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.
If a jury is the voice of a community, then Johnson County is a scary place to be a cyclist.
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.