POLICE are on the hunt for a hotheaded cyclist who attacked a fellow rider on the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing in what appears to be a case of sidewalk rage.
The 49-year-old victim was heading south on the bridge's east walkway Wednesday afternoon when he saw another cyclist approaching, according to investigators. The southbound man moved to one side and stopped to allow the other rider to pass, as is convention. But instead of whizzing by, the second cyclist stopped and allegedly punched the first man twice in the head. He then put him in a chokehold, according to police, and punched him six to eight more times before riding away.
The stranger never said a word throughout the assault, they added.
The victim, a Langley resident, made his way to the far end of the crossing before catching a ride with a passing motorist. The attack left him with a black eye and numerous bruises to the head.
"Poor guy," said Cpl. Richard De Jong, a spokesman for the North Vancouver RCMP. "He was really shaken up."
It's not clear what motivated the assault, but investigators believe it may have been prompted by the fact the victim was riding in the wrong direction on the narrow walkway. By convention, southbound cyclists are supposed to stick to the west side of the bridge. De Jong said he had heard of similar confrontations in the past on other routes.
"That's the only thing we can think of," he said. "It's cyclist path rage. I'm not an avid cyclist, but I guess people get pretty possessive of their space."
The incident comes less than two weeks after cycling advocates drew media attention to safety issues associated with the bridge's sidewalks. The paths, which are little more than a metre wide in places, are too narrow for cyclists and pedestrians to pass safely, resulting in occasional collisions.
The province has said it is aware of the problem, and is currently reviewing its options, with an eye to making improvements by next summer.
The suspect in Wednesday's incident is described as a Caucasian man, 40-50 years old, about 200 pounds with sandy or reddish, medium-length hair. He was wearing a yellow jacket. Anyone with information is asked to call the North Vancouver RCMP at 604-985-1311.