Educating drivers, one at a time

I was a passenger in a car over the weekend, on the way to meet some friends. We were stopped at a red light, and watched as a cyclist came down the cross street, made a right turn, and continued on the street ahead of us.

He did everything right. He signaled his turn, entered the intersection on the green, and was riding on the right side of the right lane, as close as he could get to the parked cars without undue risk of getting doored. I was admiring the way he was riding legally, safely and courteously; the driver, on the other hand, was furious.

We were just a few minutes late. And the cyclist was in her way.

Now, this was a nice four-lane street, and we were the only car on the entire block. It would have been easy for the driver to swing around the cyclist and go on her way. Instead, she started raging about how he shouldn’t be there. So I pointed out that he was riding legally, exactly where he should be, and had every right to be there.

“I don’t care,” she said. “He doesn’t belong there. I should just run his ass over.”

She didn’t mean it, of course. She was following safely, if angrily. I said, “You know, that could be me next time.”

She didn’t care. She was late. He was in her way. Case closed.

I asked why she didn’t just go around him. She replied, “I can’t, there’s not enough room.” So I told her to just swing out into the next lane, which was completely clear, and would give her plenty of room to pass safely.

She did, and we went on our way, arriving at our destination just 5 minutes after our scheduled time, of which maybe 10 or 15 seconds might have been due to following the cyclist — who never knew he had an angry driver on his wheel.

And I realized just how far we have to go in educating drivers on how to share the road.

 

Last Friday, the good doctor had his first day in court resulting from the Mandeville Canyon Break Check. Both Streetsblog and LAist comment on the hearing, including amazing speed and convenience of his first court appearance, and how it was courteously arranged so he could avoid the press, as well as future hearings. Just wait — he’ll undoubtedly end up pleading to vastly reduced charges and get off with no jail time. (Note to gangsters and other assorted criminals: if you want to get away with a driveby, just use a car instead of a gun. And make sure the victim is wearing spandex.)

In other news, the Wall Street Journal looks at bicycling in Los Angeles, and pretty much misses the point — just like the researcher for Marketplace who wanted to know how the bad economy was affecting my relationship with my bike. Uh, how about the fact that it’s putting more pissed off people behind the wheel for us to dodge? LABC’s president discusses a member’s recent accident, and the lack of effective police action. And finally, a cyclist from the UK comments on Critical Mass, the latest local version of which takes place Tuesday — and check out his other posts for some lovely shots of cycling in the countryside near Cardiff.

 

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