Such was the case with Thomas Thompson, the Los Angeles driver convicted of assaulting 2 cyclists, was given a 5 year sentence by Superior Court Judge Scott T. Millington. Thompson was convicted of 6 felonies and 1 misdemeanor back in November, 2009.
I watched the coverage of the trial in the Los Angeles Times, and read as Mr. Thompson was told he was to receive five years in prison for his actions on that fateful day.
But there was one thing that was mostly omitted from the coverage of the Thompson trial. That was the overwhelming support of people from Thompson’s neighborhood that have to deal with these militant cyclists on a daily basis.
The case stems from an incident on July 4th when 2 cyclists, Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr, were assaulted by Thompson as they rode their bikes down Mandeville Canyon Road near Los Angeles. Thompson drove past the 2 cyclists, then slammed on his brakes, causing the cyclist to run into his car. Peterson suffered serious injuries to his head, requiring over 90 stitches, while Stoehr suffered skin loss and a separated shoulder.
During and after the trial, there were people from the neighborhood that came to the courthouse, trying to tell the media what they face on a daily basis, and the media were mostly turning a deaf ear.
Mandeville Canyon Road draws a lot of cyclists to the area to ride through this hills and canyons. Many of these cycle enthusiasts are incredibly belligerent to people in automobiles.
I face this dilemma here where I live in San Dimas. The problem here in San Dimas is that we have these weekend warrior cyclists that seem to believe that they have some God given right to use the traffic lanes.
These cyclists are quite militant, like a bicycle militia, complete with weapons such as tire pumps and water bottles.
Groups of one hundred or more will block all traffic lanes from Bonelli Park to Foothill Blvd. as they ride through town on their way to the surrounding foothills. If an automobile come upon them and tries to pass, they routinely block the lanes as to prevent you from passing.
If you dare to tap your horn at them, you get the international salute AKA the bird. Then, when the opportunity to pass presents itself and you can pass, you can expect to get a dousing of water from the cyclists water bottles.
This goes on every weekend all over the east San Gabriel Valley. Now I know there are some cyclists out there that might read this and respond with the normal platitudes, but I blogged about this more than a year ago on my website, and I received more than eighty comments from the people around the area, and the majority of responses were from people that had also experienced this rude behavior from the cyclists.
The irony of the situation is that most of these cyclists drive cars, and I would bet that when on the freeways, if someone gets in front of them and slows them down, they are on their high beams and horns ranting and raving like a lunatic.
But put these same people on a bicycle, and suddenly they think they deserve the same space o the road as an automobile.
There is another side to this story from a personal perspective. I run. I run upwards to 40 miles a week. Where I run there is a shared trail that cuts through town.
While running I stay to the right. As I run along, invariably a tribe of these militant bicyclists will come flying up on me, screaming “On the left” as if I am too stupid to know that they are coming.
On three separate occasions I have been hit by these bicycle malcontents, once by a little kid so I won’t count that one, but once requiring a trip to the doctor for stitches. These cyclists are doing the same thing to me that they complain about cars doing to them.
I am not the only runner on this trail that complains about it. The trail is a part of the old Red Car railway that used to run from San Bernardino to Los Angeles. I run the section that traverses Rancho Cucamonga.
So these crazed cyclists are doing the same thing to walkers and runners that they complain about cars doing to them on the streets. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t roll a bike around the trails like you own them and you cannot complain when you get hit by a car. JD