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James Ernst, driver in bike-rage harassment video, pleads not guilty to all charges


For his part, Friel says he hasn't been following developments too closely -- but he isn't surprised the driver says he's innocent.

Open road screenshot longmont.jpg
YouTube
Open Longmont road where the incident took place.
"This is probably to be expected, because people tend to go in and try to talk down charges against them," he notes.

Friel says it's still shocking to him that a normal weekend bike trip could have resulted in such drama.

"I guess I'm just amazed that my leisurely Sunday morning ride has to lead to a day like this," he says. "It's just too bad that...it had to end up like this when, to the letter of the law, the cyclists did exactly what they were supposed to do."

Ernst's guilty plea comes just a week after a similar alleged harassment case made headlines. In it, a Deer Creek Canyon driver in a Ford Ranger honked at a group of cyclists, eventually knocking one to the ground and crushing his bike.

The silver lining to Friel's case, he says, is that in the wake of the high-profile incident, more people are talking about the need for better behavior on the road.

"It's good for cyclists' rights to get the word out there that we should all share the road together, cohesively," he says, adding, "I think there's quite a bunch of evidence on our side."

He hopes the story doesn't discourage people from cycling as a mode of transportation.

"Every employer in the state of Colorado should encourage their employees to ride to work," he says. "I want more people on their bikes on the road."

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "James Holmes: Inmate's strange tale of "confession" and suicide efforts"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.



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29 comments
Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Tourettes perhaps ???.......

Thisis_Insane
Thisis_Insane

If anyone noticed in the video, there was several occasions when there was no oncoming traffic, and the 'driver' could have passed both cyclists safely. I'd like to see that guy do that to a motorcycle club. :-)

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

It's time to END the FREE RIDE for Bicycists !!

 

-- Mandatory Bike Registration, Fees and Road Use Taxes for ALL cyclists!

 

-- Mandatory Licenses for ALL cyclists on the Public Roadways!

 

-- Mandatory License Plates for ALL cyclists, so that citizens can easily identify and report scofflaw bikers!

 

-- Mandatory Liability Insurance for ALL cyclists on the Public Roadways to cover the accidents and injuries they cause!

 

No More Free Rides for Bicyclists on Public Roads !!

 

Chriss Hoffman
Chriss Hoffman

I think in this case the SUV driver should pay a hefty fine, maybe do 40 hours minimum of bike lane upkeep and spend a weekend in jail.

Keith Bryant
Keith Bryant

The only guy on a bike I ever yelled at was riding down the middle of the lane of traffic, in the crossroads park of KC (near downtown), on a main street (it actually was Main Street, I think), without helmet or hands, talking on his phone. Well, I didn't yell at him so much as yelled about him, with my windows down.

Keith Bryant
Keith Bryant

How do you plead 'not guilty' when you're on video?

helkins
helkins

Legally a car should be 3 feet away from a biker. Did he have 3 feet to pass? Speaking hypothetically if he passed them and there wasn't three feet distance between them and the biker went off the road and injured themself, the driver would be liable.

helkins
helkins

The drive did harrass them but in his defense he did have two solid lines and legally should not have passed them. Excuse my ignorance, but is there a minimum speed limit on local roads? If so and the bikers weren't going that limit they should have pulled over.

SterlingSchleck
SterlingSchleck

 @DonkeyHotay Ahem...

 

Roads are primarily paid for through property taxes. As such, cyclists already pay for roads. In fact, cyclists pay disproportionately more than motorists because cyclists need and use less infrastructure.

 

How are you going to license children cyclists? How are you going to license tourist cyclists? These are just some of the reasons that municipalities have overwhelmingly removed licensing requirements for bicycles.

 

Were you aware that cyclists cause very few collision, especially compared to motorists? Besides, when a cyclist causes a collision they typically only hurt themselves and perhaps cause some property damage. They are about as big of a danger as pedestrians. We do not require pedestrians to have walking insurance. The reason motorists must have insurance though is because collisions that they cause are far more serious and expensive. Not to mention the fact that they can and often do kill.

 

Cyclists hardly have a "free ride".

jocomcd
jocomcd

 @DonkeyHotay Just looked into your posting history. You Sir, need to get a life!

kdflynt
kdflynt

 @helkins You sir. are a fucking idiot. "most states have a ban on crossing a double yellow line except when turning, or when pedestrians, bicycles, or other obstructions in the road make it necessary." In other words, the double-yellow line has no bearing on this situation and it was up to the driver to use his own common sense to choose when to pass the cyclists. And regardless of the legality, impatience is not a decent excuse for harassment. To your second statement, I would like you to imagine asking a cyclist to pull over for EVERY SINGLE CAR. One thinks the bicyclist would never get on the bike in certain situations. You have obviously never considered the perspective of the people on two wheels with which it is your duty to share the road.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @SterlingSchleck  "Roads are primarily paid for through property taxes."

 

And yet, motorists are required to Register, License and Insure each and every vehicle they operate on the Public Roadways, in addition to any property taxes they pay.

 

 @SterlingSchleck  "How are you going to license children cyclists?"

 

Children should not be operating bicycles upon Public Roadways.

 

 @SterlingSchleck  "Were you aware that cyclists cause very few collision, especially compared to motorists? Besides, when a cyclist causes a collision they typically only hurt themselves and perhaps cause some property damage. "

 

Then their Mandatory Liability Insurance rates won't be so high, just as motorcyclist rates are lower than autos and trucks.

 

 @SterlingSchleck  "We do not require pedestrians to have walking insurance."

 

And Pedestrian travel,  by design, does NOT operate down the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD as cyclists do.

 

*** San Francisco Cyclist Accused Of Killing Pedestrian ***

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/chris-bucchere-san-francisco_n_1408706.html

 

hth.

 

helkins
helkins

 @kdflynt And you are only partially right. I wasn't aware of this.

The Colorado Bicycle Safety Act of 2009 includes a provision to allow motorists to cross over a double yellow line to pass a bicyclist when it is safe to do so. Drivers should be patient and look ahead to pass in an area where they can see if there is on coming traffic. Cyclists should be considerate and ride as far right as practicable, especially in curvy sections of road. Motorists are required by law to provide at least three (3) feet of space between their vehicles and bicyclists. ( CRS 42 4 1003(b)).

 

No mention of pedestrians or obstructions. If someone is pulled over for it, it is the discretion of the officer pulling said person over. 

 

42-4-1005. Limitations on overtaking on the left.

 

(1) No vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless authorized by the provisions of this article and unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completed without interfering with the operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or any vehicle overtaken. In every event the overtaking vehicle must return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and, in the event the passing movement involves the use of a lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within two hundred feet of any approaching vehicle.

(2) No vehicle shall be driven on the left side of the roadway under the following conditions:

(a) When approaching or upon the crest of a grade or a curve in the highway where the driver's view is obstructed within such distance as to create a hazard in the event another vehicle might approach from the opposite direction;

(b) When approaching within one hundred feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing; or

(c) When the view is obstructed upon approaching within one hundred feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

(3) The department of Transportation and local authorities are authorized to determine those portions of any highway under their respective jurisdictions where overtaking and passing or driving on the left side of the roadway would be especially hazardous and may by appropriate signs or markings on the roadway indicate the beginning and end of such zones. Where such signs or markings are in place to define a no-passing zone and such signs or markings are clearly visible to an ordinarily observant person, no driver shall drive on the left side of the roadway within such no-passing zone or on the left side of any pavement striping designed to mark such no-passing zone throughout its length.

(4) The provisions of this section shall not apply:

(a) Upon a one-way roadway;

(b) Under the conditions described in section 42-4-1001 (1) (b); or

(c) To the driver of a vehicle turning left into or from an alley, private road, or Driveway when such movement can be made in safety and without interfering with, impeding, or endangering other traffic lawfully using the highway.

(5) Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class A traffic infraction.

 

Source: L. 94: Entire title amended with relocations, p. 2359, § 1, effective January 1, 1995.

 

helkins
helkins

And it's just as dangerous for cars. Imagine being on a 2 lane road with barely enough room for cars going in both directions, bad traffic and no room for bikers. I deal with it every day. And yes I am a cyclist, but I have an open mind, respect traffic laws and am curteous. And I don't call people names for expressing their opinion, but then again I've been laid. Guess you haven't in a very very long time.

helkins
helkins

 @kdflynt Sir? Thank you for the kind words. I appreciate it.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@SterlingSchleck"Cyclists already pay for (most) roads"

 

Car, truck, motorcycle and moped riders pay those property taxes too ... and they pay MORE when they Register their vehicles for use on the PUBLIC roadways.  Bicyclists deserve no free rides.

 

If you operate ANY vehicle on the PUBLIC roadways, it should be required to have and maintain ALL the other items that vehicles on the public roadways are MANDATED to have --

 

1) Mandatory Registration and Use taxes, just like Trucks, Cars, Motorcycles and Mopeds.

 

2) Mandatory Licensing of Cyclists -- drivers license or specific bicycle licensing for those with no DL. Here they can be forced to PASS A TEST showing they know the LAWS regarding Safe Bike operation on public roadways.

 

3) Mandatory License Plates to prove the above, identify the owners and make catching scofflaws -- like those who run through red lights and stop signs -- easier.

 

4) Mandatory Liability Insurance to protect innocent citizens from any harm or damage cyclists may cause.

 

Even MOPEDS that travel SLOWER than many Bicyclists are required to have ALL of the above, albeit at a proportional discount -- $5.50 for the registration / tag. Liability insurance which runs approximately $10 per month depending on your age/record and coverage desired. And of course a DL.

 

If you don't have ALL of the above -- tourist or not -- you cannot legally operate a Moped on the Public Roadways. 

 

It's time to end the Free Ride for Cyclists who operate on PUBLIC Roadways! ... if they can't comply with the above, then let them ride on PRIVATE Property.

 

SterlingSchleck
SterlingSchleck

 @DonkeyHotay  

Yes, let us review indeed. Reposting what you have already said is not an argument, it is just annoying.

 

Cyclists already pay for (most) roads. When it comes to highways, there is no reason for cyclists to pay for those anyway because the low volume of cyclists that use them create no impact on the already existent road. In fact, cyclists do not impact any road really, much unlike motor vehicles that wear them down significantly. Regardless, cyclists already pay for all municipal roads, which is where most of them are.

 

Honestly, what would the fees for road use be anyway? Cyclists require very little space compared to cars. Cyclists do not pollute like cars. Cyclists do not wear down the road like cars do. Really, if we did make cyclists pay some sort of road tax, it would probably be around $50 a year. If this was charged, the money would never make it to the roads as it could only cover administrative costs. Pointless really.

 

It is not possible to license and insure children and tourists. As such, mandatory licensing for all cyclists cannot be undertaken. You claim children cannot ride on roads, but give no reason as to why. There is no reason a 14 year old cannot ride a bicycle to school, but there is a reason they cannot be licensed or insured. You never addressed the issue of tourists. Therefore, your argument that all cyclists must be licensed is unsound.

 

Cyclists are significantly less dangerous than cars.

 

If you require cyclists to be insured to pay for collisions they cause in public, you must also require pedestrians to be insured for the "collisions" they cause in public. That would just be logically consistent since they pose similar risks to others. Roadways or sidewalks, it does not really matter where one is, just what one does to others.

 

We should probably also put license  plates on pedestrians too, so when they hurt someone and run away, we can catch them...

 

Actually, I think you might not understand logical entailment at all, so...

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @SterlingSchleck 

 

Lets review -- 

 

-- Mandatory Bike Registration, Fees and Taxes for ALL Bikes used on ANY Public Roads!

 

-- Mandatory Licenses for ALL cyclists who ride bikes on Public Roadways!

 

-- Mandatory License Plates for ALL cyclists, so that citizens can easily identify and report scofflaw bikers!

 

-- Mandatory Liability Insurance for ALL cyclists on the Public Roadways to cover the $$ for any accidents and injuries they cause!

 

 

SterlingSchleck
SterlingSchleck

 @DonkeyHotay I was never talking about state highways. Municipal roads cannot be paid for by 9% of what you indicate. Property taxes largely pay for those roads.

 

So now, answer me this... Shall we tax cyclists who use highways, but not municipal roads? How would that work? Voluntary, questionnaires? You cannot discriminate between the two. As such, a very peculiar two-tier cycling user system would have to be put in place that would be economically and practically unsound.

 

Also, what happened to all of those other things you still must answer and are ignoring. Children, tourists, pedestrians...

 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @SterlingSchleck "Roads are paid for by property taxes and cyclists already pay those."

 

Wrong again!

 

Colorado raises funds for state highway maintenance and construction through three main forms:

 

The Gasoline tax,

Vehicle registration fees,

Supplemental funds from the general state sales tax.

 

The money is dumped into the state highway users fund and is distributed as follows:

 

65% goes to the state highway system.

 

26% is distributed among Colorado's counties based on a formula incorporating the lane miles and vehicle registrations in them.

 

9% is distributed among cities, based on a city's street mileage and vehicle registrations.

 

SterlingSchleck
SterlingSchleck

 @DonkeyHotay I think you might have a reading comprehension issue...

 

There is no such thing as Road Use Tax. We have been over this. Roads are paid for by property taxes and cyclists already pay those.

 

I comprehend perfectly well that you believe children should not be allowed to ride a bicycle on the road. However, you have not illustrated WHY 12-17 years old persons "should not" ride on the road, or why they OUGHT not to have for the past century...

 

I guess we have to tell the 16 year old that can drive a car on the road that he cannot ride a bicycle as well... Hmm, that seems consistent.

 

I am not ignoring that cyclists cause collisions, my point was that they are infrequent and significantly lesser in severity than motor vehicle collisions, thus entailing that mandating insurance for cyclists is a classic case of "ignoring the bull" and is an inefficient monetary structure.

 

This issue was also framed in relation to your system also entailing a need for pedestrian insurance for covering "any damage they *may* do" in the public sphere. This illustrated your selection bias and an issue with your comprehension of the relative risks of public sphere engagement.

 

Two articles does not strengthen your case that cyclists are some sort of road scourge... On the other hand:

 

http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/road_traffic/world_report/en/index.html

 

Also, you have still not addressed how we are requiring tourists to pay these fees. You need to address that if your system is to be consistent.

 

 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @SterlingSchleck "Besides, the point was that you claimed that cyclists need to pay road use tax"

 

Yes, they USE the ROADS like other Vehicles -- vehicles that are all required to pay Road Use taxes, in addition to Licensing, Registration and mandatory Insurance.

 

 @SterlingSchleck "So children should not ride their bicycles on community/suburban/ cul-de-sac roads like they have been doing for the past 80 or so years? "

 

What part of Children should NOT ride bicycles on Public Roadways don't you comprehend?

 

 @SterlingSchleck "Also, a single article about a cyclist killing a pedestrian is a pretty weak argument that cyclists are dangerous.."

 

Not as weak as your attempt to ignore and deny the dangers that cyclists do pose by changing the subject to motor vehicle collisions ... motor vehicles that are ALL required to have liability insurance to cover any damage they *may* do.

 

Here's another one for you --

 

*** Elderly Pedestrian Killed In Collision With Bicyclist In El Cerrito ***

 

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/06/07/elderly-pedestrian-dies-after-being-struck-by-a-cyclist/

 

 

SterlingSchleck
SterlingSchleck

 @DonkeyHotay Registration, licensing and insurance do not pay for roadways. They are specific fees that relate to the unique operation of a motor vehicle. Besides, the point was that you claimed that cyclists need to pay road use tax... Your claim was found to be lacking.

 

So children should not ride their bicycles on community/suburban/ cul-de-sac roads like they have been doing for the past 80 or so years? Those are all public roadways... Still, there is no reason that a 12-17 year old cannot ride a bicycle to school, but we ought to have serious concerns that a 12-17 year old must be insurance and be licensed. After all, since persons of that age are not typically legally responsible, it would be pretty odd to say that they must be licensed.

 

I mean, we could just continue the trend of childhood obesity... But I think encouraging children to ride a bicycle is a bit better.

 

Also, you never addressed the question about tourist cyclists. How are we compelling them to pay these fees?

 

What level would the insurance be at? $100 a year? That would be massively inefficient.

 

It does not matter whether pedestrians are on the road or the sidewalk. It also does not matter where vehicles are. The issue is liability in collisions with other members of the public in general. These can happen anywhere. As such, if we claim that cyclists must have insurance for collisions they cause in their public realm, pedestrians must also pay insurance in their equally public realm.

 

Also, a single article about a cyclist killing a pedestrian is a pretty weak argument that cyclists are dangerous... Should we look up the millions of people worldwide that are killed or seriously injured in motor vehicle collisions each year? That would probably be a more accurate comparison, don't you think?

VancouverIsland
VancouverIsland

Unsafe to pass? Just slow down until it is. This cyclists versus drivers thing doesn't have to be so bloody knives out all the time.Keep calm and carry on America.-A Canadian Cyclist AND Driver. 

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