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Bicyclist Facing Charges After Pepper-Spraying Motorist

What's going on out there? Anyone know this guy?

2010-06-16 22:17:41

Good thing he wasn't swinging a U-Lock in the driver's face...

2010-06-16 22:22:08

Motorist: 10 yard penalty for being an officious prick.

Cyclist: suspended for the season for overreacting.

There may well be more to the story, but I find it hard to believe that busting out the Halt was the last resort for a cyclist in a traffic jam.

2010-06-16 22:52:04

Sounds like the cyclist was whistling some sonic youth, loving life and passing on the left. Motorist took offense to cyclist's whistling and a Benny Hill chase scene ensues.

I don't know where the pepper spray enters the scene; Most sketches end in seltzer to the face...

2010-06-16 22:58:55

Awesome, Nat. I'll have that image stuck in my head all night now.

2010-06-16 23:02:23

I hope there is more to the story. Otherwise this kind of crap does cyclists no favors.

2010-06-16 23:06:23

Cyclist was just using the 3 inch wide bike lane between the yellow stripes, jeez.

2010-06-16 23:21:31

The news reports the motorist's account uncritically. I like the quote that he "asked" the cyclist to keep right. I can't remember the last time a motorist "asked" me to do something.

2010-06-16 23:22:39

+1 Lyle.

We've discussed before how a car is a deadly weapon, but it somehow isn't considered than when used to threaten a cyclist. We seen that police take down the word of a motorist as "what happened."

We don't know the details and we may never know.

2010-06-16 23:26:55

I'm sure it was something along the lines of:

"Excuse me fine cyclist sir, it would please me greatly if you could kindly move to the right and provide a reasonable gap for me to pass. Thank you so much!"

2010-06-16 23:27:48

We report. You decide.

2010-06-17 01:16:14

This story reminds me a lot of "Night of the Living Rednecks" off of Dead Kennedys' "Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death."

2010-06-17 01:28:00

There has to be more to the story.

2010-06-17 01:45:32

I sincerely hope so. I truly hate the idea that someone would act that stupidly in response to some Adam's apple yelling at them.

2010-06-17 01:54:04

Google map

Looks like a straight road with a mild grade, not particularly wide but not horrible, either. I haven't been out there in a while (I used to live in New Stanton), but traffic used to be fairly continuous in both directions. I'd say chances are good the motorist wanted to pass him but there wasn't room to do so safely.

As stated above, there must be more to the story.

2010-06-17 02:30:25

Likely another situation where a helmet cam would come in handy.

2010-06-17 02:50:21


The driver probably talked some shit, maybe even threw a threat. But, without that proven & on record, all we have is a cyclist with a short fuse. Fail.

2010-06-17 03:08:30

The motorist pulled over to call the police because a cyclist was riding on the yellow line? And then got out of the car to politely ask the cyclist not to? What a traffic angel! Thank the stars there are good citizens like him out there to keep us all on the right side of the law.

I hope that shit stung.

2010-06-17 03:27:39

What I understood, from the story, was that the cyclist was overtaking stopped/slow traffic, and was crossing/riding on the center line to do it.

Apparently, that offended some motorist enough that he felt he had to call the police. Because it's all well and good if you buzz a slow-moving cyclist in your car, but my god, if a cyclist passes some cars!!!!1!!

Edit: Is it just a coincidence that this guy is a firefighter like the guy in Asheville that shot the cyclist in the head. I always thought firefighters were the good guys.

2010-06-17 03:39:57

Well think of it this way. The cyclist was in no danger with the law by splitting that lane. Pepper-spraying the guy, on the other hand.... sigh. Damn it.

2010-06-17 03:44:39

Looking again at the Google Street View, I see cars parked on the sidewalk, and telephone poles that come damn near to street edge. The guy was taking the lane, sounds like, and the motorist did not know that the cyclist had full right to the entire lane. Were there several cars parked on the side?

I face a situation like this every time I head north on (mildly uphill) Perry Highway out of downtown West View. Maybe I can duck in between parked cars, or maybe I just let traffic back up behind me.

Sound familiar?

EDIT: @Mick: We don't know the details and we may never know.

Sure we can. He isn't dead. Buy this man a Bike-Pgh membership, or at least get him on the message board!

2010-06-17 03:45:58

Also - how illegal is discharging pepper spray on someone? It's non-lethal (in theory) and not maiming... where does the law fall on this?

2010-06-17 03:50:35

I think stu's interpretation makes more sense than mine. "Riding along the double yellow line" could well mean riding in the left tire track, or preparing for a left turn.

I hope the cyclist gets a good lawyer. Of course, it's always possible the guy was not mentally stable. That happens too. I wish the news people had managed to get a little information from someone else.

Discharging pepper spray is definitely assault, as is slapping someone, spitting on them, or screaming at them.

2010-06-17 03:57:13

I have trouble piecing together the timeline. The driver was in stopped traffic, but pulled out of traffic to call the cops, then approached the cyclist? In that timeframe, the cyclist would've been a half mile up the road by then. I don't get this.

2010-06-17 13:52:01

Dunno. Saw cyclist coming from behind, somehow blocked his path, called cops? Need more info to make any sense.

2010-06-17 13:59:43

This is strictly anecdotal evidence but in my

limited cycling experience, most drivers are super

polite when they politely "ask" me to move over.

WPXI is a solid news source for sure.

2010-06-17 14:26:42

Yeah. How does the driver see this happen, pull over, call 911 and still manage to get pepper sprayed?

2010-06-17 14:29:36

Just speculation, but if pepper spray was used it likely means both the car and bicycle were stopped, and there's a good chance the driver was outside his vehicle. The only time this kind of situation has happened to me was when a road rager deliberately forced me off the road.

2010-06-17 15:31:15

Lyle, seems like you would be cool until you record a cop road raging, then all bets are off. Helmet cam + ACLU on speed dial, I guess.

2010-06-17 15:36:06

So I guess a big sticker on my helmet that says "^^ CAMERA!" would be adequate.

2010-06-17 15:56:07

There's no way the cyclist just sprayed him for no reason. The driver probably approached and was a threat. Witnesses may or may not help unless it's a bicycle friendly motorist.

2010-06-17 16:39:16

This blog is pretty cool. Guy commutes and rides

with a camera. He turns it into the cops. They dont

ever care.

2010-06-17 17:00:25

@johnweffner - bingo, that was exactly my assumption.

2010-06-17 17:02:09

The Videos on were pretty interesting, it seems like I need to be investing in a camera or two for the ride.

2010-06-17 17:20:34

Seeing clips like those ones really gets to me.

2010-06-17 17:36:07

The one of him almost getting doored from behind is the saddest one. I have been following his blog for a long time and it always makes me angry.

2010-06-17 17:37:07

Just got back from a ride today. My first in a few weeks due to starting a new job. Left oakmont, down ARB, L-ville, Penn ave to the strip, jail trail, panther hollow, fifth, negley, past the zoo, ARB back to oakmont.

I would say in that time i was honked at, squeezed past (only to see them hit the brakes twenty yards ahead, car, stoplight etc.), and cut off about a half dozen times.

Motorists, particularly the real gems, see themselves as having more "power" than cyclists on the road. Power in terms of rights, power in terms of actual ability to exert their own will. Add a complete lack of understanding (ignorance)of what cyclists face negotiating intersections and making split second decisions every moment, and you have the perfect recipe for conflict.

I can guarantee you all that there are cyclists in Pittsburgh that will dispel the notion that they are less "powerful" in their "rights" operating a vehicle on the streets just because they ride a bicycle. Pepper spray is pre-indicative of this type of escalation. Then what? Someone carries a .44 though ELB when someone right hooks them? Or worse yet a group of teens try to roll them?

The "rules of the road", which are to keep everyone safe, only work if every one follows, motorists and cyclist alike. If not everyone follows these rules for whatever reason, forget it. The rules only work if everyone abides by them. Its an insane world, with insane folks creating insane traffic situations. And there we are, out there with them on bikes....

Seasoned riders develop a sixth sense out there - they know when a motorist is turning even though they have no signal on. They know that it is safer to get through, and well away from, an intersection piling up with cars than it is to be squeezed,jockeyed, and bottlenecked through when the light turns green with a bunch of 2-3 ton vehicles. Again, many of which view cyclists as annoying gnats than real live human beings.

When has anyone on this board ever heard of a motorist getting ticketed for some kind action that was directly intended to force a cyclist into an unsafe situation? Yet this happens every day. Because of this, I am forced negotiate traffic in ways that while, technically are not 100% law abiding, allow me to be SEEN and to be placed in the lowest areas of vehicle concentration from block to block... I have been doored. I have run into a sewer grate because I stayed on the shoulder and had no where to go when a car squeezed past. I have been right -hooked. It goes on and on. The only recourse is to not place yourself in areas of high vehicle concentration lest the law of averages finally catches up with you.

Things have improved since the early 90's, but its still out there. Just sucks that critical events need to transpire to serve as precedents illustrating how insane the motorist/cyclist relationship actually is here in the 'burgh.



2010-06-17 18:12:39

most drivers are super polite when they politely "ask" me to move over.

I've found that such polite requests are often accompanied by generous offers for participating in acts of unquestionable physical intimacy.

2010-06-18 14:25:32

I've been trying to get mroe details on this. Evidently, from the stories, the police have not even talked to the bicyclist yet. ("Smith will be notified of the charges by summons.")

The Trib:

Bicyclist accused in North Huntingdon pepper-spray assault

A 51-year-old bicyclist from Hempfield is accused of assault because he allegedly used pepper spray on a driver on Route 993, North Huntingdon police said.

David Jarrold Smith, of 168 West Hills Drive, Apt. B-10, faces a July 28 preliminary hearing before District Judge Doug Weimer on charges of simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct.

According to a criminal complaint, Gregory Freidhof of Manor was driving on Route 993 on the afternoon of May 25 when traffic backed up between Fifth and Sixth streets in the Westmoreland City section of the township.

Friedhof pulled off the road to call police to report a bicyclist who was riding in the middle of the road. He also asked the bicyclist to move to the side of the road, the complaint states.

The bicyclist then pulled up to Freidhof's vehicle and allegedly discharged pepper spray into his face.

Friedhof went to the Westmoreland City Volunteer Fire Department to flush his eyes with water and an ambulance responded to the scene.

In the complaint, Sgt. Kari Bauer said Freidhof gave a complete description of Smith.

Smith will be notified of the charges by summons.

2010-06-18 16:01:19

BTW, let this also serve as a warning to those of use who carry pepper spray, etc.. If you ever feel that you are in a situation and need to use whatever it is you are defending yourself with, make sure you call 911 as soon as you possibly can.. Get on record FIRST with your account.

2010-06-18 16:22:49

^^^Darn good advice.

2010-06-18 17:12:37

Since I live less than a mile away from the "scene of the incident," and since it's on my regular biking route, I promised last week's FOC that I'd try to find out more. In the meantime, I can tell you the following: The area in question is a section of North Huntingdon called Westmoreland City. This road is quite small (width) and HEAVILY travelled. What you can't see on the google street view is how TERRIBLE the road birms are. You have giant pot holes inside the white lines, and for the most part, crumbeling sidewalk/drop off/step up immediately on the right of the white line. Again, I don't know any of the facts (which direction was he headed, time of day, etc...), but I know that section of road really backs up almost to the exact assult site during "rush hours" due to a stop sign.... Don't laugh urban dwellers.... From personal experience, I've had angry people yelling at me on this road because you have to take up a lane - there isn't room for a car to safely pass you. I RARELY see anyone biking it.

I'll see if any of my local sources come through....

2010-06-22 18:31:37

Road trip?

2010-06-22 21:06:45

Don't forget to pack your pepper spray.

2010-06-22 21:10:27

I'm just up the hill.... I'll provide the beer and food.

2010-06-23 13:19:17

The trip out 130 from Braddock/Turlcrik/Pitcairn to Trafford, and then along 993 to Irwin, looks like it'd be a nice ride, though I've never done it. (I used to drive it 5x/week when I lived in New Stanton and worked in Monroeville, pre-1992.) It's that stretch east of Irwin on 993 that would be miserable, and would be the area in question.

2010-06-23 14:36:06

Anyone know David Jarrold Smith?

I keep googling the news, but have nto gotten anymore information about this.

My guess?

If it were, indeed, Smith at fault, we would see ongoing stories about hearings and such. As it is, there is not even any word as to whether LE contacted him yet for his side of the story.

OTOH, if the driver was assaulting Mr Smith with a deadly weapon (that is, his car), charges would be quietly dropped. Charges against the driver would be very rare, no matter how much he deserved the peper spraying.

2010-06-24 20:02:59

how many people don't bike because they are afraid to? afraid of getting hurt, harassed or generally treated like shit? we are all well aware of the power differential between ourselves and motorists, biking is like going down a few rungs on the social hierarchy. changing that is hard. while we can have public service announcements (actually, we don't), sometimes stories like this can change behavior dramatically. just think how many drivers heard this story. for at least the next month, these people are going to think twice before fucking with a cyclists.

2010-06-26 00:06:18

We should get Hell's Angels (bike Pgh chaper) jackets...

2010-06-26 01:20:08

We should get Hell's Angels (bike Pgh chaper) jackets...

Bikers have no sense of humor about that.

AND even though the regional 1%'ers, the Pagans, are sort of at war with the HA and they regularly blast each other away with shotguns and such, the Pagans would show the professional courtesy to direct the wearers of said colors to the nearest emergency room - and possibly phone in a hellicopter for them, even.

2010-06-26 20:43:22

Ever notice how many vehicles have a "ride free/look out for bikers" sticker on them? Are motorcycles somehow more sacred?

2010-06-26 23:45:25

Mick, The comment about the biker jackets was a bad joke and not intended to be taken literaly.

If you believe this unfortunate incident somehow portrays cyclist as a group of pepper spraying bad asses you are misguided.

If the person involved in this situation felt thereatend enough for the need to defend themselves...more power to him...but violence never solves anything.

I personally just peddle away from the idiots in this world because they are not worth my breath. You are never going to have a constructive dialogue on the side of the road with some jerk who thinks you should not be on it.

2010-06-27 01:51:52

@Noah Mustion Ever notice how many vehicles have a "ride free/look out for bikers" sticker on them? Are motorcycles somehow more sacred?

Well DUH!

Dude, they have motors.

Of COURSE they are sacred. Haven't you read the part that says, "government by oil companies, of oil companies, and for oil companies"?

2010-06-28 20:18:15

Or more accurately, biker culture is more accepted amongst the yinzer crowd than us uppity yuppie bicyclists.

2010-06-28 22:07:48

David Jarrold Smith, of 168 West Hills Drive, Apt. B-10, faces a July 28 preliminary hearing before District Judge Doug Weimer on charges of simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct.

2010-07-27 20:55:15

I hope he has good legal counsel. By good, I mean counsel who at least knows what a bicycle is and what cyclists have to deal with.

This all smacks of bullies/drivers getting away with terror on the playground while the bullied get yelled at by the teacher for fighting back.

I don't suppose someone could get out to 210 Robbins Station Rd.,N. Huntingdon, PA 15642, to sit in on this guy's case. Are these open to the public? Is there even space in a DJ's office for walk-in company?

2010-07-27 21:21:43

I just saw this post and called the DJ office thinking they'd tell me something since I'm a NHT resident - no dice. They said the hearing was open to the public, but it already happened early this morning. The person I spoke with indicated that Channel 11 news would have more information on the subject. She also indicated that "Mr. Smith's next hearing is in September in Greensburg, but I think that's being waived." She was getting pretty short at that point, so I didn't really follow up to see what that meant. I guess we'll have to watch the news tonight.

2010-07-28 14:56:42


Riding this way, instead of going straight 130, one

should cut over to wilmerding/wall on the other

side of turtle creek to avoid the highwayish part

of it through pitcarin. Cut back over on the new

bridge on 48 and into trafford.

2010-07-28 14:58:26

According to WPXI's Westmoreland camera dude, this guy is going to plead to disorderly conduct and he apparently has an impressive list of priors. Long story short, even though he showed up to the hearing on his bike, he is potentially just a jerk. That's all I got right now.

2010-07-28 20:03:40

Cyclist Accused Of Pepper Spraying Driver Appears In Court

Posted: 5:24 pm EDT July 28, 2010Updated: 6:04 pm EDT July 28, 2010

NORTH HUNTINGON, Pa. -- A bicyclist accused of pepper spraying a driver in the face appeared in court Wednesday afternoon.

David Smith reached a tentative plea agreement on charges of simple assault and harassment. Smith’s attorney said those charged will be dropped if he pleads guilty to disorderly conduct.

Police said Smith pepper sprayed Gregory Freidhof in the face earlier this month when Freidhof asked him to stop riding his bike in the middle of Route 993 in North Huntingdon.

Smith’s attorney said that Smith is the victim in this case.

"This is a case of road rage, but not on the part of my client, but on the part of the alleged victim who stopped his vehicle in the middle of the road, got out and threatened my guy," said Ronald Chicka.

According to court documents, Smith has a long criminal record with charges including disorderly conduct, indecent exposure and open lewdness.

The case could still go to trial if Smith does not agree to the plea bargain. If he does agree, the judge told him that he wouldn’t be allowed to ride his bike on roads and that he would have to stay on sidewalks.

2010-07-28 22:53:33

Did you get this from the onion?

If he does agree, the judge told him that he wouldn’t be allowed to ride his bike on roads and that he would have to stay on sidewalks.

2010-07-29 01:11:47

Proving that in the eyes of the prosecution, his REAL offense was riding in the street.

2010-07-29 01:29:12

Until now, I've never been completely comfortable with this one.

Part of it is, I don't know enough about what happened to have a feel for who was in the wrong (the cyclist, the driver, or both).

This is the first I heard that the driver was out of his car. Given that, I can easily imagine being a cyclist, stopped for some legit reason (traffic light, etc) suddenly confronted by an angry driver who leaves his vehicle to confront me. At that point, I'm definitely thinking self-defense.

This particularly worries me: "The case could still go to trial if Smith does not agree to the plea bargain. If he does agree, the judge told him that he wouldn’t be allowed to ride his bike on roads and that he would have to stay on sidewalks."

I always try to imagine myself in the other person's shoes. Yeah, cliche, but that's what I do. In this case, I extend this to "What would the right thing be if the driver was at fault?" In that case, if the driver was a habitual offender, I could see suspending their license to drive as a completely reasonable response. I cannot imagine telling someone with a car that they could drive on the sidewalk, but not the road, as reasonable. Yeah, a car and a bicycle are not the same thing, but bicycles belong in the road, not on the sidewalk. On the sidewalk, a bicycle is a vehicle moving far faster than everything else (pedestrians, for the most part). Sidewalk are not designed to accomodate bicycle traffic, and bicycles are not designed for sidewalks.

Honestly, that last paragraph convinced me that this whole thing is a crock. A motorist got angry that he got passed by (*gasp*) a bicycle, and he got out of his car to confront the cyclist. The cyclist assumed he was in danger and defended himself. The assumption made by third parties is, as Lyle says, that the initial wrong was the cyclist riding on the road in the first place, and that the motorist must automatically be in the right.

2010-07-29 01:39:45

It would be reasonable to suspend the license of a habitual violator of traffic laws if the defendent were charged with violating a traffic law. Mr Smith was not charged with any traffic violation - he was charged with assault.

I know there are some real lawyers here, so maybe one of them can answer. Would this sentence even be enforceable? Couldn't Smith agree to the plea but appeal the sentence?

2010-07-29 02:23:03

It's lamentable that Smith turns out to be an otherwise unsympathetic character. On the other hand Miranda was pretty unsavory as well, and yet we gained a valuable legal right as a result of his case. So we should consider the facts and not the personalities.

Unfortunately I haven't seen an accurate account of what actually happened but on the face of it, I would say that Freidhof started the fight.


1) Smith did nothing to damage Freidhof's car.

2) As far as I know, Smith did not initiate a confrontation (say, by hurling unprovoked insults).

3) Freidhof got out of the relative safety of his vehicle and confronted Smith in an apparently aggressive fashion, at least sufficiently so as to provoke Smith to (over)-react in apparent self-defense (ok, this is iffy given that Smith had a history of being easily provoked or seems otherwise given to borderline behavior, but it's not an excuse).

But Freidhof was in the wrong. What is the inherent right of a motorist to do whatever they want to a cyclist? (yell, cut off, shoot, run down, etc) There is none. We have the same right to the road (and respect) as motorists.

2010-07-29 02:50:20

Isn't it against the law to ride your bike on a sidewalk? So the judge is telling him to break the law and put pedestrians in harms way by riding his bike on a sidewalk because a motorist forced a confrontation with a cyclist and the cyclist chose to defend himself?

I will say this, if someone gets out of their car and approaches me in a threatening manner while I'm on my bike and I am unable to simply pedal away (due to traffic or whatever), I will not hesitate to clock them with my ulock if I feel it is needed. There are far far too many crazy people out there to take chances with your personal safety. You never know if the person getting that irate over being passed by a bicycle has a gun or knife on them. It already seems like open season on cyclists as it is.

2010-07-29 02:53:57

revoke his right to ride in the street? can they even do that??

2010-07-29 03:12:26

Another thing that pisses me off, a cyclist dares to pepper spray a belligerent motorist and is charged in and in front of a judge within 2 weeks. A cyclist is KILLED by a motorist and, 3 months later, no charges have been filed even though the police know who did it and exactly what happened.

2010-07-29 03:17:53

incidentally, i have a friend who was charged with assault, etc. for defending himself (i was there and watched it happen) and pleaded guilty to harassment or disorderly or some such, and got community service. the plaintiff showed up and told a version of the events that didn't exactly mirror reality, but apparently that's not uncommon. and i wouldn't be surprised if the other fella remembered things just that way.

based on that experience, i would venture the guess that the person who does the hurting is almost always considered wrong in some way, regardless of how imminent a threat may have appeared to him. the driver just says "i got out of my car and said 'excuse me, sir? i don't understand what all this commotion is about. could we talk about it over tea?'" et voila! he was not escalating the situation.

and i'm not even sure i would change it. i just wonder if lawyers should be given more than "fact patterns" as part of their training, given that no analog to those exists in reality.

2010-07-29 06:02:49

Um, sidewalks?

2010-07-29 13:48:13

I prefer tear gas.

2010-07-29 15:16:05

Stu beat me to it....... where is anyone going to find sidewalks in North Huntingdon???

2010-07-29 20:01:45

Hmm. Take the modii transportandus out of this, and is it possible this is just two ass-hats havin' a slap fight?

2010-07-31 16:05:41

more than likely. unfortunately all that people will process is that one of the asshats is "other" and therefore must be wrong. unfortunately for us, the vast majority of people will identify the cyclist as "other" and then use this as an example of how all cyclists are asshats.

2010-08-02 15:18:20
From the comments: "Just spotted him on 30 EB by lake view in the middle of the right lane. Called state police." Rt 30 has two lanes in both directions. He's taking the right lane. That is legal in PA, has been since 2014.
2015-04-22 09:54:37
Bikin' Bad.
2015-04-22 12:39:22