Friday’s ride, in which I dodge cars, help prevent a collision and thank a bus driver

It didn’t take long to realize it was going to be one of those rides.

Within the first three miles, I’d been right hooked, left crossed, and squeezed out of a left turn lane by a driver who inexplicably decided there was enough room for both of us.

So I made a point of riding extra carefully, assuming that every car could be a threat and every driver might do exactly the wrong thing in any given situation.

Most of the time they weren’t, and didn’t. But I ran into enough minor traffic kerfuffles and acts of sheer stupidity that the extra caution more than paid off before I got home.

Including one last one, as I rode back on Ohio about a mile from my home.

Just east of Westwood, the road goes up and down over a couple of short, steep hills. As a result, I make a point of taking the lane through there, since it’s too narrow to share a lane and I can usually get down one hill and up the next long before the cars behind me.

On occasion, though, some rocket scientist will decide to pass me anyway.

Like the one today who evidently decided I wasn’t moving fast enough, even though I was doing 23 mph — uphill — in a 25 mph zone.

I heard an engine rev behind me, and sure enough, I looked back to see a minivan start to zoom around me on the wrong side of the road. And I knew that section of road well enough to know that was an exceptionally bad idea.

Then again, it’s usually not a good idea to drive on the wrong side of the road, anyway — especially not on a hill that completely blocks the driver’s view of oncoming traffic.

So I threw my hand out in what I hoped would be seen as warning to stop, though it could just as easily have been interpreted as a left turn signal. Either way, he seemed to get the message and quickly cut back in behind me, just as two cars came over the hill from the other side.

Cars he would have hit head-on if he’d continued trying to pass me.

Yeah, those bike haters are right.

We’re the problem, alright.

………

Funny how life repeats itself sometimes, but with vastly different outcomes.

Last December, I filed a complaint after I got dangerously buzzed and right hooked by a Santa Monica Big Blue Bus in front of Franklin Elementary School on Montana Ave.

On Friday’s ride, I found myself in exactly the same situation, in exactly the same location.

As I rode up Montana around 2:45 pm, I found myself being followed by another Big Blue Bus. And once again, the driver felt a need to pass me as soon as the roadway widened, even though I was riding nearly as fast as he could legally go.

Then just like the last time, as soon as the bus passed me, the driver spotted someone waiting at the bus stop by the school. But instead of cutting over to the curb — and cutting me off in the process — the driver stopped right where he was in the traffic lane, leaving me a clear pathway to proceed on his right.

And it was only after I’d cleared the bus — number 3810, route 3 — and gave the driver a wave of thanks that he pulled safely to the curb.

So it’s only fair.

Last time I called to complain about the driver who cut me off. So on Monday morning, I’m going to call to compliment the driver who didn’t.

………

Mark Cavendish sprints to victory in Stage 18 of the Tour de France, his fourth of this year’s Tour after overcoming months of hardships. Saturday’s individual time trial will determine whether Schleck or Contador rides into Paris as the winner; the sprinter’s title is still up in the air, too. Cruise and Diaz join Contador on the podium. Backstage notes from the Tour, and the unwritten rules the riders live by.

And in today’s pro doping report, some fans hope the cheaters get caught.

………

The driver in last week’s death of Santa Ana cyclist Michael Nine faces charges of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and driving without a valid license, and may be subject to deportation.

On the other side of the country, a leading Charleston bike advocate was critically injured in a SWSS; Dave Moulton says the story doesn’t make sense for such an experienced cyclist. Just before I posted this, news broke that the rider, Edwin Gardner, passed away on Friday.

………

Click to enlarge

In upcoming events, Walk and Ride for a Safer 4th Street on Saturday. Or you can help plan two new parks in downtown Santa Monica.

The LACBC is hosting the 2nd Regional Meeting for bike activists from around the region on Wednesday, July 28th. And on Thursday, August 12th, join the LACBC for the 1st Annual City of Lights Awards Dinner.

………

Two cyclists are cuffed and one ticketed for not having a headlight — even though the officer himself had turned it off. More fallout from the campaign to ticket cyclists in Malibu. Courtesy of Streetsblog, Joe Linton and Josef Bray-Ali offer thoughts on the new bike plan and Thursday night’s Webinar. Dancer a la Mode is looking for volunteers for an easy biking experience; all you have to do is ride a little slower on alternate days. Bicycle Fixation suggests turning 4-way stops into 4-way yields. Grist looks at our falling-off-a-bike mayor, and has the exceptional good taste to quote yours truly. Speaking of the mayor, turns out he broke his elbow in eight places, but he’s back to a regular schedule. Cyclelicious has the details on the Colorado Heaven Fest from traffic hell that banned bikes and pedestrians in favor of cars. A Jacksonville writer admits to being a vehicular segregationist. A suspended Portland bus driver explains why he blogged “Kill this bicyclist.” How to get that tight little bike butt. A Kansas writer says can’t we all just get along — or at least not try to kill each other? A bike riding conservative says even righties can ride, regardless of what some people insist. London’s Guardian newspaper offers a look at five new European biking adventures, the best Brit bike trips and a guide to Europe’s best bicycling cities — and advises you to insure, lock and yes, deface your bike to fight theft. The final three Toronto secrets to cycling in traffic; ride with others, avoid the right hook and practice your route. Detailed advise on how to get better at climbing.

Finally, a look at frequent linkee and bike advocate Cecil Yount, author of Zeke’s Great Smokies 2-Wheeled Adventures and co-founder of his local bicycle advisory council.

12 comments

  1. I had a ride earlier this week like yours — seemed liked I had more stupid drivers than usual on that day.

  2. But, umm, is there a reason you pass the bus on the right? Was he still next to you when he stopped?

  3. bikinginla says:

    Yeah, the bus came to a full stop just slightly ahead of me and was clearly waiting for me to pass, otherwise I wouldn’t have risked riding past him.

    My rule of thumb is to never pass a moving vehicle on the right unless I know for certain it’s going straight, such as a car stopped in traffic in the middle of a block with no open parking spaces. And even then, I keep a close eye on the right front wheel — if it moves, I stop.

    • Richard Blanton says:

      I have been back in California for almost 2 years. It seemed Thursday and Friday that the attitude of the motorists on my usual route took a serious turn for the worse. I always ride through the two different areas where there are freeway entrances behind a car in the straight through or dual purpose lane. I am always able to maintain a speed that keeps some inexperienced driver from trying to make a right turn over me. I ride the center of the lane until I am clear of the entrance.
      Thursday and Friday doing this became something worthy of death threats from a couple of motorists. Yes the redneck in the pickup truck put his mirror next to my face and told me to get the . off of the road. I did not and continued just like he was not there. I moved over where I usually do and had to hear his foul bane for the next few lights. A female Friday in a SUV claimed that I made her miss the freeway entrance. She attempted to make a right from the left lane without her signal on about midway through my tandem. She then pulled ahead and moved over in front of me slamming on her brakes. When she got bored with this she did a U turn and split. The last time something like this happened to me was many years ago and a Salt Lake radio DJ had been coaching people on how to put the wammy on bicyclists so it would be considered an accident. I unlike you am not riding in a really congested area. I live in San Bernardino and am having problems that have been really abnormal for the area to me. I went out today twice and had no problems from anybody. Is some malcontent on the radio or TV again encouraging this kind of behavior.

      • bikinginla says:

        I haven’t heard of anything like that out here lately. On the other hand, I can’t come up with any other explanation for why drivers seem to go crazy for no apparent reason, other than sheer coincidence. Glad you made it through unscathed, anyway.

  4. danceralamode says:

    Oh, I had an especially fun ride today on the sharrows on Fountain, in which a woman leaned out her window after her boyfriend honked at me and yelled “Share the Road!” Since when does “share the road” mean that I scramble out of the way because when the light turns green you have to wait all of 5 seconds to pass oncoming traffic to go around me? There are F***ING SHARROWS in the middle of the F***ING street that say I have the right to use the full lane! And you had to wait for 5 seconds!!!! And I was going 18mph! You can’t even do 35 there because it’s so tight and there are street parked cars. Oh my god!

    Yes, I yelled back a few choice expletives at her. I think this substantively proves that those sharrows mean nothing without some driver education.

    • bikinginla says:

      I’ve wondered how many drivers know what those strange symbols on the street really mean. We desperately need an educational campaign to go along with the sharrows — or at the very least, some of those Bicycles Have Full Use Of The Lane signs.

      • The Trickster says:

        I had a bad one yesterday although I probably ended up looking like the bigger dick than anything as it was the first time I’ve lost my rag while riding in a LONG time.

        Silly “self-entitled daddy’s girl (est. 18ish)” stereotype pulls a right turn (remember we drive on the left here) directly in front of me while flicking the bird when I’m doing about 22mph. I saw red and went to go remonstrate, only to be met with the bird.

        I won’t go into details, but lets just say her shiny SUV has a large dent in it where there wasn’t one previously.

        So yes I was out of line with how I ended up reacting, but I simply just saw red.

        Also, got a great video for you that I nicked from Gary Rides Bikes. You may have had it before:

        • bikinginla says:

          Yeah, I love that cartoon.

          I was tempted to chase after a driver myself on Friday when he flipped me off after he’d just lurched out of a parking garage and stopped in the middle of the bike lane — without looking to see if anyone was in it first. And I was.

          I calmed down when I asked myself what I was going to do once I caught him, and didn’t like any of the alternatives. But Lord knows, there was a part of me that sorely wanted to put a nice cleat mark in his shiny new fender.

      • danceralamode says:

        I’m writing a long letter to LADOT about this sharrows problem. It’s happened plenty of times on 4th Street to. And at around 5pm driving west, you can’t even see the sharrows on the ground because of the treatment they put on the pavement before painting the sharrows.

        I’m going to just repeat this for a second so it can sink in: she yelled at me to SHARE THE ROAD while I was on a freaking SHARROW!

        It’s clear to me that drivers who yell this at cyclists have no clue what sharing actually is.

        • bikinginla says:

          Send a copy to your council member while you’re at it. And cc: the council member whose district that’s in — I think that’s LaBonge, but I’m not sure.

          • danceralamode says:

            Midnight Ridazz forum had a list of all council members, plus LACBC people and LADOT. I just sent it to everyone. I meant to be diplomatic, but I was too pissed. I tried to be positive while still being firm that they have not done a good job.

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