by Bryan Goebel on September 24, 2009
A San Francisco police inspector has “severely warned” two men who allegedly harassed a bicyclist in the bike lane along the Embarcadero last week. The terrifying tale, which we published verbatim on Streetsblog, stirred quite a reaction among new and regular commenters, and served as an important reminder about what to do when bicyclists encounter hostile, threatening motorists.
The woman is a local social worker who was commuting home on her bike. She wrote that the two unidentified men, who were in a silver BMW, shouted death threats and racial epithets, and tried to frighten her by swerving in and out of the bike lane. The car’s license plate, and this no joke, read “BYE GIRL.”
“I’ve been harassed many times as a bicyclist in San Francisco. Most of the times for no reason at all. However, this time they went way too far. Yelling at me once is fine. Following me in their car, driving into the bike lane, yelling racial epithets, and wishing death upon me is not fine,” she wrote.
Sgt. Lyn Tomioka, an SFPD spokesperson, said the bicyclist chose not to pursue charges but that an inspector “did call both men, and they were severely warned, which is what the victim wanted.” The allegations could have potentially warranted hate crime and vehicular assault charges. Tomioka said an assistant district attorney did review the case and decided against a filing.
She added: “If you could put out how important getting the license plate number is in any incident, I would appreciate it.”
In a follow-up email to Streetsblog, the bicyclist, who we’ve chosen not to identify, explained her decision not to pursue charges:
I’m trying to be a better person in this case and hope that these two men learn from this experience. Also I date a criminal defense attorney who walked me through all the possible outcomes if I did pursue criminal charges. And personally (and as a social worker) I really believe in preventive measures and educating people rather then the “putting people in jail” approach. I guess after thinking it all through, I am satisfied with my decision and the outcome. I hope that people can learn to respect all people on the roads/streets.