Market Street Cyclist Stands up to Road Rager

Casey Ann Dilou on her bike.
Casey Ann Dilou on her bike. Photo by Bradley Johnson.
Last Thursday, at 1:30 in the afternoon, 32-year-old Casey Ann Dilou was riding her bike northeast on Market between 8th and 7th when she heard a car horn blaring behind her. She turned around and saw a blue Ford Minivan driving dangerously close with the passenger yelling out the window “run her over” and “get the fuck out of the way!”

Dilou stopped her bike and the car drove around. As it did, the passenger continued to yell obscenities, laughed, and flicked a cigarette at her.

That was it. Dilou said she’d been run off the road twice before by aggressive drivers—the last time a truck blasted its horn and forced her onto the trolley tracks. She crashed and fractured her elbow.

Dilou caught up to the minivan at the next red light and put herself in front of it. “This is a fucking bike lane and you can’t treat people like that!” she shouted. The passenger started screaming back and yelled at the driver to run her over. But Dilou held her ground. “There was a Muni stop there and other cars and no way for them to go around.”

Then the passenger threw a water bottle at her and got out of the car. “You better move before I make you move,” he said. But Dilou, who is nearly six feet tall and teaches self defense, was not intimidated. She called the cops. “The passenger said he’s going to go get his ‘crew’ and that I’d better be gone when he gets back,” explained Dilou. “The cops will be here first so I can’t wait until you show up with your ‘crew,’” she replied.

He took off on foot and didn’t come back. The police arrived and had Dilou swear out a complaint on the driver for violating California’s three-foot passing law.

As with the pepper spray incident from less than two weeks prior, this was a statement on how far San Francisco has come—and how far it has to go in making its street safe. Certainly, it’s great that the police invoked the three-foot passing law. “He’s not going to jail or anything, but he has to appear in court,” the cops explained to Dilou. She also said the police were sympathetic–it’s sad to consider this a win, but none tried to blame her.

That said “on Market between 7th and 8th is the first stretch where there’s no bike lane at all. It’s just sharrows,” observed Chris Cassidy, spokesman for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Dilou also mentioned that there wasn’t much traffic at the time and the next lane was wide open. Psychologist Robert Nemerovski, a specialist in road rage, said in a previous post that drivers get enraged when their goals are frustrated or at the perceived injustice of a cyclist holding them up.

Sharrow markings on Market provide no protection against road rage. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Sharrows provide no safety from road rage attacks. Photo: Wikimedia

So why wouldn’t the minivan pass in the open lane? And does a frustrated and angry person laugh? At some point, cycling advocates have to remember that there’s a subset of people who are just sadistic. That seems like an accurate label for the passenger. Or, to use Dilou’s description, he was a “douche nozzle.” Unfortunately, sitting ensconced in the steel cage of an automobile makes it easy for such bullies to act on their impulses.

All of which makes it difficult to understand why the police told Dilou they couldn’t go after the passenger for throwing the bottle because it didn’t hit her. “Under California Penal Code Section 240 an assault is an attempt to use force or violence. There is no question that throwing a bottle at someone is an assault,” said Andy Gillin, an attorney with the Bay Area firm GJEL. He recommends that Dilou reach out to her San Francisco County Supervisor and the media “in the hopes that the DA will take a hard line on this, which is more than appropriate.”

Streetsblog asked Supervisor Jane Kim–the confrontation happened in her district–and SFPD for an explanation. Kim’s office has promised to look into it. SFPD hasn’t yet replied. That said, “Market Street is one of the most-biked corridors in the country, which should be a signal to city leaders that protected bike lanes are long overdue,” said Cassidy.

Dilou, meanwhile, was encouraged to see how many people helped. “I want to give a shout out to all the friendly, supportive bystanders who came to my aid and the friendly bicyclist who stayed with me…while I was on the phone waiting for the cops to show up.” She said the incident left her shaken but she refuses to be intimidated and will continue cycling in San Francisco.

Note: GJEL is a Streetsblog sponsor.

  • 1LelaG

    More power to you, Casey Ann!
    Ignorant road bullies must be confronted, and hopefully the Government and the Police will do their duty, and support safe cycling.

  • Chris J.

    What was the driver’s role in this? Was the driver an Uber / Lyft driver — is that why the passenger was commanding the driver so much?

  • Elizabeth Creely

    Good for her. There’s no reason for her to feel intimidated. Bullies are cowards, after all.

  • Jesse Elefante

    This is her original post about the incident in an SF cycling group

    “So, I just issued my first citizen’s arrest ever!

    I was riding northeast bound on market between 8th and 7th around 1:30PM when all of a sudden there was a car horn blaring behind me. I turn around and there is this minivan riding my ass and the passenger is yelling, “run her over!” and “get the fuck out of the way!”. So I slow down and stop in front of the car. As the car swerves around me (less than 2 feet between us), the passenger flicks a cigarette at me while yelling obscenities and laughing.

    They end up stopping at the next stop light and I ride up, get in front of them and I’m yelling at them that this is a fucking bike lane and they can’t treat people like that. The passenger is screaming at me to get out of the way and telling the driver to run me over. I start videoing them.
    Then the passenger throws a full water bottle at me. That’s when I told them that I’m calling the fucking cops and charging them with assault.

    The passenger gets out of the car and says “you better move before I make you move” and I yell at him to fuck off. (He’s a very short little guy and I’m a 5’10 amazon who teaches self defense at IMPACT Bay Area so I would have liked to see him try.) As I’m calling the cops I’m standing in the middle of the lane not moving and there’s that bus stop there so they can’t go around.

    The passenger and another guy get their shit and get out of the car. The passenger tells me that I better be gone before he shows back up with his “crew” and I tell him that the cops will be here first so I can’t wait until he shows up with his “crew”.

    They leave, a girl crawls from the backseat into the front seat. The driver gets out and is begging me to move saying, “the guy who threw the water bottle at you is gone. He’s not even here. Let me go.” A bystander yells, “He was in YOUR car. You’re responsible for him.”

    The cops show up. Take statements. The girls is sobbing in the front seat. I guess that’s what you get for rolling around with a group of douche nozzles. The driver is looking like he is seriously regretting his poor life decisions.

    The police are actually pretty friendly and supportive. The only thing that they can charge the driver with is the new traffic code that states cars must keep a 2 ft distance between bicyclists, which he obviously violated. They ask if I want to sign a citizen’s arrest, which will result in the guy getting a citation. I say yes. He’s not going to jail or anything, but he has to appear in court.

    I just want to give a shout out to all the friendly supportive bystanders who came to my aid and the friendly bicyclist who stayed with me and gave me a supportive shoulder squeeze while I was on the phone with dispatch waiting for the cops to show up.

    The whole incident left me completely wrecked and I just turned around and biked home. Being treated like that by a group of people in a vehicle made me feel so powerless and vulnerable. What possesses people to be such assholes?”

  • Stephen R Jaffe

    From these facts, the cyclist was within her rights. But one anecdotal story does not apply to every situation. For every profanity-spewing driver there is an equally hostile and “entitled” cyclist who feels (s)he is above the law, blocking traffic lanes, disobeying laws or spitting or pounding on cars. The truth is the fault lies with both drivers and cyclists.

  • Chris J.

    Thank you, Casey.

    What possesses people to be such assholes?

    I don’t know. But maybe if such people were “sentenced” to ride a bicycle for a few hours in the City, they would have a bit more compassion for what it’s like to be so exposed and vulnerable.

  • Chris J.

    FWIW, in my experience there are very few “profanity-spewing” drivers. However, there are many more drivers that block bicycle travel lanes than cyclists who block traffic lanes.

  • helloandyhihi

    Drivers know SFPD won’t do anything about cars taking over bike lanes. It’s time SFPD put resources into ticketing drivers that make bike lane violations instead of pointlessly harassing cyclists who don’t make complete stops at stop signs.

  • RichLL

    Was the thrown water bottle plastic or glass? Full or empty? Those distinctions matters if a claim of attempted assault is to be taken seriously. An empty plastic water bottle thrown is more a rude gesture than a genuine attack.

    Dilou may be an “Amazon” and a self-defense instructor, but she still could have easily come off worse here and then the narrative would be very different. If the guys in the car were already on the warpath then I suspect that discretion is the better part of valor in most cases, no matter how cathartic or successful her act of defiance worked out on this occasion.

  • Bravo! Nice job Casey

  • comeon2013

    How many cars do you see blowing through stop signs and violating other basic traffic laws compared to bicyclists?

  • Chris J.

    All the time. Maybe every driver. Texting, rolling through stop signs, not using their turn signal, not merging into a bike lane before turning, speeding, parking in the bike lane, etc.

  • RichardC

    You’re right, comeon. In my experience, drivers universally follow the speed limit, come to a full and complete stop at all stop signs, and never run red lights. Our nation’s 40,000 or so traffic deaths annually are mostly due to cyclists’ total disregard for the rules of the road.

  • comeon2013

    “Maybe every car” yeah right. I’ve never seen a bicyclist come to a complete stop at a stop sign…most of the time they don’t even try. Happens at red lights very often as well. If you want to reduce conflict between drivers and bicyclists, follow the rules just like cars have to.

  • comeon2013

    Uhm, maybe that’s because bikes don’t weigh 1,500 or 2,000 pounds. If they did, there would be many more than 40,000 deaths the way most bicyclists ride and you know that’s true. I know I’m not being politically correct here…you’re not allowed to criticize bicyclists for some reason even though they deserve as much or more of the blame for car vs. bike conflicts.

  • dat

    Just as many. In fact most of them. Do you ever not come to a full and complete stop on a right turn at a stop sign? Do you ever, and I mean ever, exceed the posted limit by 1 or 2 mph? When you drive on the freeway, do you always remain at the exact posted limit or just below it? Please, tell us.

  • dat

    “I’m a 5’10 amazon who teaches self defense at IMPACT Bay Area so I would have liked to see him try.”

    So much hot in that sentence.

  • That’s a great idea! You go get all the drivers (including me when I’m driving) to follow all the laws, and when you come back, I’ll work on getting the cyclists to follow them, too.

  • farazs

    Sure, you are allowed to criticize bicyclists, but comparison with motorists only puts them in better light 🙂
    You are assuming that following or not following laws is the root cause of the car vs. bike conflict, which in turn implies that all (or most) cyclists ignore laws while all (or most) drivers don’t. This is simply incorrect!

    Moreover, there are many more drivers than cyclists, so much so that the absolute number of law-breaking drivers is much greater even *IF* you assume that their percentage is less than law-breaking cyclists.

  • PaleoBruce

    “just like cars have to” I never knew! I would appreciate your help enforcing the rule that cars should not double park in bicycle lanes and not pass within 3 feet.

  • SFnative74

    This is exactly why we need more separated bikeways. If people didn’t feel like their safety was being threatened by sharing a lane with drivers, there wouldn’t be such a push to take out car lanes or parking to make safe and separated bikeways.

  • SFnative74

    How about this – the fault lies with people. Whether they happen to be driving or biking or walking or cutting you in line, jerks are jerks. In this case though, it seems pretty clear who the jerk was.

  • The post in her words below says it was a full water bottle. I assume plastic from that description.

  • eean

    this is a sharrow though, meaning a lane that supposedly bikes are allowed to drive in the middle of, but certainly cars are allowed to use.

  • 2wheeler

    You say “blocking traffic lanes”, I say “legally riding and operating per the CVC”. You say “hostile”, I say “frustrated with dealing with douchebag drivers”. You say “entitled”, I say “asserting their legal rights”.

    No cyclists are shouting at, spitting at or pounding on cars unless those cars are threatening the cyclists by their aggressive actions towards the cyclist.

    Evidence doesn’t support your “truth”. Collisions between cyclists and drivers statistically are entirely the fault of the driver at least 75% of the time.

  • 2wheeler

    Pretty much all of them on any daily walk around my neighborhood. Someone actually stopping; coming to a complete stop is less than 1%. Stopping enough to be reasonable is maybe 10%. The rest are barely trying…they are still rolling through at several miles per hour.

    And most of them are speeding as well, doing 35+ in a 25mph zone. Doing 50 in a 35mph zone.

  • murphstahoe

    How many cyclists do you see “driving dangerously close with the passenger yelling out the window “run her over” and “get the fuck out of the way!”

  • murphstahoe

    “Uhm, maybe that’s because bikes don’t weigh 1,500 or 2,000 pounds.”

    You understand this, but your conclusion is still that we need to deal with the scofflaw cyclists – not with the 1500 to 2000 pound vehicles that humans are proving incapable of handling properly. America!

  • murphstahoe

    If this premise holds true, then we need to limit the amount of time people spend in the use of dangerous objects as best we can. cars, guns, nukes, whatever.

  • 2wheeler

    You suffer from confirmation bias. I stop at stop signs all the time. And ironically, it makes the drivers behind me even MORE angry because it takes me longer to keep back up to speed since I can’t just stomp on a gas pedal.

    The only time I’ve run a red light is on a stale left turn signal where it won’t change for me. Running through a stop sign going straight? Never. You know now many times I’ve seen drivers run through a red light 5 seconds after it has turned red? At 50+ mph?

    You want cyclists to follow the rules “like cars have to” except rarely do. Brilliant.

  • gb52

    AGREE. It’s really not about cars or bikes. It doesn’t matter what mode you’re using. People need to respect other people, follow the rules, and stop rushing around making bad decisions. SLOW DOWNNN.

    I was on a MUNI bus today and a disgruntled and disheveled man was sitting at the front of the bus cursing at everyone getting on. I felt so bad for the grandmother than just brought a stroller on board with a baby inside. She politely asked him to watch his feet and did nothing wrong, but the guy started cursing at them… SAD =[

    It’s hard to have a productive conversation with some of people out on our streets today. Let’s try to be nicer to one another and get along. Or maybe we all need to go back to school to learn how to be nice and share.

  • murphstahoe

    You know what you never hear?

    Motorist hit, dragged by alleged drunk cyclist

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Cyclist-hit-dragged-by-alleged-drunken-driver-6803686.php

  • Jimbo

    really dumb idea to put herself in danger by challenging the driver and passenger. shes looking they didnt beat the crap out of her. clearly the pair wer douche-nozzles, but hard to believe people would continue the fight. And seems somewhat dangerous for streetsblog to commend her in an article for doing so. this is going to get some idiot killed for “standing up”

  • dat

    Seriously dude. When did you give up? For a while your toll posts were class A material. Lately you just sound like you’re too drunk to try. You used to even spellcheck. Please, make just a modicum of effort.

  • prestonjb

    As tech progresses body worn citizen cameras with data uplinks into private protection clouds will be like home alarm systems. Constantly recording.. push a button to mark the location in the vid for quick access. Call the cop and play back the video. Then won’t need to swear to 3foot or the rage as it will all be recorded.

  • prestonjb

    I’ve had a truck follow me. Stopping or trying to get behind them is only option. Usually I carry a point and shoot and start taking pictures. And also call 911 and as soon as they answer I start repeating the license plate and color of the vehicle with the speaker on so the driver gets that the 911 operator knows Im saying the plate over and over. The driver usually tells his buddies to shut up and they leave. If they stay then they talk to the cop and I just show the photos

  • Gene

    People like this is the reason I have a “sports action camera” mounted to my handlebars and record each and every bike ride.

    Unfortunately getting cops to take action on it has so far proven elusive, even when an uber intentionally side-swiped into my lane and only failed to hit me because I anticipated his move from his earlier behavior around me.

  • terminationshok

    What does that have to do with this article?

  • thielges

    The technology is almost here. In some countries dashcams are common in cars. I asked a colleague why and he said that it helps to determine liability and settle insurance claims.

    Increasing numbers of bicyclists will have the same and at the very least they should help diminish survivor bias. Better would be to also establish criminal activity like harassment and assault.

  • @dat – I somehow completely missed @Jimbo’s class A troll material era.

  • dat

    Hey… I’m a generous person.

  • Cáit ní Cheallaigh

    Seriously? Cars just drive right through. It’s gross.

  • David J.

    Fine work, Ms. Dilou.
    I feel fortunate in seldom encountering people that aggro, and have
    still wanted to chase down many a motorist for a wide range of bike
    disrespect. Motorists, can we please start with regularly using turn
    signals when it isn’t completely unequivocal where you’re going . . . ?

  • Charles Siegel

    There are many places where every single car violates the speed limit laws. If you drive at the speed limit on any freeway or on many city streets during non-congested hours, every car will pass you.

  • keenplanner

    Private vehicles are banned on this part of Market. Driver was there illegally.

  • keenplanner

    Hello – Why was a private car on this block of Market? Did the police ticket the driver for illegally driving in a private-car-free zone? Did they find out why the a**hole passenger fled? On probation, perhaps? Was the driver tested for drugs/alcohol?
    Meanwhile, it’s heartening to see a courageous cyclist stand up to an a-hole driver. I wish she would have flattened both of them!

  • tommy t

    I do think that any driver who has ever road-raged should lose his license, even if he didn’t commit physical assault like throwing a full water bottle.

  • murphstahoe

    soon enough pretty much all cars will have multiple cameras – probably 12 – for various driver assist functions – lane changes, braking, backing up, etc… Given that a car costs well into 5 figures at the least, putting however much SDRAM into the computer system won’t be a backbreaker, and they can just continuously record all 12 cameras and then trigger to stop x seconds after an incident.

    Should make drivers a little more cautious knowing the car is watching them!

    Then we’ll have a rash of cyclists pounding on cars in order to trigger the video capture to keep the recording!

  • Chris J.

    People need to respect other people, … Let’s try to be nicer to one another and get along.

    It’s easy to say this. But the harder question is what to do when someone isn’t being nice, respecting others, etc. Do you silently let it happen, try to politely nudge the person, or really take a solid stand, like Casey did?

  • NoeValleyJim

    ” It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!” – Emiliano Zapata

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