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Driver strikes man biking with children twice, after heated exchange

RICHMOND, Va. --Police have asked for help identifying a vehicle that struck a person who was bicycling with his family.

At approximately 7:47 p.m., Monday, officers responded to the 3100 block of Bute Lane, in the Carillon neighborhood, for the report of a bicyclist hit. The victim told police he was riding bikes with his children when he came to an intersection and stopped. The victim stated he noticed a blue Ford Mustang that was driving in an unsafe manner.

There was an exchange of words between the victim and the driver of the Mustang, police said. The Mustang pulled off, turned around, and started to head toward the victim and his family who were attempting to cross the intersection.

The driver of the Mustang then struck him with his vehicle’s passenger side mirror. The victim attempted to get back on his bicycle and was struck a second time by the driver. The victim suffered non-life threatening injuries.

The vehicle is described as a blue Ford Mustang with the passenger side mirror missing. The driver is described as a black male.

Anyone with information about a vehicle matching this description or the driver is asked to contact Major Crimes Detective N. Reese at (804) 646-0712 or Crime Stoppers at 780-1000 or at www.7801000.com. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used; all Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

Local cyclists have been assaulted by drivers at least twice over the past couple of weeks, making headlines at a time when the city is working toward its  Vision Zero initiative and improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety. These improvements include high visibility crosswalks, accessible ramps, pedestrian countdown signals and improved signal timings. The City said that these improvements will improve pedestrian safety at more than 230 intersections of major city thoroughfares.

The city is also still implementing parts of its Bicycle Master Plan, with projects like the 15-block bike corridor along Franklin Street that will create almost two miles of buffered bicycle lanes. A survey of residents for the Bicycle Master Plan indicated that 90 percent of respondents are discouraged in some capacity by lack of bicycle lanes and or paths. More respondents indicated a willingness to frequently use a pathway that is a buffered bike lane versus a standard bike lane or a sharrow marking on a street shared with vehicular traffic.

Video shows passenger hurl bottle at cyclists in Henrico, striking one

A couple of weeks ago, just outside the city limits,  a driver hurled a water bottle at a group of cyclists, out of a car moving around 40 mph. Richmond cyclist Oscar Ruiz was biking with two other cyclists back to Stone Brewing, near the end of a charity ride on March 17. The routes led cyclists out of the city and into Varina, crossing over the Capital Trail at times.  Ruiz and his friends were not far from the 7-11 at Route 5 and Osborne Turnpike when a white SUV pulled up beside them.

In the video, after several cars pass the cyclists with no issue, one white SUV drives past with the window half down and the passenger throws the bottle towards the three cyclists. Weighing just over a pound --and feeling like a lot more when traveling around 40 mph -- Ruiz said the full bottle missed one cyclist’s head and hit him on the left arm.

“There was no provocation, so it was strictly they saw an opportunity to pitch a water bottle at a cyclist and I don’t understand that," Ruiz said. “What would your response be if your relative fell off a bike because they got nailed while riding -- would that be okay with you?”

“Why would they do that, I don’t understand," he added.

It isn’t clear right now if the crime would be a criminal or traffic violation. For instance, Virginia Code  18.2-154 labels "throwing a missile(classified as any moving object) at an occupied vehicle" as a felony criminal offense. A few years ago, five teens were charged with felonies for throwing snowballs at cars in the West End. The code applies to any missile thrown at train, cars, watercraft, motor vehicle or “other vehicle.”

“Clearly there is a violation of law, whether it falls under the code you are referencing or another one, it would be based on further investigation,” said Lieutenant Chris Garrett, based on a reporter's description. Garrett said events like this are not commonly reported to police.

CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said the person could be charged with assault and battery, a class one misdemeanor punishable up to 12 months in jail.

"Setting something in motion with the intent to hit is just like hitting someone with your own hand," Stone said.

Read more, here.