Angry Cyclists Strike Back!
Cyclist Attacked Lexus Driver in Boca Raton, Police Say, Motorist Says Riders Kicked and Punched his Car
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
6:07 p.m. EDT, August 19, 2009
BOCA RATON - A 69-year-old Delray Beach man found out the perils of not doing enough for bicyclists to think he was sharing the road with them.
A group of angry cyclists confronted him last week, accusing him of passing them too closely on State Road A1A in Boca Raton.
According to Boca Raton police, one cyclist reached into the car, grabbed Miles Barish and threatened to beat him while other cyclists punched and kicked his 2008 Lexus convertible.
The cyclist, Thomas McDonald, 50, of Lighthouse Point, was arrested and charged with simple assault and battery on a person older than 65. He also was charged with burglary.
McDonald could not be reached to comment, despite attempts by phone.
"I didn't even know it was coming," Barish said of the cyclists' reaction.
He was heading to dinner on A1A with his convertible top down Aug. 13 when he came upon a group of cyclists riding in front of him. They were taking up the entire lane, he said. He tapped his horn a couple of times to let them know he was passing, Barish said.
He said he went into the opposite lane, passed the group and then stopped for the traffic light at Palmetto Park Road. That's when he felt someone grab his neck from behind, he said.
"He said I came too close to him and I could have injured him," Barish said. "I didn't clip anybody. They surrounded my car. They walked on the hood of my car. They kicked in the doors."
Some witnesses, according to a police report, said Barish hit one of the bicycles as he was passing the group of cyclists.
McDonald told police he never touched Barish and was trying to calm everyone down. He said Barish hit him on the jaw.
Bob Sabin, president of the Boca Raton Bicycle Club, said drivers often pass cyclists too closely, sometimes clipping them with their side-view mirrors without the driver realizing it.
"People usually don't do it intentionally," said Sabin, who doesn't know McDonald or the group he rides with. "They come a lot closer a lot of the time."
When that happens or when a car suddenly cuts off a cyclist, "you feel like someone is trying to kill you," he said. "I know I've gotten hot under the collar when that happens."
But attacking motorists isn't the answer, he added.
And the bicyclists might not have been following the rules of the road. Barish told police about 30 cyclists were taking an entire lane. According to state law, it's illegal to for cyclists to obstruct traffic by riding more than two abreast.
West Palm Beach cyclist Raphael Clemente said he used to participate in the twice-weekly group ride involved in the Aug. 13 dispute. But he stopped because of the hostility between cyclists and motorists resulting from the cyclists' rude behavior, he said.
"It increases the level of friction when cyclists act like that," he said.
Barish said his car has about $4,000 damage, with dents and scratches on parts of it, including the hood and trunk. Even a speaker was torn out, he said.
He said he isn't angry about the incident and thinks the cyclists were lucky. Barish, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, was carrying a gun that day.
"In another minute or so I was going to take out my gun and take a couple of them out," he said. "I don't think the whole road belongs to them."
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