The most recent incident that took place was while heading home from a training ride. Sam and I were riding on local city streets, working our way back to the house. On one of the roads we travel, there is no bike lane, however there are two lanes in each direction with a turning lane running down the center of the street. The lane a bicycle would use to travel is quite wide and could definitely have a bike lane, though it doesn't currently exist. We always ride far to the right, giving more than enough space for motorists to easily pass us while still leaving several feet between us and them.
|*Image from Google maps|
I was shaken, but angry. I quickly made note of their license plate and started repeating it out loud. I repeated it to Sam so I'd have back up as well. I told him we were going by the police station before we went home to file a report. Thank goodness for 6-character license plates here in Colorado. At least I wouldn't have to remember many digits.
It was Sunday, and as we pulled up to the police station, things looked very quiet. I immediately recorded the license plate in a note on my phone so as not to confuse myself, and we walked in to the lobby. The only means of contacting a human appeared to be a phone with minimal instructions on how to contact a dispatcher. The woman who answered was extremely short-tempered and I felt the volume in my voice rising as I tried to explain that all I wanted was an officer to take a report of an incident that had just taken place in town between a car and a bicycle (for the record, I was apparently getting so elevated that Sam could hear me from inside the men's restroom that was several dozen yards away). Eventually, the dispatcher told me that no officers were in the building and to sit in the lobby and wait for one to arrive.
And wait we did. We waited, and waited some more. Mind you, we don't live in Los Angeles, or New York, or even Denver for that matter. To get completely across town in a car should take no more than about 10-15 minutes. The longer we sat waiting the more I went over everything in my mind. I realized that the likelihood of an officer doing anything about what had happened was slim to none. What proof did I have of intention of the motorist? No one was actually physically harmed from anything that had taken place. All I had was a license plate number and a brief verbal encounter. Still, he had broken the law by not giving 3-feet of space while passing. If nothing else, he should receive a warning for that alone.
Eventually, we gave up waiting for an officer to show up. We were both hungry and tired. Worst of all, I really felt as though the motorist had won... and man, it really pissed me off. I went home and kept thinking and talking. I asked local cyclists if they had any connections at the police department. I researched other means of reporting dangerous drivers. I vented to relatives -- who really didn't understand what I was so upset about. After all (as they argued), what had the driver really done to me?
Since I'd posted my inquiry about a contact with the PD on a Facebook cycling group, it was interesting to see one response from an individual who stated, "I've had luck e-mailing them [the PD] (didn't like the answer I got, but I did get an answer)." That wasn't really giving me hope, but eventually I did get an e-mail contact from a cyclist who stated his contact was in charge of the City's Traffic Division, and he is also a cyclist. Trying to remain undeterred by the initial comment, I sent off an e-mail with the details of what took place to the individual.
It's still early on in my communications, and I don't have resolution by any means, but I doubt I will get it. More than likely, at most, a report will be written and filed away somewhere, and that is about all I can expect.
|This local story went viral after two cyclists were being harassed for miles by a motorist.|
*Image found here
I could theorize for hours about what the intention was of the motorist, if he was high or drunk, or if he was simply trying to use intimidation to scare us off the road. I will likely never have an answer. What I do hope will come of this is (at minimum) more awareness. I hope that other cyclists will find ways to report drivers engaging in similar behavior, and I definitely don't want to see or hear about someone being injured or dying on the roadways because a motorist finds it amusing to use his/her vehicle as a weapon.
What I have learned since the incident is that there is a way to report dangerous drivers on the road right away for those here in Colorado. Simply pull over, dial *277 from your cell, and have the vehicle plates and all the information from the incident that took place. If you follow the link, there is a list of what is considered dangerous behavior, but it includes road rage, tailgating, not giving you your space on the road, throwing objects, and so forth. I have no idea what will come of reporting a matter here, but I am programming the number into my phone so that if there is anything that happens on the road I have a means of reporting the incident right away.
If you don't know your local contact, I would highly suggest finding it before an incident takes place. Take a few minutes now to do the research and have it handy should the need ever arise on the road. Have you experienced or witnessed incidents of aggression, harassment or intimidation on the road? Were you (or the cyclist) able to find any sort of resolution? If you reported the incident, who did you talk to? Were they responsive?