New York cyclist films harassment from driver and bystanders

Rafael Huerta filmed incident in New York borough facing problems for cyclists

by Sarah Barth   May 12, 2013  

Harassment video still

Rafael Huerta was cycling along a South Williamsburg street, in New York when he was subjected to three bouts of harassment from a driver attempting to pass him.

What the driver didn't know was that he was filming the entire scene - and later posted it to YouTube.

The video below shows Huerta repeatedly being squeezed into the parked cars at the side of the road by a grey Toyota minivan. The driver eventually gets out and accused Huerta of harassing him, and then a number of bystanders join in, blocking the cyclist's path.

He panics and is forced to call 911 and is eventually helped out by a plain clothes policeman.

But Huerta urges viewers not to jump to conclusions about the altercation between the pair. He writes in the video's description: “Please refrain from using racial comments…This man doesn’t represent the Jewish community…And I don’t represent the biking community either.”

But cyclists in Williamsburg are not unused to heavy-handed treatment. Cyclists have recently been ticketed by police for riding along a quiet pavement to get onto a cycle bridge, thanks to poor signposting.

And in 2010 there was a heated row between Hasidic Jews in the area and cyclists over pedestrian safety around bike lanes.

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Lots of pregnant men in that vid. Seems the bearded guy was making something out of nothing. Think I would have flattened him within a minute for that kind of driving.

posted by jimmyd [91 posts]
12th May 2013 - 19:01

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Copper should have arrested the bearded asshole!

"Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints".

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posted by LondonCalling [146 posts]
12th May 2013 - 19:03

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Just shows that dickwittery behind the wheel knows no racial or religious boundaries.

posted by paulfg42 [350 posts]
12th May 2013 - 19:09

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Imagine this,

Our cyclist, goes to the right at 16sec (First time Horn is used) or at 18sec (2nd time Horn is used), when there is room.

Our cyclist doesn't "tap" on the vehicule and avoid language like get the "fuck out of the way"

Our cyclist avoids verbal confrontation.

Doesn't ride in the middle of the lane from 1:31 to 1:50.

Doen't engage in verbal escalation by saying "hit Me,..."

and rather reply to the remark that he is not allowed to ride in the middle of the street by saying " You're right, i'll be carefull not to do it. Have a good day Sir" and leaves.

There are situation in life that are not worth it !

KFC

posted by Krazyfrenchkanuck [10 posts]
12th May 2013 - 21:29

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Right in the door zone, yeah great.

posted by northstar [936 posts]
12th May 2013 - 21:59

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Krazyfrenchkanuck wrote:
Imagine this,

Our cyclist, goes to the right at 16sec (First time Horn is used) or at 18sec (2nd time Horn is used), when there is room.

Our cyclist doesn't "tap" on the vehicule and avoid language like get the "fuck out of the way"

Our cyclist avoids verbal confrontation.

Doesn't ride in the middle of the lane from 1:31 to 1:50.

Doen't engage in verbal escalation by saying "hit Me,..."

and rather reply to the remark that he is not allowed to ride in the middle of the street by saying " You're right, i'll be carefull not to do it. Have a good day Sir" and leaves.

There are situation in life that are not worth it !

Obviously NOT a cyclist^^^^^

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posted by Gkam84 [8134 posts]
12th May 2013 - 23:43

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Really, you want the cyclist to cower in fear and prostrate themselves at the feet of fat oafish louts in (surprisingly roomy Wink ) minivans, and apologise for using the road?

Fat arrogant oafs like this one already believe they own the road, to hell with entrenching that idea in their thick skulls!

Be honest, how many of you watching this wanted to wrap their bikes round his bearded pus? Angry

posted by moonbucket [55 posts]
13th May 2013 - 1:08

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@GKam84
FYI, I rode 10000km last year, 72000km in the last 8 years.
This means that I have been confronted to agressive idiots driving cars routinely during this period.

After an incident similar to the beginning of the video, in 2011, I've been the victim of road rage - the guy had a baseball bat in is car.
I had no camera, there were no witness.
I've been found unconscious with a severe head trauma.
I now have memory and concentration problems.
My personality has change - I have Severe Mood Swing due to a Frontal Syndrom.
I can no longer occupy the same type of job an can only work 2 hours a day max.
My wife has left me, unable to deal with what I have become (I don't blame her).

The police was never able to find the guy.

What I've learn from my experience is that you CANNOT CHANGE idiots, the best strategy is to try to avoid them.

These Idiots have one thing in common, EVERYONE is WRONG except them.

Cycling is now the only thing that keeps me alive.
So I "Obviously" call myself a "cyclist".

KFC

posted by Krazyfrenchkanuck [10 posts]
13th May 2013 - 1:35

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Male pride sure has a lot to answer for. As always.
Infantile.

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

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posted by aslongasicycle [250 posts]
13th May 2013 - 7:43

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KFC on the money, completely agree this view having been assaulted (punched in the face x3 in London.)

BUT

It is very very very very difficult to switch off that 'fight back' response!!!

There is a crucial difference between being assertive and being provocative and I think it takes a lot of practice to remain *merely* assertive in the face of such behaviour. Staying merely assertive probably would have saved me one sore chin (and I was lucky there, I would have been properly beaten up if I hadn't found a group of Polish builders to hide behind!)

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posted by alotronic [231 posts]
13th May 2013 - 8:57

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Ultimately everyone has a point at which tolerance turns to defiance, usually at about the same time that the person decides liberties are being taken.

The key thing is matching your physical ability to defend yourself to that threshold. If you don't posses that ability, then your annoyance threshold needs to be high.

Not turning defence to simple aggression, however, is equally important.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
13th May 2013 - 9:48

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A fairly key point here is that the Cyclist *does* actually have the right to be in that position in the lane, (NY State VTL Article 34, Section 1234).

The driver has a legal obligation to pass at a safe distance (NYS VTL Article 25, Section 1122-a) and prevent collision with the cyclist (NYS VTL Article 26, Section 1146) and was clearly at fault from the outset.

That said, perhaps the wiser move would have been pulling over, letting the vehicle pass and then filing a complaint with the Police for disorderly conduct.

posted by Velo_Alex [62 posts]
13th May 2013 - 10:34

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Apparently at 2:00 you can hear the fat lunitic threaten him and order someone to fetch the person to carry out the threat but I didn't pick this up on my quick scan through the footage.

Hopefully the Police deal with it but I agree the cyclist could have avoided confrontation but it does stagger me that drivers believe they have the right to behave like this.

posted by georgee [118 posts]
13th May 2013 - 11:18

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After the first time the car squeezes him, i would've banged on it too, but then to try and pass and get back in front when there's no space is stupidity and escalated the situation. If he stayed behind it instead of passing then the guy drives off, annoyed but had proved his point.

posted by md6 [131 posts]
13th May 2013 - 12:03

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Like this one, and I am really sorry to hear of your experience. I am tested everyday on my commute through cornwall (it is more to do with 'locals' driving fast along their regular rural routes in my case) and to keep mindful that the only person I can do anything about is MYSELF, is not always easy. I try not to do anything that will provoke aggression, although that is not to say I will not sometimes assert my rights (in order to promote my safety). I try to reward good behavoir (ie wave at those who do give me room and wait to overtake) and not to react to the bad.

I also appreciate that however I behave may well affect how that driver will react to another cyclist in the future, if I am as kind and compassionate as possible, just maybe, they might not be so aggressive to the next cyclist. Every cyclist has a responsibility to behave responsibly as their actions may cause problems for other cyclists (well that is what I think anyway).

posted by doubledex [16 posts]
13th May 2013 - 12:04

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I really think that when the driver first squeezed him over I would have stopped and either let him drive on or pedal back the other way. No way you could win when you are in hostile territory. Plus they really out weighed him. Get his license plate and turn him in at least to make yourself feel better.

posted by glock59 [10 posts]
13th May 2013 - 14:01

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Bike Snob NYC covered this on Friday with his usual diplomatic bent (the first part's from someone called Spencer)

"Here’s a firsthand example of the kind of vigilante “justice” Hasidic Jews have long enforced on cyclists in Williamsburg and other areas in which they live. Rafael Huerta was riding his bike home when a Jewish man accused him of slamming into the man’s car, though it’s unclear in the video whether contact was actually made. It looks to me like Huerta was riding safely and near the shoulder of the road, and for what it’s worth, he can be heard saying he “tapped” the car but that no dent was made.

None of this is "unclear" to anybody who's ever ridden a bike, especially in Brooklyn. The guy in the penguin costume was obviously squeezing the cyclist between his shitty van and the parked cars, and the cyclist tapped on the car because, you know, he has a self-preservation instinct"

posted by spen [69 posts]
13th May 2013 - 19:01

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Both parties idiots
This cyclist WANTED a confontation.
When 1st incident he should have pulled over, maybe took a drink etc. and let the wanker drive off

Clive Alive

posted by septic77 [4 posts]
13th May 2013 - 19:29

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In fairness, he shouldn't have tried to push past when the vehicle boxed him in, but of course, the driver was in the wrong.

posted by alexholt3 [46 posts]
13th May 2013 - 20:35

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Dude sounds like Grover from the Muppets.

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

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posted by Cooks [467 posts]
13th May 2013 - 21:14

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Couldn't agree with you more!!! Smile

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posted by BenMWilliamson [28 posts]
13th May 2013 - 21:54

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Thugs. End of story.

posted by PhilWalker [30 posts]
13th May 2013 - 22:55

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Think the cyclist played it well as he could not knowing what was happening. Shame o any who feel they would've fared better without ever having been through it themselves.

Blubber had some balls though, doing it all on camera

[custom] '12 Cannondale CAAD10 - Rival

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posted by badkneestom [126 posts]
14th May 2013 - 3:42

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moonbucket wrote:
Really, you want the cyclist to cower in fear and prostrate themselves at the feet of fat oafish louts in (surprisingly roomy Wink ) minivans, and apologise for using the road?

Fat arrogant oafs like this one already believe they own the road, to hell with entrenching that idea in their thick skulls!

Be honest, how many of you watching this wanted to wrap their bikes round his bearded pus? Angry

I'd have drop kicked the fat beardy and then smashed his "not so MINI van" up; he looks like he needs to walk a bit more.

I love the smell of cleats (mexican accent, you do the jokes)

posted by paulfrank [79 posts]
14th May 2013 - 19:46

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Hope the fat driver meets his maker soon, then the roads will be safer. As a PR exercise, the fat driver and his telepathic muppets have scored an own goal.

posted by Bob McCall [14 posts]
14th May 2013 - 20:34

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you never know who you will be dealing with once things escalate - I certainly hope I wouldn't let myself get drawn in if in such a situation, I'd rather get home to the family in one piece, even with a slight dent in my pride and sense of justice.

I'm certainly not sold on the idea of using cameras as a defensive measure, it seems to make situations escalate as one feels empowered by recording evidence. As said above, fine line between assertiveness and aggression.

posted by Metjas [240 posts]
14th May 2013 - 21:06

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Beardy pregnant man is a knob and a menace, he used his car as a weapon and then got in a mood when he didn't get his way. Maybe the cyclist would have been safer backing down but does anyone think for a second that the driver wonn't do it again and again until he hurts someone?
Fair play to the driver coming the other way for coming to the rescue in a firm but calm manner.
I'd be interested to hear what was said in the languages i didn't understand.

posted by monkimark [12 posts]
15th May 2013 - 21:46

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its interesting looking from the outside... typical of the general sense that we - cyclists - are somehow in the way stopping them - drivers - from feeling free... this driver escalated the whole thing to the farse you see here - its encouraging that the other drivers came and took some control but - WTF - its my general view that the roads are more aggressive feeling now than in other times... makes it tiring and a little emotionally draining to have to cope with them every day...

posted by silkred [13 posts]
16th May 2013 - 13:52

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Not sure about US law but in the UK the cyclist was riding in a proper way, there was insufficient room for a car to pass safely (in accordance with the highway code) as the lane they were travelling in was a single lane with no overtaking allowed. Therefore I see no reason for the cyclist to say "You're right I'll be carefull not to do it. Have a good day Sir". In addition to this the car driver attempts to drive the cyclist off the road so I am baffled to hear excuses being made for the drivers actions. Why wouldn't you give a little tap on the car in this situation?!

But more importantly the driver has totally the wrong idea that the car is king! Roads area a shared space.

posted by richteebis [23 posts]
17th May 2013 - 13:58

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It's like being surrounded by a group of enormously large penguins.

The driver getting out certainly didn't feel as threatening as some of the scum on London roads (minus the part about being run into parked cars).

Tripod16

posted by Tripod16 [107 posts]
17th May 2013 - 14:55

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