Tag Archive for angry drivers

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Driver: “I didn’t hit him, I just brushed him a little;” Mark your calendar for my first group bike ride Feb 5

Scroll down for news of the first ever BikingInLA/LACBC group ride on Sunday, Feb 6

Strange how life works out sometime.

I was riding around the Marina on my way to Ballona Creek when I spotted a rider down on the side of the road. Next thing I knew, the other rider with him was chasing after a beat-up pickup that had just pulled out of the lot behind them.

Fortunately, the driver stopped to argue with the other rider, which gave me time to call 911. The driver insisted he didn’t hit anyone, while the rider, a man named Craig, I later found out, demanded he pull over right away.

Meanwhile, I was on the phone with the 911 operator, who completely understood when I interrupted as she answered, asking her to write down the license number before the driver could get away. So she listened patiently while I carefully read the plate digit by digit, then repeated it back to me before asking where I was or what happened.

I don’t know who she was. But I do know that if I ever need help, I hope she’s the one who answers the call.

She passed me on to the sheriff’s department, who passed me onto the highway patrol; for some reason, they investigate traffic collisions in the area, even though the Marina sheriff’s station was just two blocks away.

Meanwhile, the driver finally pulled back around and parked his truck. As he walked past, he looked at me, still on the phone with the CHP dispatcher, and said “I didn’t hit him! I only brushed him a little bit.”

To which I responded. “Brushing him is hitting him.” And then into the phone, I asked “You heard that, right?”

As we waited for the highway patrol to arrive, I pulled out my first aid kit and did my best to patch up the first rider, named Jeffery, who fortunately only seemed to have cuts and scrapes. I did my best to talk him into letting the paramedics come take a look; my experience is that once the adrenalin and other stress hormones wear off, it often uncovers more serious injuries.

Which is why I always recommend getting medical care after a collision. Because chances are, you’re hurt worse than you think. You just don’t know it yet.

He declined, though. So once I got off the phone, they explained what had happened.

They were chatting in the parking lot of the shipbuilder after both had visited there. The truck driver had come up behind them, and demanded that they get out of his way — while talking on his cell phone, of course.

Not an unreasonable request under the circumstances. But the driver didn’t wait for them to get out of his way; instead he stepped on the gas as soon as he thought he had an opening.

He didn’t.

His truck ran over the rear wheel of Jeffrey’s bike while he was still straddling it. The bike went down, and so did Jeffrey. All because an impatient driver wasn’t willing to wait the extra second or two that it would have taken a couple of men to get out of his way.

After a lot of discussion, the driver seemed to take responsibility for his actions, exchanging insurance information and offering to pay for the bike. Although he continued to look at the damage to the bike, such as a shredded rear tire, and insist that he couldn’t have done that.

As if any cyclist would have been able to ride anywhere with the sidewall of his tire ripped out on both sides.

The interesting thing, though, for me at least, came as we continued to wait for the CHP to arrive — which never happened while we were there, despite waiting nearly an hour after the 911 call.

As we talked, I mentioned that I was with the L.A. County Bike Coalition. The injured rider, Jeffrey, said he’d just gotten an email from the LACBC about an upcoming ride. Something about a 30 mile ride through the Westside set to begin at the Santa Monica Pier on Super Bowl Sunday.

“Yeah, I know,” I said. “I’m leading it.”

In fact, that’s why I’d been there to help, because I was checking out the route I’d planned.

One more thing, though, before I change subjects. There were two cyclists about 20 yards ahead of me when all his happened, who should have been in perfect position to see the collision. So if you happened so see a truck hit a cyclist in front of one of the shipbuilders on Fiji Way Friday afternoon, let me know.

.………

Now then, about that ride.

Mark your calendar for Sunday, February 6th, when I’ll host my first ever group ride as part of the LACBC’s new Sunday Funday Rides.

Since it will be in February, and just a week before Valentines Day, we’ll be riding in search of the beauty and romance West L.A. and its surrounding cities with a ride themed “I ♥ the Westside.”

We’ll meet at the Santa Monica Pier at 9:30 am, and start rolling at 10. The ride will take in Main Street and the sharrows on Abbott Kinney before working our way up to Culver City and Beverly Hills, then down through Brentwood and Santa Monica, before heading back along the coast to the pier.

At least that’s plan; construction on the Ballona Creek bike path already threatens to throw a monkey wrench in that segment, so some flexibility may be in order.

While I’m still working out the exact route, we should be looking at a total distance of around 30 to 35 miles from start to finish. The course will be mostly flat, with a moderate pace, and best suited for intermediate riders or above. It should last about three hours, allowing for stops along the way — which should have you home well before kickoff of the Super Bowl.

It gets cold at the beach on February mornings, so dress warmly — preferably in layers you can remove as we move inland and the day warms.

And yes, despite what my wife might tell you, I do have enough sense to come in out of the rain. So in the event of bad weather, we’ll postpone or cancel.

The ride is free to LACBC members, and you’re allowed to bring one guest. If you’re not a member and want to ride along, we’ll sign you up on the spot at a reduced rate.

So if you’ve ever want to ride with me, this is your chance.

.………

This week’s upcoming events —

Bike Talk airs Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Bike Talk is also holding their first-ever benefit event on Saturday, January 15th from 7:30pm-midnite at Vlad the Retailer, 4314 Melrose Ave., at the intersection of Heliotrope & Melrose. Admission is just $10, with food, music, door prizes and Fat Tire Ale on tap.

Bikerowave is offering a free bike-fitting workshop at 6 pm Saturday, January 15th at 12255 Venice Blvd. Los Angeles CA; RSVP to info@bikerowave.org.

Streetsblog joins with KPCCAmerican Institute of Architects, Pasadena and Foothill Chapter, and Pasadena Magazine to discuss Planning the Future of Our Streets from 7 to 9 pm on Tuesday, January 18th at the Crawford Family Forum at 474 South Raymond Street in Pasadena.

Also on the 18th, the LACBC is calling on cyclists to support the proposed Main Street road diet at the board meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council, from 7 – 10 pm, at 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice.

Click on the Events page for more upcoming bike events.

.………

The city is offering a $50,000 reward in the murder of 14-year old Taburi Watson, who was shot while riding his bike just before New Years. Anyone with information is urged to call 77th Division Criminal Gang/Homicide Detectives at 213/485-1383. Thanks to George Wolfberg for the tip.

.………

Streetsblog looks at LADOT’s bike applications in Metro’s Call for Projects. Usually bike-friendly Councilmember Bill Rosendahl acts as a committee of one to cut the heart out of the Wilshire BRT, the proposed bus (and bike) only lane. To the surprise of no one, Manuel Gallegos, the cyclist who recorded apparently violent police action at the May Critical Mass, filed suit against the city. A look at the January Downtown Art Walk, and an exhausted pedi-cab driving Josef Bray-Ali. An update on last week’s meeting of the UCLA Bicycle Academy. Matthew Ruscigno reminisces about the 2010 Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer, and says the date of this years competition is still up in the air. The revitalization of the L.A. River could be derailed by the Union Pacific Rail Yards. The Claremont Cyclist diagnoses a few cases of Auto-Dependency Syndrome. Friends react to the death of Kevin Unck, the champion masters cyclist killed when he lost control of his bike and slid in front of an oncoming SUV last Sunday.

A driver is expected to get a slap on the wrist for killing a cyclist, despite driving with a known history of seizures.  A violent alleged shoplifter leads SF police on a wild bike pursuit. A Sacramento cyclist is killed in yet another hit-and-run, while San Luis Obispo rider died five days after getting hit by a truck.

U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood meets with cyclists, and voices his support for cycling; you wouldn’t see that under a Palin administration. Arizona considers an Idaho Stop bill, allowing cyclists to treat stop signs as yields. Tucson Velo looks at winter riding in my hometown. Hoboken says the speed limit may be 25 mph, but 20 is plenty. A NJ legislator withdraws her bill to put license plates on bikes, while New York’s most biased bike-hating major daily cheers a proposal to stick ID tags on bikes. A truck driver is convicted of entering the country illegally, but walks on killing a cyclist; is it just me, or is that horribly backwards?

How to ride offroad more responsibly. A fear of London traffic appears to be behind the lower than expected use of the city’s new bike share program. A photographic view of cycling in Oxford; definitely worth checking out. A Parliament member from Cambridge breaks his arm while riding Down Under. The 2011 Vuelta will ride through the beautiful — and sometimes restive — Basque country. A look at the Tour de France back when men were men and rode their bikes that way.

Finally, the reader who wrote in last month asking for help finding a 64-65 cm lugged steel frame emailed today to report that he’d found — and won — exactly what he was looking for.

Ride it in health. And keep the rubber side down.

A meditation on moving, bike lanes and expectations

I’m back, after what can only be described as the move from hell.

A move in which nothing went horribly, irretrievably wrong. But in which nearly everything was more challenging, problematic, expensive or just plain aggravating than anticipated.

Even now, what is, in theory at least, my office remains more reminiscent of the aftermath of the ’94 earthquake than any functional working space I’ve ever encountered. Everything that didn’t fit anywhere else is piled there, along with everything that’s supposed to be there.

And trust me, that’s a lot of stuff. At this rate, I expect to finally excavate my desk sometime in mid-March.

The first night was the hardest, though.

Aside from all the problems we anticipated — like not knowing what box something we needed might be packed away in — it seemed lit nothing fit where it was supposed to.

Naively, perhaps, we assumed that everything we moved from the old place would find a corresponding space in the new one. But our new apartment, while about the same size, was arranged differently. And the things that had fit perfectly there didn’t necessarily fit here.

Or at least, didn’t fit the same way.

It wasn’t that there’s anything wrong with it. It was just very different.

And even though we went to bed that night thinking we’d made a big mistake, the only error we really made was failing to adjust our expectations.

Sort of like the way some people react when bike lanes unexpectedly appear on their streets.

Take the controversy that has developed in New York City over the rapid expansion of the city’s bikeway network, particularly over Brooklyn’s Prospect Park West and Father Capodanno Blvd in Staten Island.

Or attempts to make Washington DC more bike friendly, including new bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue, that elicited a backlash from groups and individuals as varied as ESPN’s Tony Korneiser and the East Coast branch of AAA.

Or even right here in Los Angeles, where a road diet on the Valley’s Wilbur Avenue had council members, drivers and the local media up in arms — even though people who actually live in the area seem to like it.

Because, you see, it just wasn’t what they expected.

Many people have gotten used to roadways dedicated solely to motor vehicles. And don’t necessarily welcome the intrusion of bikes on their streets.

In their minds, reducing the number of lanes, narrowing them or taking out parking spaces meant the streets were less safe than they were before — even though that usually calms speeding traffic and results in safer streets. And in some cases, actually forces drivers to get out of their cars and walk a bit.

The horror, huh?

To some, it represents a war on cars. As if traffic planning was a zero-sum game in which motorists must lose something for every step forward for anyone else.

Never mind that drivers gain as cyclists slowly replace other cars on the streets, reducing congestion and ultimately speeding their commutes. And that well-designed cycling infrastructure gets us out of the way of impatient drivers by moving bikes out of the shared right lane.

Meanwhile, the backlash goes on, with at least one member of the media doing his best imitation of the yellow journalism of the robber baron era, up in arms that bike lanes got plowed before some streets. Or maybe not. And describing the Prospect Park West bike lanes as “widely detested,” with no objective figures to back it up — and despite evidence that those lanes are “widely detested” by a just a small minority of very vocal people.

At least the DC press is smart enough not to fall for  that sort of crap.

Yet despite what some people insist, it’s not reckless cyclists who pose a risk to life and limb.

Then there are those who consider all things bike-related to be part of a liberal conspiracy to force people out of their cars, and in their deeply clouded minds, that’s reason enough to halt even the most basic of bike plans.

And no, they’re not all failed Colorado gubernatorial candidates.

If they gave them a chance, they might find that bike lanes and other bicycle infrastructure can actually increase traffic safety, enhance local neighborhoods and improve their own quality of life.

Quite an accomplishment for just a few inches of white paint.

And like my wife and I, they may realize that it may not be what they’re used to. But with a little time, and a little effort, they may actually get used to it.

Or even like it, just a little.

.………

Then again, not all bikeways are improvements.

Consider this recent email from Rex Reese, in response to a link about a proposed Bakersfield bike path that doesn’t seem to lead anywhere.

I sincerely believe the honor of Bike Path to Nowhere belongs to the metropolis of Trona, which is a small hell hole located on the shores of Searles Dry Lake, between Ridgecrest and Death Valley — literally The Middle of Nowhere. It’s very, very hot in the summer, very cold during winter, and smells like shit all year ’round because of the chemicals and powdered mineral dust that blows off the dry lake.

The path sorta starts maybe a quarter mile outside of town, parallels Trona Road, and sorta ends at East Outer Trona Road and Center Street a mile or so later. It’s separated by a narrow strip of dirt which qualifies it as a Class I Bike Path, right? And it’s got markings and everything. I can’t imagine who uses it or how it got funded — maybe done as a favor to the town warlord.

It’s barely not worth the drive to check out, but you can see it if you look it up on Google Maps.

With a description like that, I may just have to drive up there sometime just to give it a ride. If I can just figure out where the hell Trona is.

.………

A reader from Boston writes to ask for a recommendation on where to rent a bike in Anaheim when he comes out to visit next week. He’s used to a fixie conversion or older steel road bike, but open to anything practical for riding the mean streets of OC. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments or email me; you can find my address on the About BikingInLA page.

.………

Santa Monica’s Parks and Rec Commissioner is pushing to make the beachfront Marvin Bruade Bike Path a little safer; I’ll have something on that same subject later this week. The LACBC’s Valley Pride Ride is rescheduled for next weekend, after getting washed out on Sunday. KPCC looks at the upcoming Streetsblog event in Pasadena. Bikeside offers advice on gearing up for a cold wet winter, while Flying Pigeon offers much simpler advice for riding in rain and snow. The Times looks at efforts to lift the ban on mountain bikes on L.A. trails.  Will offers a video look at off-roading on the Beaudry Trails loop. A look at the upcoming South Bay Bike Plan. Long Beach cyclists fight back against regressive policies in America’s self-proclaimed “most bike friendly city.” Carlsbad police are looking for information on how a cyclist found lying injured in the street got that way, while a Ventura man is injured after losing control of his bike on a 30 mph descent; thanks to DC for the second link.

Elly Blue looks forward to the year in bikes, including predictions for an even bigger backlash. Forget peak oil, we may have already hit peak travel. Cleaning bike water bottles the easy way. Washington considers a three foot passing law when traveling under 35 mph, and five foot over 35; the local paper insists on framing it as a battle of car vs bike. A suggestion to combine bike lanes with right turn-only lanes. It only took three days for the country’s most dangerous state for cyclists and pedestrians to register its first bike death of the new year.

The secrets of riding in a group. The UK’s acclaimed Bikeability program may be saved from government cutbacks after all. Town Mouse touts the new Cycling Embassy of Great Britain. Road.cc offers their 2011 predictions, including copper-plated bikes and Andy Schleck winning the Tour twice in a single year. A Ugandan candidate rides his bike to win votes. Movistar racer Andrey Amador is beaten and robbed by thieves out for his Pinarella Dogma with the new electronic Campy shifters.

Finally, cycling prodigy Taylor Phinney visits the beach, offering his view of a Santa Monica sunset and a 360° view from the bike path; you can follow his stay in SoCal on Twitter @taylorphinney.

LAPD intervenes to fight anti-bike harassment at a highly personal level

Yesterday, I received the following email from a local cyclist named Aaron, relating his experience with a bike-hating driver. And a successful, and surprisingly personal, intervention from the LAPD.

………

I’m a regular reader of your blog and avid cycling commuter, and I’ve been excitedly following Police Chief Beck and Mayor Villaraigosa’s recent progress on the issue of cycling.  I know the city is really trying to take strides in its approach to cyclists, and I think the cycling community needs to give credit where credit is due.  In that spirit, I feel compelled to share my own recent mind-blowingly great experience with the LAPD regarding a motorist that had been repeatedly harassing my fiancé and me on our morning ride over the course of several weeks.

An ordinary looking car, with an angry driver inside.

To give you some background, my fiancé and I try to be model cyclists on our commute from Silver Lake to K-Town (we wear helmets, yield to pedestrians, stop at stop signs, stay to the right of the road where safe to do so), but occasionally we’ll still encounter some maniac who feels like he/she owns the road and targets us for harassment.

Over the past six weeks, we’ve had a series of unpleasant encounters with the same woman who apparently shares at least a few blocks of our morning commute.  It started when, on a quiet, residential stretch of Vendome one morning, we noticed a tan Toyota sedan driven by a middle-aged woman barreling past us in excess of the speed limit and honking; the car then swerved dangerously close to another cyclist up ahead, still honking.  When we (cyclists and motorists) all arrived at the same red light half a block later, all of the cyclists glared at the woman because of her dangerous and aggressive driving while we waited for the light to change.  She saw this and rolled down her window and started screaming that we have to “get out of the road” and other such nonsense.

We kept seeing this woman again over the coming weeks on the same block of Vendome, often waiting at the same red light with her, and whenever we saw her, she would honk, roll down her window and yell, give us the finger, etc.  This all came to a head this Monday (8/23), when she launched into a particularly toxic rant while we were waiting at the red (she kept calling my fiancé a “stupid bitch” claiming that cyclists have to “follow the law” by “stay[ing] out of the road,” telling us that she “recognizes” us, etc.).  We tried to explain that we had a right to be in the road and that she shouldn’t harass cyclists, but this just set her off screaming even more.  I mad a point of taking photos of her and her license plate before the light turned green.

Sgt. David Krumer juggles three phones at once; he may need more to handle the calls from cyclists.

We were feeling pretty intimidated at this point after weeks of harassment from this obviously unhinged woman, so using info from the LA County Bicycle Coalition, I contacted Sergeant David Krumer with the LAPD via email, explained the situation, and asked him if there was anything he could do to help with the situation.  Within a couple of days (he actually apologized for this short delay saying he was on vacation!), he called me up and we talked about the incidents further.  He explained that, because there were no elements of assault or specific credible threats, things had not yet escalated to a criminal issue (which I had figured from the start).  What blew me away is what he said next.

Sergeant Krumer explained that, even though no crime had been committed, the motorist was clearly behaving wrongly and, since I had her license plate number, he would have a talk with her.  He took down the details about where exactly the encounters took place and told me that he would either wait at the intersection in an unmarked car the next morning and pull her over when she drove by or go make contact at her home. That same night, Sergeant Krumer contacted me again and said that he had already met with the woman.  Here is his description of the encounter:

I had a pretty lengthy conversation with her with regards to a cyclist’s road position, the door zone, and under which circumstances a cyclist needs to cede the roadway.

We also had a discussion about honking horn, etiquette, and unnecessary provocations.

She indicated she understood and also stated that she will be using an alternate route to prevent future encounters.

He also told me that, after seeing me take her picture, she had actually gone to the police herself to try to tell her side in anticipation of me reporting her.  I guess she must have realized that she had let things get out of hand at that point.

So, in the span of a few days, the LAPD was able to contact a motorist that had been terrorizing me for weeks, personally educate her on traffic laws, cyclist safety and etiquette, and even get her to change her route in the morning!!!  All the while, Sergeant Krumer was incredibly courteous and professional, and he has asked me to contact him should I have any more trouble or need further assistance.  I’m extremely impressed with the degree of personal attention and seriousness that the LAPD devoted to me.  I can only conclude that the LAPD is serious about taking a new approach to cyclists.

Incidentally, after he helped me, I mentioned to Sergeant Krumer that I might like to share my story with some of the local cycling blogs that I follow.  He was very receptive, saying:

Chief Beck made a commitment to improving relations with cyclists and making a sincere effort to address their concerns.  I know that many cyclists have had negative contacts with law enforcement.  Anything that you can contribute that would let cyclists know that the LAPD is making a sincere and genuine effort to better our relationship would be greatly appreciated.

So that’s why I’m writing to you.  It’s just a minor issue involving a couple of cyclists and one motorist, but I hope that you see fit to share my story as one of the “small victories” that can be replicated around the city.  We’ve all heard a lot of talk lately from city institutions about how they’re taking our concerns seriously.  Now, after my interactions with the LAPD, I’m inclined to believe that talk.

Update: Sgt. Krumer offered a clarification in the comments to this post; I’m moving it up here for everyone who doesn’t read the comments.

Hello All,

Thank you very much for the positive comments. Just to clarify a few points: The driver volunteered to take a different route on her own without any suggestion or proding from me. It appears she recognized on her own the prudence of that decision.

While I did say that I would attempt to be at the intersection at the approximate time of the encounters (if necessary), my intent was to observe…not pull her over (unless a dangerous situation ensued).

Finally I did not “meet” with her but had a telephonic conversation in which we discussed all of the aforementioned issues. I left a message for her that she promptly returned. After our discussion a face to face did not appear warranted.

I am hopeful that the issue is resolved and that there will be no further incidents!

Take care,

David

………

Big bike happenings in the Valley. It looks like Wilbur Avenue really will get two miles of bike lanes; LADOT Bike Blog says Wilbur is getting bike lanes because it got a road diet, not the other way around. Meanwhile, new bridges at Tampa and Winnetka Aves mean work can proceed on two miles additional miles of the LA River Bike Path between Mason and VanAlden.

………

Streetsblog gets the first second photo of a real Give Me 3 poster on the street. Ten public spaces you can visit along the CicLAvia route on 10/10/10. Green LA Girl reports on Wednesday’s Streetsblog fundraiser. LACBC follows up on the Mayor’s Bike Summit, including the bike plan, Complete Streets and the proposed three-foot passing and vulnerable user laws. Bikeside says the only question in the Santa Monica bikeway vs Agensys dispute is how to make the bikeway happen. Is San Diego’s Critical Mass a victim of its own success? San Francisco remembers the German cyclist killed in an alleged drunken hit-and-run. SF cyclists “with an anti-establishment attitude” protest BP and a dangerous bike lane next to an ARCO station. Tucson police “suppress” cyclists behaving badly. A semi right hooks an SLC cyclist, leaving the rider with life-threatening injuries. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske notes that three-foot passing laws — like the one Mayor Villaraigosa and Council Member Rosendahl propose — only work if they’re actually enforced. Three ticketed cyclists challenge the constitutionality of the Black Hawk CO bike ban. A Colorado women describes what it’s like to hit a cyclist from the driver’s perspective; fortunately, the rider wasn’t seriously hurt — and the driver took full responsibility. Is that Mario Kart bike lane a genuine Banksy? In a twist on bike share, the Twin Cities host a successful bike library for low income adults. Officials fear bikes and pedestrians flooding the streets of Elmhurst. In the most dangerous state for bicyclists, a ninja cyclist is hit and killed by a Florida Sheriff’s deputy. The Cervelo men’s team folds, as the women’s team may continue; Garmin-Transitions will be on Cervelo bikes next year. On the other hand, India’s cyclists may not be on any bikes for the Commonwealth Games. Cambridge England creates a website to act as a suggestion box for cyclists; maybe L.A. cycling’s new BFF — aka the Mayor — should consider the idea. The body of a Brit cyclist is found stuffed in a sports bag; maybe it’s just a coincidence that he worked for MI6. A Brit teenager on a stolen bike critically injures a pedestrian in a two-wheeled hit-and-run. Now this sounds like a perfect ride to me.

Finally, a Kansas writer says cyclists make bad criminals, in part because bikes make awful getaway vehicles. And yet, that doesn’t stop a lot of bank robbers from trying.

Is the problem belligerent bikers or ignorant drivers? Or both?

From her perspective, it sounds reasonable.

As a driver — the writer’s husband — waits to make a right turn, a cyclist rides up and complains about not having enough room. When the driver reminds the rider that bikes have to stop for red lights too, he goes ballistic.

You have to understand, my husband is a rule-follower to a T.  As a coach for many of our children’s sports teams, he’s all about fairness, manuals or rule books and takes things to the letter of the law. Calmly (as our children explained later), Daddy calmly said through the open passenger window, “You have a red light, too, buddy.”

And with that the guy stood up on the pedals of his fancy bike, and in fit of fury went from zero to 60 in a millisecond screaming at my husband, “F*** you, you a**hole.”

That, she suggests, is just how those “fancy bikers” in their “florescent, skin-tight spandex clothes” are — a bunch of belligerent, out-of-control scofflaws who don’t belong on the roads to begin with.

And that’s exactly how many motorists see us.

But looking at it from a more objective perspective, there seems to be another side to the story. Maybe the rider did blow up for no valid reason. More likely, though, the writer’s rule-following husband may have cut the cyclist off in some way, intentionally or otherwise.

Maybe he pulled around the rider and cut across his path to make that right. Or maybe, like so many other self-appointed roadway vigilantes, he tried to enforce his own interpretation of traffic law, deliberately edging over to cut off the rider’s right-of-way.

We’ll never know.

But odds are, there was a reason for the cyclist’s anger, just as there is when other drivers relate stories of cyclists yelling, swearing, spitting, flipping the bird or otherwise displaying seemingly irrational anger for no apparent reason.

There’s always a reason.

Human beings seldom randomly go off on other people for no reason. At least, not the sane ones. And the other kind usually can’t afford a high-end racing bike.

Anger like that usually springs from a fight or flight reaction when a person feels threatened in some way. Like when a multi-ton vehicle cuts off a bicyclist, operated by a driver who may lack sufficient knowledge of the rights of cyclists and how to share to road to know what he did wrong.

Sometimes we can catch up to them at the next light and calmly explain their transgression. And sometimes, the drivers actually listen; more often, the response is a finger or “f*** you” as they speed away.

But more often, that fight or flight response kicks in, and whatever response you might have is not one you’d want to share in public or admit to later. And the driver is likely to respond in kind — sometimes violently.

Lord knows my finger has sometimes flown before I had sufficient self-control to stop it.

That’s not to say that cyclists aren’t sometimes the ones at fault. We’ve all seen riders blow through red lights or stop signs, oblivious to who has the right of way, or dangerously cut across traffic without signaling.

Not that you or I would ever do something like that, of course.

And let’s face it.

There are some real jerks on two wheels, just like there are on four or more. Sometimes, they’re even the same people, as drivers often carry the same dangerous, aggressive attitudes and road tactics with them when they switch to two wheels.

Going back to the writer’s story, though, her bias quickly comes through as she continues her tale.

I am so annoyed with these fancy biker dudes and have swerved around them too many times than I care to count. It’s not our responsibility as vehicle drivers to protect bikers on the road. And they take way too many risks in my book to the point of taunting a driver to get out of their way. When there’s a pack of 30, we are forced to patiently wait to cross intersections or change lanes, and no one can drive on the road….

Why do they insist on exercising in the middle of a public road? When I exercise, I go to the gym or my husband plays tennis on a court, not in the middle of a street expecting everyone to give room and steer clear. It is affected narcissism.

Actually, it’s not narcissism, it’s the law. Cyclists have every right to ride in the road, and drivers are responsible for protecting the safety of cyclists, as well as everyone else they encounter on the streets. Just as we’re responsible for riding our bikes in a safe and legal manner.

It’s the obligation of every driver to learn the law — not just selectively edit the parts that seem to support their position — and give cyclists the space on the road that both the law and common decency dictate. And even if they think a cyclist is breaking the law, it is not a driver’s role to enforce it.

She concludes by relating the story of a friend — a “respectful bicyclist” as she puts it — who was seriously injured in a collision.

But instead of calling for motorists to drive safely and share the road, she blames the victim, urging that cyclists be banned from major roadways.

We all need to do our best to control our tempers, as difficult as that may be under the circumstances. And treat other road users with the same courtesy and respect that we have every right to expect.

But when we’re confronted with anger, we both — drivers and cyclists alike — need to ask ourselves if the response was irrational.

Or if there’s something we might have done to provoke it.

And maybe, just maybe, if we’re the ones who were wrong.

………

Tuesday marks Colorado’s primary election day, when the voters will decide whether the conspiratorial-minded UN-fearing tinfoil-hat-wearing gubernatorial candidate will get the Nutcase Republican nomination for governor.

It could make for an interesting race — one candidate who clearly supports cycling and one who’s evidently fallen off his mountain bike one time too many.

………

Photos from Sunday’s Brentwood Grand Prix, won by L.A.’s Rahsaan Bahati. Gary waxes poetic about getting honked at, briefly. The BAC gets a little more feminine. Defending champion Lance Armstrong pulls out of this weekend’s Leadville 100 mountain bike race. Clearly, not everyone likes sharrows. Not everyone likes bikes, either, as a NYC vigilante glues the locks of parked bikes. New York could get a vulnerable user law by the end of the week. An NYC museum looks at bikes as art. Fighting the myth that bike paths bring crime; should be assigned reading for the NIMBYs fighting the Expo bike path through Cheviot Hills. Biking all the way to the bank. The country’s first non-San Diego Gran Fondo rolls through Philadelphia. Houdini: great magician, not so great bike racer. Create a bike helmet design that screams sustainability and win 2,000 Euros from Fiat. Great Britian’s AA — no, not that one — warns about iPod oblivion. How to win your next sprint. Pedal your way through your mid-life crisis.

Finally, a new video from the Marin County Bicycle Coalition and Marin Cyclists Road Club instructs riders to ride to the right; is it just me, or does it seem a little heavy on the “don’t risk offending the hulking, smoke-belching motorized behemoths” attitude?

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