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Tbiker
10-08-2006, 06:15 PM
It seems that bike friendly Portland is steadily becoming bike unfriendly. As more cars come on the road, more accidents are occuring and the attitudes of drivers and cyclists are steadily souring.
Everytime I get on my bike I make sure my phone is on and I have pen and paper to hand. I mentally prepare myself for the possibility of attempted physical assault by an unhappy motorist who had to make the effort to apply gentle pressure to his/her brake.
By law we are all entitled to use appropiate force to defend ourselves. So, if I'm walking down the road and someone trys to assault me with a knife, I am entitled to use reasonable force to subdue that person. If I am on a bicycle and a driver endangers my life with a 2 ton vehicle, I am surely entitled to defend myself.
So what constitutes an appropiate response?
I know someone who smashes the headlights of cars of every driver who has endangered his life. Not an action I have taken myself but one I wished to share.
I am not saying that all cyclists should consider every driver a threat and ride out angry and aggressive. This adds to the problem as unfortunately there are many ignorant people out there who put all cyclists in one category or all motorists in one category.
As cyclists, I beleive that we are making an example of how to live cleaner, healthier lives.
I'd be interested to hear thoughts on what to do when threatened, intentionally or unintentionally, by a motorist.

Rixtir
10-08-2006, 06:37 PM
Self-Defense For Bicyclists (http://www.stc-law.com/bicycle_selfdefense.html)

Attornatus_Oregonensis
10-08-2006, 08:00 PM
:confused:
I think it's extremely important for people to recognize that retaliating or responding to an assault by a motorist after it is complete is NOT self-defense. Physical violence is only legally privileged, i.e., not a crime, when it is done to to prevent or repel an assault. After a motorist has swerved at you or otherwise used his or her vehicle as a weapon, the assault is over. Anything you do then it not to prevent or repel the assault and therefore it cannot be self-defense under Oregon law (or the law of any state). If you use physical violence against someone who has already used their vehicle to assault you, then you have also assaulted them.

It seems that bike friendly Portland is steadily becoming bike unfriendly. As more cars come on the road, more accidents are occuring and the attitudes of drivers and cyclists are steadily souring.
....
So what constitutes an appropiate response?
I know someone who smashes the headlights of cars of every driver who has endangered his life. Not an action I have taken myself but one I wished to share.
....
I'd be interested to hear thoughts on what to do when threatened, intentionally or unintentionally, by a motorist.


The view that "Portland is steadily becoming bike unfriendly" seems overly pessimistic to me. There are certainly some examples of eggregiously anti-social and criminal behavior by motorists, but I don't think things are "steadily souring." And that view is coming from someone who has been assaulted by motorists using their vehicles as weapons more times than I care to remember. Do other people think the state of affairs on the roads is worsening here?

Smashing someone's headlights is, in my view, NOT appropriate. It's a crime. And because each cyclist's behavior is (fairly or unfairly) used to judge other cyclists, it makes us all look bad. As much as I may feel like smashing someone's headlights, or smashing their face, after they endanger my life -- and I have indeed felt that way -- I would encourage prosecuting someone who did something like that for the sake of myself and my fellow cyclists. Just FYI: I'm aware that Tbiker is not endorsing or encouraging such action.

I agree with rixter: Carry a cell phone, pen, and paper. Get the plate number. Call the cops. Have the driver cited. If you feel as though you were seriously endangered, regardless of what the police do, find yourself a good lawyer. This is what I do. Fortunately, I'm now able to skip the last step. ;)

TCR Punk
10-08-2006, 09:05 PM
Vandalism is wrong. Don't do it, for any reason.

worldsafari
10-08-2006, 09:26 PM
As a newbie to riding to and from work for the last 2 months, I guess I have been lucky. I have not had the experience of a close call or any aggresive drivers. I also mostly take streets that are designated bike lanes (i.e. ankeny) I'm just wondering how many people have my same experience of pretty safe riding. It seems that there are many posts on here about the antics of car drivers and the cyclists they have wronged.

Tbiker
10-08-2006, 10:31 PM
"Physical violence is only legally privileged, i.e., not a crime, when it is done to to prevent or repel an assault. After a motorist has swerved at you or otherwise used his or her vehicle as a weapon, the assault is over. Anything you do then it not to prevent or repel the assault and therefore it cannot be self-defense under Oregon law (or the law of any state). If you use physical violence against someone who has already used their vehicle to assault you, then you have also assaulted them."

However, what should a cyclist do while his/her life is being endangered at that time as opposed to afterwards? If someone assaults a cyclist with a car, there is a chance that the cyclist will be killed.

" There are certainly some examples of eggregiously anti-social and criminal behavior by motorists, but I don't think things are "steadily souring." And that view is coming from someone who has been assaulted by motorists using their vehicles as weapons more times than I care to remember. Do other people think the state of affairs on the roads is worsening here?"

I beleive that the families of dead cyclists might be of the view that the state of affairs on the roads is worsening.

"And because each cyclist's behavior is (fairly or unfairly) used to judge other cyclists, it makes us all look bad."

If a person were to judge all motorists or airline pilots by the action of one person who happens to also be a motorist or airline pilot, then that person lacks discrimination and commen sense. To take a mirror image of that persons unbalanced point of view does not contribute to safety and sanity in our society.
Of course, smashing someones headlights is not a desirable action. If however, a cyclist were to intentionally damage a car while the driver was endangering the cyclists life, is this justifiable?
Pleae note, I am definitely not encouraging anyone to get on their bikes with an aggressive, militant attitude. This adds to the problem. What I would like to see is an increase in road safety. Cyclists in Portland do get hit, injured and sometimes killed.

Rixtir
10-08-2006, 11:03 PM
However, what should a cyclist do while his/her life is being endangered at that time as opposed to afterwards? If someone assaults a cyclist with a car, there is a chance that the cyclist will be killed. Take evasive action.

There is absolutely nothing you can do to a car that will prevent that driver from harming you if the driver is intending to harm you. I suppose a threat of retaliation has the potential to cause drivers to back off if they don't actually intend to harm you. Or maybe, with some drivers, it will convince them to escalate.

The most effective thing you can do is to get the driver's license number, be sure you can I.D. the driver in court, and get the names and numbers of any witnesses. Now get aggressive. Prosecute the driver. Ask the D.A. to file charges. If the D.A. won't file charges, prosecute the case yourself. Ray Thomas tells you how to prosecute a Citizen Initiated Citation in Pedal Power, available as a PDF file on his website. Talk with an attorney about filing a civil lawsuit and go after the driver's assets.

That's how you deal with aggressive drivers.

I beleive that the families of dead cyclists might be of the view that the state of affairs on the roads is worsening.From a statistical standpoint, are things getting worse?

If a person were to judge all motorists or airline pilots by the action of one person who happens to also be a motorist or airline pilot, then that person lacks discrimination and commen sense.News flash. That's how people think. Cyclists do that every single day-- judge motorists based on the actions of the motorists they encounter. I read what cyclists think about motorists all day long. There's no reason to think that motorists don't make the same judgments. In fact, if you read what Ray Thomas has to say (http://www.stc-law.com/strategies.html) about the subject, motorists negative perception of cyclists is a growing problem (http://www.stc-law.com/bikebacklash.html). You might like the world to be a different place, but it isn't.