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Camera catches assault of Asheville bicyclist in road rage incident

Claude Watson was arrested and charged with simple assault and reckless driving to endanger. (Photo credit: VineLink)

The events leading up to the assault on the bicyclist were were caught on camera, and so was the punch.

According to the cyclist's attorney, her client was riding with the pace of traffic and legally within his lane on Sand Hill Road. Because of construction, the driver was unable to pass the cyclist.

"When they got through the construction area, the truck immediately went to pass him and came very close to him in his lane, and he had to swerve his bicycle to avoid being run off the road," the attorney said.

When they both came up to the stop light, that's when camera footage caught Claude Watson stepping out of his truck and punching the victim in his face.

Watson was arrested and charged with simple assault and reckless driving to endanger.

Asheville's cycling community is now coming together to speak out about the attack.

Many bike riders were shocked but not surprised by the video. They said the video only shows a glimpse of what cyclists experience on roads everyday. They hope the video willb ring awareness to the dangers cyclists face.

"It was hard to watch," Mike Sule, executive director with Asheville on Bikes said. "But when I received the video, I wasn't particularly surprised that a cyclist was assaulted.

"I've heard stories of these type of things -- motorists throwing things at cyclists, running people off the road -- so I've knows this is an issue."

The cyclist's attorney said the assault left him shaken.

"Physically, he has a bloody nose and a busted lip and pretty much what you would expect from a punch to the face," she said.

Sule said the victim had every right to use the lane.

"There is often times when a cyclist cannot move to the right to allow a motorist to pass," he said.

Avid cyclists said the video shows the growing tension between drivers and cyclists.

"This, is pains me to think people are disrespecting each other," Sule said. "We all have a right to get around and get around safely, and we have to respect each other more."

And Sule said if other cyclists find themselves in a similar situation they should try to get documentation. He also advises keeping a level head to prevent the situation from escalating.

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