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South Philly Road Rage Incident Highlights Need for Street Changes

kicking cones overA video was recently posted to YouTube depicting a cycling getting harassed, and almost intentionally hit by a motor vehicle user on South Broad Street in Philadelphia, creating a new conversation about cyclist safety and what to do about road rage.

The video, uploaded by user CheekFlapperer, was likely taken with a GoPro atop the cyclist’s helmet as he rides north on Broad Street. A man in a black minivan, whom CheekFlapperer notes works for Monti Rago Funeral Home, quickly pulls up in front of the cyclist, cutting him off, and shouting explatives. The cyclist attempts to go around the driver, but the driver attempts to cut him off again.

The driver then pulls up alongside the cyclist, yelling about the cyclist having kicked over an awareness cone the driver allegedly put in front of the funeral home. The incident may have started because of the cyclist knocking over an awareness cone outside the funeral home, which was in the riding lane.

“That’s not your parking spot,” says the cyclist, after confronted by the driver.

“Yes it is,” says the driver.

Watch the video below (warning: it may be disturbing to some):

According to the video’s description, CheekFlapperer notes, “There’s a few funeral homes in south philly that place cones in a 20 minute loading zone an attempt to reserve spots. They apply for these zones, but the PPA even mentions how they’re not allowed to place cones or use the zone as their private space … I get annoyed when they are placed near the white line where I bike. This often forces me closer to the traffic than I would otherwise ride. In this video you can see me kicking over one of the three cones outside of Monti Rago funeral home (www.montifuneralhome.com). Only one was kicked over since it was the only one near the white line. The signs on each side of this zone is “Loading only 20 minute limit”. They are not for their exclusive use, just like the parking spot outside my house is not for my exclusive use.”

As the video goes on, we witness the driver threaten physical violence against the cyclist, including taking “your f****** eyes out.”

Before the motor vehicle user drives off, the cyclist—who remained very calm considering what was being hurled his way—said, “I’m right here, do something.”

After this video was shared with us this morning, we heard from several members of Philadelphia’s bicycling community about the situation.

“I clicked on the video knowing exactly what to expect from the thumbnail. Even after preparing myself to watch a cyclist get yelled at and harassed, that video still made my blood rise,” said Travis Southard, an avid Philly cyclist. “It is always frightening for me because it has happened to me and my friends before many times, and it is very easy for me to imagine that cyclist being me, my sister, or my friends. This was especially scary since the driver was clearly very willing to throw his car around like a weapon, not caring if he hit the cyclist or any pedestrians or other drivers.”

The first thing to note here is that when something like this happens, you need to not just contact the Philadelphia Police Department, but the local precinct where the incident happened. In this case, it’s the Third Police District that should get the footage. (As it happens, we found out after publishing this blog initially that the cyclist did go through the correct motions of bringing the footage to the police department, though the District Attorney decided not to press charges.)

Second, if the driver was illegally saving a parking space with awareness cones, it’s up to the Philadelphia Police Department and the Philadelphia Parking Authority to enforce the laws that are being broken there.

Lastly, the best thing the city of Philadelphia can do to protect cyclists from dangerous, entitled drivers like the one depicted in the video is build better infrastructure that physically separates cyclists and drivers on the streets. Separating cyclists and drivers with a curb or fence is the best way to keep drivers from using their vehicles to injure other road users. And until that happens, incidents like this one, and many, many more that don’t end up on video, will continue happening.

UPDATE: Philly Voice has written about this incident, adding some context to the situation. The bicyclist put up the video, which was filmed nine months ago, because  the DA did not press charges in the case.

Topics: Biking in Philly, Featured

One comment on “South Philly Road Rage Incident Highlights Need for Street Changes

  1. Melissa

    In writing this, I am not condoning the actions of the Funeral Director. His actions were brazenly stupid, and bad overreaction, and could have seriously hurt another person. Over a cone.

    However, when incidents like this occur, it cannot be ignored by the cycling community that the cyclist was not behaving appropriately while representing the cycling community. Whether he wanted to or not, or whether anyone wishes to or not, every person out on a bicycle is a representative of that community, and their behavior is a reflection of that community.

    The cyclist here was exhibiting rather dangerous behavior. His “preference” of riding the white line makes him less visible on the street, and puts him in danger of having a car door opened on him. If what I read on official Philadelphia Government pages is correct, he has the right to the middle of the lane, and thusly should use it for his safety. The street was not a busy street at the time of the incident, and there was a passing lane to the left.

    The cyclist was also weaving in and out of a parking zone on a street. The solid line separating the street and the parking lane distinguishes that parking zone from a driving road. It is not only illegal to use that as a driving lane, but it is very dangerous for a cyclist to weave in and out of traffic on such a zone. It limits his visability on the road drastically. I believe that is one of the several reasons why sidewalk riding is prohibited. I’ve seen many disasters occur in my home town (Houston) when a cyclist pops off a sidewalk into a street intersection.

    Now, for the cone. The cone was within the parking zone and in no way impeded legal riding on the street the cyclist was taking. Yes, I am very aware that it is sometimes safer to get off the street and onto the side of the road (whether it is designated parking or a shoulder) in peak traffic times. However, as seen in the video, this was clearly not the case. The cyclist had no reason to take the law into his own hands and kick the cone down. The reaction to that was not appropriate, as I mentioned above, but the action that instigated this was not appropriate either.

    As I hope in my own city (which is slowly improving the streets for the safety of cyclists), I hope your city responds with better, safer access for cyclists on the roads. However, when using an example as a need for such an infrastructure, it is also your responsibility to discuss safe and responsible cycling on the streets. This cyclist was exhibiting more than once instance of unsafe cycling, and that should be addressed. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    Thank you for including what would be a proper response for potential violations such as this. But please encourage safe riding habits along with the criticism of the dangerous actions of the Funeral Home director.

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