75-year-old faces charges relating to harassment, slow driving and unnecessary use of horn

A Colorado motorist featured in a YouTube video that has clocked up close to half a million hits showing him beeping the horn of his SUV at two cyclists while making no attempt to pass them has pleaded not guilty to three counts of aggressive driving.

According to a post on Denver Westword that cites a Colorado Judicial Department spokesman, 75-year-old James Ernst entered the plea in relation to a misdemeanour charge for following the two cyclists in the video, a well as two traffic violations – using his horn inappropriately and driving at too slow a speed.

Some of the incident was captured in that film later posted to YouTube by one of the cyclists involved, Dirk Friel, who also happens to be the founder of Trainingpeaks.org.

After posting the video, he learnt that other cyclists had received similar treatment at the hands of a man assumed to be Ernst, at which point he contacted the Colorado Highway Patrol, who decided to press charges.

Friel said that while he hadn’t been watching the case too closely, Ernst’s insistence that he’d done nothing wrong hadn’t come as too much of a surprise.

"This is probably to be expected, because people tend to go in and try to talk down charges against them," he explained.

"I guess I'm just amazed that my leisurely Sunday morning ride has to lead to a day like this. It's just too bad that it had to end up like this when, to the letter of the law, the cyclists did exactly what they were supposed to do."

He added that the attention the incident garnered was positive in that it had generated a debate that made people think about how they conduct themselves on the road.

"It's good for cyclists' rights to get the word out there that we should all share the road together, cohesively,” he reflected. “I think there's quite a bunch of evidence on our side."

The message of sharing the road doesn’t appear to have got through to everyone, however.

As the post on Denver Westword points out, earlier this month there was another incident in Colorado in which a motorist not only beeped at a group of cyclists but also forced one of them off his bike, which was crushed under the wheels of the pick-up truck involved.

The cyclist, Byron Nix, narrowly escaped serious injury in the incident, in which the motorist turned out to be the grandson of President Herbert Hoover.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.