I read the following article and it made me think of the times I have had things thrown at me while on a bike.
The cliff notes version of the article:
A Lakeland Officer was out on a training ride when some kids decided to throw eggs at him. The officer who was in plain clothes called into to dispatch and the kids were apprehended and charged.
I have ridden my bike throughout most of Florida, and I can say that I have had motorist throw things at me in just about every county. Unlike the officer in the story above, most of my encounters did not have swift justice. Most of my stories involve the driver getting away.
My most recent encounter was a year ago in Ft. Myers Beach, where a passing motorist whizzed a beer can over my shoulder. Fortunate for me, he was a bad enough aim or sufficiently intoxicated that I was not directly hit by the bottle. I did not catch up to the driver, nor did the police find him.
As a cyclist, I am aware of the risks and dangers that we face while on the road. If you have ridden your bike enough, you have had the misfortune of having had an item thrown at you. The results of these encounters can be disastrous for a cyclist, and it is a good idea to be well prepared for such encounters.
I would recommend the following steps if you have an item thrown at you:
1. Identify- Do your best to take in as many details regarding the perpetrator as possible. Car: Make, model, color, and license plate. Person’s description: Skin color, hair color, age, sex. Direction of vehicle travel.
2. 911- Call dispatch as quick as possible, relaying to them the details above. Insist on meeting an officer to give a written report
3. Call a cycling attorney who can represent your interests and act as an advocate on your behalf and seek justice through our legal system.
I have been on the receiving end of a chucked beer bottle while on ,my bike, and I know how rage inducing it is. Generally, our initial reaction is to chase after the perpetrator, but I am begging you to avoid such an encounter, for the following reasons:
1. You are in a lose-lose situation. Anyone that throws an item at a cyclist unprovoked will likely be the kind of person prone to acts of violence. The driver could use their vehicle as a weapon (lose), pull out a weapon (lose), and if you end up in a physical confrontation, cycling shoes do not provide the best stability to throw punches (lose) (this is a tongue cheek point that I am using to show off this funny video of cyclist fighting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eArlm3ukbVs). Finally, despite the car being the initiator of the conflict, if someone witnesses your physical aggression towards a driver, and not the item they threw, you could end up with a criminal charge.
2. Engaging a driver in a confrontation will likely ensure that a police officer will not take your complaint seriously.
Riding with a camera is the best tool to combatting these behaviors. Their are numerous cameras available on the market today. GoPro, Garmin, etc. Although, it is impossible to prevent sporadic acts of violence, it is possible to be ready in the event it happens. I believe that a camera is the best way to provide yourself a measure of security on a bike in the event that something goes wrong, and can serve as valuable evidence to aid your cycling attorney.
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have in regards to Cycling.
I will see you on the road!
-Jeff Vivo (a.k.a. Vivocyclingattorney)