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As a recreational and commuter cyclist, I have seen my share of disputes between ICE-powered drivers and LEG-powered riders. During one large bike club ride, some fellows were trying to wave cars by the group while we were on the narrow, winding Loop Road. The first few times went fine, but after encouraging one driver to pass, a car suddenly appeared the other way before we could signal stop, and there was almost a collision – which engendered some shouting on both sides. Tampa Bay Online reports an incident in San Antonio FL, where a young gun owner was lucky that his father stopped him from escalating a shouting match into a homicide . . .

Cyclist Joel Chavez told investigators the group was riding together June 20 near the intersection of Bayhead Drive and Bellamy Brothers Boulevard in Darby when a white pickup pulled alongside them and passed on the grass shoulder of the road. The driver, [Johnathan] Madison, then stopped in the middle of the road. [Stupid Moves #1 & #2]

Madison and his father, John, who was riding in the passenger seat, got out and started yelling at the cyclists, Chavez said. [Stupid Move #3] One of the cyclists then sprayed pepper spray toward the Madisons. [Stupid Move #4]

“Joel advised he then witnessed the driver go back to the cab of the truck and pull out a black handgun,” the sheriff’s office report reads. “Joel stated the driver kept the gun behind his back but could clearly see he had his finger on the trigger. Joel advised he then heard the driver yell, ‘If you try to spray me, I’m going to shoot you.'” [Stupid Move #5]

Madison never fired the weapon. His father took the gun away from him and laid it on the seat of the truck. [Smart Move] Then they drove away.

The Madisons initially cooperated with the investigation, and both gave verbal statements by phone to the investigating officer. But they refused to be interviewed in person, to sign written statements or to turn over the weapon. “John (Madison) stated the gun was given to a family member and was not available,” the officer wrote.

Doll said Madison wasn’t charged with assault because he didn’t actually point the gun at the cyclists. He could be charged with a misdemeanor: improper exhibition of a firearm.

“If you’re pointing a gun at someone, that’s no question,” Doll said. “That’s assault, even if it’s a toy gun. But holding a gun behind your back, I don’t know. That’s a question for the state attorney.”

Maybe I’ll walk around town with a gun behind my back and see if the police notice. But that’s nothing compared to this old case, summarized by Cycleicious:

While Alan Ray Simons pulled his son in a child trailer behind a bike, [Firefighter Charles Alexander] Diez yelled at Simons telling him he put the boy’s life in danger before shooting at Simons’ head. The bullet passed through Simons’ helmet but missed his head by a hair.

Diez testified that, “I was the one who felt truly, truly threatened” by the vicious cyclist out in the open as Diez sat inside of his car and pulled out his gun.

Diez was first charged with murder, but that charge was reduced to assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 120 days in jail. Their links no longer connect, but from the Asheville Citizen-Times archive’s abstract,

[Judge] Downs ruled that mitigating factors present for sentencing purposes in this case include that Diez has good character, served in the military, supports his family financially, has a positive employment history and has a good support system in the community.

So what’s the best way to protect a child? By shooting his father in the head?

Unfortunately, Diez didn’t have his Dad along to tell him to put the gun away. Fortunately Diez (barely) missed, so someday Simons might be able to warn his son against pulling a gun in the heat of an argument.

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  1. While these are examples of drivers and gun owners behaving badly, there are cyclists with a "road entitlement" attitude.

    Yes, 80+ percent of the time, the car is the problem. But some cyclists behave as if their bike is the 3000 lbs vehicle with 12 airbags.

    There's a much more realistic attitude regarding safety within motorcycle circles.

    • Except for those places where bike lanes are available, cyclists are entitled, in fact required, to ride on the road. I do think the ones who try to "claim the lane" are dreaming, but I understand why they do it. Once you fall out of their forward sightline, many auto and truck drivers will forget all about you. They will drift back to the center of the lane, with the back part of their vehicle pushing your bike further and further to the gravel, glass and garbage strewn right shoulder.

  2. Reading many of the comments and stories it has become clear to me that I could not survive in such atmospheres. Not legally. I am a gun owner and a driver and while I did cycling earlier in my life, I go by a ‘respect me and I respect you rule.” This also means that if you do not respect me, then all hell will fall down upon you. I am the massive, heavy object for which the road was built for. Roads weren’t built for bikes. If they were, they would be called paths or trails. If everybody stuck to their lanes and didn’t try to cross the street in front of traffic with a turn arrow, then I would have no problem with them. However, with a university near where I live, I must be very careful not to hit an oblivious cyclist or pedestrian purely because I have enough unfriendly dealings with the law as is. It’s also why I put my hazard lights on when backing up. I figure that if they couldn’t see or react (honk their horn, shout, tap my rear window, etc.) to a comparatively large, slow moving object with flashing lights, then they probably shouldn’t be on the road (or even outside) unsupervised anyways.
    Ugh, sorry for the rant. It’s kind of a touchy topic with me. ^^

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