Road Rage? Not exactly.
On July 28th, 2015, A Johnson County Kansas jury rendered a verdict in a criminal case that should give cyclists great reason for concern. [pullquote type=”right”] If a jury is the voice of a community, then Johnson County is a scary place to be a cyclist.[/pullquote]
The Johnson County District attorney charged and prosecuted Paul Hanley, of Olathe, Kansas, with the charge of Aggravated Battery, a felony, following a car bicycle collision last fall near Heritage Park in South Johnson County. The cyclist was riding alone and lawfully using a public thoroughfare. There had been no confrontation or interaction between the parties. The cyclist assumes that the driver must have felt irritated at having to wait at a stop sign while the rider passed him.
Hanley pulled in front of the cyclist, slammed on his brakes and caused a collision between the two. Not satisfied, the Hanley vehicle then wheeled around, hit the bike and sent it into a ditch, causing injury to the cyclist and structural damage to the bike. In spite of eye-witness testimony from a Deputy Sheriff and others, the jury rendered a verdict of NOT GUILTY.
I did not participate in this trial and the accounts are anecdotal. I did not poll the jurors. What is clear is that in the eyes of of these citizens, the conduct shown by the defendant did not rise to the level warranting a criminal conviction. If a jury is the voice of a community, then Johnson County is a scary place to be a cyclist.
As a postscript, a claim was filed and an insurance company did resolve this matter with the cyclist. He is back on the road. What isn’t clear is why this type of dangerous conduct goes unpunished and why cyclists often get the short end of the stick.
It would appear the prosecutor did a piss-poor job if the facts are as stated.
Where do we find the whole story? Was it a hung jury, or the implied “not guilty ” verdict? Are Diagrams of incident available to anyone outside that courtroom? This raises more questions for me than it answers.
Carol, A 12 member jury rendered a verdict of “Not guilty”. I’m not aware of what exhibits were utilized at trial. Vance
Bicycles are supposed to follow ALL of the rules of the road. If a car did what the bike rider did, the driver would be charged with leaving the travel portion of the roadway in order to pass standing traffic. That is the actual charge in most states. What part of that law did the biker not understand?
@Jim, Great attitude… Always assume it’s the cyclist’s fault.
You read much into it. It clearly states that the cyclist passed the vehicle, which is against the law. Granted, what the driver of the car did was immoral and illegal, what the cyclist did was against the law.
Stop being a car apologist. Even if the cyclist ran a stop sign (which he didn’t) while doing a wheelie and flipping the bird, the driver had no right to do anything about it other than report it to the police. They can issue a citation for the traffic infraction. Instead, the driver used his vehicle as a deadly weapon and assaulted the cyclist. This isn’t any different than pulling a gun and firing on someone.
“The cyclist was riding alone and lawfully using a public thoroughfare”, “Hanley pulled in front of the cyclist, slammed on his brakes and caused a collision between the two…” What part of this did you not understand?
From the article “The cyclist was riding alone and lawfully using a public thoroughfare”.
How was the cyclist breaking the law?
The fact that the cyclist might have left the roadway is separate , or at least should be in the laws eyes, from the assault which followed . The tone of your comment seems to justify the driver because of the cyclists misdemeanour . ?
In reviewing case logs for joco, this guy has a history. Two other battery cases that were dismissed.
No surprise there. These types of morons have a high recidivism rate.
I ride with the individual who was hit, I wasn’t that day but can assure you that he knows the laws and follows them when riding…
This case is more disturbing if you were to know the degree of problems the driver actually has. Simply put in another case in Kansas (Gail Kline Salina 2013) driver struck the cyclist resulting in a fatality…no justice, simple case of glaucoma. Is justice served in Kansas hell no not if your a cyclist. Signs at the state lines should read “Welcome to Kansas roll your mental state back 50 years.”
As a postscript, let me add that the vast majority of the bicycle/auto injury cases I see occur when the cyclist is riding alone and observing all rights, duties, and responsibilities of the road. Most harassment occurs then too.
Like it or not, I believe group rides are much safer.
Also, In the last 10 days, I have become aware of three instances where a driver was turning left and struck an oncoming cyclist traveling from the other direction. Driver inattentive is a plague.
Be visible, be vigilant, and be safe.
This is an awful result but we can’t cast any “blame” on what happened without more details. Kansas seems to be a bit of a crazy place for legal stuff these days, including bike law issues.
I handle bike cases here in Ohio – I have seen an increase in the reporting of these types of aggressive road rage encounters this year – at least reporting to me – I have 3 cases like this pending now- one, in Columbus, involves a road raging lawyer who got ticked when a cyclist was able to move through to his right – he tried to pinch off the cyclist’s path, then chased him down, almost hit him on a dangerous pass, and slammed on the brakes so the cyclist hit the Mercedes. This was observed by an E/R doc coming the other way on his way to work. Doc videotaped some of the post-crash encounter as the lawyer berated the cyclist. Lawyer tries to swipe the phone out of Doc’s hands then walks away… comes back and scuffles with Doc, knocking the phone to the ground, where he stomps on with his foot and confiscates the phone “as evidence” without returning it. Cop arrives, gets the phone back and charges the lawyer. Case is set for trial in a few weeks, but the prosecutor may amend and add more charges, so we’ll see…
I think you are right that most of these goofy aggressive encounters occur when riders are alone – however, I’ve seen them occur on group rides too – I settled a case involving a motorcyclist who buzzed a “fast” group and then kicked one of the guys down after they caught up… the m/c sped away, but was tracked down later…
THANKFULLY, these are aberrant blips on the radar – By far MOST [95+%] of all rides go off without a hitch … or a punch… or a buzz…
It’s time for all cyclists to use a video recording device while riding. It won’t stop these things from happening, but hopefully it can help the aggressors be brought to justice. There also needs to be a huge shift in driver mentality. Education is key, but it’s difficult to change an established culture. A lot of movements start out as grass-roots campaigns, so it’s time for every cyclist to take the time to educate the people in their lives on the importance of good driver-cyclist rules and relationships.
I would suggest all cyclist embrace Kansas’ new Constitutional Carry law. The next time a driver attempts to kill you with their car return the favor with a vent hole in their skull. This will get drivers thinking a bit more, and weed out the duckheads….
Have a nice day.
If you do a little searching on the JoCo records website this guy has a long history off assaults and domestic violence.