Sorry for the long post, but I thought I would share this incident with my fellow cyclists.
I spoke with the police about the incident because:
a) it is not all right in society to go around punching people in the head or driving dangerously to intimidate, no matter what the circumstances
b) the outcome could have been worse – one punch can kill, I could have fallen in to the traffic, or the driver could have squashed me or my riding partner between his van and the parked vehicle.
I chose not to press charges with the police as there was no damage to the riders or the bikes. The police did, however, phone the driver, give him a chance to explain his side of events, and they gave him a suitable dressing down (bollocking). The driver is therefore aware that his actions towards cyclists have been reported to the police.
Following is my record of the incident, with details of the other people involved removed.
Incident description follows
This morning my cycling partner and I had just stopped on Dornoch Terrace (Highgate Hill) adjacent to the top of Colton Street to wait for a third riding partner to join us. We had stopped to the left of the cycle lane. My riding partner was facing oncoming traffic and was at the front of a parked silver Landcruiser, I was just behind the vehicle, but in line with the right side of it (but left of the cycle lane).
A van (registration known) approached from the rear and tried to park in the area between me and the kerb. He came very close to me, so I moved forward alongside the Landcruiser to get out of the van’s way. The driver of the van must have decided that he could not fit behind the Landcruiser and proceeded to move to the space in front of the Landcruiser, in the process nearly hitting me and coming centimetres from my riding partner, who was at the front right corner of the Landcruiser. The driver of the van reversed into the parking spot. My riding partner had his head down and did not see the van reversing. The van’s bumper hit my riding partner’s rear wheel making an indentation in the van’s bumper bar, at which point I moved alongside the van and rapped on the side of it to make the driver aware not to reverse any further.
I moved back to my original location beside the Landcruiser as the driver got out of the van yelling insults and to not touch his van. He then punched me in the face, fortunately only glancing my chin and knocking my sunglasses. I did not punch back (very difficult to do when you are standing in cleat shoes with a bike between your legs). We exchanged some heated words where the driver said he was having a bad day and not to mess with him. He threatened to hit me a second time.
The driver then moved to the kerb side of his van and proceeded to get tools out of his vehicle.
I tried to phone our third riding partner who was supposed to meet us at this location (6:59am according to my call history). The person did not answer, so I left a message.
An unknown rider arrived on the scene and asked whether we had been involved in a near miss that had just happened on that corner. According to him, a ute did a U-turn in front of a group of riders, clipping one on the pedals, with a second rider going around the front of the vehicle. The unknown rider said that he thought the ute was from the same company as the van whose driver had punched me. Apparently all riders rode away.
The driver of the van then walked along the street with his tools and entered a house.
The unknown rider left as our third riding partner arrived on the scene on foot holding a flat tyre that had been damaged and was unrideable. The unknown rider thought he had been involved in the first incident, but it seems he was at the side of the road at the time, having just had his tyre blow out.
I took a photograph of the van on my phone, and my riding partner and I rode away, whilst our third riding partner walked home nearby.