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West Seattle Greenways co-founder victim of road rage hit and run

EDITOR’S NOTE: I received the following email today from West Seattle Greenways co-founder Jake Vanderplas. He describes in detail being on the receiving end of a road rage attack that started on the under-construction 26th Ave SW neighborhood greenway in the Delridge neighborhood.

Below is his email in full.

This morning, a mile or so into my daily bike commute, I was the victim of an intentional hit-and-run.

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Now, before I start, I should calm any worries and emphasize that I’m mostly alright. The exception is some lingering pain and swelling in my left hand, which took the brunt of the impact when the woman aimed her dark sedan at my handlebars.  And after the excitement was over — after speaking to witnesses and talking to the responding officer and adjusting my brakes and derailleur to make my bike rideable again — as I rode the ten miles to my work, I had to halt and rest occasionally because I was shaking uncontrollably.  This was extremely scary.

But let me back up to the beginning.  There’s a hint of irony in the events of this morning, because they took place on and around 26th Ave SW in the Delridge Neighborhood.  26th is in the midst of being redesigned as one of Seattle’s first few Neighborhood Greenways.  Greenways are streets designated as safe, low-stress thoroughfares for all people of all ages, whether they travel by bicycle, skateboard, foot, car, or stroller; whether they’re aged 0 to 99 or beyond.  I first proposed the 26th greenway to the community back in 2011, after hearing about the work of the nascent Seattle Greenways movement in other neighborhoods.  The two years since then have been a whirlwind, as I’ve joined the city-wide Neighborhood Greenways team, joined the leadership of the North Delridge Neighborhood Council, co-founded West Seattle Greenways, and worked with the mayor’s office, the city council, and the legion of impassioned advocates around Seattle to bring our vision closer to reality: the vision of safe streets for all.

The work on 26th is ongoing this summer, but those of us close to the project are encouraged by the a few pieces which are already in place: speed humps along its length, wayfinding signs for bikes and pedestrians, and brand-new 20mph speed limit signs posted conspicuously along the route.  It was one of those new signs, I think, that got me in trouble.

I ride 26th Ave from Hudson to Andover each day as the first stretch of my commute to the University of Washington.  This morning I was heading northbound, just passing Alaska St and entering the wider stretch of 26th, when a woman sped past me at probably 30-35 mph, with shocks rattling as she hit the multiple speed humps in stride.  I wasn’t sure what she’d do when she got to the roundabout a block north at Oregon st: it’s an eighties-era speed-calming measure that requires drivers to slow virtually to a halt as they navigate the tight radius between concrete barriers.  Cyclists, on the other hand, have a narrow line that allows them through without slowing down.  She stopped at the roundabout, and watched over her shoulder as I passed by.

We came to the 2-way stop sign at Genesee.  I stopped in the center of the lane, as I normally do in order to allow cars to turn right as I wait for a clearing in traffic.  Once it was safe, I proceeded across, with the woman in the car following behind me.  As I crossed the intersection, I looked back at her while pointing to the brand new 20mph speed limit sign I’d worked for two years to bring to the street.  I can only guess that that action is what set her off.  I heard muffled cursing from inside the car behind me.

The stretch of 26th north of Genesee is typical of many Seattle neighborhood streets: parked cars on either side make it practical for only one car at a time to pass through.  I slipped by an oncoming pickup truck, which in turn halted the progress of the woman behind me.  Forty yards later, I looked back and saw them navigating the decision of who would yield to whom: I thought my piece of the interaction was finished.  I was wrong.

With no warning, she was behind me.  The roar of the engine announced her presence — I looked back to see her pushing her car within inches of my back wheel, as she layed steady on her horn for a block and a half approaching Andover.  I yelled something back at her — I can’t remember what — and sped up.  This was probably not the best decision given the circumstances, but hindsight comes easy in the comfort of a desk chair.  I got to the intersection at Andover, stopped at the stop sign, and she pulled up next to me, screaming something unintelligible at me through the closed passenger window.  I turned right onto Andover, and her tires screeched loudly as she pulled out beside me.  A few meters later she jerked her steering wheel to the right, knocked me onto the sidewalk, and sped away.

Fortunately there were a few direct eyewitnesses, as well as a couple concerned folks who had seen the interaction along 26th and gone out of their way to check on the aftermath.   I quickly called 911, reporting the number shown on the car’s California plates.  There was a small crowd of cyclists and drivers who stopped to see if they could help — I’m grateful to Brent, Chris, Eric, Rebecca, and others who took time out of their morning to check on me, and to provide their information to officers.

I sat on the sidewalk, my bike in the gutter, for 15 minutes or so until Officer Wilson arrived.  He seemed surprised that it was a vehicular assault case; it seems the 911 operator had relayed the incident an “accident”.  Officer Wilson was extremely professional and friendly.  He interviewed witnesses and took down information, and asked if I’d like to press charges.  I said yes.  There was a bit of unfortunate news though: because of the California license plate, it seems that the SPD may have trouble tracking down the driver.  Officer Wilson lamented that at times, cases like these (with no major injuries, property loss, or death) can sometimes slip through the cracks.

But let me be clear: there was unmistakable intent behind the malice this woman displayed.  She deliberately used her car as a weapon, assaulted me with it, and one can only assume she wanted to physically harm me.  Her cowardice in fleeing of the scene only magnifies her culpability.  I can only hope that Officer Wilson and others at the SPD are able to track this woman down and hold her responsible for her choices and her actions, before her rage leads to her injuring or killing someone else.  This woman has shown that she is not fit to enjoy the privilege of driving, and we need to all work together to keep people like her off our streets, and to keep our families and friends safe.

As for me, this incident will double-down my desire to make sure everyone in Seattle has the ability to get around safely.  Sure, you might argue that no amount of safe infrastructure will protect us from crazy, intentionally reckless people like the woman I encountered this morning.  But in my experience, intentional incidents like this one make up only a small fraction of the scary interactions between cyclists, pedestrians, drivers, and others.  It’s time that we as a city prioritize safety for all.

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67 responses to “West Seattle Greenways co-founder victim of road rage hit and run”

  1. Robert

    “There was a bit of unfortunate news though: because of the California license plate, it seems that the SPD may have trouble tracking down the driver. Officer Wilson lamented that at times, cases like these (with no major injuries, property loss, or death) can sometimes slip through the cracks.”

    So, if someone shoots at me and only grazes me with the bullet, and the gun is registered in California do they not pursue it? That logic seems absolutely ridiculous!

    Glad you’re alright, and hopefully this person will be caught.

    1. Karen

      They slip through the cracks because the city of Seattle does a lousy job prosecuting these types of things and I’m more than happy to tell them that. A similar thing happened to me a number of years ago. Woman swerved at me on Seward Park Ave (after an exchange of words between the both of us) and hit me in the shoulder. I was lucky enough to tip over in a grassy sidewalk strip and pull out of the clip right before I hit the ground. She hit me, there was a witness, but I rode home and didn’t call 911, I called the non-emergency number and gave them her license plate. Police said, “we’re not going to be able to track her down because her car is registered in Wenatchee.” I said “that’s bunk, I’ve seen that car on Seward Park Ave before.” She’s registering her car in Wenatchee because it’s cheaper. They finally released her information to me so that I could file a civil suit if there were damages (there weren’t unfortunately) but I used her name and plate information to find her living up on east side of the lake in Renton. Called the sheriff back they contacted her.

      Then it started with the City. They assigned a prosecutor who never called me. I called him endlessly. I pushed that case through the system. On the day of the case, the original prosecutor called in sick and they put in a fill-in who had details of the case for 5 minutes before he tried it.

      She got off. Lousiest thing. Just reaffirmed to her that she can harass cyclists the roads to cyclists and the city won’t go to any lengths to meaningfully prosecute. She came after me with a Chevy Bronco, I’m 5’2 and weigh 140 pounds with the bike, the bag, and me. I had her plate, I had a witness, and I tracked her down. City of Seattle fell down prosecuting it. Sad thing because the city takes is more than happy to tout their bicycle-friendly status.

    2. Chris

      Easy, folks. Its hard to track down because she likely lives here in Seattle (at least temporarily) while her car is registered to a California address. Assuming she is the owner of the car, her driver’s license is likely to be from California as well. All of this means SPD will likely get her name, but not her current address without a fair bit of follow up work.

      I’ve interacted with SPD on several occasions, and I’ve always appreciated the officers’ honest opinions about how these incidences get resolved (or not) and why.

      Glad to hear that you’re ok. Speed recovery.

      1. Leif Espelund

        Yes it is more difficult, but that doesn’t mean that nothing should be done. They can find out her name, phone number, etc. They could then call her and tell her to turn herself in. If she doesn’t then they could issue an arrest warrant for her so if she gets pulled over they could get her. Unfortunately none of that will happen because apparently assaulting someone with a 2000 pound machine isn’t really assault.

  2. David

    Had the same thing happen to me once. People that use their cars to attack people are IDIOTS and should face serious jail time.

    Good luck tracking her down, let us know if you find her!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story. My sister survived a hit-and-run on Dexter on Saturday night. As an avid cyclist and advocate of livable cities I find these incidents tremendously discouraging, but I am trying to keep my head up. I share in your commitment to make Seattle streets safe for all.

    You can learn more about my sister’s incident here: http://steelcashmere.tumblr.com/post/54864201610/wear-your-helmets-people

  4. Glen

    Wow, glad the outcome wasn’t worse and I hope they find this woman and charge her appropriately.

  5. Breadbaker

    Assuming you have the right license number and the licensed owner of the vehicle was the driver (or will identify the driver), you should be able to pursue civil assault claims as well. If this isn’t an intentional assault I don’t know what is. Of course, it’s probably not covered by homeowners’ or auto insurance for the same reason but the purpose of your claim isn’t likely to be so much money as education and deterrence.

  6. Bryan Willman

    Uh, isn’t it hit and run? A felony?

    As a kind of minor aside – why are speed bumps a good idea? I always think they are going to break my wheels… And hope noone ever has to cross one in a wheelchair….

    1. Joseph Singer

      They shouldn’t break your wheels if you slow down when you ride over them!

  7. biliruben

    Hit and run is generally unintentional. At least the hit part.

    I’m sure the legal system won’t see it this way, but I see this as attempted murder.

    Rightly or wrongly, police officers have shown little hesitation in shooting to kill when they are on the receiving end of such attacks.

    1. Kent

      Right on, biliruben. Unfortunately, the response from the police is too variable. Sometimes you get a good one/s, sometimes a lazy one/s. It’ll probably be that way until we get some robocops.

  8. meanie

    Good thing she hit you with witnesses present, I had a similar situation a couple years back, but I chose to strike the car with my hand earlier in the altercation as it pushed me out of the lane.

    The judge found me guilty of property damage in small claims.

    Until the laws change, a driver can claim they simply didn’t see you, or *intend* to hit you, and they aren’t criminally liable. The vulnerable user law is a good start, but until we take striking a human being with a car as the grievous offence that it is, its all just window dressing.

    Good luck, and ignore the people who ask if you were wearing a helmet, the short skirt of cycling.

  9. biliruben

    If you were on foot, and she intentionally ran up on the sidewalk to run you over, would this case “fall through the cracks?”

    I am getting really tired of SPD and their anti-bike bias.

  10. Julie

    I’m really glad you are okay, and I know you acknowledged it in your email, but I’ve told my kids before, “when you see crazy coming toward you, cross the street.” If someone is blaring their horn at you for a block and a half – take yourself out of the situation immediately. At that point it’s not about right-of-way, it’s about a fight you can’t win.

    1. You cant fix Krazy,Ride&Smile

    2. EricW

      Absolutely. Your big mistake was letting a obviously deranged person get in a position to hurt you. After the first incident, the pointing at the sign part, always, ALWAYS, really ALWAYS keeep that guy in front of you where you have room to avoid their possable attack. They had a target for their deluision, they announced that they were going to do something (the horning part), and you were there to be hit. Next time, do like the Green Berets say ” run away to live another day”. Don’t be where they can get at you! Glad you’re surprised and OK. Learn to be a safer cyclist from this!

  11. Mo Mason

    Can you post the license plate number so that other cyclist can be on the lookout for Cruella Deville?

  12. Erin S.

    This woman’s mental state and behavior were appalling. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can be almost mesmerized by the jaw-dropping outrageousness of such an incident. Yet as hard as it is to remember at such times, I do try to know that even people who are completely out of their own control have a small spark of sanity and decency somewhere in their makeup, so I’m really going to try to hold to that idea here.

    That driver’s aberrant state might give way to that little spark, such that she turns herself in. If she doesn’t heed that tiny light, she is going to find herself involuntarily caught in the wheels of the justice system somehow or other, because being that out of control isn’t just a one-time thing. If that were the way it went for her, I would hope she gets some help within the system.

    Meanwhile, Jake Vanderplas, I am thankful that you’re all right!

  13. Rob

    Park yourself in the Seattle District Attorney’s office and ask for the police to locate the woman so she can be prosecuted. If you don’t do this then nothing will happen. They will not even actively look for the car and will find it only if a police officer sees it in the commission of another offense.

  14. I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think Officer Wilson displayed a competent understanding of RCW.

    In Washington State:

    A person is guilty of vehicular assault if he or she operates or drives any vehicle (a) In a reckless manner and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or … (c) With disregard for the safety of others and causes substantial bodily harm to another.(RCW 46.61.522(1)

    For the purposes of RCW 46.61.522 “Substantial bodily harm” means bodily injury which involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or which causes a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily part or organ, or which causes a fracture of any bodily part; (RCW 9A.04.110(4)(b))

    So if you had a temporary but substantial impairment of function, or if you had a fracture, it’s vehicular assault. Even if she argues she hit you unintentionally, it’s obvious to me from your description that she drove both in a reckless manner and with disregard for the safety of others. I think you should document your injuries and talk again with Officer Wilson and/or the King County Prosecuting Attorney Office. They guy who runs that office is named Dan. I’m not personally acquainted with him, but I hear he’s pretty on-the-ball.

    Vehicular assault is a felony. They can definitely pull a plate for a felony. She’s also guilty of hit-and-run, which in this case looks like a misdemeanor, but it’s icing on the cake from a prosecution standpoint.

  15. amcnabb

    4 times I’ve called 911/filed police reports after drivers deliberately assaulted me with deadly weapons (2 cars, a Metro bus, and a tractor-trailer). 4 times the police did nothing/cared not. In the case of the bus and the tractor-trailer, their employers also responded by ignoring me completely.
    There is absolutely no consequence for murder in this country if your weapon of choice is a car. I frankly don’t understand why people waste time with guns.

  16. Lynne

    I send a link to the West Seattle Blog. Frankly, I find their reply disturbing:

    Hi, thanks, but as I’ve told a couple other people, I have not a shred of information about this. Nobody texted us whenever this was happening. There is no corresponding call on the 911 log so I don’t even have an incident # to ask authorities about.

    If I get any information from Jake directly, or if SPD puts up something, we will certainly report it.

    It’s almost as if they really don’t care. They’ll report lost chickens, though.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I wouldn’t get mad at WSB about that. They are very good at moderating a neighborhood conversation, and they are always good about steering conversations away from the typical cars vs bikes stuff that happens on so many other websites. I trust their judgment, and I’m sure they have a lot on their plate (as a former neighborhood news site editor, I know it can get overwhelming).

      1. Lynne

        It’s the fact that they acknowledge that several people have contacted them, but that’s not good enough — it has to be the victim (whose story we are linking them to) or SPD. And seriously, one day they just posted some wandering chickens asking “Who do these chickens belong to?” That was newsworthy. They were my sister’s chickens.

        I did not frame it a cars vs bikes, btw. I said that this behavior is dangerous for everyone — little kids, the elderly, wheelchair users, and yes, even drivers. Letting people get away with road rage assaults does not make ANYONE safer.

        EVERY single time that anyone starts the “we have to share the road with bicycles” discussion I steer it to “the roads need to be safe for everyone.” It’s disheartening, because the reality is that the roads are not safe for anyone, least of all people in cars, and no one really seems to care. My mom was sitting in a parked car in a parking lot and was hit by another car. She lost a leg and was disabled the rest of her life. I’ve also been hit, and badly hurt. I can rattle off at least four deaths close to me, all people IN CARS. It’s not a cars vs bikes thing. It’s about responsibility when operating a car.

      2. Tom Fucoloro

        Thanks, Lynn. I didn’t intend to direct that cars v bikes comment toward you (I meant, in general, they do a great job of that. Just a somewhat off-topic comment. Sorry if you thought I was talking about you).

        Really, I shouldn’t have said anything. I just have great respect for WSB and trust they do their best. Readers sending them notes is probably the best thing you can do.


  17. Jonathan

    This is why I try to do absolutely nothing to antagonize the people controlling the 4-ton hunks of metal speeding by — you just never know who you’re dealing with. If they want to speed, they’re going to speed unless there’s a cop… and keep in mind, there are a LOT of people around here who absolutely hate cyclists and think we deserve to be rammed into. Justice will come through better infrastructure and better law enforcement.

  18. Gene Balk

    Wow, this is appalling. I’m glad you’re ok.

  19. Tony G.

    Get yourself , (yourselves) a gopro or similar video camera. I have mine facing rear-wards. Expensive, but in this case you would have solid evidence.

    1. Leif Espelund

      I find most of my close calls are forward facing. I finally broke down and got a Contour ROAM2 (local company, btw) after a taxi totally blew a red light (like 5 seconds after it turned red) and came within 6 inches of t-boning me. I have mine facing forward on my helmet so it captures whatever I’m looking at. Luckily I haven’t had any serious problems, but I feel better knowing that at least if something does happen there will be evidence.

      1. bomber

        Leif, I too have the Camera older version of what you have and I swear that drivers now recognize what they are and deliberately show more care around me. Incidents went WAY down when I donned my camera, it is perched up there on my helmet and very obvious.

  20. Tom Fucoloro

    This might be a good time to point out tomorrow’s open house to discuss a different West Seattle neighborhood greenway project: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/ai1ec_event/delridge-highland-park-sdot-greenway-open-house/?instance_id=107388

    Also, get ready to be confused by the fact that Jake Vanderplas and John Vander Sluis (SDOT) are two different people who are both working on the West Seattle neighborhood greenway projects….

  21. eastside rider

    So glad you are ok. As a rider on the eastside, with many great roads and more than a few aggressive drivers I was riveted by your story. I have had more than one run-in with crazy drivers, including one who got stopped his car in the middle of the street and got out to fight me.

    With that said, there are things that cyclists do that can create the conflict as well. Two of them showed up in this story – first, you passed the car at an intersection after it had passed you. While we all understand the value of momentum, is it right to force a car to pass you again, especially on tight streets? I believe that once passed, the cyclist should stay in line at intersections. We all learned not to cut in line as kids -?why does that go away when we get on a bike?

    Second, as a writer said earlier, there is no value in engaging with crazy. In my case I let the driver blow himself out screaming at me. I knew if I yelled back I would have been in a fight – or worse.

    As cyclists we have to recognize WE have the responsibility to keep ourselves save. And we have the responsibility to be courteous on the road, just like we expect of the drivers.

    1. meanie

      Yeah, those uppity cyclists need to learn their place!

      I keep hearing this “lets everyone get along” and victim blaming sentiment over and over in various forums, and frankly I think its worthless.

      The problem isn’t that the cyclist/pedestrian/animal deserved it, the problem is its too easy to legally kill, maim or menace people with cars. And thats assuming someone gets a ticket or prosecuted.

      In this case neither has, or probably will happen.

    2. Leif Espelund

      I disagree with the “can’t pass drivers once they’ve passed you mentality.” Certainly if there isn’t space for it I’ll just get in line, but drivers use their speed advantage to roar past me, why shouldn’t I use my size advantage to retake my place?

      And as meanie points out, this does sound like victim blaming. “Well he passed the driver and then pointed at a speed sign, so he is partially to blame for provoking the situation” sounds similar to “she was wearing slutty clothes, so she was asking for it.”

  22. Jake, so glad to hear you’re ok!

    Get a lawyer! You’re probably gonna need one. Anyone crazy enough to choose to hurt you with their car is going to choose to make things very difficult on you, once the law catches up with them.

    Unfortunately, I speak from experience. I was also hit by a car with California plates. Maybe the same woman?

    PS: Tailgating car = slow yourself down, not speed up. Glad you payed a relatively small price to learn this lesson.

    1. PS: I’d also stop posting about it online (and/or sending out letters to be published on blogs). The defense will find a way to twist anything you publish online against you.

      LMK if you want the name of a good lawyer.

  23. Veep Lisa

    Please post the license plate and description of the car so we can all be on the lookout. Police can’t be everywhere — we need to help them. No one should approach the suspect, just call the police and let them handle it.

    Also, make a photographic record of the injuries to you and your bike, and of the site where it happened. And keep the contact info for the witnesses handy.

  24. rob

    Can a lawyer explain this for us please (if there is one around of course)?

    If everything he described happened as he described it except at the end she had hopped out of her car and whacked him with a baseball bat, the police would be all over this. But, since she did it with her car, its just not such a big deal?

    I sincerely don’t understand why when you do bad things with your car it warrants such a lenient response compared to doing effectively the same thing with some other object.

  25. Tom

    How many police officers, when faced with a motorist intent on running them down, would not use deadly force to stop them? And yet, as a cyclist, it is not even worthy of an investigation?

    1. meanie

      I love bringing this one up when drinking with the guys, assuming someone is willing to use their car as a weapon, can you respond with deadly force (firearm)?
      From a legal view its an amusing philosophical question.

      In our current world a jury would agree that any person who challenged a car was crazy and deserved what happened to them.

      We all do it every day we ride our bikes in public.

      Its why the first question people ask isn’t “was the driver crazy?” they ask if the rider was wearing a helmet.

    2. Biliruben

      To be fair, they don’t investigate the use of lethal force either.

      Same rules apply.

  26. The only way cyclists/pedestrians, etc. will be safe is when law enforcement is forced to take seriously incidents like the above referenced. Instead of giving the motorist a pat on the back and a case of beer for attempted murder, they should be fined and/or imprisoned. But unless and until that happens, all the advocacy in the world worth matter worth a damn.

  27. NancyL

    Hope you publish the license plate on all the social media. May as well. If the cops don’t go after her, publishing her license will eventually provide an address and you can send a local thug to scare the crap out of her.
    Or just press charges and sue her for intentional vehicular assault with intent.

    1. Bomber

      NO, the driver of the car, deserves a hearing and trial and said driver is technically innocent until proven guilty in court. Using social media as a weapon is unacceptable!

      1. meanie

        Your civic duty is admirable, however the police are basically refusing to proceed, presumption of innocence is immaterial in a situation like this.

        Even if criminally innocent, this person is still an a**hole and people should know who to avoid.

  28. NancyL

    Oh — John Duggan — best bike lawyer in town. Pioneer Square offices

  29. Chris

    I’m going to repeat my reply to the first post. Officer Wilson gave a candid, and understandable, opinion on this case. If it doesn’t get resolved quickly, it will soon be out-prioritized by later case work and could, indeed, “slip through the cracks.” And not necessarily because of Officer Wilson – this could require the time of a Detective (or two) and co-operation between multiple law enforcement agencies in two states.

    It may be hard to track down the driver because she likely lives here in Seattle (at least temporarily) while the car she was driving is likely registered to a California address. Assuming she is the owner of the car, her driver’s license is likely to be from California as well. All of this means SPD will likely get her name, but not her current address without a fair bit of follow up work.

  30. Bomber

    Mr. Vanderplas, I hope that the local biking community backs you up and that driver is found. Consider this, if that driver had threatened you with a firearm instead of a gun, you can be sure that the resources would be mustered to find that person. SPD and the other agencies are perfectly capable of finding this person but it will involve detective work, which they probably don’t want to pay for. If a politician or judge were struck by this car while crossing the road, they’d find the driver. Keep after this. -Bomber in Vermont

    1. Bomber

      Sorry! meant to say “firearm instead of a car”

  31. AlkiStu

    I am glad you are OK Jake. Keep up the good work on the Greenways project. I’ll see you tonight. My motto for a long time toward aggressive drivers and attitudes has been “they have to live with themselves but I don’t have to”. I have found a lot of peace by letting them speed on far ahead of me where I would not have to deal with them. This incident does highlight the need for serious traffic enforcement. We still have more traffic fatalities than gun fatalities annually but the public outcry is barely audible. We have a minuscule terrorist attack losses by comparison yet we have cameras all along our shoreline to protect us from that very remote possibility. Cops can’t be every where. As a city we do not even offer public awareness advertising explaining the virtues for all of “cooperative driving” and the fallacy that aggressive driving actually gets you anywhere faster. Distracted drivers are everywhere and seldom ticketed. Most every driver drives over the speed limit by 10 or more miles per hour and never given a ticket or a reason to behave any better. On the other hand don’t get me going on the behavior of TOO many of my cycling friends.

  32. Chris Green

    Glad to hear you are ok Jake! Many times I would want to wave at drivers like the one you encountered with all 5 fingers to avoid issues BUT occasionally get irritated and use only one (not the pointer finger). I know it my actions reduces me down to their level but.. but..

    As with the SPD, if it was an on/off duty officer a mahunt or greater efforts would happen. Such a selective and unfair system.

    Get well Jake!

  33. Annemarie D

    I wish there was a central area you could post information on drivers like this. I was also followed up a narrow St in Wallingford recently. I delayed the driver by 7 seconds. He raced past me, got out of his car at the intersection and screamed abuse at me for a while. Very scary. Thought he was going to hit me. All on my bike cam. Also driving a car with California plates. I have learned biking to Bellevue every day to try and keep my head down and never engage with motorists. They don’t hate cyclists. They hate the world.

  34. NYC Cyclist

    I’m very glad to hear that you’re ok.

    I survived an intentional vehicular assault in May 2013 in New York City. The taxi driver told the police that he struck me on purpose because he didn’t think bikes belonged on the road. (Ironically, it was Bike to Work Day so I’m sure he saw a lot of offensive bikes on the road that day). The police officer refused to issue a summons to the driver and the DA told me there is nothing they can do without this. Now I’m forced to fight the driver before the Taxi & Limousine Commission (he has had six other accidents in the past five years) and file a civilian complaint against the police officer. I was struck from behind and thrown into the path of oncoming traffic, it’s not to hard to believe this merits a charge of reckless endangerment but the NYPD hates cyclists so much that they will turn a blind eye to this kind of behavior.

    1. NYC Cyclist

      Sorry for the typo – “too hard”

  35. […] Jake Vanderplas’ story of a road rage hit and run in West Seattle we published yesterday drudged up a lot of scary stories from readers, who left their tales in the comments. […]

  36. Kim Mulligan

    Its strange that drivers see cyclists as “others”. In my 20’s although I had a car I put a greater number of miles on my bike. It always shocks me that people I know who seem otherwise civilized, seemed incensed at the idea of a cyclists taking up “their” lane. I’ve always thought this to be a strange attitude, and it comes back to they haven’t done much, if any cycling.
    Now that we have a bike riding Mayor, it seems the time is right for a campaign for bike safety. I hope the level of awareness can be raised that bikes do have a right to be on the road as well. I hope you get justice. Thank you for making this so public to help raise awareness.

  37. Michael

    This war between cars and bikes needs to stop. Of course, this story is terrible and we’ve all had our run-ins with cars or vice-versa, we’ve been a victim of road rage. My comments here are in no way suggesting that what happened here was justified, of course it was not and never could be justified.

    But I will go on to say that the behavior of some bikers are hurting all of us. As bicyclists we HAVE TO start obeying traffic laws. I see people running red lights on their bikes day-in and day-out. I see bikes acting unpredictably. I see bikes acting unsafely towards pedestrians and other bikers. And when it’s sunny out, it gets worse because there are more people out there.

    This is absolutely making road rage worse.

    And yes, I see cars acting outrageously day-in and day-out as well. And this makes my rage worse as well. But we are a community as bikers. We seem to share a common passion and it doesn’t involve burning dinosaurs and running down people with a deadly weapon. Let’s come together to be safer and maybe we’ll drag the sorry-ass road rage drivers down a couple of notches from their death machines.

    We need to start holding bikers accountable for their actions as much as we want to hold drivers accountable for their actions.

    Bottom line, the unsafe behavior of bikers makes all of us unsafe.

    1. jen

      This is in no way to discredite cyclists, however it is very improtant that cyclists riding the STP follow all road rules, as designated to them when registering for the STP. This year and in years past I have noticed that cyclists do not follow the same traffic laws as vehicles are required to, nor do they stop at stop signs or signal lights. This is in agreeance with what Michael said about coming together and beging treated euqally and fairly by first obeying the laws of the road just as motorists are required to do. It would make us all much safer out there!

      1. bomber

        This is in no way to discredit MOTORISTS but it is very important that they follow the rules of the road and stop killing over 40,000 Americans every year. They (motorists) often run red lights, fail to follow the rules of the road, etc.

  38. […] little over a week ago, West Seattle Greenways co-founder Jake Vanderplas was also the victim of an intentional hit-and-run on a new greenway. He escaped with bruises, and the officer who arrived on the scene afterwards […]

  39. […] Vanderplas, who was luckily not seriously injured in the attack at 26th Ave SW and SW Andover Street, reached out via email shortly after it happened. We published his account in full. […]

  40. Scary! Glad that Jake is okay. I saw that the driver has been arrested; I hope that they prosecute her to the fullest possible extent.

  41. Ginger Esty

    It was 10 am on a beautiful Sunday morning in September. A friend and I were biking north on Fremont Ave (a bikeway!) between North 82nd and 83rd. The sound of a loud engine accelerated behind me. The pick up truck missed me by millimeters and, as he roared by me, the driver yelled ‘Share the Road!’ He gave me no time to move over so I yelled back ‘ you have to be patient!’ He yelled again ‘share the road’! It was as though he saw me and just gunned his engine in anger. I absolutely always try to avoid impeding cars. This was the first time I had ever experienced some one really coming close to intentionally taking me out. I shudder to think what could have happened. I have no doubt he would not have stopped. The streets of Seattle have become mean streets. I have been shopping for an affordable helmet cam ever since that shocking experience.

  42. […] West Seattle Greenways co-founder victim of road rage hit and run […]

  43. Sarah

    The assailant, Erika Soerensen, was convicted today of vehicular assault. Just putting that here so her name is inextricably linked by Google to this story. Her reputation needs to proceed her.

  44. […] Screenshot from our original account. Click to read what happened in Jake’s words. […]

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all-day Gorge Ride 2024
Gorge Ride 2024
Jun 15 all-day
Registration will open at www.gorgeride.eventbrite.com about February 1.  Advance registration closes at midnight, June 10. The ride extends 19.25 miles along the historic highway and state trail west to the Senator Mark O. Hatfield West[…]
6:00 pm South Seattle Safe Streets Coali… @ Virtual via Zoom
South Seattle Safe Streets Coali… @ Virtual via Zoom
Jun 18 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Joint meeting between Rainier Valley Greenways & Beacon Hill Safe Streets.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
7:15 pm Point83 @ Westlake Park
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Jun 20 @ 7:15 pm
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Meet up in the center of the park at 7ish. Leave at 730. Every Thursday from now until forever rain or shine. Bikes, beers, illegal firepits, nachos, bottlerockets, timetraveling, lollygagging, mechanicals, good times.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
1:00 pm Redmond History Ride @ Marymoor Park Velodrome Parking Lot
Redmond History Ride @ Marymoor Park Velodrome Parking Lot
Jun 23 @ 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Redmond History Ride @ Marymoor Park Velodrome Parking Lot | Redmond | Washington | United States
Join this 13 mile bike ride around Redmond at a Leisurely pace. We’ll visit various sites both old and new as I tell stories about the city that was once known as Salmonberg.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
5:30 pm Downtown Greenways monthly meeting
Downtown Greenways monthly meeting
Jun 24 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Last Monday of the month.  Join us! https://seattlegreenways.org/downtowngreenwaysShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
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