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Letters to the editor

Pam Zaske

Nate (Peterson), I found your recent article regarding road rage towards bicyclists very interesting and it definitely hit home with me. I rode the Triple Bypass (120 miles with 10,600 feet of elevation gain in one day). It is my third time doing this ride. However, they allowed more people than ever in the Triple this year, about 3,500 registered riders and probably a bunch of other non-registered “pirates.” It was something of a zoo on the course with some insane riders treating it as a race and bombing quickly down long passes, passing on the right, and just general pandemonium.At about the 105-mile mark, I had a little run in with an angry motorist. My friends and I were riding down the west side of Vail Pass in the rain. When I got into town, some jerk in a Lexus SUV rode up alongside of me and slowed down to my speed and then kept moving over, over, over to try to run me off the road. I held my line because going into the painted area of the shoulder in the rain is a recipe for going down (if I slipped I could wind up under his car). If you are watching the Tour de France, there was a good example last week of the bad combination of water and painted asphalt causing a spectacular pile-up within a kilometer of the finish. Anyway, he finally speeds away and then a mile further down the road, I see him make a u-turn and park on the shoulder on the opposite side of the road. At first I was puzzled wondering if he was someone’s private support vehicle or what. I was in Vail and there was a lot of other people around, so I pulled over to tell him how dangerous his actions were. He blows up and starts yelling, I yell back, and it just generally goes nowhere. So, as I am getting ready to leave, he grabs at my jacket and punches me in the face. My friend witnessing this from across the street said it was a horrible “POP!” By the way, I’m a 42-year-old woman, 5 foot 4 in height.He then takes off, but I got his license number and called the Vail Police. He tried to go into a East Vail, where it is full of dead-ends. The cops caught him almost immediately (hooray!). I had a very detailed description of his voice and face and two other witnesses were interviewed, so hopefully he will actually get convicted of at least assault. However, the cops are considering only charging him for hitting me and not doing anything with the attempt to push me off the road. Also, I don’t know much about criminal law, but it sounds like the case is just with the part-time town Attorney and not even going to the Eagle County DA.The whole thing was very upsetting. If he hadn’t attempted to push me off the road, I would have never approached his car in the first place. His actions to threaten me with his vehicle were very deliberate and it could have ended with serious consequences. I have to wonder, what made him think he was the vigilante bike patrol with a license to kill? There was plenty of room for him to go around me without even making him go into the opposing traffic’s lane. I don’t understand why he would get mad at me because he had to share the road with me. Is is really worth injuring or killing another person? Are we becoming so removed from caring for other human beings that this is acceptable?This story is a good lesson for both cyclists and motorists about needing to get along on the road, but more importantly I want it brought to the public’s attention so that police and prosecutors will take it seriously and not give the message that Vail is soft on anti-cyclist violence. The case number given to me by police is 05-001556.Pam ZaskeDenverVail, Colorado


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