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As a Passat owner and a cyclist, this story from the Dallas Morning News disturbs me...

03:39 AM CDT on Thursday, July 29, 2004

By ROBERT THARP / The Dallas Morning News

What started with yelling and hand gestures on a Sunday morning in May near White Rock Lake was quickly punctuated by the sound of crunching metal as car struck bicycle.

On Wednesday, a distinguished law professor was indicted, accused of using her Volkswagen Passat as a deadly weapon in what police and cycling advocates describe as an extreme case of road rage.

Jane Dolkart, 56, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. If convicted, she faces two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Southern Methodist University officials said Ms. Dolkart remains on the law school faculty while the case is under review, but she is not teaching classes this summer.

According to police reports and court files, tensions escalated quickly as cyclist Tommy Thomas and a friend were riding single-file on West Lawther Drive south of Mockingbird Lane about 10 a.m. on May 2.

The two men told police that a motorist in a green Passat started following them closely, honking the car's horn, yelling and gesturing "in an unfriendly manner," according to police reports.

"I said, 'Wow, this is not right, this person has got some anger here,' " said Paul Schoenberg, who was riding with Mr. Thomas. "Obviously she was in a hurry ... she was right on us."

Moments later, a witness described hearing a scream, followed by the vehicle accelerating and then the sound of "an awful crunching noise and brakes screeching," according to court records.

His shoes still clipped to his bicycle pedals, Mr. Thomas was dragged under the car. When the car stopped, Ms. Dolkart commented as Mr. Thomas called 911: "Oh please, I didn't even hit you. ... you were in the way," before driving off and waiting at a nearby parking lot, court records say.

Mr. Thomas suffered pain in his left shoulder, elbow and leg and had a long "road rash" his forearm.

When police arrived to investigate and found Ms. Dolkart in a parking lot nearby, she reportedly described her actions as an attempt to let the cyclists "know I was there," according to court documents.

Reached Wednesday afternoon, Ms. Dolkart said that her attorney had instructed her not to comment about the indictment. In an earlier interview, an attorney no longer retained by Ms. Dolkart described the incident as an accident that happened when Ms. Dolkart tried to make a U-turn and Mr. Thomas stopped suddenly in front of her.

In December, Ms. Dolkart struck two SMU second-year law students as they crossed Hillcrest Avenue near the university campus. Ms Dolkart told police that she had not seen the pedestrians because the sun was in her eyes. A police report ruled that the sun would not have blocked her view of the pedestrians and that she had failed to check the crosswalk.

Bicycling advocates praised the indictment Wednesday and described the incident as an extreme example of what occurs daily for cyclists who share the streets with vehicles.

Brian Hasenbauer, a former professional triathlete who frequently rides around White Rock Lake, said he has survived being struck by vehicles on three occasions, as well as numerous encounters with agitated and aggressive drivers.

"Dallas is not very cycling-friendly," Mr. Hasenbauer said. "I definitely feel it is something that should be prosecuted if it's done on purpose or if it's an accident and it's done by negligence."
 

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AlexDrivesAPassat said:
Wow, how has she managed to live this long? :weirdo:
because she's the one in the car . . . . i'm sorry but she needs to be locked up . . . . there seem to be a lot of people on the road that don't deserve to have their licenses.

Dave
 
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I'm sorry but theres something missing from this story she just up and wilds out for no reason, sound fishy. But of course she should not have ran them down!
 

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Whatever happen to sidewalks or bikewalks?

If your riding on the highway like many riders do around my area then you have full knowledge that you may get hit. I make way for bike riders but alot of people don't.

**Shifted to 2nd gear.**
 

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AntWrig said:
Whatever happen to sidewalks or bikewalks?

If your riding on the highway like many riders do around my area then you have full knowledge that you may get hit. I make way for bike riders but alot of people don't.

**Shifted to 2nd gear.**
Sidewalks are not for bikers . . . . .

If he was on a highway and she hit him . . . he would be dead

It doesn't seem like he was doing anything wrong.

Dave
 
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crew217 said:
AntWrig said:
Whatever happen to sidewalks or bikewalks?

If your riding on the highway like many riders do around my area then you have full knowledge that you may get hit. I make way for bike riders but alot of people don't.

**Shifted to 2nd gear.**
Sidewalks are not for bikers . . . . .

If he was on a highway and she hit him . . . he would be dead

It doesn't seem like he was doing anything wrong.

Dave
So this Teacher this older lady on her way to work just wigs out for no reason reason, maybe it was the color of his waterbottle!
 

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20vvillian said:
crew217 said:
AntWrig said:
Whatever happen to sidewalks or bikewalks?

If your riding on the highway like many riders do around my area then you have full knowledge that you may get hit. I make way for bike riders but alot of people don't.

**Shifted to 2nd gear.**
Sidewalks are not for bikers . . . . .

If he was on a highway and she hit him . . . he would be dead

It doesn't seem like he was doing anything wrong.

Dave
So this Teacher this older lady on her way to work just wigs out for no reason reason, maybe it was the color of his waterbottle!
look at her prior history . . .

plus I know of enough crazy professors . . .
 

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I am not condoning this ladies behavior, however.........

"I said, 'Wow, this is not right, this person has got some anger here,' " said Paul Schoenberg, who was riding with Mr. Thomas. "Obviously she was in a hurry ... she was right on us."
Ok, now look at the above, Mr. Rogers type, statement. :roll: Like "GEE WIZ, I don't know why she was so angered officer" :???:

That sounds like a BS act in itself. I wouldn't doubt that they didn't make enough of an effort to move out of the way. If they really were single file, then she could have gone around. They made it sound like she was stalking them. No one saw for sure how the bikers were spread out. Maybe he did stop short in front of her. :???:

I bought my first bike in probably 15 years yesterday so we could bike ride around our new place. When I put on the dual brakes, I nearly went flying foward :eek: Those brakes stop on a dime.

Why would he say something so stupid as "Obviously she was in a hurry"

I mean come on, 100% of people in a car will want to go faster then the biker and no one wants to wait for them to get out of the way. I know I don't. Especially if I'm in a hurry. Of course I would never hit someone, but I do let them know I'm there if need be by a friendly horn beeping. Bikers need to have the attitude that they are vunerable if they decide to ride on public roads with no room for them. I live on roads where there is no shoulder let alone bike paths :thumbdow:

Too many times I have been ignored by bikers as if I don't exist and they own the road. They know I can't hit them, but they decide not to move either until THEY are ready :mad:

I'm sure I'm the minority here on this :poke:
 

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Having been an adult cyclist for over 14 years now and having lived in Texas, New York (not NYC) and Indiana during that time, it is my experience that some drivers just don't want cyclists on the road period. My expericence have been the same in each of these states. I do 95% of my riding alone and I always yield to the right side of the roadway and yet I still have drivers swerve at me, blast their horn once they get right up on my rear wheel and throw things at me. I belive this is the experience of many cyclists.

In Texas, as in most states, bicylces are permitted to ride in the road (this does not include "divided highways") and are given the same rights as motorists. Therefore, those of you who state or suggest that cyclists should not be on the road should know that the cyclist has the exact same right to be on the right as a motorized vehicle. Maybe motorists should be just a little more patient and exercise some self restraint.

Slider.
 

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trlyka said:
I am not condoning this ladies behavior, however.........

"I said, 'Wow, this is not right, this person has got some anger here,' " said Paul Schoenberg, who was riding with Mr. Thomas. "Obviously she was in a hurry ... she was right on us."
Ok, now look at the above, Mr. Rogers type, statement. :roll: Like "GEE WIZ, I don't know why she was so angered officer" :???:

That sounds like a BS act in itself. I wouldn't doubt that they didn't make enough of an effort to move out of the way. If they really were single file, then she could have gone around. They made it sound like she was stalking them. No one saw for sure how the bikers were spread out. Maybe he did stop short in front of her. :???:

I bought my first bike in probably 15 years yesterday so we could bike ride around our new place. When I put on the dual brakes, I nearly went flying foward :eek: Those brakes stop on a dime.

Why would he say something so stupid as "Obviously she was in a hurry"

I mean come on, 100% of people in a car will want to go faster then the biker and no one wants to wait for them to get out of the way. I know I don't. Especially if I'm in a hurry. Of course I would never hit someone, but I do let them know I'm there if need be by a friendly horn beeping. Bikers need to have the attitude that they are vunerable if they decide to ride on public roads with no room for them. I live on roads where there is no shoulder let alone bike paths :thumbdow:

Too many times I have been ignored by bikers as if I don't exist and they own the road. They know I can't hit them, but they decide not to move either until THEY are ready :mad:

I'm sure I'm the minority here on this :poke:
so its ok to hit bikers because they piss you off?
 

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trlyka said:
Too many times I have been ignored by bikers as if I don't exist and they own the road. They know I can't hit them, but they decide not to move either until THEY are ready :mad:

I'm sure I'm the minority here on this :poke:
Same crap around here, but with road racing cyclists using our streets as their very own 'Tour de Tallahassee'
So your not alone. All the same you can't just mow them down.
 

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Texas Transportation Code: http://www.biketexas.org/cycling_rules.html#two

In particular...
Section 551.103. Operation on Roadway

(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless:

(1) the person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction;

(2) the person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway;

(3) a condition on or of the roadway, including a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal, or surface hazard prevents the person from safely riding next to the right curb or edge of the roadway; or

(4) the person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is:

(A) less than 14 feet in width and does not have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane; or

(B) too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.

(b) A person operating a bicycle on a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of the roadway.

(c) Persons operating bicycles on a roadway may ride two abreast. Persons riding two abreast on a laned roadway shall ride in a single lane. Persons riding two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway. Persons may not ride more than two abreast unless they are riding on a part of a roadway set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles.

(d) Repealed by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1085, § 13, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1085, §§ 10, 13, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.
Section (a)(4)(B) is the hotly-debated "take-the-lane" provision of the Transportation Code. Section (c) is also of particular interest in this case.

FWIW, I have very mixed feelings about bikers. I used to road ride a lot when I lived in Jersey, and then in Austin Texas. However, I stopped road riding once I moved to Dallas because I feared I was going to get killed by the traffic.

Generally speaking, the drivers in the DFW metroplex have no patience or tolerance for bicycles whatsoever. OTOH, I see bicyclists engaging in all sorts of "darwin-award" behaviors: rolling or riding through stop signs, turning left from the right edge of a lane, riding three or four abreast, riding on narrow (10' lane) roads with no shoulder and 60mph speed limits. (Note: even if some of these things are legal, they are still dumb things to do). In short, I can see why there is so much anger and frustration on the part of both the drivers and the bikers.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The white-rock lake area is full of riders, especially on weekends. IMHO, the professor is a certifiable nutcase and needs the book thrown at her. Based on the width and layout of the streets near white rock, I honestly doubt these riders did anything to "deserve it".
 

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i used to work in a bicycle shop in Naples, FL, you guys should have seen some of the mangled bikes that used to come in, along with their f-uped riders.

A lot of the time the problems seemed to be caused by drivers not paying enough attention to what was going on around them, or, not quite knowing what to do when they encounter a biker (ie: do i get out of the way, or do i treat them like they are another viehicle).

occassionally, it was because of biker error: not riding single file (which i see a ton here in jersey... they act like they own the damn road!!), or riding where they shouldnt be.

all in all, i think if people 1) payed more attention, and 2) took a little more time to think about things before they did them, problems like this could be easily avoided.
 

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D.Passat00 said:
damn. that woman should be locked away for good
It turns out she is a law Professor at SMU and the bike rider is also a lawyer. I wonder who will sue who?
 

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NJRrado said:
occassionally, it was because of biker error: not riding single file (which i see a ton here in jersey... they act like they own the damn road!!), or riding where they shouldnt be.
While two-abreast is not *automatically* illegal in Jersey, it's pretty darn close to it. Jersey's bike laws are fairly strict: http://www.state.nj.us/njcommuter/html/bikelaws.htm

^^See my above post for Texas laws related to the topic at hand.
 
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