of "travel lane" or road edge where not marked. Too bad if that slows them down.

    Whenever I remind bicyclists or motorists of this, they instantly become incredulous and quarrelsome.

    I experienced very similar incidents. When I speak of them, cyclists accuse me of road rage. In other words, when a motorist commit hate crimes against you, you're not entitled to any say whatever, because that might offend LAB or other automotive lobbyists. Bicyclists should get it in their head that they OWN the road, and tolerate motorists only if they behave.… Bicycle laws (more than cars)

    31-19-3 "Every person… propelling a vehicle by human power shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle…." which includes using all the road.

    Laws exist because people have no consideration for others. Obeying laws is just good manners. But the penalties are miniscule and enforcement random.

  • Dennis
    Aug 17, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    It seems like nearly every time I ride I'm told by a concerned passing motorist that I should be up on the sidewalk. Can this be true? How can so many of my motor-driven road companions be better informed that I am?

    What was I thinking?

  • Aug 18, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Incredulous, quarrelsome, and ^ sarcastic.

    Informed motorists? State law says where there's 3 lanes, you must drive in the middle lane, unless exiting or passing. When did you ever see that happen in RI?