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Ben Jones

Ben Jones

On March 13, Ben Jones was riding his bike to work down East Washington Avenue, like he does every day. Only on that day, he was confronted and thrown to the ground by an angry driver.

“For me, it wasn’t that I suffered serious injuries, but just the fact that somebody in broad daylight came after me like that,” he said.

Two bus cameras captured the incident, which happened at about 8 a.m. — one showing an SUV abruptly turning into the bike lane from a stalled traffic lane, nearly hitting Jones as he approached Fourth Street in front of East High School, and one catching the driver violently shoving Jones to the ground.

“That dude pissed me off,” the driver told a police officer after he was contacted at his home, according to a police report provided by Jones. “I was going to beat his ass.”

Jones’ left foot was locked into his bike shoe as the driver, identified in the summary as 19-year-old Artemio Urbina, got out of his car and heaved Jones to the ground. Jones said Urbina is nearly twice his size.

“I was not able to brace for what he did,” he said.

Jones, 44, suffered minor injuries, some road rash, bruises. He tore his coat and the incident left him shaken.

“The next day I didn’t want to ride my bike to work, which is unusual,” he said. “I like to ride my bike everywhere. It really rattled me. And it still does.”

Road rage against bicyclists in Madison is nothing new. The Cap Times covered motorist-biker conflicts extensively in the past. But rarely has it been captured so starkly on video.

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According to the police report, Urbina told police he stopped because Jones slapped his SUV. But Jones denies that, and the video backs him up. Jones acknowledged yelling at the driver to tell him he was in a bike lane. 

Jones was aided by a woman driving down Fourth Street, who got the license plate number of the SUV, and then, as seen on video, tried to block Urbina’s exit from the scene. Police were able to track him down with the license plate number. Urbina was issued a citation for battery.

Jones hopes the incident sends a message, especially as bike season revs up.

“Bikers and pedestrians, they’re especially vulnerable to motor vehicles,” he said. “Everyone needs to share the road, and drivers need to be patient and careful.”

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Steven Elbow joined The Capital Times in 1999 and has covered law enforcement in addition to city, county and state government. He has also worked for the Portage Daily Register and has written for the Isthmus weekly newspaper in Madison.