One D.C. biker captured a video on Aug. 31 of a driver in a black pickup yelling at him along Rhode Island Avenue, then apparently slamming into him with the back of his truck. The biker was knocked to the ground and taken to the hospital with injuries.
Now D.C. police are investigating the incident, reportedly using the video to track down the pickup driver. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is also using that video to help push the D.C. Council to enact a tougher law to fight harassment and assaults of bicyclists.
|Seeking legal protection|
|The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is pushing the D.C. Council to pass legislation that calls for passing along bicyclists' attorney fees in civil cases against motorists who harass or assault bikers. Bikers need something more because the burden of proof is often hard to meet in criminal cases, WABA Executive Director Shane Farthing said. Meanwhile, it's often difficult to pursue civil cases because not much money is at stake, leaving little incentive for attorneys to take the cases, he said. The law is modeled after legislation approved in Los Angeles over the summer.|
The video cameras are quickly growing in popularity for exactly such cases, according to WABA's executive director, Shane Farthing. Some bikers use the cameras for fun to document a cool ride. But for many cyclists, he said, it's about self protection.
"It more common than you think," he said.
WABA hasn't formally encouraged its riders to use the cameras, Farthing said, but he said it can make a difference. "Video is obviously a great step if you can afford to do it," he added.
The cameras can range in quality, costing from less than $100 to more than $500.
Brock Boland, a D.C. cyclist for about three years, said he's considering getting a helmet camera to provide evidence in case a motorist hits him intentionally.
"It's not rare at all that people get too close," he said.
The videos help provide evidence in an area where often it's hard to prove what happened. Like the cameras affixed to police cars or Metro buses, though, the videos can serve all sides, also making the cyclists accountable for their riding. In the case of the cyclist filmed on Rhode Island Avenue, the video showed he was riding correctly and following traffic laws, Farthing said.
Most run-ins between bicyclists and drivers aren't intentional, Farthing acknowledges.
But bikers and motorists don't always share the road willingly. An entire blog is devoted to what it calls "getting annoying ... cyclists off the streets."