This past Sunday, TrainingPeaks co-founder Dirk Friel headed out on what should have been a nice Sunday morning ride with his teammate, Joe. Things turned ugly when, on a stretch of road in Longmont, CO, an older driver in an SUV pulled up behind the two cyclists and began blaring his horn. The SUV followed them for a full five minutes blasting his horn and refusing to pass, even impeding traffic behind him and despite the fact that Dirk and Joe both slowed down and waved him past. (The video also clearly shows the cyclists riding single file and on the right side of the white line). Fearing that the situation might escalate, both riders got out their iPhones and started taking video. When Dirk got home, he uploaded the video to YouTube.
By now, you may have already seen the video. It spread quickly through the local cycling community on Twitter, and someone handed it to media where it was picked up by both Denver 9NEWS and FOX31 Denver. After that, the video was shared on the CyclingNews Facebook page, and picked up by Outside Online and even CNN.
At TrainingPeaks, we are obviously glad Dirk and Joe are okay. On top of that though, we wanted to follow upon the story because we know it struck a chord with a lot of people, as this is not a new situation for cyclists. The video received hundreds of comments from cyclists and even runners, sharing similar experiences of being harassed by motorists.
We think that Dirk and Joe showed incredible restraint, and their reaction was a demonstration of the safest and best way to deal with a situation like this:
- Don't start a confrontation.
- Take down the license plate and gather any other evidence you can (in Dirk and Joe's case, this was video evidence).
- Report it afterwards to the authorities. In Colorado, the number to call from your mobile is *277. Be prepared to provide license plate number, location and direction of travel, description of vehicle and driver if possible, and description of harassing behavior.
Dirk ended up reporting the incident to the Colorado State Patrol after another YouTube viewer commented that he'd had similar run-ins with the same driver. According to the Denver Post, the driver was cited yesterday by the CSP for two counts of harassment, impeding the flow of traffic, and improper use of a horn. On top of that, he had reporters and TV cameras knocking at his door the past couple days.
The video has gotten nearly 200,000 views as of today, and Dirk will be donating ad proceeds from views of the video to Bicycle Colorado. In the past few days, the clip was picked up not only by major cycling publications like CyclingNews and Bicycling, but by mainstream media including CNN and Denver nightly news broadcasts (Dirk was also contacted today by FOX News). This helped to raise widespread awareness about cyclists' rights to the road, education about the proper and safe way to deal with harassment, and discussions between cyclists and motorists alike about how to share the road peacefully. All in all, a positive outcome from a bad situation.
In Colorado, cyclists are considered motor vehicles that have the right to be on the road - of course this means they also have the responsibility to follow the same laws that apply to motor vehicles as well. Visit Bicycle Colorado's website to learn more about your rights, and reponsibilities, as a cyclist. Don't live in Colorado? Visit the League of American Bicyclists to find advocacy groups in your area, and learn how you can get involved in bike advocacy both in the US and internationally.
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