PDA

View Full Version : True's close call, reported 9/7


Attornatus_Oregonensis
09-07-2007, 12:04 PM
First, here it is in full:

"SE Woodstock and 52nd - I was stopped at the red light towards the right hand side of the street and the driver behind me started honking to get out of the way. I turned and pointed out that I was following the law and the light would change in a few seconds, and the driver laid on the horn, began yelling, revved the engine, and edged forward towards my bike. I felt threatened enough to get off of my bike and move to the sidewalk as the car sped around the corner. I know this was a pretty average event - and I've been run off the road, bumped, had objects and expletives thrown at me - but this was actually the first time I got the license and description and called it in. 895 CGE, light grey station wagon with bondo patches.

No actual crime committed, but the PoPo that came by and took my statement was exceedingly polite and assured me that the young driver would get a talking to about driving etiquette and sharing the road. Thanks PoPo!"

Next, think about what a different place this would be if, in addition to those currently riding around the City, there were an additional 60% of Portlanders riding their bikes. Pretty cool, huh?

Now, we know that fully 60% of Portlanders say that they want to ride their bike, but they are afraid. They are afraid of the risks posed by motor vehicles. The driver in True's close call tried to make him/her afraid to be on a bicycle. This happens every day in Portland and it needs to stop. It's the only thing standing in the way of our Bike Revolution.

True concludes it's not a crime, but consider ORS 163.190(1), Menacing:"A person commits the crime of menacing if by word or conduct the person intentionally attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury."

I have only True's report to go on, but to me it sounds like the driver intentionally attempted to place True in fear of imminent serious physical injury by revving the enging and moving toward true. The obvious conclusion from such behavior is that if the cyclist does not get out of the driver's way, the driver will run over the cyclist.

I think there may have indeed been a crime here. If you're ever in this situation, please remember to get the license plate, call the police, and make the officer aware that ORS 163.190 makes Menacing a crime in Oregon. Unfortunately, being convicted of a Class A misdemeanor is the only way some people will learn. And publicizing this kind of prosecution will help send the message that it's no longer OK to intimidate cyclists in Portland.

mi7d1
09-08-2007, 06:13 AM
<snip>
consider ORS 163.190(1), Menacing:"A person commits the crime of menacing if by word or conduct the person intentionally attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury."

If you're ever in this situation, please remember to get the license plate, call the police, and make the officer aware that ORS 163.190 makes Menacing a crime in Oregon. Unfortunately, being convicted of a Class A misdemeanor is the only way some people will learn. And publicizing this kind of prosecution will help send the message that it's no longer OK to intimidate cyclists in Portland.

Thanks for the words of wisdom.

The other day I was ridding my bike on a main road here in SE Portland and for a distance of a block and a half the shoulder and or bike lane disappears. A vehicle came up behind me and was ridding on my tail. When he wasn't satisfied that I was going to move any faster or out of his way he turned on his lights. I was ridding as far to the right as I could. I wont ride in the gutter. Finally he passed me in the second lane and pulled in front of me and hollered that my bike was a "death trap" Imagine that... him in his late 70's Ford pickup truck and me on my bike. To me he was the one in a "death trap" I was the one who was living and enjoying life ridding my bike. :)

true
09-12-2007, 03:48 PM
Hey yall

Thanks for the information on the ORS regarding 'menacing,' I had never heard of it before. I must say that this situation was, to me, a little short of truly 'menacing,' and I hope it was far short of intentionally life threatening, so even with the new info I won't be calling up the PoPo pressing charges. He was a jerk kid, and he was acting very foolishly, and a little slip of the foot during his revving and inching forward behavior could have been harmful, but I think that if the officer really does swing by and have a word with him it'll be quite sufficient. I did stupid things when I was around his age, I got in trouble, and now I do far, far fewer stupid things.

Like I mentioned in the close call post, I've run into much, much more dangerous situations, especially in Georgia, but I have never copied down the license and description and actually called it in. I just went ahead and posted it in the hopes that, like you said, more folks will feel enabled to call in behavior like this, even though it might feel like your wasting the officer's time with a minor event, or some such similar emotion (I felt that way). If enough rude, menacing, and threatening drivers get called on it, we might be able to change the atmosphere a bit.

Thanks for the info on ORS 163.190, I will consider it if a future situation calls for more serious action, and I hope loads of people note it for themselves.

Thanks for paying attention.

Oh, I'm a 'him.'

true

Simple Nature
09-12-2007, 06:50 PM
Just think, True... by calling someone like that in you may actually be saving their lives. They could run into "The Rudy" who will rip the kid's head off his neck for even speaking up to him. Last time, The Rudy smashed his bike through the perp's windshield, drug him out of the vehicle, and proceeded to put him in the hospital. You won't see anyone driving a little red Honda Accord smarting off to any more cyclist ever again (probably because he can't speak any more).

So yes, please... for their own good, report away!

note: The Rudy is a fictional character but we all know who ~he~ is.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
09-13-2007, 07:30 AM
It's funny you reply now, true, because a similar thing happened to me yesterday on the ride home. A guy in a green Jetta cut me off downtown and then, at the light before the Hawthorne Bridge, revved his engine and made his wheels squeel behind me as though he was going to ram me. That's menacing.

But it's not menacing because it's "life threatening." It's menacing because he intended to make me fear that he was going to hurt me by using his car as a weapon. Any time someone does that, there's a pretty good case for menacing. There's also a good case for civil assault, which has essentially the same definition. And no cops required - you can just sue the guy yourself.

And, yes, the whole reason I brought this up is that it keeps would-be cyclists off the streets (aside from being illegal and immoral). Reporting it will make it less likely to happen again, and hopefully ultimately get more folks to feel a bit safer about getting out on a bike. That's the goal.

And Simple Nature, what the hell are you talking about?

Oldguyonabike
09-13-2007, 08:45 AM
So what would the specific steps be to individually sue someone for menacing behavior? What evidence would a person need to take to small claims? Would an attorney be required? What would be a reasonable claim?

Attornatus_Oregonensis
09-13-2007, 10:00 AM
So what would the specific steps be to individually sue someone for menacing behavior? What evidence would a person need to take to small claims? Would an attorney be required? What would be a reasonable claim?

It's clear to me that the people who designed the common law system in England, the Framers of our Constitution who adopted that system, and the people of each of the 50 states to this day all intended that individual citizens would and should be capable of bringing suits on their own behalf (civil suits) to enforce certain basic rules of a civil society. The system was designed that way and continues that way because the police cannot enforce every rule and because, without an effective legal mechanism for addressing trespasses, people resort to violence. This is all a long (but I think relevant) way of saying that the civil legal system is supposed to allow individuals to sue for things like civil assault (similar to menacing). But in practicality, our legal system doesn't work that way. It's too complex and fraught with procedural rules that void your suit if not followed for a citizen to effectively navigate these days. Hell, I have a PhD and I would have never tried it myself before law school. I say all this because I think it's clear that our legal system is failing people, especially those who have less money to pay an attorney. Further, because of that failure, people are afraid to ride our bikes. And bikes can help solve a lot of really important social problems.

I can't tell you the specific steps on bringing a suit or other details because it's too complicated, but there are books, some good ones I've seen at Powell's, that explain how to do basic legal things for yourself. An attorney is not actually required to bring a suit or do anything in the legal system unless you're mentally incapacitated (i.e., legally incompetent).

EVERYONE should have a basic education in torts, contracts, federal constitutional law, and state law in order to function effectively as a citizen in our democracy and consumer in our capitalist society. To the extent our primary and secondary educational institutions even attempt this, they fail miserably. Think about it, you enter into contracts almost every day but most people don't even know the basic rules of contracts. I frequently see people taken advantage of by corporations due to this knowledge gap. These days, the only people who enforce or even know their rights are the wealthy and those of us persons who happen to be corporations. Our country is a mess; our institutions are failing us, which means we are failing ourselves.

true
09-13-2007, 11:26 AM
So, are you going to call in the green Jetta, go to court, or just let it go like most of us, including me, usually do? What is the line that a driver has to cross before you call in the driver?

Attornatus_Oregonensis
09-13-2007, 11:52 AM
So, are you going to call in the green Jetta, go to court, or just let it go like most of us, including me, usually do? What is the line that a driver has to cross before you call in the driver?

As you might be able to tell, I've thought about this a lot. It's happened to me a handful of times, and I really don't like it. Even the lightest car is a deadly weapon. I have a plan for if (when, unfortunately) this happens to me again:

I will get the owner's name from the DMV (something an attorney can do "in anticipation of civil litigation") and write the owner a letter that says, basically, tell me who was driving the car and, if it was you, send me a written apology, if you don't do either of those, I'll file suit for assault and write a letter to your employer/parent and your insurance company. If I filed suit, I'd ask for a restraining order and nominal damages.

I would not file suit unless I felt the person *really* was trying to make me fear for my life. For example, someone once tried to run me off the road by swerving into me to make me think they were going to hit me. I'm not litigious, but I don't see another reasonable way of dealing with this problem. And I think it's a huge problem. Almost every cyclist I know has a menacing story.

I didn't do this for the Jetta because the Jetta was in traffic and its license plate was obscured before I could read it all.

Oldguyonabike
09-14-2007, 08:48 AM
EVERYONE should have a basic education in torts, contracts, federal constitutional law, and state law in order to function effectively as a citizen in our democracy and consumer in our capitalist society. To the extent our primary and secondary educational institutions even attempt this, they fail miserably. Think about it, you enter into contracts almost every day but most people don't even know the basic rules of contracts

While I agree with you on our present situation I have a fundamental problem with a society so wholly dependent on lawyers. I do not want to take the next menacing fool to court. I don't want his or her money. I don't have the time for a process that will likely end with the driver more pissed at bikers than the day s/he decided to give me a little scare. I still carry the fantasy of living in a civil society of shared respect and the US drift from that idea seems to be accelerating and exasperating. It may be very dangerous to drive or bike in other countries but not because they are menacing or have "road rage". They are just lousy drivers in unsafe cars. In time, the herd is thinned. Why is our culture and society is evolving toward angry misbehavior for its own joyfully fun sake?

wsbob
09-20-2007, 08:56 AM
Did anybody see this persons ad on Craigslist yesterday?

Here's the title and text from the ad:

Road rage driver vs bicycle today white Super Duty Ford "PCS-1" plates - $1

"To the driver of the newer white Super Duty Ford diesel truck, OR plates PCS-1. I'm putting this out there for your community to know. You don't speed within inches of a bicycle who is following the rules and in the center of his lane(I split lanes after that to get away from you. I saw you laughing about it, and no I'm not an uptight commuter who's blowing this out of proportion. You did it after I rightfully looked behind me to be sure of where you were. It was quite intentional. The signals are timed and you aren't going to go any faster. If you bump my wheel I'm a dead man. What you are doing is assault with a deadly weapon, simple and plain."




http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/426965115.html (http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/426965115.html)

Attornatus_Oregonensis
09-20-2007, 09:11 AM
No, but I saw the account in the close calls section this morning. Too bad the guy concludes that the law would not protect him from the driver and that anyone who says so is "literally insane." Never take legal advice from an amateur. If the account is accurate, it's menacing and civil assault.

wsbob
09-20-2007, 10:12 AM
People ought to read dr's report over in the close-calls section too: It takes so long for all those comments to load up, so I'll post the text of his report here:

"This afternoon at about 4:30pm, on SW 3rd between Taylor and Madison. I was on my bicycle in the center of the center lane, up front casually riding at the speed of traffic, timing the lights so I never needed to slow or stop. As I was doing so a large, newer, white Ford Super Duty diesel pickup truck with OR vanity plates "PCS-1" kept rushing up to me. After about the second time, I turned to make eye contact with the driver to acknowledge each other. When I did so he gunned it and sped right up to me between blocks, literally within about 4 inches, all the while laughing. I then split a lane to get away from the guy, letting him no that he wasn't going anywhere as it was rush hour traffic. I was very rattled and pissed that if he'd have hit my rear tire with his truck I'd have gotten sucked under and probably been crushed to death, all for his little ego stroking. All I was doing was following the rules. If something were to happen to me the guy will say it was an accident and get off with a minor infraction. That is how the law is and it's wrong. Anyone who says it isn't is literally insane.
It should be noted that several times throughout my week I have people, usually downtown, do useless things(other than to make themselves feel like they showed me) like pass me in my lane only to get stuck at the very next light that I ride through as it changes. Sometimes these drivers will do it twice. Frustrated or not it is unsafe and does them absolutely no good while putting cyclists as great risk." dr

http://bikeportland.org/2005/08/09/wanted-your-close-calls/#comment-531371

I wrote the following response to his report over in close-calls:

"dr, I'm not sure I exactly understand what you mean by "I then split a lane to get away from the guy,..." Are you simply saying that you moved to a lane different than the one the truck driver was in, to get away from him?

Also, perhaps you noticed that I posted a note on the following thread:

http://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1201 (no need to click on that....it's this thread)

......about your craigslist ad. You probably should consider doing something about the situation. Talk to the police and file a complaint if nothing else. It'd probably be good if you could afford or otherwise talk to an attorney about the incident too." It's time that consequences for the kind of unrestrained idiocy that users of the road like cyclist 'dr' was maliciously subjected to, be brought out, if they don't already exist, and applied.

pidamos
09-27-2007, 10:23 PM
with no witnesses and no physical evidence you are SOL

Attornatus_Oregonensis
09-28-2007, 06:56 AM
That's not true.