Cyclists protest shooting, call for better conditions

Sporting signs (and children in bike seats) about 15 cyclists rode around downtown Asheville Friday to protest the alleged shooting of a local cyclist — and the dropping of an attempted murder charge against the accused gunman.

Charles Alexander Diez, an Asheville firefighter, currently faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill for allegedly shooting at cyclist Alan Simons on July 26, after arguing with Simons about the safety of having his 3-year-old son on a child’s bike seat on Tunnel Road. According to police, as Simons was walking away from the argument, Diez fired a .38-caliber handgun. The shot blew through the lining of Simons’ helmet and came within less than an inch of striking him on the head.

Diez has been placed on paid leave from the fire department, and on Thursday, a grand jury decline to go forward with charges of attempted first-degree murder, instead opting for a felony assault charge that carries a much lighter potential sentence.

The cyclists gathered in front of the municipal building, which houses the police and fire departments, with signs on their back that read “We are traffic,” “No paid leave for attempted murderers,” “Safety doesn’t mean getting shot in the head.” Several children, in safety seats or “half-wheels” behind the cyclists, wore signs reading “Please don’t shoot my mom.”

Woodfin resident Utah Brandstatter told Xpress that the incident showed the need for better treatment of cyclists and the construction of bike lanes to better accommodate their traffic.

“I commute to work and I’m a recreational cyclist, and I’ve long felt we need more bike lanes in this town to make it safer and decrease these types of confrontations,” she said. “I think this is an extreme incident and I think, for the most part, motorists are becoming more aware of cyclists. I’m here to stand in solidarity with my fellow cyclists and make something positive out of a really unfortunate event.”

Cyclist Edward Moreadith said he came out to express his concerns that cyclists often don’t get the treatment from the law they deserve.

“I’m just a taxpayer, motorist and cyclist who feels like cyclists get a raw deal in their legal pursuit of riding on the roads,” he told Xpress. “There’s a huge lack of information regarding what the law is. They [motorists] don’t know you have to keep two feet of space, they don’t know you can ride two abreast. It’s without bounds what the ignorance is on bicycle transportation. People should be embracing it, as it is a to the region. Instead there’s outright hostility. Cyclists should absolutely follow the rules, but they should also be afforded protection. The scenario of a confrontation between the motorist and cyclist doesn’t go well for the cyclist.”

Moreadith said he encountered hostility “constantly. It’s limitless. Two weeks ago I had a motorcyclist come within a foot of me at 45 miles an hour and say, ‘Single file, a**hole.’ I see some state troopers two miles later and tell them I just got threatened. The trooper’s response is to tell me, ‘Oh that’s just people in a hurry.’ There’s complete apathy to these violations of the law.”

— David Forbes, staff writer

photo by Jonathan Welch



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15 thoughts on “Cyclists protest shooting, call for better conditions

  1. Bjorn

    It’s astonishing how we’ve apparently become apathetic to the chest beating of testy apes with firearms.

  2. JamesL

    No support or appologies intended for perpetrators of violence, but you must admit that general driver hostility toward cyclists on the road is greatly amplified by those bikers who choose to deliberately ignore the rules of the road, swerve across all lanes, ride in the center turn lane, hop in and out of traffic, run red lights, cross diagonal in intersections, intentionally slow traffic, etc. etc.. I see this daily. Sometimes just a dumb rider, other times it seems a misguided form of personal protest, which is hardly helping the situation. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find there’s something to that in this instance. Let’s be honest in this debate and not paint one side completely innocent or sigularly to blame just to support your perspective when that may not be the case.

  3. nuvue

    A good part of mr. diez sentence should include the payment for and some chain gang labor on some bike lanes around town.

    Maybe what good could come out of this is…..More enforcement of laws for bikes, Some bike lanes will finally get built. Merrimon av. and tunnel road esp. Merrimon is an accident waitin to happen
    Bike riders will follow rules better.
    (hasn’t this been a conversation for many years??)
    Mr. fire-man will have his gun rights revoked

  4. Bjorn

    JAMES L SAID: “Let’s be honest in this debate and not paint one side completely innocent or sigularly to blame just to support your perspective when that may not be the case.”

    Are you effin joking?

    Lets give it some perspective. Who was it that singularly, fired the gun at Simon’s head?

  5. Piffy!

    James, you speak of bicyclists breaking the rules of the road–how many drivers do you see doing these same kinds of things? Rolling through stop signs, Changing lanes without a signal, Passing bicyclists within a few inches, Speeding, etc, not to mention talking on their cell-phone, etc.

    Does this justify bicyclists shooting at motorists, perhaps? Blame stupid people for their behavior, dont blame the majority for the behavior of a small minority.

  6. Stephen Lange

    Way more than a dozen cyclists. I wonder why the press is deflating this? They certainly are deleting some really good posts.

  7. travelah

    Setting the shooting incident aside for a moment ….. “Get to hell out of the middle of the road, moron”. That is what is fueling this. If you cannot ride your bike safely without endangering yourself, your fellow riders and other motorists, start walking on the sidewalks. I love biking but I also know I am going to lose against a 4,000 vehicle so I stay to hell out of the middle of the road and would never intentionally block or slow traffic thinking it is my right to do so. Some of the “activist bikers” think otehrwise.

  8. Bjorn

    Even if Simon’s was riding smack in the middle down the yellow line. IT’S NO REASON TO FIRE A WEAPON AT SOMEONE! Anyone who thinks otherwise is obviously as dumb as dog snot!

  9. pe

    If the bike hits you in the side of your car coming down a hill flying, who pays?, Thats right you do, they don’t have to have insurance. So who should have more right to the road? I agree there should be riding lanes, my son rode a bike to college all the way through, in Fayetteville AR and I was terrified for him

  10. “If the bike hits you in the side of your car coming down a hill flying, who pays?, Thats right you do, they don’t have to have insurance.”

    Bikers also don’t pay for tags and licenses like car owners do. Car owners pay for the roads – bikers don’t pay squat!

  11. jett12

    i don’t see why they had to congregate in front of the fire/police departments. don’t you think that the members of both departments thought that this guy was in the wrong and would have liked to have seen him do jail time? obviously, the guy is a threat to society. but harassing the other men and women is bull****.

  12. Just Me

    Sure, more should done about bike lanes and such. But what to do about the fact that some people regardless of what kind of vehicle they drive, are pure reckless assholes? And the bigger the vehicles they happen to have over the ‘offending’ smaller vehicle, the more power play they get out of it. Even those of us in small Honda Civic type deals get the brunt of it alot.

    And, no I am no “activist driver” (whatever that is supposed to be) stinking up the fast lane. I just don’t tailgate and I rarely go more than 10 mph over the speed limit. I have this weird thing about not liking to be in accidents. I even move over for the uber speeders- better they get pulled then me. But the very fact of my presence to dare to use the roads too just seems to set some people off (no- no bumper stickers either).

  13. Jackie Cure

    I quit smoking and started cycling to replace my addiction. I even lost 60 lbs doing so. A few of my friends have done the same. I have never felt stronger or healthier. I had a friend who always rode wiht his son in tow and now he is cyling as well. When I see a cyclist I feel excitement but that excitement is fully loaded when I clip in myself. What happened on Tunnel Road is most unfortunate but I do want to take a moment and thank EVERY driver who has moved aside or waited to pass my chunky self on these beautiful mountain roads. Thank you Thank you Thank you from the bottom of my HEART.

  14. Rev. D.O. Smith

    now see the person who said “If the Democrats remains in office we won’t have money to fix potholes less longer a building bike lanes” is crazy, most of our problems today is because of the lack of gun control as wll aswho knows the next time you have a fire at your house, will be shot because he thought I set the fire,

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