Here we go again. Over the past three or four years I have noticed an improvement in how the Tucson Police Department handles cycling incidents. It has been some years since I have filed a police complaint, which used to be a common need. There was a time when I was constantly confronting situations where cyclists were cited with some kind of made-up infraction after getting in a collision with a motorist, even when the motorist was demonstrably at fault.
But after Sgt. Tim Beam got moved out of traffic investigations, things improved a lot, and most of my clients have reported fair treatment from TPD officers. It’s also been a little while since I had a cyclist charged with, say, failure to yield after being hit by a driver who ran a stop sign. That sort of thing used to happen a lot.
But in the last few weeks I’ve gotten several reports that have me worried. I’ve been hearing about cyclists being charged with failure to control speed after getting right hooked or hit in intersections where they had the right-of-way. And now this: a cyclist who took the lane in a construction zone was yelled at, honked at, and then challenged to a fight by a motorist who sped ahead of him and pulled over. The motorist also pointed a semi-automatic weapon at him.
The cyclist got the license plate and a good look at his assailant, but the police refused even to visit the address to which the vehicle is registered. The advice given by TPD was simply that the cyclist should find another route to commute to work.
What am I missing? They have the license plate, they have a victim who can identify his assailant — why not pay the registered owner of the vehicle a visit? Is it because the victim is a cyclist, and TPD is resurrecting its former institutional disdain for people who commute by bike?