SEATTLE (AP) - Urban bicyclists are demanding stiffer penalties against
motorists they accuse of hogging the road.
For example, the Rev. David Tinney of Issaquah fell while biking last
Monday when a passing motorist leaned out the window and punched him in
Witnesses reported the car's license number to police, and detectives
tracked down a 17-year-old passenger they believe was responsible.
The King County prosecutor's office has received more than 50 calls from
people demanding the teen-ager be tried as an adult.
"That's an unusual number of phone calls," prosecutor's office spokesman
Dan Donohoe said.
Charges are likely to be filed this week.
Tinney is recovering from a broken shoulder, punctured lung, five broken
ribs and a broken elbow that required surgery.
According to many cyclists, most cases involving harassment of cyclists
Tinney's case has sparked outrage among area cyclists and others who
drivers who don't like sharing the road with bicycles often don't realize
cyclists have a legal right to be there.
In 2000, 690 people died in bicycle-motor vehicle crashes, according
the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, run by the University of
North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. Eleven
were in Washington state.
Though bicyclists have to follow the same rules as car drivers, including
using appropriate signals when turning, Bellevue police spokeswoman Marcia
Harnden said bikes have as much a right to be on the road as cars do.
It's often a challenge to pedal the narrow path between asserting that
right and antagonizing drivers, said Federal Way resident T.J. Graham, who
rides to Bellevue each day for work at Gregg's Bicycles.
"People get pretty irate at cyclists," Graham said. "I try not to cause
any more discourse, not to retaliate and not make them any madder. They
to come up beside you and yell, trying to frighten you."
The trick, cyclists say, is to take a safe-sized slice of the road lane,
try not to ride too close to the curb, be courteous, and if several cars
lined up, pull over and let them pass.
Steve Hoover, an officer on the Bellevue police bicycle patrol, believes
problems are rare.
Still he recalls the time he was out of uniform biking with a group in
Snoqualmie Valley when a truck driver picked him out of the pack and began
swearing and inching his pickup closer. The driver eventually sped away.