A meditation on bicycling and driving in the City of Angels

One quick note: I emailed Paul Koretz and Ron Galperin again yesterday to offer the use of this site to address the cycling community. If they still don’t respond, I can only conclude that they’re just not that into us.


I don’t drive much anymore.

You see, our apartment is walking distance from just about everything I need. And these days, most of my clients accept that I can work just as well, if not better, from home. So my car spends far more time in the garage, covered in dust, than it does on the road these days.

But every now and then, I need something that isn’t within easy reach, and isn’t practical to do by bike.

Like today, for instance.

So I was reminded once again why I’d much rather be on my bike than slog through weekday traffic in L.A. — especially now that our rapidly crumbling infrastructure is making traffic slower and heavier than ever. But the drive helped me solidify a few thoughts that have slowly been taking shape within my overcrowded head.

For instance, I’ve long thought that L.A. drivers don’t respect the rights of cyclists. Behind the wheel, though, it becomes obvious that’s just not true.

Because it’s not just us.

They don’t respect pedestrians, buses, small animals or other drivers, either.

Not all of drivers, of course. Probably not even most drivers. But you don’t have to observe traffic very long to realize that too many people drive too aggressively and too carelessly.

They drive too fast. They pass too close. They cut off other vehicles. They turn without signaling. And they seldom, if ever, willingly yield the right of way.

In other words, exactly the same things we cyclists complain about.

But when you’re safely cocooned within a couple tons of steel, it may tick you off, but it’s usually not life-threatening. It’s just that the same actions that could cause a minor fender bender between two cars can result in serious injuries when a cyclist is involved.

Because we don’t have fenders. Or any other protection other than a helmet and a thin layer of chamois between our legs.

So it’s nothing personal. They don’t actually hate us.

They just really suck as drivers.

 

The Times continues their series exploring the issues with the candidates for CD5 with an examination of development on the Westside. Now the Google lets you check local traffic conditions before your ride. Under the heading of WTF: S.F.’s mayor calls for $20,000 bicycles for the planned Baghdad by the Bay bike sharing program. Meanwhile, my hometown takes a more populist approach. San Diego can’t figure out who’s responsible for a botched road resurfacing that’s injured four cyclists and counting (second item). Ubrayj asks what happened to the money budgeted for the city’s recently suspended bike licensing program, and offers some good insights into funding bike programs in a recent comment. Stephen Box questions why the city insists on restaurant parking, but won’t provide a promised bike rack.

And finally, don’t forget to register for the Los Angeles Bike Summit on Saturday, March 7 at L.A. Trade Tech College — looks like yours truly will be a late addition. But be kind, I bruise easily.

2 comments

  1. Ed Greenberg says:

    I sit on the bus stop at Weyburn and Westwood, and I see the most inconsiderate and impatient drivers. When the right lane is blocked while a urning car is waiting for pedestrians to cross, the cars behind him usually just lean on the horn. Big Blue Busses are the worst. They are hair-trigger horn-blowers.

    I do not know where people are going in such a hurry.

  2. Enci says:

    I think a lot of people are in a hurry to die. Not necessarily in a traffic collision but from heart attach, ulcer, brain hemorrhage, etc. Sitting in a car can give you many choices.

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