Last Friday in Beaverton, just across the street from a Share the Road demonstration, there was a strange car/bike crash that I still can’t figure out.
When I first saw the scene, it looked pretty simple. An older lady sat flustered in her big Town Car while an adrenaline-pumped cyclist gathered his broken bike and began to call the cops to report the crash. I could not believe the irony.
I walked over to talk to the cyclist and he told me the lady turned right into him without even looking. It sounded completely plausible and I immediately believed his story.
I talked with him for several minutes and found out his name was Daniel Koch and that he had just gotten a job as a messenger in Portland and was in Beaverton visiting his mom in the hospital.
Koch, who apparently really loves Portland (see photo), fit the profile of a messenger to a tee and he was riding a fixed-gear bicycle with no hand brake, a detail that did not escape the cop.
Regardless, I assumed it was an obvious case of a motorist not looking over their shoulder and that everything would be handled fairly. So, when a cop rolled up to handle the situation I walked back across the street to the Share the Road demonstration.
After several minutes passed I noticed a few more cop cars pull up and I began to wonder why the cyclist was still being questioned; something just didn’t seem right. Then I heard someone say, “Oh my god, they’ve handcuffed the cyclist!”. Sure enough I looked up and Koch was being walked to the patrol car in handcuffs with a look of shocked disbelief in his eyes.
I quickly made my way over to the scene and asked what was going on. Koch said, “They’re arresting me for purposely running into that lady’s car!”
I was shocked to say the least and I let my emotions get the best of me in my questioning of the cops. How can you arrest him, I asked repeatedly. What about the driver? You plan on taking her away too?
All the cops told me was that Koch caused the crash by purposely running into the car. Given what I had heard and seen up to that point I was flabbergasted that they could arrive at that conclusion.
After Koch had been taken away, I spoke to Terry Nobbe who had seen the whole crash unfold. Terry was at the Share the Road demonstration and is also a League Certified Cycling Instructor. Nobbe told me that the car never moved out of its lane and that the cyclist did indeed run into her. He said it even looked as though he did it purposely. I couldn’t believe my ears.
Why would a cyclist intentionally run into a car? Was he trying to show off and then became embarrassed when he crashed, causing him to make up a lie about being run into to?
Eventually I spoke with the cops again. I first apologized for my skeptical and overly-emotional attitude during the arrest. The cop was very appreciative of my apology and we then had a constructive discussion.
Turns out they arrested Koch for disorderly conduct and intentionally ramming his bike into a car. Both are serious violations and based on evidence at the scene and testimony from a cyclist who saw the whole thing, I don’t blame them for arriving at that conclusion.
But there are still some things I can’t figure out: First, why did they have to handcuff the cyclist? My hunch is that he had outstanding warrants or some other offense they couldn’t tell us about. And then, why the heck would anyone purposely run their bike into a car? And most puzzling is if the kid had some prior warrants or offenses, why would he call the cops in the first place?
The whole thing is very strange. I’ve got Koch’s email address and the cop’s business card. I’ll follow up with them and update the post when I hear more.