Gun violence against cyclists not a regular event, despite the occasional headline

by | Nov 17, 2014 | POLITICS

A Hanover county cyclist claims an angry driver pulled a gun on him and his fellow bikers late last week–but let’s not all run and grab our pitchforks just yet.

A Hanover county cyclist claims an angry driver pulled a gun on him and his fellow bikers late last week–but let’s not all run and grab our pitchforks just yet.

On Saturday, cyclist Stephen Hancock spoke with NBC 12 and said his bike ride through Hanover ended with a scare when a driver pulled the gun on the man after he became enraged by the biker’s being in the road. Check out the video below:

NBC12 – Richmond, VA News

Hancock’s story seems all too believable for those who have ridden bikes or driven a car behind a cyclist in Central, VA.

Some people are assholes, both drivers and bikers, but this level of alleged violence is not the norm; at least that’s what Alan Cooper, President of the Richmond Area Bicycle Association and a 30-year-veteran cyclist said.

“What happened to those guys was unusual,” said Cooper when asked about the incident with Hancock. “Most of the time, the person just honks and drives on or flips the bird.”

Cooper said in his many decades of biking he’s never experienced this level of aggression from a driver, and when something does happen, it’s infrequent, but he understand the driver’s frustrations.

“On rural roads with no shoulders and curves and hills, sometimes you have to wait a minute, and I know that can be annoying to people,” said Cooper in a the calm voice of someone who admits he might have been more impatient in his youth.

But now, Cooper tells the 1,100 members of the RABA to follow the rules of the road and let people pass if the bikers are holding up roads.

Hell, I’ve been on either side of this coin – bending the rules on my two wheels (and getting a ticket when it happened), but also getting hit in my car by a cyclist who thought riding down the middle of Harrison street at 5:30 PM was a good idea.

Of course, if you read the NBC 12 comment’s section, it reads like this an everyday occurrence which could make or break the county’s residence.

“Cyclist are becoming more of a problem on the road,” wrote Henrico resident Carlton Wood. “They ride side by side and won’t move over for cars. I believe it is illegal for a car to drive well under the posted speed and you can’t pass on a double yellow line so cyclist are putting drivers in a dangerous position.”

By the way, everyone is half a lawyer in a facebook comment thread.

Here’s VDOT’s break down of bike laws for those interested:

Bicyclists must ride with the flow of traffic on the right side of the highway.


Bicyclists operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under conditions then existing shall ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of roadway. Exceptions to this are when bicyclists are overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, preparing for a left turn, avoiding unsafe conditions, avoiding riding in a lane that turns or diverges to the right, riding on a one way street where bicyclists may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of roadway, or when the lane width is too narrow to share with a motor vehicle. Additionally, bicycles are not excluded from riding on the highway shoulder.

As for the details of the Hanover incident, the legal process is being followed.

Hancock did obtain warrants for aggressive driving and brandishing weapons against Edward Fornell Jr., the driver accused of the aforementioned crimes.

Fornell was arrested and charges were filed. He was bonded on a $5K bond, and Major Trice from the Hanover Sheriff’s office said he’ll probably have his arraignment this week.

But Trice stressed the NBC story, which went viral over the weekend, only showed one side of the story.

We’ll follow up on this story as news comes out.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

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