Driver who hit cyclist in Minneapolis couldn’t be bothered to stop

This is what it looks like when a cyclist tries to get from one place to another in Minneapolis.

Aaron Nelson, 26, a bike courier, says he was riding on Lake Street on the evening of April 29 when a driver in a car hit him.

“There was a car behind me who was upset that I was in the road and honked at me then intentionally swerved to hit me,” he tells the Alexandria Echo Press.

Nelson split his forehead open — 13 stitches — broke his thumb, cracked some teeth and has road rash. There might be some nerve damage.

But, hey, at least the driver of the car got to where he/she was going without much delay because he/she took off. That must have been an important trip on a Sunday Saturday night.

“I almost would have been happier if it was someone who was drunk and just didn’t know they hit somebody,” he said. “I’ve had people yell at me or chase me down, since I’m biking for work all the time. To think someone would actually do that (on purpose) is upsetting.”

He’s been recuperating at his mother’s house in Alexandria, Minn., but returned to Minneapolis Thursday.

A GoFundMe page — has been set up for him. He says he doesn’t know how long he’ll be out of work. And he’ll need a new bike and helmet.

  • MrE85

    That helmet likely saved his life…no thanks to the hit-and-run driver. Get well soon, Aaron.

  • dave

    IS there a company supplying 360 degree cameras to mount on a helmet? Just a loop of the last 5 mins would help.

    Every biker has stories, a judge re-viewing the tape would have no trouble issuing a warrant for the offender.

    IF we really want to stop illegal moves, award any who supply video of traffic violation a % of the fine. You would soon see more traffic cameras.

    • Barton

      Not yet. but there are a few that have good nearly 180 degree cameras that loop the last 4 hours.

    • Interesting to note while he was wearing a helmet, nobody ever found it at the scene, attesting to the violence of the collision.

    • When I bike I now have a GoPro on for the entire ride.

    • Thomas Mercier

      There are tail lights with integrated cameras and plenty of decent front mount ones. But you can pretty quickly exceed the value of your bike just trying to protect yourself from idiots. A sad requirement.

      • Rob

        But they don’t exceed the value of the rider’s life.

      • jon

        Not even protecting you life, just identify your assailant after the fact… A camera is only a deterrent if some one bothers to notice it…

        • Thomas Mercier

          My wife doesn’t like when I refer to it as the insurance policy.

    • Jerry

      There are several action camera makers that have 360 degree cameras. I know Nikon makes one. I don’t know if it is any good, though.

      https://www.nikonusa.com/en/nikon-products/action-cameras/index.page

  • While the usual cause for crashes is inattention, this kind of aggression is definitely out there. Once while walking along the shoulder of a road without a sidewalk in Woodbury, well out of the driving lane and facing traffic, a guy in a Buick aimed his car right at me and gave me the finger as I dived for the ditch. Some people think pedestrians and bikes are out of place on roads. There was a fatal car-bike crash in Lake Elmo when the car driver mowed down the bicyclist “because he was depressed”… Who knows when and why these things will happen?

    • A Buick?

      Another old guy late for his doctor’s appointment over his prostate problem.

      • I told my wife if I ever start looking at Buicks in the showroom, just shoot me and get it over with.

      • Rob

        Hope he has good insurance! : )

    • 212944

      As a Woodbarian (Woodburite? Woodburisotian?) myself, the only part of your story I question is … well, nothing.

      Walking or biking in Woodbury is taking your life into your own hands. God knows the WPD isn’t enforcing traffic laws there (but they do cruise neighborhoods to write tickets for watering the lawn off-schedule; not the city, but honest-to-goodness WPD officers).

      • Unless you live in Wedgewood. Nobody messes with the people in Wedgewood. :*)

        At least Woodbury has bike paths and had the good sense not to allow homeowners to build right up to a lake… reserving that space for paths.

        • 212944

          Oh, yeah … the paths in Woodbury are fantastic! Lots of them, wide and well-maintained. Love how in many neighborhoods they cut through blocks as nice, wooded paths.

      • Try crossing Radio Drive with a WALK signal. It’s scary – drivers completely ignore you, turning right into the crosswalk even after making eye contact, and turning left from behind you, also into the crosswalk. Crossing the other direction – same thing only reversed. I complained to the city about this after nearly getting hit while walking to the dentist’s office and they said contact the county, so apparently zero interest. I still haven’t decided whether it’s safer to walk the bike across in the crosswalk or take my chances in a driving lane at a green light.

        • Lisa Weik is very responsive. Have you talked to her?

          • Nope, thanks for the tip.

          • She’s on Twitter, too. She’s really good. And I think she still is chair of the board, and doesn’t live far from Radio Drive.

            I had mentioned (via Twitter) once about flashing yellow arrows and she saw it and had the county public works head get in touch with me.

            I didn’t get my way on the subject but that’s OK. I got listened to and respected and I can’t ask for much more than the opportunity.

  • Mike

    Has there been any attempt to pull video from nearby surveillance cameras to identify the vehicle? The civil libertarian in me detests those things, but since they’re omnipresent these days, why not put them to legitimate use?

    Slightly off-topic: yesterday in a Star Trib poll, 60-some percent of respondents said they’ve NEVER texted while driving. Yeah, right. This is why you believe opinion polls at your own risk.

    • Jerry

      Considering newspaper readers tend to be older, and older people aren’t as into texting, it might not be that far off.

      • Mike

        According to the poll, even 54% of 18-34 year olds questioned claimed “never”.

    • jon

      maybe it’s true… maybe 60% of people never text and drive, and 40% of people are just doing it so much so often that it appears that the problem is far worse than it is… That’d be some observational basis.

      OR maybe Jerry is right and there is some sampling basis….

      OR maybe there is some self reporting basis… that’s how 1% of all US births became virgin births…

      There are lots of ways to screw up a survey, and lots of ways to make it appear as if a survey is screwed up… statisticians try to account for these things, but reality isn’t always so easy to measure.

    • That was my reaction. People are lying to the pollsters. It made me question all the other previous poll results in the lastest run.

      I noticed today, by the way, the banner ad atop the STrib is for an Amazon product that makes it easier to put your smartphone on your windshield so you can see it while you drive.

      • Mike

        Yep, and as someone who drives to work every day, it’s not just the youngsters either. No matter how fashionable it is to always blame them.

      • John

        I have texted while driving. I no longer do.

        Also – My car does not have a GPS built in. I use one of those mounts from Amazon to put my cell phone on the dash as my GPS. Set the destination before I leave my parking space – don’t touch it until I get where I ‘m going.

        I have decided that there’s no text so important that it can’t wait until I get where I’m going. (side note – if on a road trip, if I’m expecting something important, I’ll pull over the check if it’s come through, or if I hear/feel the thing go off – pull over if it’s that important. Doesn’t come up that often though).

      • mattaudio

        I never text and drive, but I also drive at or often below the speed limit (often 25 in a 30). And I bet Bob believes me on that.

        • // I also drive at or often below the speed limit

          I can tell you firsthand that it’s a darned small club.

          • Postal Customer

            In Minnesota? No.

        • Kassie

          I generally drive slightly below the speed limit on any street where there are pedestrians or bicyclists, but I totally speed on the highway.

      • Rob

        Another example that Life Is Cheap. Gods help us.

    • Rob

      I’m a card-carrying ACLU member, and have no issues with traffic cams that are posted at public intersections.

  • jon

    People in cars feel invincible, both because they are surrounded by a cage that fills with air bags in the event of a collision and because they can just drive away.

    I’ve had firecracker thrown at me out of car windows, people have hit my handle bars with their mirrors while shouting profanity at me (on a 4 lane road, where they could have just gone around, no other traffic blocking them), oh and one woman got mad at me for being in her way, well me and a city bus were both in her way we had the right of way- but that didn’t matter, she was still willing to tap my bike (nothing serious) shout at me for it, probably willing to run into a bus as well… and on one glorious occasion, profanity laden car speed past me an a 1/2 mile or so down the road the squad car lite up and pulled the bastard over.

    Motorists would do well to remember what it’s like to not be in a padded cage… Increased vehicle safety over the years seems to have made the roads less safe for any of us not in a vehicle.

    Edit: this is all on the bicycle… people are much more accommodating of the motorcycle, I don’t know if that’s because of the extra ~500lbs of mass that would be more damaging in a collision, or because if they don’t finish the job the motorcycle can chase them down and get a plate number… I mean they still try to kill me on the motorcycle, but it seems to be much more unintentional I didn’t see you type stuff instead of actively shouting profanity while they make contact… could also be the “body armor” I’m wearing when on the motorcycle……. further study is needed.

    • Nivek Yentrouc

      When you’re on your motorcycle, you’re doing the speed limit and not slowing down traffic. Big difference to our in too much of a hurry culture.

      • jon

        Some times I am some times I’m going well below the speed limit… Regardless no one tries to push this luck to get as close as they can to a motorcycle, so many people try to inch as close as they can to the bicycle…

      • John

        I’ve been passed by cars while cycling at/slightly above the speed limit.

        Apparently my 25+ mph in a 25 was not fast enough for them.

        Yes, there was a bike trail parallel to the road. No, I wasn’t on it, because that would have been a bad idea for the other folks on the trail.

        Scared me half to death.

      • Jawn K

        Cyclists are NOT the dominating factor for slow traffic movement on city streets. Its four wheeled vehicles that, when compared to bikes, take up a massive amount of space and have pathetic agility. I have lived in an uban centre for decades, and I absolutey crush travel times compared to cars. You want to get around in a city FASTER? Stop bitching about it and get on a bike. You and all the other motorists that complain about traffic problems should try doing something that actually fixes what you are upset about. Driving a car and complaining about traffic going slow (because of congestion caused by four wheeled vehicles, NOT bikes) is insanity.

      • Rob

        My guess is that any traffic engineer would tell you that bikes aren’t a major contributor to traffic congestion. Commuters and people who refuse to take alternate means of transpo are the culprits.

    • Rob

      I’ve been riding motorcycles for three decades, and there’s no comparison between riding a 750lb cycle that can accelerate faster than other motor vehicles, ride at the same speed as other vehicles while also occupying the same parts of the road, and being able to make instant adjustments to changing traffic situations – and riding on the side of the road on a 25lb, motorless bike that is totally at the mercy of clueless drivers.

      • jon

        So my last example where the cop pulled the guy over, it was a residential Street at night, and I was probably speeding in the bicycle, speed limit was posted at 20 and I can (well could) do that easy on a flat stretch of road.

        I think there is a sense of security in knowing that legal or not you can out run your victim… Or the image that comes with being in a bicycle doesn’t inspire the same respect as the image of being in a motorcycle…..

        • Rob

          Not sure I’d want to be riding a bicycle very fast at night. One big unseen pothole and that’s all she wrote.

  • Barton

    there is a page set up to help with Aaron’s medical costs – which should be the responsibility of the person responsible, but the driver was too cowardly/self-righteous to stop. Not sure: can I share that here?

    • Check the last paragraph. Is that the one?

      • Barton

        ugh… reading comprehension is important, so is reading to the end of the article… apologies Bob. Should have known you wouldn’t miss that.

        • I appreciate that readers like you are backstopping me and ready to add additional content to posts. That’s the way it should work.

    • Thomas Mercier

      In MN health coverage for bike/car collisions fall to your own car insurance first, the car insurance of a household member second, and only to the driver if neither of the first two are present.
      I’ve been hit twice and the first person, who hit me harder than the second, was remorseful. I’ve forgiven her but not the guy who thought he did nothing wrong by rolling through a stop sign only to find me on his hood.

      • RBHolb

        Aaron may not own a car.

        • Thomas Mercier

          Hence the three stages of protection. Although I realize it still fails if the third stage fled.

          • RBHolb

            True, although Aaron may have passed the no-fault threshold for bringing a personal injury action already.

            Aside from the insurance law aspects, the motorist has a moral responsibility to pay up.

  • mattaudio

    If motorists can’t obey the rules of the road, we should take away their lanes. Rid the city of cars.

    • Will

      Seriously?

      • mattaudio

        Absolutely seriously

        • Jeff K

          COMPLETE ANARCHY

      • Roads weren’t originally designed for cars.

        • Will

          We also had a huge horse poop problem back then too…

          • Ben

            I prefer poop over getting jacked in the air 6 ft and crushing my face on the pavement.

          • Jerry

            Treat it, bag it, sell it at Home Depot.

      • D.Robot

        Bicycles existed before automobiles.

    • Ben Chorn
  • Jared

    My throat is still a little rough from yelling at a car that rolled through a stop sign on my commute home yesterday. Fortunately (unfortunately for my voice and the following sense of shame) they were stuck in a long line for a light just down the path so I kind of went off as I rode past, repeatedly telling them they ran a stop sign with a few expletives thrown in. I felt bad afterwards since those incidents usually aren’t intentional and I went past the point of letting them know what happened.

    My main concern is that I’ve made someone have the type of attitude towards bikers that causes this level of aggression. I’ve had people honk and then swerve towards me as they pass before (no damage, luckily) and it feels very different from casual indifference or inattentive driving, even though both are infuriating and can be scary.

    Anyways, just felt like getting that off my chest and this post brought it back to mind. Really happy he’s alright and thank you Bob for all of the posts reminding people to be safe and attentive drivers.

  • Pasting this link in the unlikely event you don’t follow Brauer on Twitter.

    https://twitter.com/dbrauer/status/860473847123894272

    • STPCommuter

      Wow, a victim-blaming nurse. Nice.

  • Al

    Good friend had drinks thrown at her while biking last month. In the bike lane. I don’t get it.

    • Kassie

      I had firecrackers thrown at me once riding into work.

      • Al

        What is WRONG with people?

  • joetron2030

    All regular/frequent cyclers would do well to have a GoPro or similar mounted on their helmets and running whenever they’re riding.

    • Thomas Mercier

      That was my wife’s valentine’s day present to me after the second time within one year that i was hit.

      • joetron2030

        Ugh! Sorry that’s happened to you.

  • Jennifer

    Kudos to you, Bob, on fostering such a civil conversation about biking. I’ve been bike commuting 9-10 months of each of the last 17 years, and I’ve experienced many of these things too. For a while I had a basket on the back of my bike and someone actually dropped their fast food garbage in it at a stoplight! That one was so ridiculous that I had to laugh.

  • Pete Atterberg

    The GoFundMe page tells a completely different story.

    “At at the intersection of Aldrich and Lake some champion decided to run a sign at 40mph and sent me on an adventure 6 feet in the air which ended when my face met pavement.”

    Nothing like what he told the Echo Press.

    Cyclists do not have it easy and are constantly in danger due to unsafe and inconsiderate motorists. The driver should have stopped no matter what happened and deserves appropriate consequences for his actions. I feel bad for the guy, don’t get me wrong, but he is clearly fabricating a story.

    • //Nothing like what he told the Echo Press.

      From the Echo Press story:

      “Originally I was told I was heading west on Lake Street and someone ran a stop sign,” Nelson said. “But I talked to a police officer and it sounds like when I was between Lyndale (Avenue) and Aldrich (Avenue), there was a car behind me who was upset that I was in the road and honked at me then intentionally swerved to hit me.”

      • Pete Atterberg

        I did read that and I shouldn’t have claimed it was Aaron fabricating the story as he can’t remember. I just don’t understand how someone running a sign at 40 mph, sending him 6 feet in the air turns into “honked and intentionally swerved.”

        • STPCommuter

          Does it matter? Facts are he’s pretty seriously injured and regardless of which driver hit him, neither stopped to help him out. It sound like he got knocked out so cut him some slack.

        • Minneapolis guy

          he hit his head. he lost his memory….

  • MarkUp

    There is no sum of money that could get me to ride a bike down Lake Street.

    Is there any update on Mackenzie Jensen? He was the young man hit with a piece of concrete while biking in Uptown 2 summers ago. I can’t find any follow up articles on him.

    • Kassie

      Depends what part of Lake. East Lake isn’t so bad.

      And, sometimes, you have to ride down Lake because your destination is on Lake. Or it is the fastest way to go and you are a bike messenger. Or because if people avoid Lake, it will never become more bike friendly. The more bikes are on a road, the safer the road is.

      • MarkUp

        I never said Nelson didn’t have a good reason to bike down that street. Lake Street is terrifying for a lot of reasons, and even as a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk I the traffic is my primary concern.

        //The more bikes are on a road, the safer the road is.

        I’ve read the same argument for getting rid of the skyways downtown (ie. more people on the streets make them safer). Do you think we should ditch the Greenway to push more cyclists on Lake St?

        • Jerry

          The Greenway is faster, and better for children

      • Ben

        I have to agree with MarkUp about riding down Lake, even East Lake, as calm as it can be compared to other stretches. That’s why I love Open Streets. I can ride down Lake without a care in the world, except that I might miss something cool or not have enough time to see everything. I wish we had more Open Streets and they lasted longer.

        In regards to the critical mass aspect of more riders equals safer conditions, design really needs to take the lead on that one. Our roads really aren’t designed with the pedestrian or bicyclist in mind. That needs to change.

    • Jerry

      I hate driving down Lake, let alone biking.

    • Postal Customer

      I’d be on the sidewalks with my bike.

  • Zac Thë Human

    I was assaulted on my bicycle in uptown just under two years ago, and prior to waking up in the hospital, I’d encountered so many unbelievable acts of aggression towards myself and anyone I was riding with. I can’t believe the attitude that so many motorists have towards bicyclists, and that this is still happening to people doing nothing more than trying to get around.

  • zippocrow

    I’ve had a bike rider hit me when he was going the wrong way. He ended up on my hood. Funny thing, the cop said the bicyclists decided to not press charges, wtf, I was following the law and he hit me and damaged my car.

    • How fast was a bicyclist going if he hit you hard enough to cause damage? That’s weird.

      • zippocrow

        Let me ride my bike into your car and jump on your hood, I’m sure I’ll dent and scratch it. The thing is when I ride ,I follow the rules of the road. I dont ride my bike into traffic going the wrong direction. This guy might have been following the law, but I have seen many bikes that don’t. Any time this happens people jump and cry “It was the cars (driver’s) fault.

        • I tend to ride in the wrong direction on some roads because I can see the drivers who are on their smartphones and not paying attention. Gives me a fighting chance to get out of the way.

          • D.Robot

            What everyone needs to learn is to be able to ride straight while looking over the left shoulder. Every time you hear a vehicle overtaking, before you Do anything and anytime you haven’t looked for a while.

          • Not an option in my case. I have Meniere’s Disease.

          • D.Robot

            Sorry to hear that. You can use a helmet mounted mirror, but I think you’re much better being able to turn back and look. It should deter most of the miscreants coming up behind who think they have an easy target.

  • Angela Lacombe

    I think that most bicyclists in Minneapolis have had things like this happen to them. I’ve had my ass smacked multiple times, food thrown at me, hollered at, swerved at, etc. I was hit (no major injuries) and the driver drove away and when I went to the police they couldn’t do anything because I didn’t have any info. What can we do to make law enforcement listen to us, and to have our back? No one reports these things because we know no one will do anything, and we can’t always get license plate numbers?