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Schuylkill River Trail attacks down
Published: Tuesday, December 29, 2009


The Schuylkill River Trail in Conshohocken. Photo by Andy Stettler
By Keith Phucas
Times Herald Staff
PLYMOUTH — Incidents of intimidation and violence on the Schuylkill River Trail in Norristown dropped since the summer due to increased police patrols, according Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

Earlier this year, reports of harassment of cyclists on the trail were on the rise in the county. And after several adult cyclists reported being harassed on the Norristown portion of the trail, county officials and police met with a cycling group in June.

One woman reported being punched, a man had rocks thrown at him and others cyclists had their paths blocked by groups of teenagers. After the meeting, Norristown police and the county Sheriff’s deputies immediately stepped up the police presence along the path.
“Once those patrols began, we noticed an immediate and significant reduction in acts of violence. From all the reports I received, it seems that the remainder of the summer and fall were relatively uneventful and our citizens were able to enjoy the trail and parks as they should,” Ferman wrote in a December e-mail message.

The DA said other “law enforcement actions” are planned to ensure that these trails remain safe and accessible for the public; however, she did not elaborate. Previously, Ferman promised to mount “undercover operations” on the trail.

The issue came to a head on July 22, when a man riding a bike reportedly fired a gun in the direction of two youths who had assaulted him.

That Wednesday evening, Plymouth police received reports of gunfire on the bike path, and they later took a 27-year-old Norristown man, Joseph James DePaul Jr., into custody for questioning.

DePaul told investigators he tried to get onto the bike trail in Conshohocken around 8:30 p.m., but two juveniles on bikes reportedly blocked his path. Though DePaul was able to get around them, both the juveniles allegedly followed him, according to the DA’s Office.

After the teens passed the cyclist, the juveniles collided with each other on their bikes, and as DePaul rode by them, they “exchanged words” with him.

Soon after, the 17-year-old got back on his BMX bike and chased DePaul, and after catching up to him, kicked him, which caused him to almost lose control of his bike and hit a fence, according to authorities.

Moments later, the man admitted drawing his Keltec .380 caliber handgun and firing six shots at the boy who had kicked him. The juvenile was about 200 to 250 feet away from DePaul at the time. At the time of the incident, the man had a legal permit to carry the weapon.

Two days after the shooting incident, county Sheriff John P. Durante, whose office issues gun permits, revoked DePaul’s firearm license for endangering public safety.

Though the armed man was initially facing attempted murder and manslaughter charges, the DA withdrew those and instead charged him with recklessly endangering another person, arguing that DePaul’s actions were reasonable.

“These kids were terrorizing a person on the bike trail as he was going to work,” Ferman said. However, the man’s “conduct was so reckless, that we think it was appropriate to charge him with reckless endangering another.”

The case is pending.

When Plymouth Township police went to the home of the teenager’s father to arrest the juvenile last summer, they discovered a “bicycle chop shop” in the basement that included nearly 20 bicycles and bike parts that are reportedly suspected of being stolen.

The 17-year-old boy from Norristown was adjudicated in juvenile court after admitting he assaulted the bicyclist on the trail.


from http://www.montgomerynews.com/articles/2009/12/29/roxborough_review/doc4b3a006d0ae24700770383.txt
 

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Bedwards Of The West
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Wow. Sounds like cleaning up after your pet is the least of your worries if you're braving that trail.

I freaking hate punk kids. If I had to carry a weapon to feel safe on my commute, I would be so pissed. In a sick way I'm proud of the gunslinging commuter.
 

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No-Brakes Cougar
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CommuterBoy said:
Wow. Sounds like cleaning up after your pet is the least of your worries if you're braving that trail.

I freaking hate punk kids. If I had to carry a weapon to feel safe on my commute, I would be so pissed. In a sick way I'm proud of the gunslinging commuter.
Me too, though after the fireman incident, we all know how firing "warning shots" turns out. Still, you have a right to defend yourself. If I were in a situation like this, it would be tempting to carry a baseball bat, though the beating served would only earn you a charge of assaulting a minor. I think I'd probably carry pepper spray and just spray the sh!t out of them. Hopefully they learn their lesson after "repeated applications."
 

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I'm SUCH a square....
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Bear spray, stun gun, t-ball bat, whatever you need -- it's nuts to HAVE to be in that situation. Indirectly, in abstract, we are all to blame for that, though -- we let standards slip to the point where anarchy rules areas less 'observed'.

We have allowed thugs -- of all ages and races -- to grow and develop into societal predators. Had Mike Tyson not met Cus D'Amato, he would have gone to prison on multiple occasions, as he was a street thug who beat up little old ladies for their SSI checks (IIRC). We have allowed the collective 'wrist slap', and now we pay for that lapse with having to face arming ourselves to safely travel in our own hometowns.

I don't have too many definitive answers, but the problem is waved in my face daily, living in the 'hood. Younger folks who may well mean no evil can compliment me on my bike, and i ignore them, muttering to myself as I travel on about how they need to STFU and keep their eyeballs off my bike, I'll kill the first m-f who tries me.

If I could figure out a 'stealth' way to carry a shirasaya sword on my bike, I'd feel a lot safer!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Huh? Judge Rules Right Hook OK

Portland cyclist - and its reputation as bike-friendly city - takes hit
Josh ShulmanAttorney
Posted by Josh ShulmanJanuary 11, 2010 3:53 PM


In December, a Portland judge ruled in favor of a motorist who turned right in an intersection and subsequently hit a cyclist who was in, and therefore protected by, a bike lane — or so the cyclist, and everyone else involved, thought.

In the report we first read about on BikePortland.org:

When Portlander Rob Daray witnessed a right-hook collision on his commute home last summer he thought it was obvious who was at fault. So did the police officer who cited the operator of the motor vehicle for “failure to yield to a bicycle.” Even the woman driving the car admitted she made an abrupt right turn without checking her blind spots.

But when the case came up in traffic court, the judge came to a different conclusion and now Mr. Daray and others familiar with this are worried that people who ride bicycles are vulnerable — not just on the street, but in the legal system as well.

On June 10th, Mr. Daray was riding his bicycle eastbound on SE Hawthorne Blvd just before 5:00 pm when he looked up and saw a gray Toyota Prius turn right onto SE 10th. The Prius, driven by Ellen Metz, collided with a woman on a bicycle who was traveling in the same direction. The woman on the bike was Carmen Piekarski a cartographer who works for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. She was thrown from her bike and sustained serious road rash and is still in physical therapy for a shoulder injury.

The biking community, along with others, is of course outraged at the ruling. We and other lawyers have chimed in as well. It is amazing that cyclists, pedestrians, lawmakers, police - even drivers - have learned the law and accept it as second nature. Portland police have made videos highlighting the classic right hook, what the law says about, what drivers and cyclists are supposed to do in such a situation, and then safety precautions each should take to prevent an accident. But when an accident does happen, the law is supposed to be on the side of the "vulnerable user" (i.e., the cyclist).

Instead, what the judge has done is muddled what so many had worked so hard to cement in everyone's minds as not only safe but adherent to law.

ORS 811.050 states that:

A person commits the offense of failure of a motor vehicle operator to yield to a rider on a bicycle lane if the person is operating a motor vehicle and the person does not yield the right of way to a person operating a bicycle, electric assisted bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, moped, motor assisted scooter or motorized wheelchair upon a bicycle lane.

A bicycle lane is defined as "that part of the highway, adjacent to the roadway, designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding bicycles except as otherwise specifically provided by law."

And as anyone can see, not even car lanes continue through most intersections. Therefore, if we were to take the ruling as law - or fact - then that would mean the intersection could in essence be the one area not covered by law. It would be pandmonium. What is not stated explicitly in the law is understood by common sense.

We think the law is clear.

Ruling aside, this incident has reminded us that even if the law is on our side, cyclists are, like it or not, vulnerable in traffic. So we want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of some very important safety precautions.

Cyclists:

Never assume a motorist sees you. Obey the laws of traffic and try to make eye contact or communicate through hand signals, but never, ever take for granted that a car is supposed to stop for you. Give yourself plenty of distance, and even if you think you are safe, take one more glance around you to ensure someone is not coming at you.
Even though this accident happened in the peak of summer, when the weather was warm and the sun was shining, every cyclist should wear the recommended safety gear: reflective and/or bright-colored clothing, lights in the front and back of the bike, and of course, a helmet.
Motorists:

You have the responsibility as the bigger and faster vehicle operator to practice due care. When you have the weight and power of a car on your side, you also have an obligation to smaller and slower cyclists and pedestrians.
Always be aware of your surroundings and watch for cyclists, especially at intersections. It makes sense. While cyclists are in a bike lane or sometimes on a sidewalk the one place, or most likely place, the two of you will converge is at an intersection. Be especially careful here.
Slow down.
Check your blind spot. Twice, if you have to.
If an accident does occur, stop, assist the victim, and exchange any contact and insurance information.
According to an update, the cyclist, Carmen Piekarski, still cannot move her arm to its full extent without pain and cracking. And she has decided against a civil lawsuit.

We have laws put in place for a reason, but that reason is not to exclude citizens from individual responsibility. We all share the road, and we all have the right to safety.


from
http://portland.injuryboard.com/aut...efriendly-city-takes-hit.aspx?googleid=276598
 

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No-Brakes Cougar
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Not sure if you can appeal a traffic court ruling, but I'd certainly try. That is the most unbelievable thing I've heard recently.
 

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Its all about the "free" right

its so dangerous to bikes and peds especially on freeway on ramps and interchanges. But engineers repute this claim because allowing a free right turn increases the ability for a intersection and interchange to move cars and trucks thought the intersection.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yeah, and I see from one of the links that he was so sorry to kill the biking teacher that he talked to his lowlife freinds from jail about a fundraiser for the biker's family, but the plan was to use the $ for his bail! The girl is being charged with theft by deception & the driver is back in jail for violating conditions of bail.

http://www.kgw.com/home/Fraudulent-Victim-Fundraiser-goes-to-Suspects-Bail-70669877.html


How do you get such a bad driving record by the time you are 18???

Also a hit and run, and not only texting, said he was smoking a cigar too! Unbelievable.

My state (VT) does not have a anti-texting or anti-phoning law, but they are talking about one for texting this session.
 

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I'm SUCH a square....
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Maybe it's just me, but I have a really hard time figuring out how there is so much gray area in these legal processes. The law says what it says, where do these friggin' idiots get off ruling that it says the opposite?

Since a lot of courts are, in effect, de-criminalizing everything short of mass murder, the mayhem that can be committed to a cyclist on the road is getting pretty heinous. Not only are we as citizens not safe, heck, that woman cyclist worked for the city! They're not even protecting their own!

Not sure about OR, but in Ohio, there are precedents for appeal of a traffic court ruling. We've seen 2 in recent times, out of three 'high-profile' cases.

mtb xplr -- the kid got that bad a driving record at that age just because he's a dumf**k who skated through the system that doesn't take anything seriously anymore.

They follow the credo of "don't sweat the small stuff" -- when, then, does it get big enough to sweat?
 

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I got nothin'
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In OR we finally got a hands free and no texting law. I drivers are still too distracted with the "hands free" phones, you have to dial and accept calls still. I also think it's way to easy to get a drivers license in the U.S. I see a lot of drivers that are just not qualified to be on the road and need professional instruction.

The guy who was killed in Vancouver was also the teacher of the guy who killed him. The convict admitted that if it wasn't for the victim he would have never graduated high school. And yea, his girl friend is a real piece of work. She put together a benefit fundraiser for the victim with the majority of the donations coming from members of the victims church. She takes the money and uses it to post bail for the convict. They are both nasty pieces of s$$t.:madmax:

The convict was also on a suspended license.

The convict gets a 5 year sentence and I bet he's out in 3.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Cops stop cyclist with butcher knife-pool cue axe

Cops stop cyclist with butcher knife-pool cue axe
The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 26, 2010; 3:17 PM

ALEXANDRIA, La. -- Alexandria police said man stopped for riding his bicycle at night without a headlight was carrying a weapon made from a butcher knife attached to a pool cue. They said the 51-year-old man also had a razor blade in his hat. He was booked with illegally carrying a weapon, doing so after a felony conviction, resisting an officer, public intoxication and at least five outstanding warrants.

The police report said the suspect originally gave police a fake name. An officer patted him down and found a metal push rod that appeared to be used for smoking crack cocaine. They also found a prescription painkiller in someone else's name.

from
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/26/AR2010012602511.html

Classic unclear headline - I thought the cops were wielding the weapon!
OK, I might be stretching the "bike commuter news" topic, seems unlikely he was on his way to a real job
 

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Discussion Starter #14
UK Police Chief Victim of Road Rage on Bike Home; Teen Banned from Driving for 2 yrs.

Burnley road rage teen targeted cycling police chief
(From Lancashire Telegraph)


11:43am Tuesday 2nd February 2010

By Wendy Barlow »


A ROAD rage teenage driver repeatedly targeted a cyclist and left him fearing for his life.

Burnley Crown Court heard how unbeknown to Benjamin Harrison, 18, his victim was police inspector Martin Melvin.

Nine times he almost mowed down DI Melvin, aiming for him on the pavement, striking his handle-bars, forcing him off his bike into trees, threatening to kill him and hurling stones and coins at him.

The victim had no escape route and had no choice but to continue his journey on the almost deserted road, the court heard.

Mr Melvin, who had just left Burnley police station, arrived at his home 20 minutes after his prolonged ordeal visibly shaking.

He had taken Harrison’s registration number and the defendant was later arrested.

Harrison, of Low Bank, Burnley, admitted dangerous driving in Accrington Road, Burnley, and common assault.

Recorder Graham Wood, QC, who said Mr Melvin was a “bit of an unfortunate choice of victim”, gave him nine months in jail, suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision and 100 hours unpaid work. He was banned from driving for two years and must pay £750 costs.

Recorder Wood told the defendant he had been “very fortunate indeed” to keep his freedom and warned him not to let his family and himself down.

Sarah Statham, prosecuting, said Harrison did not know his victim was a detective inspector and behaved as he did because his victim was a cyclist.

DI Melvin, in his cycling gear and helmet, was travelling from Burnley towards Accrington on the evening of July 3, when Harrison pulled alongside him, sounded his horn and began to shout loudly.

During the incident Harrison came into contact with the victim’s handlebars, forced him to veer on the grass verge, waved a clenched fist towards DI Melvin and shouted: “Get off the road. I will run you off the road. I will kill you. Get off the road.”

He also sounded his horn repeatedly, threw stones and drove straight at the victim from about 10 yards in front of him.

The prosecutor said the defendant was arrested at his parents’ home.

He asked officers: “Can I not just apologise?”

Harrison was questioned twice but was not entirely frank on either occasion, the court was told.

In his first interview, he claimed the cyclist made a gesture and at first he thought it was someone he knew.

The hearing heard how in his second interview, Harrison made further admissions and said he had turned round twice.
 

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Bedwards Of The West
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If I was a judge I would sentence that kid to 20 minutes on a bicycle on an empty road with Martin Melvin behind the wheel of his car. And three of his friends placed at undisclosed strategic locations along the road. And then 20 punches in the face and 100 hours of community service.
 

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No-Brakes Cougar
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I agree that putting someone like this in his victims shoes is the best punishment. It's the quickest, most effective way to make him realize how dangerous his actions are. What a stupid sh!t.
 

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No-Brakes Cougar
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Absolutely disgusting. And I'm not surprised by the SFGate comments. Every time I read an article on that site, regardless of the subject matter there are people tripping over themselves to blame the victim, race, religion, lifestyle or whoever their insecurities cause them to lash out at. You think we have @ssholes here at MTBR? Try perusing sfgate.com sometime, you're in for a real treat. OK, that's enough ranting for me today.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
highdelll said:
It's hard to believe that either accident was not avoidable...just awful...

Last week the VT legislature heard testimony on an anti-texting law & the paper reported that the most moving testimony was from the wife of a cyclist hit by a driver looking at a handheld GPS last year. The cyclist, in his 70's, only survived by a series of miracles. She urged them to ban all e-devices, not just texting, but that sounds unlikely to pass.

But we're not safe at home either - just read about a MA logging truck that has been wedged in a house since Friday - the occupant avoided injury only by luck. They just decided there is no way to get the truck out except to demolish the house.
 
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