Friday, January 8, 2010

Doctor sentenced to 5 years in prison for assaulting bicyclists in Brentwood

Well, the drama regarding the two cyclists and the doctor in California is over after over a year. The doctor after apologizing to the cyclists was sentenced to 5 years. Considering he was convicted of basically assault w/ a deadly weapon, battery and reckless driving, this was a stiff sentence and a big win for cyclists rights.

When reading the comments to the article on the LA Times website, it makes me sad that there are still extremists on both sides of the issue. Some people complain that it is outrageous that he was given such a heavy sentence for braking hard while others complain it was too light for "attempted murder". Both statements and statements like them are completely ridiculous. This was a fair sentence to a man that had a prior incident involving cyclists showing a pattern of this behavior.

One thing the good doctor did say that made sense was that anytime you escalate the hostilities, things get worse. Would he have done this had not the cyclists given him the bird? We will never know, but it couldn't have heard. I understand what it is like to get mad when you are almost run off the road or almost hit. It gets your blood boiling, but it is up to us as cyclists to respond in a way that won't escalate the issue. Get the license plate... call the police... have a conversation with the person if you can. Unfortunately, the only way we as cyclists will get the respect we deserve is to be the bigger person. When confronted with an irate driver, I have made it a habit to smile and wave. You acknowledge that you understand the driver is not happy with what they think you did while not escalating the situation. When the driver throws something at you or comes extremely close to hitting you, get the license plate and report it to the police. If you come across an officer that is unsympathetic to cyclists, ask for another officer or their sargeant. Most of the time, you will find an officer willing to take a report.

With all that said, cyclists need to realize that over 99% of all drivers are considerate to cyclists. How many cars have passed you vs. how many have almost run you off the road or honked at you? Cyclists should not generalize that car drivers are bad. At the same time, drivers need to realize that most cyclists are considerate to cars.

Let's all sing Kum-ba-yah.

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