An Open Letter To The Orange County Sheriffs Department (OCSD)

Dear Orange County Sheriff’s Department,

On 5/31/2014, Bryan Larsen’s life was threatened, endangered and assaulted as he bicycled along the PCH in Dana Point, California. Having lived and raced in Europe, this individual is an accomplished Junior National Champion, a Category 1 Professional Cyclist. His resume reveals his experience to ensure his personal safety doing everything he can to protect himself; from wearing a helmet to being educated of the laws governing bicyclists, & adhering to the “Rules of the Road”.

Pulling out his cell, Bryan obtained video footage of the verbal harassment he’d been receiving from a passing motorist. He recorded more than just the license plate, additionally capturing video of the passenger throwing a potentially deadly projectile (full Gatorade bottle) from the moving vehicle. Not only did the driver fail to give a 3’ clearance to the cyclist, but can be seen swerving out of his lane, threatening to run the cyclist off the road. Concerning, Bryan immediately shared the video with OCSD. He was told he could pursue personal charges of assault, but that was it. Despite the video, OCSD would not do anything for reason of not being present to witness the incident.

Uncertain what to do next, Bryan shared this video with LOOK! SAVE A LIFE / Arizona. The goal of the organization is to humanize all road users by promoting a greater sense of safety and more respectful relationship among all who utilize our public byways. The mission is to foster an environment of safety through educating laws governing our roadways, developing a mutual respect and innovate transportation systems to better incorporate vulnerable users. Awareness is the key. Through awareness, suffering will be alleviated, injuries avoided, and lives will be saved.

We immediately shared his video on FB, which went Viral with over 130k views in less than 48hrs. This captured attention of local news reporters who investigated the story. Per KCAL9, “A sheriff’s spokesperson said detectives are investigating the incident as an assault & battery.”

It has been well over a month and still no word on justice being served. Both the driver and passenger of the assaulting vehicle have not been held accountable for their reckless and endangering actions. These incidents against cyclists are not only a problem for Southern California, but are becoming a National and Global Epidemic. There have been many similar, but far less serious recorded incidents throughout the country which have garnered significant attention to hold those responsible, accountable for their actions.

There may be times a report is filed without a vehicle description or lack of evidence to hold accountable those responsible. On behalf of cyclists everywhere, I am kindly pleading for you to take necessary action to put a stop on these disgusting actions against cyclists. We need a clear message that such disturbing acts will not be tolerated or go unnoticed. Please thoroughly investigate this story to bring those responsible to justice!

If you would like to voice your concern, Please Contact The Orange County Sheriff’s Department or The Orange County Sheriff’s Department governing Dana Point.

“Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility”

Brendan Lyons
Founder of: Look! Save A Life / ARIZONA
A Son, Brother, Boyfriend, Friend, Cyclist, Motorist, Student, Firefighter, EMT

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21 thoughts on “An Open Letter To The Orange County Sheriffs Department (OCSD)”

  1. As a long-time resident of Dana Point, I implore the OCSD to investigate this as a criminal action. This is not something that can be dismissed simply because the vehicle was from out of state. This is not a DMV matter.

    Furthermore, Law Enforcement as a whole needs to stop with this trend of accepting that drivers “didn’t notice the cyclist they just maimed.” We have a hit and run epidemic and a growing lack of respect for the lives of those on bicycles. It is going to get worse if you do not take corrective action now.

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  2. Not surprised the police are doing nothing. The laws are a joke including the new 3 foot law. Look at the firn structure, you can do grave bodily harm and the fine, if witnessed by a cop, is less than a good pair of cycling shoes. The police are never around when these events happen, so nothing will happen to the offenders. Rode in groups so you have witnesses…

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  3. Thank you for posting this open letter and for your advocacy. Absolutely every one of my cyclist friends shares these sentiments. Something must be done! -Delia Park, a Mother of two young children, Daughter, Friend, Cyclist, Motorist, Orange County Homeowner and Resident, Attorney, Concerned Citizen

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  4. I used to ride that stretch of PCH, between Huntington Beach and San Clemente, quite frequently. In 25 or so years I was buzzed plenty of times and witnessed many near misses between aggressive drivers and cyclists. Worst of all were the projectiles thrown from cars. I’ve personally been hit or nearly hit by: soda bottles and cans; beer (in cans and bottles, or sprayed from bottles); drinks in cups; bags of ice; a box of nails; a box of drywall screws; tennis balls; coins; a baseball (thrown from a speeding car, hit me in the back); a length of chain; firewood; half-eaten burgers; and miscellaneous trash. I had a passing driver swing an aluminum baseball bat from the open passenger window of a car, hitting me in the neck, shattering my helmet, and knocking me to the ground. I was ridden off the road by an OCTD bus. In the days before cell phones, I would call OCSD from a payphone to report the crime. Later, I’d make those calls from my mobile. Not once—not one single time—did the Orange County Sheriff ever send a car to investigate. Apparently, if you call and say “I was riding my bike along PCH and…” they take that to mean “you had it coming”. Even if I went into a station I was told that they would not take a report on the incident unless I had a witness to corroborate.

    In contrast, I had far fewer negative experiences with motorists in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego Counties, including along PCH. When I did, and felt the need to report the situation to the Sheriff, deputies responded quickly and took detailed reports of the incident.

    Perhaps those are related; OCSD doesn’t seem to care about bicyclists, so motorists know they can get away with it. Bicyclists are, in the eyes of Orange Country law enforcement, second class citizens and not entitled to either the protection or benefit of the law.

    The one time I did see OCSD respond to a bike v. car incident was in Laguna Beach. A group of us was riding down PCH through Newport. A passing pickup truck threw a full can of coke at us, striking a rider square in the back. The truck slowed down and the passenger shouted a racial slur at one of our group, and a string of obscenities at the rest of us before speeding off. They got stuck in beach traffic and we caught them in Laguna. The individual who was the target of the racial remark got into a shouting match with the passenger. The passenger then got out of the truck with a piece of rebar and a brief fight ensued. The cyclist was arrested for battery and taken to jail; the passenger was cited for assault and allowed to drive away. This, despite maybe a dozen witnesses who all fingered the passenger as the aggressor and the one holding a weapon. Oh, and the rest of us? The deputies threatened to arrest or cite us as well, on charges of assault.

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  5. Sorry my friends, thats a problem in United States, here in the whole europe(at least the most part of countries) all the drivers respect people on bicycles because if they touch the ciclyst they will be charged seriously. But i dont think the fear of charge is the reason, but the education. Its sad and i feel sorry for our fellow american riders that need to pass thourgh this horrible situation 😦

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    1. not the case in the United Kingdom… motorists can litterally get away with murder when it comes to hitting a cyclist… only cases that raise massive public outcry ever seem to get guilty verdicts and the sentences are ridiculously short… basically if you want to murder someone here, then ram them off the road while they’re obn a bicycle, the punishment is far less than you’d get if you shot or stabbed or bludgeoned them in with a cricket bat…

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  6. I also have been assaulted. As I’m sure many of us cyclist have.my thought is for the biking industry to produce more mini cameras at a reasonable price. So we can attach them to are bikes front and rear.

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  7. Thank you for posting this. My husband was rear ended by a motorist and spent 3 days in a trauma center. The motorist was under the influence and driving in the bike lane. This happened in Newport Beach in May 2012. The motorist has yet to appear in court. That incident prompted our move to Idaho.

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    1. Unfortunately, Idaho has it’s own set of driver vs cyclist issues. You could easily see the same incident happen here. No state is immune. On one of our group rides (in Idaho) 2 of our riders were shot with a pellet gun from a passenger. With dirt shoulders cars frequently pull off to kick up rocks and dust to litter the bike lane purposefully while cyclists are in them. People throw things, shout, swerve, honk, belch diesel exhaust. The police dept here rarely will even touch the issue. Without loud, active, collected voices we will not be heard.

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  8. The only way you will get the attention of the Sherriff is to sue them for incompetency. They don’t know what to do with real life laws. They just know how to enforce the one they memorized in the academy. They are just as bad as the idiot who posted his ignorant comment above…

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  9. My fantasy: a machine gun mounted on my handle bars. Oh wait. As long as it’s a fantasy, I’ll make it a rocket launcher!

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