Now she gets it.
Maybe you remember a couple weeks ago when the internet blew up over a bike-hating video from a woman who was quickly identified as a reserve Santa Paula police officer.
Even though, as it turned out, Laura Weintraub was only peripherally associated with the department, helping out around the office a few hours a week. She was never a patrol officer, and never in a position to enforce the law, fairly or otherwise.
And the bike-friendly department she barely worked for got an undeserved black eye based on the comments of someone who should have known better.
It wasn’t like the anger we all felt wasn’t justified.
Weintraub’s failed attempt at humor fell into a long list of shock jocks, newspaper columnists, comedians, online commenters and just plain anti-social jerks who can’t seem to understand that bike riders have as much a right to the road as they do.
And that we’re all just people trying to get from here to there in one piece.
They somehow seem to think the idea of running us over or off the road is outrageously funny. And fail to grasp the concept that a simple tap that would be nothing more than a fender bender between cars could result in serious injury — or worse — if it was with a cyclist, instead.
I was as outraged as anyone.
Yet somehow felt that in our anger, we were missing out on a teachable moment. One that could allow us to reach out to the Santa Paula police, and maybe even drivers like Weintraub herself, to educate them on our rights and how to drive safely around us. And why.
Turns out, a lot of people read that piece.
Including Laura Weintraub.
So I was surprised when I opened my inbox a few days later to find an email from the alleged bike hater herself, asking if we could talk.
When we spoke on the phone a few days later, I found a very caring and contrite young woman who realized she’d made the biggest mistake of her life. And had listened to the angry comments directed her way, and truly got just how and why she was so wrong, and why we were all so upset with her.
A typical motorist, she had never seen us from anything other than a windshield perspective, unaware of our right to the road and the dangers we face on a daily basis from drivers just like her.
She’d never put herself in our position, literally or figuratively, she said.
But she wanted to.
So I agreed to meet with her, and take her on a ride through the relatively quiet streets of Santa Monica and Venice, unwilling to throw a neophyte rider into the deep end on more challenging streets.
Even that brief tour through tame traffic scared her. But somehow, she held her own, remembering the riding tips she’d gotten from me, as well as cycling instructor Stanley Appleman the day before.
She also picked my brain in an attempt to truly understand the dangers we face, and what we can do to make peace on the roads with people like her.
Or at least, like the way she’d been a few weeks before.
She’s changed. She truly gets it.
She’s doing her best to make amends. Not to improve her badly tarnished reputation, but to fix the mistake she made.
And talk to the people out there who might have found the humor in her previously video, and explain to them and other like-minded drivers that we’re all just people, on two wheels or four.
But don’t take my word for it.
Take a look at her latest video, and decide for yourself.
And let’s stop the death threats. Against her or anyone else, no matter how deserved you think they may be.
Just like her earlier video, it’s not funny.
And never appropriate.