A jerk driver nearly takes off a cyclist’s arm, and shows the need to change the law

The other night, I watched from behind as a cyclist did everything right. And still was nearly run down by an impatient driver.

I’d already watched as the driver of a Porsche run a red light at Ohio and Veteran, making his right turn without stopping — or barely slowing down for that matter — to end up heading north on Veteran directly in front of me.

He also ended up directly behind another cyclist on the narrow, parking-choked two-lane street.

The rider had already taken the lane, since there was no room for a car and a bike to safely share a lane. Then he put out his left hand to indicate a turn into a driveway — only to find the Porsche already whipping past on his left, on the wrong side of the road, nearly taking his arm off in the process.

Not surprisingly, that hand quickly moved up from its leftward extension into a single-fingered wave in the rapidly disappearing car’s rearview mirror. And couldn’t blame him in the slightest; in fact, it seemed like a rather restrained gesture under the circumstances.

As usual, there was nothing that could be done about it. The driver was long gone before there was any possibility of getting a license number.

And even if either of us had managed to, there would have been absolutely nothing the police could have done. State law bans them from writing tickets or making an arrest for a misdemeanor — which this would have been, given the lack of injury — unless they actually witness the infraction.

Even though they likely would have had at least two witnesses willing to testify.

Like the 85th percentile speed law, which forces cities to raise speed limits to the level dictated by speeding drivers, it’s a bad law. One originally intended to protect motorists from police abuse, but which actually serves to keep dangerous drivers on the street.

And jeopardize everyone else around them.

Then again, jerks like that sometimes get what they deserve; thanks to Rex Reese for the link.

……..

I had to miss Will Campbell’s Watts Happening Ride last weekend.

I’ve found the key to a happy marriage is spending my weekends home with my wife and dog, even when there are other things I’d like to be doing. Like riding my bike while I learned about one of L.A.’s most fascinating and sadly neglected neighborhoods.

Fortunately, Will offers a timelapse recap for those of us who couldn’t be there.

……..

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that L.A. has lessons to learn from cities near and far. Work has started on the new Sunset Triangle Plaza at the former intersection of Sunset and Griffith Park Blvds. Riverside police shoot a bike riding fugitive. Frank Peters offers a very nice look at his son getting a driver’s license and demonstrating his skills by safely passing a cyclist; definitely worth reading. Family and friends remember the 17-year old cyclist killed last week after riding through a red light. A San Diego professor argues that federal transportation policy can affect public health. A San Diego mayoral candidate wants to make it the nation’s most innovative city — and yes, he supports cycling, even if he is a Republican, Traffic fatalities in Ventura County nearly doubled last year, while cycling fatalities went from zero in 2010 to four in 2011. Lake Tahoe may soon be ringed with bike paths. The author of Boston’s Lovely Bicycle will be riding through Death Valley this March.

Lots of presidents have ridden bikes, dating all the way back to Lincoln, sort of. An interview with bike lawyer and former competitive cyclist Bob Mionske. The rate of Seattle bike crashes hold steady even as ridership rises. The makers of Fat Tire beer team with a local bike trailer maker to help a Boulder food rescue feed the hungry. The rich get richer, as Colorado is building a 63-mile off-road bikeway from Glenwood Canyon to Vail Pass. A Wyoming man is facing three to seven years after pleading No Contest to killing a cyclist while under the influence. Does building a bike culture in Chicago mean things have to get worse before they get better? A Minneapolis bike and pedestrian bridge is out of commission after a cable breaks. Evidently, life is cheap in Wisconsin as a college hockey player gets just 90 days for killing a cyclist by pushing him off his bike, resulting in his death. An Indiana judge reverses a ticket after discovering that bikes aren’t legally considered vehicles in the Hoosier state. A New Jersey driver is under arrest on a charge of attempted murder after hitting a cyclist; no reasons given for the charges yet. Pennsylvania drivers now have to give cyclists a four-foot passing margin — one foot more than the law CA Governor Jerry Brown vetoed. Philadelphia police actually justify putting cyclists at risk by double parking in bike lanes. A look at newly bike-friendly New Orleans; it certainly wasn’t friendly spot to ride when I lived in Louisiana. A Georgia man sues over a dangerous bike path after his mother is killed in a head-on collision with two other riders.

A new northern terminus for the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route tracing the path taken to freedom by escaped slaves during the dark days of American history, now ends in Ontario. Nine cyclists set out from the UK on an unsupported race around the world. Britain’s Prime Minister will hear “radical” ideas for making the country’s streets safer for cyclists; the question is, will he listen? Meanwhile, more than half of all UK residents think the county’s urban areas are too dangerous for cyclists. It certainly was for a former aide-de-camp to the Queen, who was run down by a driver blinded by the sun. A UK driver gets just 18 months for deliberately running into a cyclist and fleeing the scene, leaving the rider in a coma for over six months with two broken legs, a broken arm, cracked ribs, a temporary loss of sight in one eye, and permanent brain damage; call me crazy, but the punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime. A driver escapes jail for killing a cyclist by barely brushing him; a reminder that any contact by a careless driver can be dangerous. A look at Liverpool’s Ten Minutes of Hell underground time trial. The Belfast Telegraph says it time we learned to love the bike; some of us are already ahead of the curve. The first no-emission vehicle from Porsche has just two wheels. An Indian cyclist is probably paralyzed after a Lamborghini driver loses control at high speed, killing himself and seriously injuring the rider. Chances are your bike wasn’t actually made by the company whose name is on it.

Finally, bike haters have always suspected the bicycle was a tool of the devil; maybe they were right. Or maybe early cyclists only seemed possessed because they suffered from bicycle face. But maybe this is how we really look.

6 comments

  1. billdsd says:

    “State law bans them from writing tickets or making an arrest for a misdemeanor — which this would have been, given the lack of injury — unless they actually witness the infraction.”

    Do you know which law that is? I have not been having good luck with Google.

  2. [...] Near Crash Story Highlights Need for “Give Me 3″ (Biking In L.A.) [...]

  3. Opus the Poet says:

    Bicycles are considered vehicles, just specifically exempted from the school-bus law in Indiana. Sadly the man that article is about was killed in a hit-from-behind wreck in South Bend this weekend.

  4. Jeronimo says:

    Ron Paul rides about 25 miles a day.

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