Tag Archive for careless cyclists

Felony charges in SaMo road rage after all, and I nearly run down a seemingly semi-suicidal cyclist

I was wrong.

Twice, as it turns out.

Last week, I wrote that a report that the charges against SaMo road rager Jeffrey Ray Adams had been upgraded to a felony appeared to be incorrect, based on responses from both the DA’s office and the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office.

And I had previously written that any charge against Adams was likely to be filed as a misdemeanor rather than a felony, based on the victim’s lack of serious injuries.

Wrong on both counts.

Cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels reports that as recently as last Thursday, both offices still said the case had been referred to the CA. However, when he checked on it again today, he discovered that on September 23rd, the DA had filed two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon, case No. SA078790.

Why two felony counts for the one incident, I have no idea. And no word on why the DA’s office changed their minds.

As I noted last week, Adams was scheduled to appear for arraignment on September 26th; a felony bench warrant was issued when he failed to appear. The warrant was recalled when he appeared on the 28th with a new attorney at his side.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 2nd at the LAX courthouse.

My apologies to the victim, and to everyone else, for getting it wrong this time.

And thanks to the DA’s office for taking this case seriously, and to Dj Wheels for staying on top of it.

……..

Tuesday afternoon, I nearly hit a cyclist.

I was driving back from REI in Santa Monica, partly because I needed some new arm warmers and partly because our dog has had a difficult week. And like a typical Angeleno, there’s nothing she enjoys more than a ride in the car to cheer her up.

Just what I need, an auto-centric Corgi.

This particular cyclist was hugging the parking lane, riding closer to the curb between the parked cars, then coming back out into the traffic lane to go around parked vehicles.

When he moved back towards the curb in an extended space between cars, I took my opportunity to pass, moving slightly to the left just in case. Then watched him look back over his shoulder, my car clearly visible on his left. I responded by letting up a little on the gas.

And sure enough, even though we were in the middle of the block, he suddenly threw his arm out to signal a left turn and immediately cut across my path, forcing me to hit my brakes to avoid him.

Suddenly, I had a far different perspective on all those SWSS collisions — Single Witness Suicide Swerve — in which drivers swear the cyclists they hit pulled out in front of them without any warning.

Because I was that close to being one of them.

Fortunately, I recognized the warning signs and reacted in time, although my move to the left actually increased the risk of a collision by putting me closer to him as he cut across.

Although if it hadn’t been another cyclist following behind him and recognizing the warning signs, he might not have been so lucky.

Then, oddly, I came home to read a few online news stories I’d been saving from the weekend, and discovered one from a British cyclist who had a nearly identical experience.

And went back to talk to the offending rider the next day.

……..

Governor Brown has just five days to sign SB 910, the 3feet2pass bill, despite opposition from the CHP — and eloquent support from a retired CHP officer paralyzed on the job. Best biking buddies Lance and Tony urge the re-governor to sign, too.

……..

Joe Linton offers a behind-the-scenes look at Sunday’s CicLAvia, while Mayor Villaraigosa stands up for it. This year’s route will cover 10 blissfully car-free miles. Bikerwave is closing Sunday so they can be there; maybe they’ll meet with some of the candidates for city council in CD15 hosted by Bikeside.

And half of your Veggie Grill purchase tonight will go to support CicLAvia.

Speaking of Linton, he offers a remarkable review of the results of the recent ThinkBike workshops for Downtown, Pacoima and South L.A. And likes what he sees, despite complaints about the process from some quarters.

……..

Gas 2.0 says no one walks in L.A., but we do bike. KPPC’s Air Talk program talks bikes with the co-author of The Urban Cyclist’s Survival Guide. Jaclyn Andrea Garcia is scheduled to start her jail sentence on Thursday. LADOT is three-quarters of the way to its first 40 mile annual bikeway commitment, assuming you count sharrows. A beginner’s guide to surviving the streets of Los Angeles. South Pasadena plans a new citywide bike network. Santa Monica gets a new bike riding training course. Bike-friendly UCLA offers students free use of a new $1400 repair station, while free air stations are a big hit in the South Bay. Long Beach is ready for its close-up. A bike riding Downey gardener refuses to use power tools. The importance of overcoming obstacles of the mind when you ride.

Temecula police arrest an 18-year old mask-wearing cyclist who appeared to be casing parked cars; okay, but how exactly do you ride suspiciously? An OC cyclist loses control on a busy roadway and slams into an SUV; sounds like he’s lucky that’s all he lost. Corona del Mar cyclists could soon have new signs and striping at key intersections. The Voice of San Diego says it’s time to fix the city’s cycling problems; as usual, the comments offer the same battle between cyclists, bike haters and vehicular cyclists you’ll find on almost any online infrastructure story. A lightless cyclist is sideswiped by a Chico State University police officer. If you’re looking for an emotionally charged name for a new hockey team, how about Critical Mass?

Tea Party members who criticize “socialist” bikeways might be surprised to learn arch-conservatives have supported cycling for over 40 years. What can be done to cut the unacceptably high rate of cycling fatalities. Evidently, drivers don’t like other drivers, either; turns out we’re all responsible for the tensions on the street. Bob Mionske says it’s time to stop blaming the victims. A Hawaii father says urges cyclists to make an informed choice on wearing a helmet. Bikes, cars and trucks attempt to occupy the same space/time on Seattle streets. As if the endless conflict between cars and bikes isn’t bad enough, in Colorado it’s cyclists vs. sheep dogs; I’ve had a few stare downs with stray flocks myself, but can’t recall a run-in the with the dogs guarding them. Texas A&M cracks down on cyclists for their own good, while bike laws don’t protect cyclists at LSU. If you don’t have plans for next May, you might consider the Tour de Rouge, a six-day ride from Houston to New Orleans; any ride that gets you out of Houston and ends in the Big Easy can’t be bad. Chicago bans hand-held cell phones and texting by cyclists; having watched in amazement as texting cyclists blundered into dangerous situations, I seriously do not have a problem with that. Senator Chuck Schumer walks, but apparently doesn’t ride, the Prospect Park West bike lanes his wife continues to fight, even though opponents knew their case had no merit. The Wall Street Journal puts a couple of negative bike studies in perspective, and not surprisingly, the results look a lot different from what the press has been reporting with baited breath; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. Streetsblog points out that bike-on-pedestrian injuries actually dropped as bicycling rates soared. Why DC needs their version of L.A.’s bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

Bicycling uses Geraint Thomas as an example of how to fall right, and offers eight examples of why The Cannibal may be the greatest cyclist of all time; no offense, Lance. Lululemon steps in to save the highly successful HTC-Highroad women’s team. New Calgary bike lanes oddly force riders to swerve out into the traffic lane. After nearly getting killed in an Arizona collision last year, adventurer James Cracknell cracks just 68 miles short of a tandem crossing of the British Isle; amazing that he could make it that after nearly dying last year. British cyclists prepare to go back to Blackfriars Bridge to demand safer cycling conditions. Another tragic — and predictable — London cycling death. The Dutch Cycling Embassy says cycling is for everyone, even if Dutch cyclists may not be qualified to ride in the UK. An Aussie magazine puts bike locks to the test. Tokyo police crack down on fixies (correction: Rick Risemberg points out they’re only going after brakeless fixies). Biking regains popularity in China.

Finally, cool L.A. bike jazz — and a cool L.A. bike jazz video — from Garfield Adams; I’ve started my day with this video for the past five days and it hasn’t failed to put a smile on my face yet. The music track is every bit as good without the bikes, too.

And I’m all for innovation when it comes to bike wheels, but no. Just no.

……..

One other quick note: I was hoping to highlight an exciting and heartbreaking new exhibit honoring fallen cyclists at the end of this month, but this post got a little too crowded. I’ll try to get to that in the next day or two.

To be honest though, some of these bike-haters have a point

A cyclist waits patiently for the light to change — something some drivers say they've never seen.

I admit it.

I spend a lot of time on here making fun of drivers.

Not all drivers, of course; after all, I’m one myself. Though these days, I find myself spending less and less time behind the wheel, and more on two wheels, two feet or even — gasp! — on a bus, which is how I made it to the last few meetings I attended at City Hall.

Not only did I survive, I actually enjoyed myself. And didn’t have to spend half an hour and the entire contents of my wallet to secure a parking space nearly as far from my destination as I was when I started out.

And not even most drivers. No, I’m talking about that relative handful of intellectual giants who’ll tell you that all cyclists run red lights, despite demonstrable evidence to the contrary at just about any signalized intersection in town.

Sure, stand there long enough, and you’ll see one or more death-defying kamikaze bike pilots blow through the light as if it, and the cars crisscrossing their path, weren’t there. But you’ll also see other riders who’ll wait patiently for the light to change.

Or the ones who complain about dangerous, unpredictable cyclists hogging the traffic lane, as they sit behind the wheel of their Hummers and Escalades applying their makeup and texting.

But they do have a point, up to a point.

I would argue there are more cyclists who safely share the road, observing traffic signals and right-of-way rules, than there are those who don’t. But you don’t have to spend a lot of time on the road to spot a few who seem to push the limits of safety and sanity.

Take the rider I saw this afternoon. Please.

There he was, blithely cruising through heavy traffic on a busy L.A. boulevard, headphones on and riding in the lane with no hands, a shopping bag dangling from one hand. Fortunately, most drivers were going out of their way to give him a wide berth.

Then again, most Angelenos try to avoid crazy people in the street.

Then there was the guy on the mountain bike who was making his way on the wrong side of the same street, like a salmon going upstream to spawn. And just as a salmon dies after spawning, I wouldn’t have wanted to lay odds on his chances of survival.

It’s one thing to take the lane. But seriously, you’re far better off going with the flow of traffic, instead of wondering why all those people are honking and swearing as they swerve around you.

Of course, I’ve seen worse.

Like the guy who took the lane on Santa Monica Boulevard as he rode through Century City awhile back, despite the presence of one of the city’s better bike lanes sitting clear and unobstructed just a few feet to his right — and a long line of unexpectedly patient drivers following behind. That is, until a cab driver tried to slide by him to get to the right turn lane, and had to endure a violent tirade from the rider for trying to pass him in the bike lane. And yes, that’s the same bike lane he had no interest in using himself.

Or there were the two guys I saw blow through a red light last summer, even though that meant worming their way through a crowded crosswalk, as people struggled to jump out of their path.

For anyone out there who may not be clear on the subject, pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right-of-way. Always.

Period.

I somehow managed to resist the temptation to chase them down and shove their bikes into the same orifice their heads seemed to occupy.

Yet, if you listen to the comments these drivers make, that’s exactly what we’re supposed to do. They expect us to assume responsibility for every law-breaking jerk on two-wheels.

We’re told that it’s up the bicycling community to make the outlaw cyclists straighten up and ride right. And that’s the only way we’ll earn the respect of drivers, and earn our place on the streets.

Which is absurd, of course.

While I would hope that everyone would learn to ride safely — and use a little common sense while they’re at it — our right to the road is already guaranteed by law. It’s not something that has to be earned, or a consideration given by those who share the road with us.

They’re obligated to share the road, safely, regardless of whether they think it’s safe, or smart. And whether they like it or not.

How someone else rides is no more your responsibility than those who speed, fail to signal or make illegal U-Turns are my responsibility when I’m behind the wheel, or that of any other driver on the road.

And until they get that, I don’t expect their respect.

And people like that shouldn’t expect ours.

………

One of the few things I’ve never experienced on a bike — two flats at the same time, from the same pothole. Creek Freak notes improvements to the Elysian Valley Bike Path. The issue isn’t why more men support vehicular cycling, but why so few women ride. Riding Miami’s life-risking Rickenbaker Causeway, two weeks after another rider is killed. Are bikes expensive toys or serious transportation? A Kiwi Olympian is injured in crossing collision in bike-unfriendly Christchurch. In Copenhagen, even manhole covers are bike friendly. Finally, a reminder that people can’t be put back together after an accident.

The nail that stands out

I used to work with this one guy, a third-generation Japanese American.

Nice guy. And one day when we were talking, he mentioned a traditional Japanese expression that says it’s the nail that stands out that gets pounded down.

I’ve often thought about that saying, because it so often seems to be true, even in a this country like this that supposedly prizes individuality. It’s the exceptions, the ones who stand out from all the rest, who often draw the harshest response, whether you’re talking about the campus geek in junior high, the neighborhood eccentric or leaders like Dr. King or Bobby Kennedy.

You can even see it now, when a politician can criticized, not for his policies, but for his eloquence and ability to inspire others.

And then there’s the other side of that same coin, where someone tries to demonize some group, in order to justify their own negatives attitudes.

Like cyclists, for instance.

Because some people look at those exceptions — such as cyclists who regularly ignore the law and flaunt both safety and common sense — and somehow assume that all riders are like that. And decide that since that one nail is loose, we all need to be pounded down.

It’s not true, of course. Any more than it’s true that all (insert racist, sexist, ethnic and/or religious slur of your choice here) are alike.

It’s also demonstrably false. Just stand next to a busy street intersection along any popular bike route. You won’t have to watch very long to see that many, if not most of us, stop for red lights and try to stay out of the way of the way of traffic as much as possible.

But these people only seem to see the ones who don’t stop, or take a lane for reasons they can’t, or perhaps don’t want to, comprehend. So they automatically reach for their hammers to pound down every nail, rather than the few that stand out.

Take this recent letter from Graham A. Rowe in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, for instance, in response to their earlier article about the cycling the mean streets of L.A. (I also notice they didn’t print Will Campbell’s response to the article.):

“Bicycle riders believe that they should enjoy all the benefits of both car drivers and pedestrians. They choose to ride both with and against traffic. They obey no traffic signs, never stop at red lights or stop signs. At a red light they decide to become a pedestrian and simply ride across the crossing. They ride on the sidewalk at danger to pedestrians. Bicycles should be required to have a fee-paid license plate and be ticketed for infractions. Maybe then they would be more careful and get more respect.”

Yes, that’s exactly what we all believe, posts like this from Gary Rides Bikes and yours truly notwithstanding. Never mind that most cyclists don’t do those things, or that riding on the sidewalk is legal in Los Angeles.

You’ll note that he ends by saying that we’ll get more respect when we’re more careful. Despite the fact that drivers are required by law to grant us that respect, just as they would any other vehicle. And despite the fact that the consequences of failing to grant that respect are far greater for us than they are for the driver.

In other words, he’s saying that we’re responsible for the fact that some people refuse to drive safely, and legally, around us. Of course, not everyone who fails to share the road does so out of spite. Some are just unaware of the law, or refuse to believe it when they’re told. And some are just jerks, not unlike some cyclists.

I’ve written about it before, notably here and here, in response to some letters that were recently published in the L.A. Times. And I’m going to keep writing about it.

Because frankly, I’m tired of people trying to pound me down for something I didn’t do.

 

Great article from the U.K. about whether helmets are fashionable for Parisians and Prime Ministers. It also discusses a Dutch idea that assumes the driver is automatically responsible in any collision between a car and a bike. One lesson experienced cyclists learn is to make eye contact with opposing drivers. Cyclists protest unfair tickets in Santa Monica by crossing the street — repeatedly. The Times’ Bottleneck Blog considers what L.A. could be like with a little more foresight from out elected leaders. And finally, both Seattle and supposedly bike-unfriendly New York test the radical concept of turning a few streets over to cyclists and pedestrians.

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