• Thu June 22 2006
  • Posted Jun 22, 2006
A DOT spokeswoman says that an incident like the one David Lippold experienced is unusual. By TOM ALEX REGISTER STAFF WRITER June 22, 2006 Bicyclist David Lippold has had drivers shout at him, throw firecrackers at him and wave at him with a single digit, but until this week no one has screeched to a stop and charged him like a bull. "He got out and came at me, and I thought, 'You've got to be kidding me,' " Lippold said. "The next thing I know, he's hitting me." Police are trying to locate the motorist who assaulted him and broke his prescription sunglasses in the 700 block of Polk Boulevard in Des Moines Monday evening. So far there have been no arrests, but a witness wrote down a license plate number. A fourth-grade teacher at Sacred Heart School, Lippold puts about 300 miles on his bicycle each week. "We were finishing up a ride, and we went around a parked car," Lippold said. "The driver purposefully veered in close to us, probably because we slowed him down for about two or three seconds." Lippold asked the driver, through his open window, "What's the deal with that? Is it worth hitting somebody?" The driver slammed on the brakes. Des Moines Police Officer Mathieu Dahlen said in a police report, "The suspect told him to get off his bike because he was going to 'kick his ass.' And then he hit him six or more times in the face..." Lippold tried to fight back. "But he must have weighed well over 300 pounds," he said. Passers-by stopped to break it up. The man got back into his sport utility vehicle and drove away. "There's a lot of aggressive driving in the city and the suburbs," said Lippold. "It's unfortunate. ... The farther you go out into the country, the more courteous drivers are. Some of them will even wave with all five fingers." Some motorists have nothing against bicycle riders but worry about hitting them by accident. Ann Hetland of Story City said: "I have come so close to rear-ending a bike rider and bike so many times. There are curves, dips and rises," and stop signs that bicyclists often do not obey. Transportation officials have been trying to get people to find alternative ways of getting to work to ease road congestion during the Interstate Highway 235 reconstruction project, but the uneasy relationship between motorists and bicyclists, deteriorating recreational trails and aggressive drivers have discouraged some commuters from riding their bikes to work. Dena Gray-Fisher, a Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said an assault such as the one Monday is unusual. "I haven't heard of anyone getting out of their vehicle" to confront a bicyclist, she said. "That is still rare. The main thing is we have to share the road safely with bicyclists."

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