Group Ride Confrontation Sparks Debate, Cyclist-Blaming

Cyclists removing driver from car. Screen capture from CBS
Cyclists removing driver from car. Screen capture from CBS

The full story is not clear at this point, but news media and social media have been critical of cyclists in a confrontation with a driver. See coverage at CBS, Fox11, and the L.A. Times.

The incident took took place last night, in Koreatown, during a group bike ride. According to CBS, the group of cyclists

continued through the intersection even when their light turned red, but other drivers were giving them the right of way, according to witnesses – except one. The driver of a white BMW sedan apparently became impatient and began inching through the intersection and hit one of the cyclists, according to an LAPD watch commander. The cyclists thought he was trying to leave the scene, and a shouting match erupted. Video shows at least two cyclists yanking a man out of his car and wrestling him to the ground. With his arms behind his back, the driver was kept on the ground by a cyclist who sat on his back until police arrived.

Media are reporting that the driver ran over a cyclists’s leg, but also that there were no injuries.

Daily News headline captured via Facebook
Daily News headline captured via Facebook

The Daily News headline initially asserted that bicyclists had beat the driver, though this does not appear on video from the scene, and the headline has since been corrected.

One interpretation is that the cyclists prevented a hit-and-run perpetrator from fleeing the scene. Another interpretation is that the cyclists broke the law by corking the intersection and by breaking the car window. Not that any of these cyclist transgressions would justify a driver trying to run over anyone.

Commenters took to Twitter and Facebook to offer blanket condemnations of cycling, for example: “Bicyclists are always in the way, causing traffic, riding in the middle of a lane meant for vehicles. Driver ran him over on purpose but it’s not like they didn’t ask for it by blocking an entire lane.”

It is an unfortunate double standard that when road rage erupts between two motorists, no one lumps all drivers together as troublemakers. In a case like this one, where cyclists are involved, people seem to feel free to pass judgement on all cyclists.

Streetsblog L.A. will continue to update this post as more details become available.

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