Tag Archive for angry drivers

They drive among us…

Help keep the Corgi in kibble this holiday season.

If you don’t give, the angry anti-bike cranks win.

My apologies for no Morning Links today.

Attending a Wednesday night meeting meant putting off my meds in order to remain at least semi-functional until I got home. Which inevitably means paying the price later.

And I am.

So instead, let me leave you with this piece from the Tolucan Times, in which a self described former Disney Exec takes a break from telling the kids to get off his lawn, and goes on a rather remarkable rant against “nasty, radical bike Nazis.”

No, really.

It’s people like this we share the roads with, in case you wondered what the impatient, angry driver who just buzzed you or laid on his horn was thinking.

Feel free to offer your comments. I’d offer my own thoughts, but the meds are finally kicking in, and I’m going to go curl up in a ball for awhile.

Can’t wait to see part two next week.

War on cars (Part I)

BY GREG CROSBY ON DECEMBER 4, 2015

We’ve had the war on poverty, the war on drugs and the war on women. Politicians and their marketing consultants for purely selfish political interests have invented every single one of these “wars.” None of these so-called “wars” can ever be won because they are bogus.

The poverty and drug “wars” have had billions in federal funds poured into slogans, ad campaigns and bureaucratic committees and programs for decades.

The “war on women” is totally made up, invented by the Democrats as a way of rallying their base by vilifying Republicans as the party who hate women and want to keep them down.

But we have a new political “war” quietly going on across our country and this one is for real. I call it the “war on cars.” This war is being waged by a coalition of liberal opportunistic politicians and radical environmentalists. To borrow the Obama phrase, they want to “fundamentally transform the United States” from a car-centric nation to a country dependent on public transportation, bicycles and walking.

The difference between those other bogus political wars and this one is that this is one they are winning.

After having returned from a three-week road trip all over California I can honestly say that our highways and streets are being taken over by bicyclists (not sweet little families happily jingling their bicycle bells as they peddle their Schwinns around the Leave It to Beaver neighborhood, I’m talking nasty, radical bike Nazis). These bicyclists with major attitudes and an elite sense of entitlement purposely ride two and three abreast and do anything they can to frustrate motorists, like riding in the middle of a lane on a mountain road where there’s no place to go around them.

Everywhere we drove we encountered these selfish bicycle jackasses in their spandex outfits and European-style alien helmets.  They look like giant skinny mantis insects on wheels. We drove on all kinds of roads and it seemed no matter where we went, we would run into them (not literally, but sometimes it came close). They were on country roads, narrow high mountain roads, city streets, and get this—ON STATE HIGHWAYS. That’s right; California Highway 101 is now open to bicyclists.

I’m not taking about some quiet parts of sleepy little coast Highway 1 along the beach, (although the bike people are there too). No, I’m referring to a major four-lane each way, 80 mile an hour, truck route freeway. Highway 101 is a major, congested freeway and now the idiots that run the state of California are allowing bicycles on it.

They are not simply “letting” this happen, they ENCOURAGE it.

The official road signs are posted all along our highways and city streets now: “SHARE THE ROAD.” Some have images of bicycles and pedestrians on them.  Other signs demand that autos “SHARE THE LANE” because now bike riders have as much right to use ALL LANES in the streets as do the cars and trucks.

The California Bicycle Coalition website says: “Bicyclists can ride wherever they want if they’re traveling at the speed of traffic. If traveling slower than the speed of traffic, they can still position themselves wherever in the lane is necessary for safety. The law says that people who ride bikes must ride as close to the right side of the road as safely practicable except under the following conditions: when passing, preparing for a left turn, avoiding hazards, if the lane is too narrow to share, or if approaching a place where a right turn is authorized. CVC 21202.”

You can see there is lots of wiggle room for the bike riders.  While it is true that the California law states “bicycles may not be ridden on freeways and expressways,” they’ve added a loophole.  The law goes on to state, “where doing so is prohibited by the California Department of Transportation and local authorities.” So when the state has posted signs that say, “SHARE THE ROAD” on these busy highways, it sends the message that it’s okay for bikes to use them.

More on this next week.

It gets better.

Greg Crosby is a writer and cartoonist and former executive at the Walt Disney Company.

Thanks to Mike Kim and Todd Munson for the links.

Morning Links: Don’t confront angry drivers, salmon cyclist injured in Boyle Heights, near miss in OC, and CicLAvia!

Some stories are just too outrageous for words.

That was the case with yesterday’s murder of a bicyclist by a road-raging SUV driver who fled the scene after running down the victim near Expo Park following an argument.

We won’t rehash the whole story here.

But it serves as a tragic reminder that you never know who you’re dealing with on the roads. And if you encounter an angry driver, it’s better not to engage if possible.

Just pull over, and let them go on their way. A lesson I learned the hard way, after bouncing off the bumper of a road raging driver when I made the mistake of responding to her anger with a single raised finger.

Rule #1: Never flip off the driver behind you.

If they come after you, try to ride to a public place. Take your bike into a store if you need to.

Make a public display of calling 911, or ask witnesses to call the police.

I’ve also found that taking a photo of the driver and the license of the vehicle with your smartphone will diffuse most situations. Although pointing out that you’re recording everything on your helmet cam seems to have the opposite effect.

Try to speak calmly. Don’t yell or get into a shouting match. Just find a way to get out of the situation as quickly and painlessly as possible.

I don’t mean to preach.

That advice is a reminder for me as much as it is for you or anyone else.

I’ve got a long history of standing my ground and fighting for my right to the road through words and gestures. Even going so far as to block offending drivers with my bike and body, and shoving car doors closed to keep drivers or passengers from getting out and kicking my ass.

I’ve somehow managed to get away it. Except for that one time.

But as that case and this one make clear, it’s just not worth the risk.

………

A salmon cyclist suffered major injuries in a head-on collision in Boyle Heights Monday night.

………

A drunk driver lost control of his car and went off PCH in Huntington Beach, coming to rest in the sand; the driver and a passenger were arrested trying to flee on foot.

A friend reports she would have been passing through that exact spot at the time of the crash as she rode her bike home along the beach, if she hadn’t stopped to watch the lightening display and ended up talking with a driver who’d pulled over to watch, as well.

It’s funny how often little things like that can make all the difference in getting home safely.

………

CicLAvia returns to the scene of the crime for the fifth anniversary of the original Heart of Downtown event.

Speaking of which, the Militant Angeleno is back with his epic guide to Sunday’s CicLAvia route. Seriously, you need to memorize this, print it or download it to your phone before you head out on Sunday.

And there will be a feeder ride to CicLAvia from Culver City.

………

In pro cycling, the Tinkoff-Saxo cycling team is now just Tinkoff, as the team lost Saxo Bank after eight years of sponsorship.

And it’s not just the riders facing a doping ban anymore, as USA Cycling extends a zero tolerance policy to its staff and contractors.

………

Local

The Alliance for Community Transit is hiring an Organizing Coordinator, and a Campaign and Communications Coordinator. And they’ll be hosting a community event in Grand Park on Monday to discuss what a sustainable, transit-rich LA could look like.

Jimmy Kimmel gives a non-bicycling staff writer a bike riding lesson behind his Hollywood studio.

Great news from the Valley, as design work begins for another 12 miles of bike paths along the LA River. Although the story doesn’t say if it will connect with the existing LA River bike path.

CiclaValley says Metro has plans for a bigger, bolder, and hopefully more bikeable NoHo. Let’s hope those plans include the long promised Lankershim bike lanes that were squashed by the unlamented Tom LaBonge.

It’s official. South Pasadena will host the second stage of next year’s Amgen Tour of California.

Long Beach needs volunteers for its eighth annual bike count on Sunday, which unfortunately takes place the same time as CicLAvia.

 

State

A Huntington Beach bicyclist suffered critical injuries when he was rear-ended while riding in the bike lane on Warner Ave.

Newly bike friendly San Diego is ranked as the 12th greenest city in the US.

A Santa Cruz writer plays Miss Manners for mountain bikers for a day.

San Francisco cyclists have an interesting new transportation option, as they can now lease a $2000 e-bike for $79 a month, including a lock, theft insurance and unlimited maintenance.

A Rancho Cordova cyclist is lucky to survive a collision with a light rail train.

I want to be like him when I grow up. A Granite Bay man celebrated his 90th birthday by riding his 200,000th mile on his bike. By my calculations, I only have somewhere around 18,000 miles and a few more decades to go.

 

National

Microsoft is working on predictive intelligence to prevent bicycle collisions before they happen. Except when they have to reboot the system, download and install upgrades or fight off a virus, that is.

CNET looks at the growing popularity and expanding choices in e-bikes.

Next City offers eight images and videos it says will make you fall more in love with bikeshare.

A new Portland apartment building is only 80% leased, but the bike parking is already overflowing.

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho police are looking for a hit-and-run cyclist who plowed into a jogger after calling “on your left,” then not doing it.

The driver who nearly killed a Denver bike cop who was protecting protesting high school students faces up to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to vehicular assault; he lied about an existing medical condition when he applied for a drivers license.

An Arkansas county sobriety court has started their own bikeshare program — actually more of a bike library — to provide transportation for drivers who’ve had their licenses suspended for DUI.

The Minneapolis StarTribune talks with Stephen Clark, the bicycle-friendly community program specialist for the League of American Bicyclists.

Evidently, not everyone loves Detroit’s Slow Roll Bike Rides.

A New York truck driver was high on coke when he killed a cyclist in an apparent right hook.

The NYPD doesn’t just think bike lanes are for parking, they’re also a dump for precinct garbage.

A Brooklyn paper offers a by the numbers look at bicycling in the borough.

City Lab says that DC church’s claimed opposition to bike lanes for religious freedom is really all about free parking. Oddly, I don’t recall Jesus saying anything about being able to park right in front of a house of worship.

 

International

City and state governments around the world are finally using data to harness the benefits of the bicycling boom.

Two Winnipeg men are under arrest for attacking a car after the right-turning driver had hit a bike rider as she came off the sidewalk.

A Toronto writer reflects on the intersection of bicycling and jazz, including a hair-raising ride from Hollywood to attend a recording session in Studio City with the great Lee Ritenour, aka Captain Fingers. I’ve often thought riding through traffic felt like a jazz improvisation, as you slide in and out of ever expanding and collapsing spaces, speeding up and slowing down with the flow around you.

The UK’s Cycling Weekly offers advice on winter riding, some of which actually applies in sunny Los Angeles.

Horrifying crime from Austria, as four masked men push a bike rider to the ground and carve a swastika into his forehead.

A commuter in Malta tried five different forms of transportation before concluding that riding a bike was the most efficient way to get to work.

A Singapore judge suggests cracking down on rash cycling with jail time or a fine up to the equivalent of $1800.

Aussie cops take the country’s mandatory helmet law to a ridiculous extreme by fining a helmet-wearing woman $70 because her strap wasn’t tight enough.

Only in Japan would separated bike lanes be intended to protect cyclists from pedestrians instead of cars.

 

Finally…

If you’re carrying a knife, sawed-off shotgun, drugs and trafficking paraphernalia, don’t ride on the sidewalk and put a damn bell on your bike. If you’re hiding a meth pipe on your bike, maybe it’s better not to ride with a .22-caliber rifle strapped to it.

And it may be smart, it may be electric, it may be a foldie, but if it doesn’t have pedals, it’s a freaking scooter, not a bike.

 

A new video — and change of heart — from the formerly bike-hating former reserve Santa Paula police officer

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.

 

Morning Links: The battle over Santa Paula cop’s anti-bike video is over, but we may have lost the war

And then it was over.

Less than 36 hours after the flap over a bike hating Santa Paula reserve police officer blew up online and in her face, she found herself unemployed by the department.

Apparently her own choice, much to the displeasure of countless riders who were out for blood. And not in a mood for ritual career hari-kari.

I first became aware of the video in question when Bike Snob tweeted about it on Saturday morning.

Meet Laura Weintraub, horrible person, incompetent videographer, and utter moron: 

Like countless others, I watched in varying degrees of horror and outrage as she laughingly expressed her hatred of bikes, bicyclists and spandex, as well as her desire to run us all off or into the road.

After tweeting about it a few times myself, I made plans to express my own outrage on here. Only to discover the video had been taken down before I could get to it, leaving nothing to link to and no copy to repost.

Meanwhile, the proverbial defecation had hit the fan.

It didn’t take long for someone to discover that she worked as reserve officer for the Santa Paula PD, compounding the outrage that a uniformed cop would express such offensive thoughts in a cheap and badly failed attempt at humor.

Although cop is stretching it; someone sent me a link to a page showing Weintraub had made less than $100 working for the department in recent weeks.

Countless riders — and others who simply didn’t like the idea of killing or maiming innocent people for giggles — inundated Weintraub’s Facebook page, as well as the SPPD, with calls, emails and online comments.

She responded by removing the offensive video without comment, followed by what seemed like a sincere apology. Or at least, a damn good job of faking one.

I would like to apologize to all those who have been offended by what was intended to be a satirical video on cyclists. It was never meant to be hurtful or harmful in anyway, I am a human being, I made a mistake, I have learned from this and ask for your forgiveness. The responses have shown me overwhelmingly just how hurtful my comments were to some and that is not at all what I intended. As soon as I knew, I removed the video immediately.

The response from the cycling community has made me aware of the sport and its safety issues and challenges with drivers on the road of which I was completely unaware. My heartfelt apologies to those that have been offended and to those who face these very real challenges.

Then again, you’d think any reasonably sentient being would get that calling for violence against anyone for the simple crime of riding a bike would likely be taken the wrong — or in this case, the right — way.

For some inexplicable reason, though, many drivers don’t seem the grasp the fact that people don’t just bounce back after being knocked down; what would be a simple fender bender if they hit another car could be catastrophic if they collided with a cyclist or pedestrian.

Although you’d certainly think a cop — even a lowly reserve officer — would grasp the damage motor vehicles can do in the wrong hands.

At the same time, we can only imagine Chief Steven McLean’s reaction, as whatever community relations he had managed to build up in his year on the job were seemingly undone in a single afternoon by someone who barely worked for him.

Once his head undoubtedly finished exploding, the long-time veteran of the LA County Sheriff’s Department responded by suspending Weintraub pending investigation. Along with another reserve officer who snarkily answered the criticism by complimenting her videos and suggesting cyclists need to obey the law.

At that point, the controversy appeared to be over. The video was down, the woman in question appeared to have learned her lesson, and the chief had done the right thing.

And then the media picked up the story, further fanning the justifiable outrage long after the fact, and leading to countless calls for Weintraub’s job, if not her head.

The final shoe dropped Sunday evening when Chief McLean posted on Facebook that he had accepted her resignation effective immediately — whether she volunteered it or he demanded it was left unstated.

So allow me to offer a contrary opinion.

I’m sorry to see her go.

Had she remained on the job — or even in limbo for awhile — we would have had a rare opportunity for a teachable moment.

If she truly got what she did wrong, and listened, as she said, to the many reasons why her attempt at humor wasn’t funny, she might have become more sympathetic to cyclists and a positive influence on her fellow officers. Or at the very least, unlikely to make a similar mistake a second time.

Not that she didn’t deserve to lose her job. But I’ve found that forgiveness is often more effective than vengeance in the long run.

Meanwhile, Santa Paula cyclists would have had a rare opportunity to demand a meeting with the chief and his officers to discuss the rights of riders and explain the risks we face in employing our legal and moral right to the road.

That door is probably closed now.

Chief McLean is likely to conclude that the matter has been concluded now that Weintraub is no longer a part of the department. And given the entirely justifiable vitriol dumped on him and his officers, he’s unlikely to open his door to our representatives anytime soon.

Which is not to say the anger wasn’t justified.

It was.

I was just as livid as anyone else when I viewed the video. However, we need to learn to direct that anger effectively, not just to get a young woman who did something incredibly stupid fired.

But to use it as an opportunity to build better relations with those charged with enforcing our rights. And achieve long-lasting changes that can and will improve safety and courtesy for everyone on the roads.

We won the battle.

But in doing so, we may have shot ourselves in the foot. And cost us an opportunity for dialogue that may not come again.

Thanks to everyone who reached out to me about this story; there are simply far too many to thank each of you individually.

……..

Local

The media seems to be coming down on the other side of Gil Cedillo’s veto of the North Figueroa road diet — a veto that may or may not be legal.

Construction delays are keeping a new section of the LA River Greenway from opening.

The next LACBC Sunday Funday ride rolls through Lakewood on Sunday, August 3rd.

Neon Tommy looks at how bikes empower women.

 

State

New Seal Beach bike paths help close some of the final links in Orange County’s 66 mile OC Loop. Note to Press-Telegram: bike riders can actually ride anywhere they want in Downey, or anywhere else for that matter.

Caltrans will widen bike lanes through Chico to improve a dangerous section of roadway.

 

National

Google Maps now allows you to check elevations on your route, whether you want to seek out hills or avoid them.

Colorado Springs CO cyclists are tired of riding in the killing zone.

If you want to talk with the mayor of Fort Worth, you’d better get on your bike. Meanwhile, neighboring Dallas has a new bike czar.

New Orleans riders rally to demand safer streets.

 

International

A Montreal letter writer says cyclists aren’t a menace on the roads, comparing the one Canadian killed by a bike in 2010 with the 2,227 killed by cars. He’s got a point.

Indian army cyclists ride over 400 miles through the Himalayas, at altitudes up to 19,000 feet in an attempt to set a new record.

Talk about a good cause. A cyclist is planning to spend a full year riding across Ghana to meet 25,000 people and raise funds to provide shelter and healthcare for the county’s homeless street kids.

A young Kiwi rider overcomes diabetes to compete in the Commonwealth Games.

Cyclist deaths expose a culture clash on the congested streets of Sydney, Australia; thanks to New Colonist for the heads-up.

The best way to see Beijing is by bike.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: Before you build that bike jump, put a little thought into how you’re going to land. A Dutch pro miraculously avoids death on both Malaysian Airlines disasters.

And a special thanks to Cycling in the Southbay’s Seth Davidson for his very kind words and high praise.

 

The more things don’t change, the more they remain the same; LA driver confesses to threatening cyclists

Here's a picture of my dog, who could have done a better job of moving my blog than the people I hired to do it.

Here’s a picture of my dog, who could have done a better job of moving my blog to a private server than the people I hired to do it.

So much for that.

As we left off last week, I promised this blog would be transferred to a private server over the holiday weekend, as the first phase of long-gestating plan to remake it into an advertising-supported website.

Long gestating, indeed. Many species have their babies in a lot less time than this process, which started in August, has taken.

But as you’ll see, either the transfer was done so perfectly that nothing has changed, or nothing has changed.

Smart money is on the latter.

Over the weekend I received an email from the web-hosting service I’d hired to do the transfer that they too lacked the capability to move it to their servers. This, despite sworn assurances from their sales staff that they’d done it many times before, and would have me up and running in a matter of days.

Turns out they hadn’t. And wouldn’t.

But at least I got my money back.

So the transfer is on hold for now. Hopefully, it will get done later this week, by another company that doesn’t have its head so far up it’s own ass knows what it’s doing and is a little more honest about its own abilities.

I’ll let you know more when I do.

………

It’s not everyday someone confesses to assault with a deadly weapon on National Public Radio.

But that’s exactly what self-proclaimed life-long LA driver Jackie Burke did in an otherwise positive piece about LA Bike Trains.

The story focused on the founding of the program by New York transplant Nona Varnado, who has become a leader in the local bicycling scene in the short time she’s been here — though I do miss her incredible design work for women cyclists. Along with the success the program has had in helping beginning bike commuters take to the roads.

Not that everyone welcomes new riders to the roads.

Like the aforementioned Ms. Burke, for instance.

“It’s like they enjoy taking up the lanes,” says Jackie Burke, who has lived in Los Angeles her whole life. She says bicyclists drive her crazy when she’s in a car and has to slow down for them.

“It’s very frustrating, to the point where I just want to run them off the road,” Burke says. “I’ve actually done one of those drive-really-close-to-them kind of things to kind of scare them, to try to intimidate them to get out of my way.”

Let’s start with the fact that neither Burke, nor anyone else, has a right to the roadway, let alone a right to drive unimpeded. And as Niall Huffman points out, bikes aren’t hard to pass — as long as you’re not the kind of sociopath who’s willing to intentionally threaten another human being for the crime of slightly inconveniencing your commute.

Because that’s exactly what Burke has admitted doing.

By her own account, she used her vehicle as a weapon in an attempt to intimidate another person using the roadway in a legal manner. She could, and perhaps should, be charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

Except that she would undoubtedly deny her own words, which is currently the only evidence against her.

In order for charges to stick, her victim or an independent witness would have to come forward who could testify that Burke threatened the rider with her car, and could place her — or at least her vehicle — at the scene of the crime.

Because a crime is exactly what it was.

Her words also place her in violation of LA’s groundbreaking cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, which allows a cyclist to file a civil suit against deliberately threatening drivers. But again, that would require Burke’s victim(s) to come forward, and be able to identify her as the attacker.

Not likely, given the challenge of taking down a license number as a rider struggles not to get run off the road. Let alone over.

Which means, despite her very public confession on national radio, she’s likely going to get away with it. Just like all the other otherwise decent people who somehow turn into blood-thirsty, road-raging sociopaths once they get behind the wheel.

Although the DMV should seriously look into permanently pulling her license. Or at least until she can learn to drive without threatening the lives and safety of complete strangers who have the misfortune of sharing the road with her.

Perhaps more frightening, though, is that Alex Schmidt, the reporter on the piece, didn’t even bother to challenge her comments.

Because attitudes and actions like hers are far too common. And far too accepted in our society.

And if that doesn’t scare the crap out of every American, it should.

Today’s post, in which I rant on anti-bike fallacies

Because one cyclist cut him off, in what may or may not have been a right-hook on the driver’s part, an Austin writer once again trots out the common fallacies that a) cyclists don’t pay for the roads, and b) we’re not held accountable because we’re not required to ride with large numbers on our backs.

Driver, please.

One of the biggest lies told in this country is that drivers pay for the roads they use through gas taxes and license fees.

The fact is, the federal gas tax, which isn’t indexed to inflation, hasn’t been raised in nearly 20 years, and doesn’t begin to cover the costs of building and maintaining federal roadways. And the overwhelming majority of funds used to build and maintain roads on the local level, where motorists do most of their driving — and cyclists do most of their riding — comes from the general tax fund.

In other words, we all pay for the roads. Even those who’ve never bought a gallon of gas or been behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, and never will.

Since the overwhelming majority of cyclists are drivers, as well — and virtually all of us are taxpayers — we already pay for the roads in multiple ways, just as other drivers do. And those who don’t drive are subsidizing those who do.

Never mind the other costs associated with driving, as pointed out in a letter from Micah Posner to the Santa Cruz Sentinel (which has since been deleted from their website, unfortunately).

But roads are not the biggest expense that society takes on for cars. For every mile driven in a car, cyclists pay 4.8 cents to subsidize car parking, 3.5 cents to subsidize accidents caused by cars, four cents to pay for the effects on human health, etc. Every mile driven costs society as a whole 32.9 cents, not including wars over oil. Only .5 of these costs are paid for by driver user taxes. That’s why gasoline is taxed much more heavily in most other industrialized countries.

Then there’s that whole licensing issue that continues to rear its ugly head far too often.

I won’t get into the abundant arguments against licensing cyclists, except to say that licensing would discourage cycling at a time when it is in everyone’s best interests to have more riders on the road to cut congestion, decrease pollution and improve overall health in our overly obese society.

Instead, let’s just consider the common fallacy the Austin writer brings up, that vehicle licenses enable enforcement of traffic laws, and that cyclists can’t be held accountable because we don’t have them.

So tell me, when was the last time a police officer knocked on your door and handed you a ticket for a traffic violation that occurred hours, or even days, before?

Because, excluding red light and speed cameras, where legal, a traffic violation must be observed by a police officer in order for the driver to be ticketed.

It doesn’t matter how many witnesses are willing to testify that the driver ran a red light, or wove dangerously in and out of traffic at an excessive speed. If a cop didn’t see it, he can’t write a ticket — even if everyone else on the road copied the license number of the offending vehicle and called it in to the police.

Yet somehow, a number on a cyclist’s ass is supposed to allow police to ticket or even arrest him or her based on eyewitness reports?

Not gonna happen.

Police have exactly the same authority to ticket cyclists as they do anyone else. If they see the violation, they can pull the rider over and write ‘em up. And contrary to the perception of far too many motorists — and cyclists — they do.

We’ll also ignore his absurd observation that whoever pays makes the rules, which applies exactly nowhere else in American law.

Then there’s this comment I received last night in response to an old post in support of SB 910, the three-foot passing law vetoed by California Governor Jerry Brown last year.

Aside from the usual bike-hating blather — including a comment that a law should be passed requiring cyclists to stay three-feet from motorists — he argues that a three-foot passing law will increase congestion. And that we don’t belong on the roads in the first place.

This law will have an adverse affect on commerce and create even more grid lock on our roadways. After all, the roadways were built to support interstate commerce and paid for with motor vehicle and fuel taxes. The roads were not built for your cycling entertainment.

Never mind that roads were not built for cars.

Very few state and local roads, where most cyclists ride, play any role in interstate commerce. And even if that standard was applied, it would result in most motor vehicles being banned along with bikes, since only a small part of traffic is engaged in commerce at any given time — let alone of the interstate variety.

And don’t get me started on the absurd misconception that bikes are only ridden for entertainment.

While many cyclists do ride for fun and health — which should be encouraged as a means of combating rising societal health costs due to obesity and related health problems — many others ride for transportation, and far more do both.

And even with California gas prices hovering well over $4 a gallon, I haven’t heard anyone call for a ban on recreational driving. Even though that contributes far more to traffic congestion than every cyclist on American roads combined, whatever reason they ride.

If you don’t believe me, just try finding parking anywhere near the beach on a sunny weekend. Or counting cars buzzing by on a popular scenic byway with no commercial centers in sight.

I’ll be riding my bike to a meeting tonight, and expect to enjoy the trip far more than I would if I was driving.

So does that make it transportation or recreation?

Other than a relative handful of bike haters, who really cares?

………

As for that meeting, I hope you’ll join me at the first meeting of the LACBC’s newly formed Civic Engagement committee.

The committee is being created to allow the LACBC to play a role in local elections in the city and county of Los Angeles. While the non-partisan committee will not endorse or work for individual candidates, our plan is to get candidates on the record through the use of questionnaires, as well as candidate forums, socials and debates.

The meeting will take place from 6:45 to 8:45 pm on the Mezzanine level of LACBC headquarters, 634 South Spring Street, with future meetings to be held on the last Tuesday of every month, location to be determined.

Participation is open to everyone, member or not. And candidates are welcome to stop by to introduce themselves, at tonight’s meeting or any future meetings, though time restrictions may limit speaking time.

………

Claremont Cyclist notes that Andy Schleck has backed into his yellow jersey. Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal takes home Canada’s first grand tour victory; Mark Cavendish misses the Giro’s points title by one point.

Evelyn Stevens wins the inaugural Exergy Tour women’s pro stage race, which should put her on the U.S. Olympic team. And Tim Duggan is your new national pro road race champion, while Dave Zabriskie wins the time trial once again.

………

The L.A. Weekly notes the neighborhood where a 19-year old cyclist was shot in Koreatown last weekend is ground zero for one of the city’s most notorious gangs. Will Campbell offers a time lapse of his annual ride to remember the real reason for Memorial Day; hint: it’s not barbeque, beaches or shopping. Bikas spots new bike lanes on White Oak Avenue. The Ballona Creek bike path will be closed in Culver City for two months beginning tomorrow. Glendale officers ride to remember one of their own. Long Beach gets a bike-friendly promotion.

Let’s Go Ride a Bike profiles San Diego’s Brown Girl in the Lane. Is roadway bullying just a matter of boys will be boys? A San Francisco cyclist is acquitted of hit-and-run in a collision that injured an elderly pedestrian. Wrong way cycling may seem safer, but it’s far from it. California’s proposed three-foot passing law advances after being watered down in the Senate.

Grist says Congress gives young cyclists the middle finger. Ten reasons to ride your bike. An unlicensed Washington driver swerves to avoid a skunk and kills a cyclist. Mountain bikers head to Colorado’s Grand Valley. A South Dakota political candidate is cited for DUI after hitting a seven-year old cyclist. Once again, a select group of cyclists will retrace the Trail of Tears. Chicago adopts a bold Vision Zero plan, committing to zero traffic deaths — bike, pedestrian or motor vehicle — within 10 years; so far, I only know of one L.A. candidate or elected official who even knows what Vision Zero means, let alone has called for it. David Byrne looks favorably on bike share in New York. Eight years ago, a 12-year old girl was promised a new dog if she won her age group in the national cycling championships; today, that dog helps pay for her college education.

An upcoming conference says children have a universal right to ride. Ottawa cyclists complain about non-bikes in the bike lane, just like cyclists in every other city. Utterly useless article in the great helmet debate, as a Vancouver writer refers to a number of studies to support his position without linking to or citing any; a Euro study suggests adverse health effects from a drop in cycling will outweigh benefits of a mandatory helmet law. Prince Charles rides an ebike. There’s something seriously wrong when the police are afraid to ride. Relatively inexpensive mirrors could help cyclists avoid truck blind spots. The Wall Street Journal says Asia is a hub for bikes.

Finally, rather than lock up his family’s bikes, a Nebraska man writes a stern letter to the thief or thieves; thanks to Todd Munson for the heads-up. And the Dutch don’t wear helmets or lycra, and they don’t ride racing bikes.

Except when they do.

Update: Cyclist describes brutal Sunday assault by road raging Ventura Blvd driver

A cyclist reports being brutally beaten by a driver in front of Mel’s Drive-In on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks on Sunday.

According to comments from someone claiming to be the victim, the assault took place after he stopped to confront the road raging driver who had angrily buzzed him moments earlier.

I was almost done with my ride, and on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks. It is not the best street to ride on, but it has multiple lanes, and a car can pass around. I usually don’t ride on it during mid-day hours but the side street I was on had a fallen tree a little bit before and was closed which caused me to turn onto Ventura.

The guy in the pickup wanted to pass me (honking alot), and he wasn’t interested in changing lanes. With parked cars on one side there was no place for me to go. I had the right to use the lane and he could have gone into the left lane to pass. Instead he decided to pass me leaving about two inches of clearance. I didn’t yell or do anything, but I noticed the car and license plate. I eventually saw him pull over at the diner, I guess to eat lunch, so I stopped to let him know I didn’t appreciate what he did. I wasn’t picking a fight, but after about 1.5 seconds he came over to me, knocked me over and then started beating me mostly with kicks to the face. I’m glad my helmet stayed on. Once my skin broke blood was all over the place. I’m sure the witnesses would agree with my story. And people that know me know that I’m not a voilent (sic) person. I never got in a fight in my life.

The writer claims to have the full plate number of the Oregon driver’s truck, as well as his attacker’s phone, which was dropped at the scene. Yet he says that as of Tuesday, the detective assigned to the case hadn’t begun looking into the case.

The guy also dropped his cell phone on the scene, so that is another important piece of evidence. I called the LAPD detective yesterday, and he didn’t even start looking into the case yet. He also didn’t seem interested in tracking down the cell phone information (and there is a good chance is has phone numbers on it of places he may be staying in Los Angeles).

Really this guy could have been caught within 10 minutes of the incident since he has an easily recognizable car with out of state plates, if the police would have acted quickly after talking to the witnesses.

As a number of comments in the long, long thread made clear, stopping to confront an angry driver is never a good idea.

Even if that is something I do myself far more than I should.

You never know who you’re talking to. Or how short a fuse the driver or his or her companions may have.

And yes, I’ve been threatened by angry women almost as much as angry men. In fact, the driver who ran me down in a road rage assault was an otherwise pleasant — or so I’m told — middle-aged woman.

If you see someone who threatened you or drove dangerously around you, the best course of action is usually to let it pass, and just chalk it up to another unpleasant experience on the road. Or if you think it’s serious enough, call the police and let them handle it — bearing in mind that there’s usually not much they can do if they didn’t witness it themselves.

If you do stop, keep your bike between yourself and the person you’re talking to; it could give you just enough time to get away.

I’ve also found the quickest way to defuse an angry confrontation is to pull out your cell phone and snap a photo of the other person and their license plate.

Whatever you do, don’t throw the first punch. Or any punch, for that matter — especially if you were the one who started the confrontation.

If any time has passed between the initial encounter and when you stopped to talk to the driver, the police will consider it a separate event. Which makes you the aggressor, rather than the angry idiot who just tried to run you off the road.

Not fair, perhaps. But they would argue that you had a chance to avoid the confrontation, and didn’t do it.

Meanwhile, it’s a little scary to think a rider could give the police that much information, and nothing has been done two days later. Let alone an arrest made.

Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in.

Update: I’ve received word from a third party confirming that there were several witnesses to the beating in which the victim did in fact receive significant injuries, and that a police file has been opened; unfortunately, a heavy case load raises fears that the attacker may flee the state before police can get around to this case.

Don’t blame the cops this time. Blame the budget cutbacks that have left the department understaffed, and officers unable to do their jobs in a timely manner.

Thanks to Weshigh for the heads-up — and my apologies for failing to credit him sooner. 

Main Street road diet brings joy to Venice cyclists; a road rage finger and a shipload of links

This is what the new bike lanes on Main Streets looked like on Thursday.

Those of us who ride near the coast are celebrating the long awaited arrival of the Main Street road diet in Venice.

After winning approval from the local Neighborhood Council, hopes were high that the bike lanes would be installed by the end of the year. While that didn’t happen, work finally began the weekend before last — only to be halted due to the recent storm.

And leaving barely sketched out lane lines that seemed to confuse almost everyone, as I watched driver after driver try to squeeze into the narrow soon-to-be bike lane.

Even though it lacked the bike markings, you’d think drivers would realize that a lane narrower than their cars probably wasn’t meant for them. Then again, that’s assuming most drivers think behind the wheel, which may be a stretch.

But this past weekend, it finally became a reality.

And frequent contributor Eric Weinstein — excuse me, Eric “lets extend the Main St. bike lanes” Weinstein, as he signed his email — could barely restrain his excitement.

The Main Street bike lanes in Venice are here!

Katarina, on her electric bike, and I went for a bicycle ride and victory lap, up and down the freshly painted Venice Main Street Bike lanes on Sunday. They came out pretty good after all this time. It was perfect weather and there were already lots of other cyclists.

These lanes appear to be a bit wider than the Santa Monica section. There’s less chance of being doored with a space on the right of the lane for much of the route. And the car traffic seemed calmed by the lane re-configuration. There’s a section Northbound from the kicking clown to the Santa Monica border which has long had lane confusion, with awkward last second merges into the left lane. That’s completely fixed and is much safer and smoother now. The South end of the bike

lane is at the Windward Circle allowing a easy merge around the circle. Connecting to Abbot Kinney’s sharrows is easy too, making a good route over to Venice Blvd.’s bike lanes to Culver City and even Downtown LA.

This is great new place for bicyclists. Now there’s safe, easy route from downtown Santa Monica to the Windward Circle. These are the best places near the beach to visit by bicycle. And the new lanes make this an easy trip on flat ground that anyone can pedal. Merchants near Main St. should now be asking LADOT for more bike racks in front of their stores to bring in these new customers (www.bicyclela.org/RackRequest.htm). We should all be taking this route for a test spin on the next sunny day.

Like all things there’s room for small improvement, which will make a big difference. The one I’d really like so see would be some wayfinding signage. One or two signs at the south terminus

pointing to the beach path and the alternate route avoiding Washington Blvd. to the Marina Del Rey section of the path. And put a few signs on Ocean Ave. and Venice Blvd. pointing toward the new lanes on Main Street. Showing the connections to the bike lane will really help increase it’s usability.

These bike lane projects take a massive effort by many, many people to see anything appear on the ground. A big tailwind on their next ride to LADOT and Michelle Mowery’s group for initiating this great connecting route. Not the mention engineering, presenting and constructing it. Also to the Venice Neighborhood Council for voting to proving a safer place for cyclists in the community. And Bill Rosendahl’s office for getting the plans approved by all concerned. And a really big kudos to all the SPOKE and LACBC people who advocated for this, especially our Bicycle Advisory Committee representative Kent Strumpel.

……..

The latest trend seems to be automotive greenwashing support of bikes, as Volkswagen begins a two-year relationship with Bikes Belong, and Fiat wants to clear the air to improve relations between cyclists and motorists.

Of course, that’s after the League of American Bicyclists partnered with AAA, even though the SoCal version of the auto club was one of the prime opponents of California’s proposed three-foot passing law.

Speaking of the bike league, they report that bike and pedestrian funding is once again under attack in the Tea Part-addled House.

……..

It may be in broken English — the original is in Swedish — but a Stockholm cyclist complains about news reports that never fail to blame cyclists but never seem to blame drivers. Instead, it always seems to be driverless cars that bump into other people and vehicles.

I’ve complained about the same thing on here more than once.  Then again, if you subscribe to my Twitter account, I’ve probably complained about it ad naseum.

But it’s interesting to see it’s not just an American phenomenon.

Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

……..

L.A. Live is getting more bike parking. A review of a 32-mile ride through the Westside guided by Bike and Hikes LA. If you liked last November’s CicLAvia, you’ll love the next one on April 15th on the same route. Glendale is reaching out to local residents to support a road diet of their own. Baldwin Park wants more bicycle-friendly streets. The Culver City Bicycle Coalition will host a fundraiser the day after Valentines Day at Joxer Daly’s on Washington Blvd. Better Bike recaps the recent Beverly Hills Bike Plan Update Committee meeting to discuss proposed — and rapidly shrinking — bike lanes and bike racks both current and planned; and he’s right, if the meetings weren’t the same night as the LACBC board meeting, I’d be there. Venice may have new bike lanes on Main Street, but Pink and baby prefer the bike path. The Time is running out to become Streetsblog’s new Santa Monica correspondent. A Santa Monica bike company based on a made up bike team based on a real beer-drinking Belgium racer. Rick Risemberg meets a man on an 85-year old bike; he also finds a bike/ped bridge in Whittier, but no signage that says how to get there. Some schmuck stole a 86-year old WWII vet’s bike in La Habra. San Diego gets buffered bike lanes.

View the trailer for the upcoming bike movie Peloton. Bicycling interviews rising BMC star Tejay van Garderen. Drivers like to complain about red light running cyclists, but it’s the cyclists and pedestrians whose lives are endangered by the scofflaws on four wheels. After two years of bike commuting, an Arizona cyclist has to get new clothes. Washington’s House passes legislation to slow some speed limits to 20 mph. Evidently, Springfield Cyclist hates SUVS as much as I do; or almost, anyway. A Texas cyclist is collateral damage when a drunk driver flips his truck, killing his two passengers as well. Is someone stealing and selling ghost bikes in the Big Apple? The captain of the Appalachian State University bike team is injured when his wheel hits a pit bull. LeBron bikes to work.

Grist offers 10 lessons from the world’s great bike cities. A Calgary columnist says just say no to bike share. After his bike is stolen, a UK youth gets it back through Facebook for £50 — about $78 bucks. A driver is fined a whopping £25 after being caught on video verbally abusing a cyclist. A London councilor says four cyclists have died within a two-minute walk of his home in the last two years; a very lucky cyclist could have added to the toll. Yet another delay in the Contador doping case. Aussie cricketer Shane Warne is being sued by the cyclist he apparently slandered — and hit.

Finally, when a group of teenagers tried to rob a 65-year old Pennsylvania cyclist, he pulled out a gun and fired, killing one and injuring another. Now friends of the victim speak out in support of his friends and family. Thanks to Rex Reese for the heads-up.

And this is what a road raging driver looks like after threatening to run me off the road the next time I get in front of him — even though I was doing 20 in a 20 mph zone on the VA grounds when he Jerry Browned me for no apparent reason.

Cyclists assaulted in L.A Naked Bike Ride; NYPD warning to sexy cyclist may be a hoax

The L.A. version of the World Naked Bike Ride turned violent on Saturday when participants were attacked by the passenger of a trailing car, who shouted anti-gay slurs before getting out and punching one of the riders.

The driver then got out as well, and knocked a second rider to the ground before throwing the victim’s bike at him, in an incident that was partially captured on video.

The Eastsider LA, which initially broke the story, reports that the cyclists were not seriously injured.

The two riders who sustained injuries – one sustained a cut lip, the other suffered a bloody nose and scrapes to his face – declined emergency medical treatment, (LAPD Lt. Wes) Buhrmester said.  He provided the following description of two male suspects who were riding in a Honda:

The first suspect is described as a male, 20 years old, black hair, brown eyes, 5-8, 180 pounds, wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans. The second suspect is a male, late 20s, black “buzz cut” hair, dark complexion, 5-10, 200-250 pounds, wearing a blue shirt with blue jeans. If anyone has information, you can either call or e-mail me at the addresses below (confidentiality will apply, other than me referring your information to detectives), or call Rampart Detective Division at (213) 484-3450. Refer to DR No. 11-0212143. There are some leads upon which detectives are acting.

If you have any information, you can reach Lt. Burhmester, who lives in the area of the attack, at 213/484-3400, or email here.

According to the Echo Park Patch, the police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

And it’s just one more example of why L.A. needs a bicycle anti-harassment ordinance.

Thanks to Steve Herbert for the link.

……..

Herbert also sends word of a logical disconnect afflicting one of our local TV stations.

While watching the KTLA morning news, Lynette Romero was live with a 2 minute story about the LA City council needing to decide the issue of a Wilshire Blvd Bus Only Lane, or risk the opportunity to apply for federal funding to the tune of 23 million dollars.

At the end of the story, host Frank Buckley throws it to their traffic reporter in studio, Ginger Chan asking “What do you think, bus only lane on Wilshire Blvd.?”

Ginger Chan replies: ” I think it’s a terrible idea to be honest with you because not enough people take the buses, so just leave it alone and we’ll figure out something else.”  Then they of course open to a regional map of the freeways with nearly half the freeway routes in red.

……..

By now, you may have heard the tale I linked to last weekend, as an attractive Dutch cyclist is reportedly stopped by a New York Police officer and warned that her short skirt is too distracting to passing motorists.

Naturally, it caused worldwide attention and outrage, as writers compared the incident — unfavorably — to Saudi Arabia, where women are just beginning to fight for their right to drive.

Now it turns out, it may have been a hoax.

The cyclist, Jasmin Rijcken, not only runs a Dutch bicycle company, according to her LinkedIn profile, she is also a marketing consultant specializing in viral marketing.

She denies it, of course, pointing out that she posted the story on her Facebook page, rather than going to the press herself. And she never mentioned the brand of bike she represents — even though the brand has received worldwide attention as a result.

Is it a hoax? Unless the officer comes forward to confirm the incident, or she steps up to admit fabricating it, we’ll probably never know.

But I can tell you this.

As a marketer myself, if I wanted to plant a story in the hopes that it would go viral with maximum believability, I probably would have done it exactly the same way, allowing the story to spread while maintaining plausible deniability.

Thanks to Al Williams and Stanley E. Goldich for the heads-up.

……..

The Times issues a call for protecting cyclists in bike lanes. How to turn a vintage bike into a hanging lamp. Josef Bray-Ali explains why L.A. Streetsblog matters. Better Bike Beverly Hills explains why the Westside Cities Council of Governments should matter to cyclists. A reminder that you could win a free hoodie for donating to CicLAvia this month. Riding the L.A. River Ride with Glendale Mayor Laura Friedman; LACBC says thanks to a very long list of people and organizations that made it possible. Ride the Black Line offers a crack example of why you need to be careful out there. The South Bay Bicycle Master Plan is officially unveiled. A driver faces murder charges after left crossing a motorcycle; can anyone recall seeing a driver face similar charges for left crossing a cyclist? Hello? Anyone?

New pedals can offer relief for sore knees, as cdm Cyclist discovers. A triathlete says bike theft is rampant at UC San Diego, and no one but the victims seem to care. A San Diego man is intentionally hit by a car and robbed following a dispute on the street. An author looks at the 2009 Race Across America; the 30th RAAM edition kicks off today and Wednesday. The Redwood City cyclist who wobbled and fell shortly after being passed by a driver who witnessed the crash in her rearview mirror has died from his injuries; thanks to Richard Masoner for the news. The Sacramento Bee profiles a man who makes whacky whimsical bikes. This year’s AIDS/LifeCycle ride raises a record $13 million.

You, too, can become a bike advocate in three easy steps. Dave Moulton says the freedom to drive should not outweigh the freedom to stay alive. The Portland Oregonian looks at women riders of every kind. Lance Armstrong accuser Tyler Hamilton is banned from an Aspen restaurant after a confrontation with Lance; the feds are informed of the incident. Boulder CO opens a $3.2 million off-road bike park. Springfield cyclist says someone finally got it right in a story about a cyclist hit while riding on the sidewalk. A Texas man dies while raping a 77-year old woman after riding his bike two miles to his victims home; karma can be a well-deserved bitch sometimes. Minneapolis holds its first ciclovia. Delaware sets up bike checkpoints to educate inexperienced cyclists. Virginia Beach gives itself six years to become bike-friendly, while someone is sabotaging local cycling routes. The country’s most dangerous state for cyclists and pedestrians prepares a new road safety campaign that appears to blame cyclists.

Cambridge gets new signs allowing bikes while banning cars; can we put those at all the entrances to L.A.? If cycling is to thrive, we need to replace cities built for cars with infrastructure that will encourage people to ride bikes. Animals and unpredictable drivers can make tranquil country roads less safe than they seem. Alberto Contador threatens promises to defend his title in the Tour de France. False environmental arguments against building bike paths.

Finally, there are reasons not to trade your roadie for a trendy new fixie. On the other hand, you don’t want ride an ebike in New York, either. And Josef Bray-Ali shows the cutest possible use for a bakfiets.

A threatening Beverly Hills driver offers a reminder that we still have a long way to go

I got a good reminder yesterday that we still have a long way to go to secure our place on the streets.

I was riding through Beverly Hills, scouting a route for the LACBC’s I ♥ the Westside Ride next Sunday, when I pulled up to a four way stop to make a left.

Yes, I did stop. And even signaled.

I waited for the first car coming the other way started his left, then pulled out to make mine. And while I was still in the middle of the intersection, the car that had been behind that one aggressively pulled out to make a left as well, putting him on a direct collision course with me.

So I jammed on the brakes, and yelled out “What the f***!” as he blew by.

Next thing I knew, the driver screeched to a stop on the far side of the intersection, then whipped around 180 degrees to put himself the same direction I was going.

I’ve learned the hard way that there’s nothing more dangerous than having an angry driver behind me. And it was pretty clear that I was probably going to have to defend myself.

So I quickly pulled over to the side of the road, positioning myself between two parked cars that offered protection from his car, and got off my bike.

He screeched up to a stop next to me, and stared at me in a threatening manner. So I pulled out my cell phone and held it out so he could see me dialing.

“911,” I said. “Do you want to stick around to see what happens next?”

With that, he screeched off down the road, still clutching the illegally hand-held cell phone he’d had plastered to his face the whole time.

I jumped back on my bike and chased after him, holding out my cell phone to take a photo of his license plate, but lost him in traffic before I could get a clear shot. Then rode home angrily replaying the situation in my head, with images of going all De Niro on his ass.

In the end, I think I handled about as well as I could, responding to the threat without escalating the situation — or crossing the line myself.

Just another angry interaction on the streets, serving as a reminder that things may be improving for cyclists in a lot of ways. But there are still angry, dangerous drivers out there.

And we’re still at risk from them.

It also shows once again why L.A.’s proposed bike anti-harassment ordinance is so vital for our protection. This was a textbook example of exactly the sort of incident it’s intended to address.

Even if it wouldn’t apply on the mean streets of Beverly Hills.

.………

I got an email earlier this week from a reader who recommended the CitySourced app for the Windows, Droid, iPhone or Blackberry smartphones, or Garcetti 311 for iPhones.

These applications allow reporting of all sorts of biking problems in Los Angeles. For example, I was biking up the bike lane on Westwood Avenue a day ago and saw 2 cars parked in the bike lane within a matter of 2 minutes. I often see this illegal parking in the bike lane on Gayley Avenue going past In-and-Out as well. You can now report this with a quick picture of their car/license plate/bike lane (in same photo). You can also report abandoned bicycles, potholes, sidewalk cracks (e.g., Westwood park abandoned bike path), etc. Your reports are saved so you can review them in the future.

On another subject, he also wanted to note that he recently emailed the Westfield Century City mall to ask about bike parking, and was happy to get a response indicating that they have bike racks near the valet station. And he was even more please that they agreed with his suggestion to add that information to their website.

It always makes me a little happier when people become more aware that people use bicycles to shop just like anyone else. And then they respect bike lanes more when they are aware that we’re important customers too.

From what I’ve seen, the bike parking at Westfield Century City could use a lot of improvement.

But he’s right. When businesses understand that cyclists spend money just like drivers do — or as some studies have shown, even more — they’ll make sure we have the facilities we need.

And that our rights are respected in their business, and on the streets around them.

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