Police Arrest Motorist AND Bicyclist

Police: Man arrested for trying to run down cyclists

May 22, 2004

By ALICE WALLACE, The Gainesville [FL] Sun

Police say the man was angry because the cyclists weren’t riding single-file and began yelling at them.

Gainesville man was arrested Friday night after a road rage incident in which he tried to run down a group of nine bicyclists who were riding down E. University Avenue in the area of Newnan’s Lake, according to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.

No one was injured in the incident.

Lt. Jim Troiano with the Sheriff’s Office said George Hastings, 60, of Gainesville, was driving east in the 7000 block of E. University Avenue late Friday night when he encountered a group of nine bicyclists riding two-by-two along the two-lane road. Troiano said Hastings was angered because the bicyclists weren’t riding single-file and began yelling at them through his car window.

The bicyclists yelled back at Hastings, Troiano said, which angered Hastings further. He pulled in front of the bicyclists and slammed on his brakes, nearly causing the riders to crash into his 1998 Taurus, Troiano said.

In retaliation, one of the bicyclists caught up to Hastings’ vehicle and punched him through his open car window, Troiano said.

“That really made the guy mad,” Troiano said. “So he took off and then conducted a series of U-turn maneuvers. He was trying to run over these bicyclists.”

Troiano said Hastings was essentially chasing the bicyclists around the road for a while, running up on the bicyclists and then turning around each time he missed them.

“He was driving all over,” Troiano said. “He almost ran over one of the bicyclists. The biker was barely able to veer away from the guy’s path.”

Eventually, Hastings stopped his vehicle and began exchanging blows with the bicyclist who had punched him through his window, Troiano said.

While the two were fighting, a bystander who was out in his front yard saw the commotion, called law enforcement and then quietly went and turned off Hastings’ car and took the keys so he would not be able to leave until law enforcement arrived.

When the Sheriff’s office arrived, deputies arrested Hastings on three aggravated assault charges. Troiano said they are also sending charges to the State Attorney’s Office in the form of a sworn complaint charging the bicyclist who punched Hastings with burglary and battery. He said the bicyclist is being charged with burglary because he reached into Hastings’ vehicle. “We’re definitely holding blame on both sides, but the aggressor was definitely Hastings,” Troiano said. “He could have easily killed several of those bicyclists.”

My thoughts about the above news article:

  1. As a bicyclist, I can confirm that this sort of aggressive, dangerous, homicidal motorist behavior against bicyclists happens all the time.
  2. The story is a good example of something that is highly annoying to the bicyclist: Nearly all motorists haven’t a clue about the rules of the road or the safest way for bicyclists to ride their bikes. In this case, the motorist was enraged that the bicyclists were riding two-by-two instead of single-file. While single-file sometimes allows the motorist to avoid being delayed by bicyclists (as he can get around them easier), it also happens to be a form of bicycling that is dangerous to bicyclists, which explains why they were riding two-by-two. Two-by-two forces the motorist to be more careful. The motorist must pass by getting into the adjoining travel lane briefly to get around the bicyclists, rather than trying to squeeze by the bicyclist in the same travel lane. Two-by-two also makes the bicyclists more visible to the motorist. It is a form of safety in numbers.
  3. I am aghast that the police found it necessary to arrest both the homicidal motorist AND the bicyclist.

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Filed under Town and Transportation Planning

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