Dangerous drivers thread
“The police said they couldn’t charge him with anything”
Yeah, there’s no way the police can charge somebody with assault after they’ve committed it on video, in front of lots of witnesses.
^Um, that’s me.
The old guy was a total BMW asshole with anger issues. The police were very professional and treated Red and I with sincerity, so props to them. The lead cop separated the driver and I and questioned us separately, but talked to the driver first. When I gave him my side of what happened the officer said that our stories were the same, and the guy was angry because we were riding in the middle of the lane. So he’s dumb as well as reckless.
It’s interesting that the officer’s interpretation of the four-foot law is that drivers don’t have to give four feet if you are taking the lane, he seems to think it only applies when cyclists are riding as far right as practicable. I disagree, and we had a brief polite discussion of this which concluded with him saying he would go back and re-read the statute. However, he did say that drivers need to be courteous and the guy obviously wasn’t. The cop was also impressed that Red had the whole encounter on video – front and back.
He didn’t write the driver a citation, but he kept the guy there for quite a while explain’n the bike laws to him. No report was filed.
Thanks to all (cyclist & drivers) who asked if we needed help or the police.
This is one of my GoPro captures from earlier this year. The motorcyclist was lucky to make it. After passing me in the left turning lane then RTL, his passenger went off on him.
Yikes, that’s a bad driver-bad cyclist double whammy.
edit: to be clear, the bad cyclist is the one who blows through the red light, not you.
That stretch of Penn before the bike lane is a bit awkward since you have to get to the left lane which is where cars are trying to pass(usually just to get to a red light as you mentioned). I just try to signal that lane change as early as possible but, frankly, I’m surprised I haven’t dealt with any road rage here yet. However, it sounds like you were in the right lane on your approach which is clearly marked with sharrows and he was just being a reckless jag.
@mjacobpgh, I normally do as you say and get on the left lane pretty early, usually before 17th. However, per the road markings, the idea is that you take the right lane and then get on that green thingy that’s at the 16th St intersection. I seldom do this because the right lane tends to back up so it’s just easier (and still legal, obviously) to get on the left lane. Granted, I very rarely travel this stretch during the morning rush hour, so I don’t know how it generally goes around there during that time.
Oddly enough, today was one of those very rare occasions and it just so happened that I went by there as the cops were talking to Marko and Red, and were also having some words with the driver.
Yesterday in Homestead I am taking the road from Costco to Mckeesport. A car waiting to turn into the Lowe’s parking lot from the opposite direction started honking at me because I was in her pathway and she had to wait 2 seconds as she waited to turn into the lot. When I road by I said, “F*&% You”. I continued biking and made my left into the protected bike lane section in Homestead. I then noticed she is along beside me threatening, “I’m gonna shoot yo ass. Come here.. You want shot?”. She pulls into the bike lane section blocking it at the entrance of the Pump House. She is yelling out her window that she is going to shoot me, and then calls me a coward. I find this funny; I am the coward, the unarmed dude on a bike being chased by a person in a car threatening to shoot me with a gun. Yeah, that is totally not cowardly. I turned around and tried to bike away, but she turned back around to drives towards me almost hitting cars along Waterfront drive. I don’t know if she had a gun or if she would of shot my ass, but this is Murica and I guess even if somebody is honking at you in a threatening manner it is best to leave it go.
Then coming back up across the Hot Metal St bridge I basically found out not to try to say a simple “Hi” to bike Pittsburgh members you met a few times around town. God I am sick of this provincial town.
@ shoo, that sound very stressful! I have been threatened by someone that said, “I will run your ass over”, but not a gun yet.
I wonder if you were running video, you could press charges for threatening with a gun? One would certainly think so, but I don’t know much about it. Makes me want to mess her vehicle up and take out her tires.
I’ve learned not to throw fingers or swear directly at people. It only enrages an already upset individual. Instead, I call out plate numbers or quote the bit of law that says I am in compliance with the law. What I have not learned yet is how to de-escalate road rage.
But, again, this all boils down to motorists not knowing what traffic law is and means. Somehow we need to educate motorists en masse that, indeed, we are allowed to use the same space, and that probably means changing licensing requirements.
A lot of these stories go something like: I was having trouble with a motorist, then they stopped and we exchanged words and things got really heated. So I think talking to them does no good. It works better to simply ignore them. I imagine that it is more frustrating to not be sure that you heard what they were yelling at you.
This morning at 8:55AM I turned left from Stanton Avenue on to Butler Street. A car came up behind me and sped past, the driver honking and yelling during that process. I was pretty surprised and cried out in fear—he came quit close. He stopped quickly and I swerved around him. He began to harass me verbally. There were cars behind us so I tried to move forward hoping he would just move on (a maneuver I regret now) and he responded by riding alongside me and swerving the car closer to me. He continued to scream obscenities and “get off the road” while still honking his horn. I found myself screaming over and over to “stop” and “please stop harassing me”. He continued to follow and swerve next to me until the red light at Plummer Street which he promptly ran through and continued quickly down Plummer.
I realize now I should have just gotten off the road immediately. I’ve been blown by before and it usually just ends with the driver moving on. This guy wanted to and enjoyed threatening me.
He was in his 50/60s unkempt white male with grey scraggly hair pulled back under a ball cap, and stubble. He wore square wire rimmed glasses. His car was very old, a wide American sedan that was a dusty cobalt blue with lots of rust. I was really trying to remain in control of my bike and I saw his license plate but couldn’t retain the number. The first letter was E for sure then maybe a MW then definitely a hyphen.
I realize how unhelpful that is and feel pretty crappy about the whole thing. Talking about it with my neighbor she mentioned hearing about a similar incident in the same stretch of Butler. It’s the first time I’ve had any kind of problem that escalated like this and I don’t think anything I’ve described here would be helpful enough to file a police report.
Maybe if my basic description rings any bells with anyone? This guy is not a fan of cyclists so maybe it’s not the first time he’s engaged in this behavior?
@gbarbee, was this the incident your neighbor was referring to? http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/dangerous-drivers-thread/page/21/#post-315178 — late July, a driver cut off, assaulted rider on Butler near the cemetery. He was charged with ‘harassment by physical contact’.
Similar incident, sounds like a different vehicle and driver—sadly, this is not an unfrequent occurrence on that part of Butler St. I frequently will take the first right from Butler onto 50th, then take Hatfield inbound from there.
I am definitely rethinking my route so I appreciate that suggestion.
I have to bike right there every day. Will keep a look out for this guy.
I may have to take a slight detour from the 40th St Bridge with front and rear video rolling. So, about 9 a.m.? Hmmm…
On the good side I had a perfectly executed pass with 10′ clearance by a PAT articulated bus on Irvine St in Hazelwood today. Waited until room and went past with plenty of room while I was clipping along at a good 15-20 mph pace. Some people know how to do it.
Dangerous driver encounter tonight around baum/center and s millvale ave around 5:20pm. Redish suv, plate GODIZRL. They swerved at a car turning in while beeping at them, swerved at me, gunned it, passed another car illegally on s millvale bridge and probably did a whole bunch of sketchy stuff after that. Not sure if aggro, drunk, or all of the above.
@benzo, from the license plate, possibly under control of a higher power.
I called 911 to report this, but I was told an office would have to arrive and file a police report.
I’m guessing this is standard procedure, but it makes it so I don’t even want to report a possible drunk driver or road rager.
With how understaffed Pittsburgh police are I assume almost nothing would result from this other than the report and me using up several hours of my day.
They always talk about how understaffed they are, and yet yesterday four squad cars responded to a fender-bender on Penn Ave. Great use of resources!
Ha! I saw the aftermath of the fender bender, by 7th St. Both drivers furious at each other, with one accusing the other of being drunk. The latter was still inside his van, which was tangled up with the car he presumably hit. He forced the van out in reverse and hit the cop car that was parked behind the crash. Ah, Pittsburgh drivers…
I’m frustrated I didn’t have time to get the plate down before rushing off to pick up the kids, but I followed a police van home on the jail trail, probably around 4:40-4:45.
It wasn’t going fast, in fact it may have been tracking 15mph speed limit but there isn’t the space for a vehicle like that if there’s anything going in the opposite direction through the narrowed section.
What really gets me is that there was literally no reason for it to be using the trail. It turned left around to second at the end.
I found my stolen bike on a car in the Eliza Furnace trail parking lot one time. Called the police and they set off down the trail in their car to look for the thief. Not sure that really made sense, but I don’t think they drive down the trail in a van just for the hell of it. There presumably was a reason they were there.
There were no signs of medical response.
Perhaps they were trying to stake something out or flush something out. But it’s an incoherent vehicle choice for a short section of boxed in trail.
What if there became a chase?
The van would be impeded by so much more than a bicycle, and it would take so much backing and forthing to turn around if that became necessary.
A motorcycle, that I could see.
@byogman, I encountered a police car on the trail during the evening commute yesterday. It was likewise going slowly, but like your incident there was no apparent reason for it to be there. (It was Junction Hollow, though, not the Jail Trail.)
Shouldn’t we be happy there is a visible police presence on these isolated trails from time to time?
I’m not happy with motor vehicles on the trail. An officer on motorcycle I could somewhat understand depending on circumstance, or an EMS van. A police van I still don’t get. I’m not going to post anymore on this because it was going slowly enough to not be THAT big a deal, but any normal patrolling of a bicycle trail, if that’s what this was, really ought to be done by bicycle.
“Shouldn’t we be happy there is a visible police presence on these isolated trails from time to time?”
Yes, especially since a jogger was robbed at gunpoint and pistol-whipped the other day on one of the river trails. Something like that seems to happen at least once a year.
Jacob, that intrigues me – I thought this was the first report of trail-crime that I’ve heard of. Have there been others? thanks!
The other recent case that I recall was that moron who tried to assault a female jogger last summer on the north shore. The jogger was an officer/agent for one of the federal law enforcement agencies – FBI perhaps, but I don’t recall. Suffice it to say that the assault was unsuccessful. Nothing else comes readily to mind but, again, having read the newspapers daily for the last decade or so, something like that seems to happen at least once a year.
That is not to say that the trails are dangerous; all things considered they are probably some of the safest public places in the city. But bear in mind that with the homeless camps under bridges being fenced off (apparently pushing the homeless – some of whom are criminals – to the rivers) and the region’s heroin epidemic (the major driver of thefts, in my expericence), there is at least the potential for the trails to become more dangerous than in years past.
“Yes, especially since a jogger was robbed at gunpoint and pistol-whipped the other day on one of the river trails. Something like that seems to happen at least once a year. ”
Any additional information on this incident? This is the first I’ve heard about it and am interested in location, time, etc. as I commute on the trails every day.
Sorry, ShooFLy, but as far as Greenfield Avenue goes, I say – just use the sidewalk. Yes, I know you have a right to the road, but be reasonable – the uphill is rather narrow.
Plus, well, drivers are inherently a-holes. The sidewalk is rarely used by pedestrians….I say just play it safe (and considerate) and use that sidewalk.
You talked about recording a cop…IS that legal? Because I’m about ready to mount a camera on my bike and catch cops and civilians alike (and other bikers with whom I’ve almost collided because they don’t grasp rights-of-way principles), and post it on youtube – WITH license plates visible.
For some weekend reading, you all might want to check out the latest entry (Nov 18) on John Michael Greer’s Archdruid Report blog titled The Heresy of Technological Choice. I think it sheds a lot of light on the questions of why some drivers react the way they do toward cyclists. Comments as always are voluminous and thoughtful. Well worth the time to read to see people’s experience with this phenomenon in other contexts. Be advised it will take you at least an hour to read them. That’s why I said it was for weekend reading.
On Saturday morning I was riding down the hill on Kittanning Pike in Ohara Township heading towards Sharpsburg. A silver BMW sedan (I think) made a left turn right in front of me from Harding Road on to Kittanning Pike. He didn’t just roll through his stop sign, he drove through it at full speed (I guess 25 – 30 mph). I had to slam on my brakes to avoid crashing into the back of his car. My wheels locked up, but luckily I didn’t wipe out. I rode up beside him on the passenger side and started yelling at him to slow down and pay attention before he kills someone. He started yelling back. Then he pulled over, got out of his car, walked back to me, got right in my face and yelled some more and threatened me with physical violence. Luckily another car pulled up behind us and stopped, so the road rage guy got back in his car and drove off. Thankfully, the woman in the second car got a picture of his plate for me. I filed a police report, but because the police didn’t witness anything and the guy denied everything, I’m not going to waste my time pursuing legal action.
The driver was a white male, probably in his 50s. Again, the car was a silver (or gray) BMW (or other luxury) sedan. PA plate DPX 5890.
Well, I’ve lived another day….but for how long?!?
There were TWO occasions on today’s ride when my instincts have prevented me from becoming roadkill. Both were in Brighton Heights, and simply involved carelessness on the part of the drivers. I guess it wasn’t my “instinct” but rather a learned, instant reaction to a the scenario around me (presence of traffic light, intersection, speed of car approaching from cross street, etc.)
Besides those two incidents, there were two other moments where I was perilously close to a vehicle travelling from behind me. There ARE many more narrow streets than Brighton Road – what is it with drivers hugging the edge of the bike lane!?!? For those two events, there was no defensive action I could have taken. I was just lucky that I was not grazed by the side mirror.
Getting up to Brighton Heights is a fantastic workout. But it is so dangerous – there is too great a number that just drive too fast (legally, anyway), and are too careless. All I wanna do is ride my bike!
Please be careful out there, bike people.
On Facebook’s “South Side Secrets” page there’s a post
that’s got a video of a cyclist climbing 18th Street, Southside.
Cyclist takes the lane. at 00:59 it gets bad.
SUV pulls around cyclist then quick-stops in front of cyclist.
Then they play tag for a bit. It’s terrifying to watch.
Here’s a link direct to the video:
Can anybody make out the license plate?
(edited to change link)
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