Salt Lake biker Russell Jacobs was allegedly intentionally struck from behind after choosing to obey the law and stop at a red light. Jacobs, who was stopped in the bike lane while waiting to cross 700 E near Liberty Park, was apparently repeatedly honked at by an impatient driver behind him. As Jacobs crossed the intersection, the driver, Michael O’Reilly, continued to honk at him, and despite his efforts to rapidly get over to the side, next thing Jacobs knew he was on the ground in pain. Of the accident Jacobs said, “I felt that he just wanted to teach me a lesson. That I shouldn’t be on the road impeding his travel.”

Jacobs was treated at the hospital, suffering obvious personal injury. ABC 4’s interview with him, from which the above quote is taken, shows Jacobs in multiple casts, including a neck brace and oxygen tube. We wish Mr. Jacobs’ a full and swift recovery and hope that he can get back on his bike as quickly as possible.

What are Bikers’ Rights?

Though all information is not yet available concerning this story, it appears that Mr. Jacobs was fully within his rights as a bicyclist on a commuter road. Choosing to utilize the bike lane, as he did, is a wise decision, especially given the fact that many motorists do not regard bikers as having rights to the road, which they do. The complaint of most motorists is that cyclists choose to respect which rules to follow, often refusing to wait their turn at four-way stops and disregarding red lights by slipping onto a sidewalk or pedestrian crosswalk. In this case, however, Mr. Jacobs considered himself the same as a vehicle, waiting for the light to turn before advancing. This appears to be a case of motorist road rage, not uncommon between vehicles, but certainly most unfortunate when the abused party is an unprotected biker.


The Experts

The lawyers at the Christensen Law Firm wrote the book on Bicycle Safety. Their involvement at the community level promoting cyclists and their rights is also extensive, having participated in recent events such as the Ulcer event. If you would like to learn from the experts, request a free copy of their book, The Utah Bicycle Accident Handbook, by calling (801) 506-0800.