A young man from London, Ont., is shaken up after an alleged weekend road rage incident during which the driver of a minivan tried to run him over and quickly drove off.
Rogan Bennett, 18, frequently rides his bicycle around the city, and says although this is the third time he’s been hit by a vehicle, it was a first for him to be the target of what he believes was an intentional altercation.
“I’ve never had someone try to actually steer their car into me while I’m right in front of them, so that was definitely jarring,” he said.
“Drivers need to start caring more about what’s going on. This is my third time being hit now and I’m just tired of it.”
Bennett was on his way home from a ride in the Oakridge neighbourhood in west London on Saturday evening when the car in front of him was at a stop sign for awhile. According to Bennett, when he went around the car, the driver squealed the car’s tires and tried to run him off the road.
After that, Bennett noticed the driver was swerving around the road and ran the next stop sign, so he tried to take a picture of the licence plate to report the incident. That’s when he was hit.
Dashcam footage of London cyclist struck by minivan
“You shouldn’t drive that way anywhere, but especially not in a neighbourhood at night. I went to take a picture, got off my bike, stepped in front of his car and he said, ‘Do you wanna die, kid?’ And then tried to run me over essentially,” he said.
In September, Jibin Benoy, an international student, died in a hit and run while riding his bike along Hamilton Road. Last month, a Western University student broke his arm after being struck by a bus near Sarnia Road.
Our collective safety needs to trump getting to Costco on time.– David Shellnutt, The Biking Lawyer LLP
Another driver captured the incident involving Bennett on his dashboard camera, and helped Bennett call police.
Bennett said he’s relieved that a sore foot is the extent of his injuries. London police say they have yet to investigate the incident.
Bennett said he won’t let getting hit by a car stop him from riding his bike. (Submitted by Rogan Bennett)
“The first thing I thought was, ‘Are you kidding me … how does this keep happening?’ And it’s always right in our neighbourhood,” said Bennett’s mom, Heather Randall.
Molly Miksa, executive director of London Cycle Link, said she was shocked while watching the footage and can only imagine how that would traumatize a cyclist.
“There’s lots of scary stuff. It’s not easy to be a cyclist,” she said. “People are getting verbally abused and called names as they ride, so those are all deterrents to being on a bike.”
Infrastructure changes, enhanced laws needed
The infrastructure for bike lanes plays a great role in these incidents, said David Shellnutt, a Toronto-based lawyer whose work focuses on cycling and personal injury law.
His firm, The Biking Lawyer, represents an “unfortunate amount of seriously injured cyclists” from across Ontario, Shellnutt said. Vulnerable road users, who include cyclists and pedestrians, are considered as an afterthought in road design, he said.
“In Ontario, people treat driving as a right and not a privilege,” he said. “Bad behaviour goes unpunished because we have incredibly weak laws when it comes to people who drive dangerously.
“Our collective safety needs to trump getting to Costco on time.”
David Shellnutt is a Toronto-based lawyer at the Biking Lawyer LLP representing injured cyclists. (Submitted by David Shellnutt)
Shellnutt hopes the province will pass the Moving Ontarians Safely Act, 2022, which would amend the Highway Traffic Act to provide consequences to those who cause injury or death to certain road users.
“Without strict penalties, we’re not going to see the change in behaviour that’s at the root of all this stuff. You can’t just send out a bunch of officers to start ticketing people, it’s got to be accompanied with infrastructure change and enhanced laws,” he said.
People need to report dangerous drivers because it makes for stronger data to create change, Shellnutt said. He commends Bennett for taking the steps he did to get the licence plate number of the vehicle that he believes tried to hit him.
Bennett’s mom said she worries for the safety of other cyclists. She urges drivers to remember they’re the biggest objects on a road and to be cautious of that.
But he said the incident has not brought down his spirit.
“I am not going to stop riding my bike. I’ve been hit before and I will just keep on pedalling.”