David Seater, a software engineer and safe streets advocate, posted a video on Twitter yesterday showing a driver endangering his life as they passed him on his bike.
The video, shot with a GoPro, shows Seater riding in the traffic lane. A car pulls up behind him, waits for about eight seconds, then honks at him and passes him in the lane without slowing down, leaving what looks like an inch between them. When Seater catches up to the driver at an intersection, the driver says, "That's what the bike lane is for, dude."
Here's former mayor and cyclist Mike McGinn on the incident:
In response to criticisms in the Twitter thread that he should have been in the bike lane, Seater pointed out that he has a right to ride in the car lane. But also, he was only there because he was passing another bike (which you can see in the video). He was still in the car lane because the headlights from the car behind him made it impossible to see if he could merge back into the bike lane.
The Seattle Police Department Tweeted in response to the video: "You can always call 911 if you believe you've been threatened or see dangerous driving. This looks like an inconsiderate/unsafe pass. An officer would typically need to witness a violation in-progress to be able to stop the driver & confirm their ID to issue a citation." McGinn's response:
After a biker crashed into and badly injured a woman on the Burke Gilman trail, the Seattle Times published this useful primer on on how to bike without endangering pedestrians. The article was released on the same day as a 14-year-old suffered life-threatening injuries being hit by a semi-truck driver. Now there's this. Clearly there's also a need for pointers on how to not kill bikers.
UPDATE (10/12/17 1:25 PM): Seattle Police Detective Patrick Michaud responded to some followup questions about the video and what SPD could do about an incident like this.
Michaud said the incident caught on video probably counts as a traffic infraction, but “does not rise to the level” of misdemeanor offence. In other words, maybe the driver was being dangerous, but he didn’t commit a crime.
In response to former mayor Mike McGinn’s Tweet that SPD could issue a citation because we can see the incident on video, Michaud echoed what SPD wrote in a Tweet: That there are only in a few types of offenses—such as running a red light or speeding in a school zone—where police can issue a citation just based on video footage.
What if the driver had been even more dangerous and reckless in the video? Could this count as a misdemeanor offence? Possibly, but it’s hard to say. "I can't go down that path because there are so many variables," Michaud said.
McGinn thought the incident looked like assault—threat of bodily harm along with the clear ability to cause harm. But Michaud said the man who posted the video, Seater, would have to make a statement to police before they could consider an assault charge. Police can’t make that determination just from watching the video.
Traffic Enforcement is reviewing the incident and will make a determination about what the next steps are, Michaud said.