Bike-path rage? West Seattle rider reports violent encounter

This site among many others has had contentious car vs. bike discussions – and over the years of course the “road rage” of car vs. car erupts from time to time – but this is one of the first “bike vs. bike” clashes we’ve heard: Longtime WSBer Todd in Westwood tells the story:

(Sunday), wife, 5 y.o. daughter and I decided to get the bikes out and take them down to Alki, as this may be the last nice Sunday in a while. We parked down by the 7-11 on Alki Ave and rode around Jack Block Park, then off to the beach.

I had daughter on the “trailer bike” attatched to my bike with wife behind us. We had jsut passed Anchor Park, when a very angry “LEFT” was yelled at me, then “!!!LEFT!!!” again. I was passing pedestrians and with the trailer bike, it isn’t very easy to make quick moves in either direction. The NOW extremely angry road bike yells “I said LEFT” then passes me on the left and punches me, luckily he got me in the upper arm instead of the face. This in turn almost made me crash. I stopped to process what had just happened, now daughter is scared and crying. I yell back at him telling him I am calling 911 to report it, he yells back ” F__K YOU, A__ h__e”, So we found an officer down the beach and made out a report. He will be charged with misdemeanor assault. But he is nowhere to be found.

We walk the bikes down the beach to get coffee, run into some friends and lo and behold, jerk man rides by. I follow him and call 911. They caught the dude and he will be charged. I don’t know what happened to him next. I heard him tell the officer he didn’t have i.d., should be interesting. A couple then stops us on the beach to tell us they had witnessed the whole ordeal and are willing to help. (Thank you so much, folks! )

Let’s hope justice can prevail and at least show my daughter that the bad guys get caught.

(This also was posted in the WSB Forums.)

48 Replies to "Bike-path rage? West Seattle rider reports violent encounter"

  • Leroniusmonkfish September 14, 2009 (1:29 am)

    What’s happened to bicyclists these days? Riding nude, riding across the WS bridge, punching fellow riders…Quit being such “prima donnas'”.

  • rs September 14, 2009 (2:57 am)

    The ding-a-ling road biker was clearly in the wrong– there’s a clear policy stated somewhere in the infinitely confusing City of Seattle Web Site that bikers travelling over x mph (15?) are supposed to use ROADS paralleling bike paths, if available.
    With that said, though…
    At Anchor Park, there’s a transition from a single path to two paths, which are supposed to be for pedestrians (concrete, closer to the water) and people on wheels (asphalt, closer to the road). I think it’s fair to say that the majority of the people using these public trails are oblivious to the distinction; the signage indicating the different intended uses of the two paths is very easy to miss.
    There are more or less constant bottlenecks at this location during the summer; it might be worthwhile to at least reconsider the signage and trail markings near Anchor Park.

  • CandrewB September 14, 2009 (6:09 am)

    I bike from time to time, and I have noticed a large number of the Lance Armstrong wanna-bes to the biggest jerks in the world.

  • Sue September 14, 2009 (6:40 am)

    I’m so glad they caught the person and glad you’re okay. This lawlessness with bicyclists is getting out of hand, and really giving a bad name to the ones who are abiding by the law. Lately we’ve been seeing a lot of them running red lights. My husband will say something to them (as he’s an avid bicyclist) and reminds them that the red light is for them too. They usually will flip him off. Nice.

  • Babs September 14, 2009 (6:43 am)

    Violence is never a solution and this story made me sad. I bike on the Alki bike trail all the time. It can be very frustrating when walkers take over the entire bike path – this weekend I saw quite a few with unpredictable small children loose on the bike path. That is a danger to riders and them. Myself – I wish foot folks would stay off the bike path or at least pay attention more and realize its a bike path. I don’t understand why when the foot path is right there beside…Maybe more posting that it is a bike path is required. I’m just a rec rider, not a Lance type. But please don’t blame all bike riders, walkers are not perfect either. Either way to resort to violence is just plain wrong.

  • Phil M September 14, 2009 (7:34 am)

    I am Sue’s husband, and yes, bicyclists who flagrantly break the law like this are a total embarrassment to bikers like me who try to consistently follow the law. All I can do is set the example by doing the right thing, and try not to get upset when I stop for a red light and another biker blows right by me.

    As for the Alki path, I am also concerned about the safety of pedestrians who walk on the bike path instead of the sidewalk. As I pass them I just say “Excuse me, use the sidewalk please.” Then I keep going, not sticking around to see if they need convincing (it probably wouldn’t help anyway. :-) ) On the shared path along Harbor Avenue, bikes just have to be careful to yield to pedestrians, or use the street with sharrows (any bike over 15 MPH should be on the street anyway.)

    The relationship between bikers, pedestrians and cars doesn’t have to be confrontational. Let’s just do the right thing even though others may not get it right.

  • on board September 14, 2009 (7:51 am)

    If this happened at or near the “Anchor Park” at Duwamish Head, there are signs indicating bikes to yield to pedestrians at this location, primarily due to the increased number of people who park and get out to take a picture of the city.

    The Alki trail is so crowded, especially on a Summer Sunday, if you are riding with the intent to get somewhere quickly, you should be in the road.

    Keep us posted as to how the charges go

  • Paul in Gatewood September 14, 2009 (8:20 am)

    Wow, he punches somebody who is riding with his five-year-old daughter because he can’t pass? What an absolute loser. I hope he is found guilty of assault and battery. Unbelievable. And yeah, the Alki trail is not a speedway. It’s like Greenlake South. I’ve ridden through there on a sunny weekend day and patience is required.

  • iggy September 14, 2009 (8:24 am)

    I think the important thing is that the angry biker PUNCHED someone. Regardless of who was in whose way, this type of aggression is a crime whether it involves bikes or not.
    Speaking of bikes, if any parents of teens are reading this, please, please don’t let your kids ride recklessly on California Avenue–especially the area around the bike store at Morgan Junction. On multiple occasions I’ve seen young men riding way too fast on the sidewalk. One collided with a car pulling out of a driveway recently (I was a witness; definitely the bike’s fault, since it came flying down the sidewalk, into the driveway, and hit the car). Several times they’ve almost run down pedestrians. Not sure what city laws are on bikes on sidewalks, but I don’t think they include speeding).

  • Paul in Gatewood September 14, 2009 (8:30 am)

    Ugh, punching a guy in front of his five-year-old daughter because he couldn’t pass right away? What an absolute loser. Alki on a sunny weekend is like Green Lake south. I ride it sometimes and I know that I’m going to have to take that part of the ride very slow. Have patience or don’t go. I hope the Lance wannabe is charged and convicted of assault and battery.

  • wseye September 14, 2009 (8:35 am)

    There does seem to be some increased aggressiveness on the part of cyclists lately. Not sure where that comes from, when I am on a bike I’m generally in a good mood. There are some jerks out there, but they are a small minority. But I do wish the bike path on Alki was more respected. It has been severed by that sewer project for two years now… we wouldn’t close down a highway for cars for two years, we shouldn’t be doing it for bikes.

  • Paul in Gatewood September 14, 2009 (8:36 am)

    Whoops, didn’t mean to leave two posts….

  • swimcat September 14, 2009 (8:52 am)

    I’m so glad they caught the cyclist who hit Todd- what a terrible incident for a young child to witness. Please keep us posted on what happens- this story was very sad to read. I can’t believe someone would do such a thing over something so stupid as trying to pass someone on a bike path! If the cylcist gets upset over something this small, I’d hate to see what happens when something really stresses him out.

  • AJP September 14, 2009 (8:57 am)

    I believe that as more people bike, there will be more jerks. Just as it seems there are more jerk drivers around Seattle as the population has increased. The jerk cyclist in this case is obviously not a *real* cyclist, because *real* cyclists don’t pretend to be Lance Armstrong in places like Alki, the Burke-Gilman, and Greenlake. *Real* cyclists pick other routes that are less crowded to do their Lance Fancy-Pants thing. This guy was obviously a poser.

  • k2 September 14, 2009 (9:18 am)

    I’m in full agreement that the ‘puncher’/super-biker, probably clad in matching spandex and $100 sunglasses was completely in the wrong.

    I bike to work everyday from delridge, across the harbor island bridge down to sodo, all year in all conditions.

    my comments (for the 10 or so that will read them) take ’em for what they’re worth, in regards to bikers who ‘break the law’:

    We’re all guitly of breaking the law in a car, or on a bike, on foot, so lets not be elitist here; if you drive 50 in a 45, you’re breaking the law, if you take a right on red when it says no right on red you’re breaking the law, if you cross the street without a ‘walk’ sign you’re breaking the law…

    if I’m on a bike and the light is red, and nobody is coming, i’m going to go! I’d do the same thing on foot.

    those cars that come off of 99 to harbor island bridge and not to mention those big trucks are ALWAYS speeding, and a small percentage actually stop at the cross walk for bikers…so if I can make, I generally do.

    The silliest thing we can do is assume that there will only be good in the world and that we need to erase the bad…

  • 35this35mph September 14, 2009 (9:29 am)

    If this was a “Lance wannabe” I wonder re; rhoids rage…

  • k3 September 14, 2009 (9:37 am)

    And I (as a bad person you want to protect) look forward to buzzing past you within inches at 50mph (in a 45 zone of course). Continue to be an arse, bikers will always lose the battle regardless of their holier than thou attitude. It’s one of the great constants in the world.

  • AaronK September 14, 2009 (9:57 am)

    Wow, pretty astonished by the report and now, K3’s response. Cool heads = cool streets (or paths). Can’t believe an adult would act that way, especially in front of your child. Multi-user paths are not the place to train for a triathlon.

  • Jake September 14, 2009 (10:04 am)

    @K3 Wow… where did that come from?

  • sjp September 14, 2009 (10:10 am)

    So very sorry that you were hit, especially in front of your daughter – what a shame and for the person who did that – you should be ashamed of yourself. How horrible to do that in front of his child and for an incredibly stupid reason.
    As everyone else has stated – we are all at fault at one time or another of not following the rules in a car, walking and on a bike – it is how the world is, sad but true. For those of us that ride our bikes, are considerate of others and follow the rules, it is extremely annoying when others make us look bad.
    I used to ride Alki all of the time. It became too dangerous and annoying to continue riding Alki. Now I will only do it during the weekday when not many people are down there. Between walkers on the bike trail that should be on the walking path, dogs and kids – it can be VERY dangerous – even when you are only going well under the 15mph speed limit. I would much rather take my chances on the road with the cars. Yet I do want to point out to all of us bikers that especially in the summer, Alki is crowded – it is a hangout for everyone, people, kids, and dogs. If you are not going for an easy going, leisurely ride, then Alki might not be the best spot in the summer to ride. Common sense should dictate when you should ride and where. At the end of the day, NOBODY owns the roads or the paths – we all must share.

  • I. Ponder September 14, 2009 (10:35 am)

    I commute by bike daily and often ride around Alki since it’s the most beautiful place to ride. That said, I usually ride in the street with cars so as to avoid conflicts and hazards with pedestrians, dog-walkers, children, etc.

    The actions of that cyclist were criminal! On the other hand, I am saddened by the stupidity of people who then blame all cyclists for the bad behavior of a few. “You cyclists!”. I guess that simplifies the issue for simple minds.

    If you think cyclists are a hazard, you are blind to what drivers do. Perhaps 30% are talking on cell phones at any given time while driving. Also, text-messaging. Those people are a hazard to themselves and others.

    Recently a friend of mine was cycling on the Burke Gilman Trail. A woman was walking her dog on a long leash stretched across the trail.The cyclist yelled out that she was approaching. The dog walker lifted the leash, which caught the cyclist in the mouth and yanked her off the bike. She broke her back.

    I could go on about other terribly stupid things that people do that are hazardous to cyclists, but I’ll save that for my own article.

    No excuse for violence in any case!

  • MindDrive September 14, 2009 (11:04 am)

    I’m not as frequent on these boards, but must assume that k3 is a troll or just out for the reaction. I guess the saddest part is that some people might actually believe that.

  • Michael Snyder September 14, 2009 (11:13 am)

    RS, it is King County that has a speed limit on trails. Seattle does not, except for in a few spot locations.

    That may need to be changed, but I’ve had one of the SDOT bike and pedestrian engineers confirm that at the moment Seattle does not have a speed limit on multi-use trails.

  • Paul in Gatewood September 14, 2009 (11:17 am)

    “Continue to be an arse, bikers will always lose the battle regardless of their holier than thou attitude. It’s one of the great constants in the world.”

    And drivers like you will continue to act like this towards ALL cyclists, because of the misdeeds of a few. Another of life’s great constants.

  • MAS September 14, 2009 (11:27 am)

    I’ve noticed the increasing aggressiveness from cyclists as well lately. I recently honked at a cyclist who was passing me on the right (ignoring a stoplight, no sharrow, no bikelane – apparently missed my turn signal) to inform other drivers (and himself) that there was someone illegally doing something unexpected. I managed to brake hard enough and swerve & miss him (braking and swerving first, honking afterward.)

    He proceeded to follow me to where I parked in order to ask if I “had a problem.” When I explained that I did have a problem with his illegal (explained what was illegal) and dangerous behavior his response: “Well, you don’t care about your carbon emissions!” I decided not to explain that I was carrying 200 lbs of gear and had just driven 20 miles with it. Somewhat challenging on a bicycle.

    He stuck around repeating that I didn’t care, apparently hoping that I would either agree or take a swing. When I did neither, he moved along finally.

    Just in case someone reading this doesn’t know, passing a line of cars in the 18″ gap between the cars and the sidewalk, then running a stoplight isn’t a great idea. ESPECIALLY if the guy in the front of the line is signaling a right turn…

  • M September 14, 2009 (11:30 am)

    I’d like to see if SPD actually follows through and takes this seriously; if not we need to ask why not. I find this much more serious them to pursue instead of speed traps..

  • ToddinWestwood September 14, 2009 (11:43 am)

    thanks everyone.

    When I ride with my daughter on the back, I try very hard to plan my moves and scan for hazzards, even just because the mountain bike with the trailer bike mounted on it, does not handle as easy or as agile as a regular bike.
    I try to listen for cars and other cyclists coming from behind, but I feel he came up on us too fast and was very angry before he go to us.
    There is signage down on that part of the mixed use sidewalk that states “bikes yield to peds” So I was yielding to the pedestrians and watching for oncoming traffic on the trail.
    The funniest part was, I had just thought to myself “hey I can see where the trail splits, then we will be free of all the traffic here”

    For a moment, I thought to myself, to chase him down and wrap that bike around his neck, but I didnt want to lower myself to his level at that point. I had enough witnesses and just the sheer fact that folks dont go rushing to the police with tales of assaults for maybe just bumping another cyclist.

    This dude has something up. My wife is an R.N., she thinks “roid-rage” as in Steroids might have been part of the equation. I also talked to a friend that is a professional mountain biker, he feels the same.

  • Paul in Gatewood September 14, 2009 (11:45 am)

    MAS, that’s exactly the type of cyclist that I strive not to be :)

  • Not Lance September 14, 2009 (12:01 pm)

    I am tired of every cyclist being called a Lance wannabe. There are thousands of professional cyclists in the world beside Lance Armstrong and I think it shows disrespect to them all by refusing to at least acknowledge them once in a while in your tirades. Here are a few suggestions:

    – Alberto. You may not have heard, but Lance Armstrong did NOT win the Tour this year. It was his teammate/enemy Alberto Contador.
    – George in reference to Hincapie, the current US champion and overall nice guy.
    – Tyler, as in Farrar. The up and coming US sprinter who’s been recently been winning loads of races in Europe. Added bonus, he’s a Washington native from Wenatchee.
    – Zabriskie, much more unique than Dave. The reigning US TT champion and recent winner of the Tour of Missouri.
    – Tom, a bit more generic, but I’m referring to Mr. Peterson, another local talent racing on the big stage. Also a winner of a stage of the Tour of California.

    These are just a few suggestions. Do some research, be creative, try adding some flair to your cyclist-hate related comments.

  • JenV September 14, 2009 (12:18 pm)

    this is not about hating cyclists – pull the spandex out of your collective butts on this one, please. this is about an angry individual who assaulted someone in front of their child and wife. stop trying to turn it into your own petty little argument about how cyclists/drivers/peds are evil.

  • AJP September 14, 2009 (1:38 pm)

    @Not Lance, love it! Hope you didn’t plop my comment in that category, I was just trying to say that this guy was not a true cyclist, but a poser.

    I myself am a cyclist who owns a very crappy but servicable bike, second-hand spandex (sorry folks but it really is more comfortable for cycling), and often bikes to the store in jeans. I used to be intimidated by the road race crowd and thought people would make fun of me if I didn’t have the “right” gear. Then I lived in Holland for a while where people ride their bikes in business suits, high heels and mini-skirts, with three kids and a stroller attached to the bike, etc. I realized biking is not just for “athletes”! Fortunately it seems more and more people are using biking as just a plain old method of transportation and not a chance to show off their prowess.

    Sorry JenV for taking it off topic for a moment…

  • MAS September 14, 2009 (1:56 pm)

    JenV –

    Thanks for telling us what we can discuss. It helps us do what you want.

  • JenV September 14, 2009 (2:00 pm)

    hey MAS, good to know. I don’t really care what you discuss or what you think – my brother was assaulted yesterday, and that is what is important to me, not a bunch of whiney little spandextards and automobile drivers crying about how much each of you hates the other.

  • MAS September 14, 2009 (2:15 pm)

    And if this forum was devoted to just helping you, I could see your aggravation with us discussing things that are only related to the topic of your brother and the jerk that assaulted him. I feel badly for you and for your brother and even more for your niece who will likely suffer more damage from this than either of you.

    Becoming agitated because the entire post doesn’t completely center on your family seems a bit controlling, but maybe I’m misinterpreting your note.

    Personally, I like to see where the discussion goes, rather than trying to squash the thoughts and concerns of others posting on the thread. I like to think that the open discussion often yields thoughts of interest to many readers. I do understand that you may feel differently though.

  • JenV September 14, 2009 (2:25 pm)

    Personally? I am dog tired of seeing turn into a discussion about the evils of biking vs. driving. It’s tiresome, it’s old – and when something has to do with my family -well, I am a little more than annoyed that a discussion about someone being assaulted – ON A BIKE, BY A BIKER – is getting completely lost because some people have to dredge this up EVERY GODDAMN TIME. Please, by all means carry on with your stupid farking discussion about bikers vs cars and who is most evil, because that’s what this whole incident was about, right? Open discussion? HAH. It’s people sniping at each other, and arguing. Open discussion my ass.

  • MorF September 14, 2009 (2:43 pm)

    I think the discussion has turned to bikes vs cars because of perceived uptick in the biker-based road rage. As a ped, I know I’ve frequently felt that the anger-level of bikers has been tuned up a lot lately. Hint – we make generalizations for a reason. I witness lots of mean bikers – I’m gonna complain about it.

  • p2 September 14, 2009 (3:25 pm)

    Actually, I’ve been thinking similarly to JenV, albeit a little less passionately : ) I see this issue as less about cyclists and more about road rage and rage/aggression in general. Iggy said it above in his/her first couple sentences. This guy just straight up punched Todd! That’s pretty shocking all by itself. I’ve been verbally assaulted by unprovoked strangers more frequently than makes any sense. I’m always left stunned at how some people lash out at perfect strangers.

  • Daniel Johnson September 14, 2009 (4:32 pm)

    That’s messed up. Glad to hear your family is ok and he got caught.



  • scared motorist September 14, 2009 (6:52 pm)

    I know that plenty of drivers are guilty of road rage, but bicyclists are as well. I was coming up to the red light, heading west on Alaska, going into the left turn lane for California. A biker was sitting behind the bus in the lane going straight and tried to swerve into the turn lane to pass the bus and almost hit the side of my car. I stopped, and the light turned red, so I stayed at a stop. The biker rode his bike behind my car and around to my driver side and started pounding on the side of his car with my fist, screaming at me. Luckily, the light turned green and I turned. He tried to follow me. Bicyclists seem to be just as prone to road rage as drivers, and do just as dangerous things on the road.

  • KateMcA September 14, 2009 (10:03 pm)

    Wow- my husband and I actually were rollerblading down there and had just stopped to take a break at Anchor Park when we heard the incident take place. I had no idea that he punched you, and thought that no matter how much you had “almost ran him off the road” (which was not my assessment of what had happened at all given how crowded it was down there yesterday) that he acted in very poor taste using language like that around a young child. I can’t believe someone would come down to Alki on a sunny Sunday afternoon and be so surprised that you can’t ride your bike that quickly and don’t have to dodge others… What a jerk.

  • Fred September 15, 2009 (7:55 am)

    Awesome. Seems too many bikers think they own the road, and will violently take it. Glad to hear this one will get punished.

  • ltarte September 15, 2009 (9:06 am)

    THANK YOU, Not Lance! I’d been thinking the same thing the whole time while scrolling down through the comments. Although you really could have included Frank and Andy. Or Eddy (because all cyclists, including Lance, are Merckx wannabes).

    That said, I’d like to reiterate that not all bikers are aggressive jerks, even if we’re wearing matching spandex and $100 sunglasses. Personally, I NEVER ride on the sidewalk/path near Alki. Heck, I don’t even like riding on the Burke Gilman. Too many pedestrians or rec riders. I’m much less afraid of sharing a road with a car than of hitting a ped. At least on the road there are rules, though they aren’t always followed (by both modes of transportation).

  • Steph September 15, 2009 (12:05 pm)

    Real road racers ride in the street. There are a lot of wantabi’s riding their bikes on the sidewalk there. They have the nerve to get mad at me for being in their way! I think there should be a sign in these areas that don’t have a separate path to not allow bikes.

  • justme September 15, 2009 (1:32 pm)

    wow, by the looks of the long comment thread, I’m not the only one with biker frustrations. Where are the manners? I am passed while walking along sidewalks many times with no “on your _____” call out to me at all. Kids need to be taught bicycling manners before they get older. Everyone is so hostile these days.

  • eaglelover September 15, 2009 (9:02 pm)

    Was this rider wearing a jersey? If they are on a team they should be turned in. Sorry to hear this happened and just trying to figure out if this is a man on a bike or a poser, as noted most road riders ride the sharrows or don’t ride the path if they are smart or avoid Alki all together on a Sunday. This is an assault and glad they caught him. Unbelievable either way (from a road biker btw)

  • Kathleen September 15, 2009 (9:39 pm)

    I have one question that I wish someone would answer for me. It’s a little off topic, but would somebody explain to me why joggers have taken to jogging in the street? I drive Beach Drive regularly and it’s already crowded with bikers and cars, and now joggers are in the mix, too! And I’m talking about down by Mee Kwa Mooks, where there is a lovely sidewalk on the beach side that is in better shape than the road! The other day I saw some fool running in the street up Admiral Way, not too far from where that guys was killed a couple years ago while crossing the street? Why do people do this?

  • Citizen Sane September 16, 2009 (6:52 am)

    I like cyclists and cars. I think we get into a problem whenever someone feels ‘entitled’ to something, and doesn’t get it. Our ‘puncher’ felt ‘entitled’ to being able to ride at a quick clip on Alki without any impediment, and lashed out at Todd for having the temerity to be in his way. This also explains drivers who speed, run stops, etc. They feel ‘entitled’, and that the rules don’t apply to them. The naked cyclists last Sunday felt ‘entitled’ to their particular form of self expression, and didn’t care that a lot of other folks would regard their behavior in poor taste. The point is that we live in a city, not the wild west. The more densely packed people are, the more important patience, manners, consideration, and maintaining a common standard of acceptable behavior become. In the urban environment, you just have to accept that the right to swing your fist ENDS where the other fellow’s nose begins, and you should save your more extreme behaviours for private places and private times. Cyclists who want to go fast without impediment should consider going to places like the Marymoor Park velodrome. Public streets/sidewalks/bike paths have to be shared.

  • Paul in Gatewood September 16, 2009 (11:20 am)

    Citizen Sane, thanks for a very thoughtful comment that I think is right on the money. I agree wholeheartedly.

Sorry, comment time is over.