Tag Archive for passing too close

Weekend Links: One near miss caught on video, and one that didn’t; cops already parking on LA Street bike lane

I didn’t plan on writing a new post this morning. But there’s just too much bike news we need to share today.

And who needs sleep anyway?


Now that’s a close call.

Weshigh shares video of a driver who dangerously buzzed him on Venice Blvd after he signaled to move into the traffic lane. And apparently didn’t care.


Ohio bike lawyer Steve Magas forwards dashcam video of a cyclist nailed in a left cross. He reports the driver had a stop sign, while the rider faced an uncontrolled intersection with the right-of-way.

Fortunately, the rider is relatively okay, suffering a broken ankle in the crash. And he’s got a good lawyer.


Streetsblog celebrates the opening of the new protected bike lanes on Los Angeles Street, while KNBC-4 talks with BikinginLA sponsor Josh Cohen about the new bicycle traffic lights.

LADOT explains how the new protected lane works, including the new two-stage left turn bike boxes.

But so much for the hope that the protected lanes would keep cops from parking in it.


The Hollywood Reporter stages a three-way Starbucks to Starbucks race from DTLA to Santa Monica by car, train and ebike.

Needless to say, the Expo train to the coast finished last, but surprisingly, the car beat the ebike rider by four minutes.


The leader of the group of nine Kalamazoo cyclists run down by an out-of-control driver last week turns the other cheek, saying she has no ill will towards the man who killed five of her friends while wounding herself and three others.



Los Angeles Magazine says a proposed new NoHo development includes an elevated cycle track through the property.

Richard Risemberg says road diets don’t impede emergency vehicles, but the lack of them does.

KPCC looks at LADOT’s hiring of sound artist Alan Nakagawa to work on Vision Zero.

Burbank approves stop signs, and possibly bike lanes, on Edison Blvd despite the reservations of one councilmember over whether bike lanes would improve safety. Maybe he could look at some of the many studies showing just that next time.

County supervisors Shiela Kuehl and Hilda Solis call for more parks in LA County.



San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies are looking for a Montclair man who allegedly stabbed another man several times in a dispute over a bicycle. It’s an effing bicycle, for chrissake. It’s not worth trying to kill someone over.

Here’s your chance to go on a 50 mile bike ride with Kawasaki motorcycle racers at the famed Laguna Seca raceway.

Any East Bay bike riders who haven’t licensed their bikes are probably breaking the law.

Nice piece from bike scribe Peter Flax — the ebike rider in the above mention race from DTLA to the coast — about the peace that comes from riding a century in wine country.



Surly may have some problems, but the popular bike maker isn’t going under.

The NFL’s Ryan brothers are two of us, as the Buffalo Bills coaches are spotted riding a tandem bike — which the writer aptly describes as “the Corgis of the transportation world – ­adorable, and hard not to love.”

Instead of fixing a dangerous intersection, Denver authorities say bikes shouldn’t even be there — despite a sign saying just the opposite.

Two cyclists participating in Colorado’s Ride the Rockies pause along the nation’s highest continuous paved road in Rocky Mountain National Park to spread their father’s ashes; their dad had participated in the ride 18 times himself.

This is the cost of traffic violence, as a San Antonio mother mourns the loss of her 15-year old son in a bicycling collision. Thanks to Steve Katz for the heads-up.

Now that’s more like it. An Iowa drunk driver gets 34 years in prison — yes, 34 — for the death of a cyclist; he was already barred from driving for a previous DUI conviction, and had another eight misdemeanor drug and traffic convictions in just 16 months before the fatal crash. With good behavior, he could see his kids again in another 17 and a half years.

What the hell is wrong with Michigan drivers these days? A hit-and-run driver faces 15 years for running down a bike rider on a charity ride after allegedly snorting coke, huffing and inhaling nitrous oxide.

A Michigan sheriff says he only stopped a bike rider and cussed him out because he was worried the “road-raging” rider may have been clipped by a driver who flipped him off. Sure, let’s go with that.

I want to be like him when I grow up. An Ohio cyclist is still winning bike races at 92 years old.

A Rhode Island man “borrowed” a bike to get home, but was so drunk he couldn’t remember where he left it.

Caught on video: Apparently, a New York bike lane is just a way for drivers to get around traffic.

Caught on video 2: A motorist, a bike rider and an unidentified woman come to blows in a three-way brawl on a New York street for undisclosed reasons.

A road-raging Maryland cyclist smacked a driver in the face with his U-lock; of course, judging by the article, the driver did absolutely nothing to provoke it. Seriously, no matter what a driver does, never resort to violence. If this rider is found, he could face a charge of aggravated battery, with a potential jail time measured in years, not months.

NPR looks at how Atlanta’s architecture can make the city friendlier to bike riders.

A group of African American cyclists embarked on a three-day ride from New Orleans’ Congo Square to AfricaTown in Mobile, Alabama.



Mexican researchers develop phosphorescent cement that could allow bikeways to glow in the dark to improve safety.

A Vancouver bicyclist calls for cyclists to show more courtesy to others on the streets. And says the same goes for drivers.

New suicide barriers dangerously narrow a bikeway on an Edmonton bridge.

A Toronto website lists the many condescending anti-bike statements from the city’s councilors, such as we’re dangerous psychos who cause anxiety among those poor, innocent drivers. Well, okay then.

A new British bike taillight flashes brighter when you ride through hazardous situations, crowdsources road data, sends an alert if someone tries to steal your bike and texts your next of kin if you wipeout.

A UK paper lists ten lesser known benefits of bicycling. All of which are pretty well-known to anyone who rides.

No, Dublin, a ghost bike is a memorial, not an abandoned bicycle.

Probably not the best idea to hitch a ride by grabbing ahold of a speeding English tram.



If you’re carrying dope and a loaded handgun on your bike, put a damn light on it. No, seriously, put a damn light on your bike if you’re planning to use it as your getaway vehicle after burglarizing some homes.

And we only have to worry about dodging tourists on the bike path, not a bear darting into your path.

Monday’s ride, on which I got dangerously buzzed

I never get honked at when I ride.

I honestly can’t remember the last time it happened. I go out of my way to ride safely and courteously. Yet the other day, two separate drivers honked at me as I was riding.

Maybe it was the stress of driving crowded L.A. streets. Maybe they were still ticked off about some other cyclist who cut them off or ran a red light. Or maybe Rush Limbaugh or some other bike-hating jerk went on another anti-bike rant and got their listeners riled up once again.

Maybe it was just a coincidence.

But two drivers honked at me yesterday. And not in a friendly way.

The first came about 30 miles after my encounter with the undead dog. I was riding east on Washington, after the bike lane from the beach ends a few blocks before Abbot Kinney.

Even without the bike lane, the roadway is wide enough that I was out of the traffic lane, and riding only a few miles below the speed of traffic. And yet, as a driver came up on my left, he suddenly blared his horn.

Not the friendly tap some drivers employ in a misguided attempt to tell us they’re there. As if we don’t already know. No, this was a loud, long leaning on the horn that could only be heard as “get the f… out of my way, ‘cause I’m coming through.”

No really. I’m quite proficient in horn as a second language. And there was no mistaking his message.

Nor was there any mistaking mine as he went by.

Of course, he was shocked and appalled that I would respond in such a manner. In fact, he wanted to continue the conversation at the next red light. But I’ve had that discussion before, and didn’t see any reason to get into it again.

So I gave my signal, and made a left onto Abbot Kinney as he continued to shout after me.

The next one was more troubling, though.

I was headed north on Ocean, directly in front of the Frank Gehry designed building with the binoculars.

The road is narrower there, although traffic is lighter, so I’d taken the lane since turning off from Abbot Kinney. As I passed the Gehry Building, a huge garbage truck came up from behind.

I moved slightly to the right to give him a little more room. But just as his front bumper came up beside me, he suddenly laid on his horn — a loud, long basso profundo blast that was completely unnecessary, since he was already in my field of view.

Then he buzzed me, passing not more than a foot away, so close that I couldn’t extend my elbow — let alone my arm — without hitting him.

Fortunately, even though I was startled, I stayed in control. Because swerving in either direction could have been fatal.

Had I reacted by swerving left, I would have hit him and probably ended up under his wheels. Swerving to the right would have sent me into the parked cars, and most likely caused me to ricochet back into him with the same result.

Of course, what he did is perfectly legal in California. While other states are rapidly adopting the three-foot passing law, the law here only requires that motorists pass at a safe distance — which is usually interpreted as anything that doesn’t actually come in contact with the rider. And there is no law here against harassing a cyclist, even if that harassment causes an accident.

Sure, other charges can be filed. But they usually aren’t. And calling the police is often a waste of time.

In retrospect, I wish I’d chased the driver down, and gotten enough information to get him fired. Anyone who drives like that doesn’t belong on the street. Let alone behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle the size of a small house.

But I was too shaken to even catch the name of the company. And frankly, even though I knew I could catch him, I was angry enough that I didn’t trust what I’d do once I did.

So I rode home, shaken and angry.

And he gets to keep his job, and will likely do it again to someone else — who may not be as lucky.

And he’ll probably get away with that, as well.


The Mid City West Neighborhood Council — covering what the rest of us would call the Fairfax District — took matters into their own hands, and designed their own bike plan. Write your Congress person to support HR 2521, which would create a development bank to fund infrastructure projects, railways and — dare we hope? — bikeways. Stephen Box explains how Melbourne has it backwards, or maybe upside down, compared to L.A. Mark your calendar for the upcoming Bike MS 2009 charity ride, and movie night at the Encino Velodrome (be honest, did you even know there was an Encino Velodrome?). Here’s your chance to tour Pasadena by foot or bike, and discover upcoming bike routes. The Christian Science Monitor asks if bikes and cars can really share the road, while N.Y. Times finds that more bikes lanes fail to bring peace to the city. A paper in Quebec goes on an anti-bike rant — citing a tragic pedestrian-bike collision that occurred nearly 20 years ago — and suggests that all bike lanes in the city center be removed. Paramedics in London — where everyone has medical coverage — have taken to their bikes. Finally, goodbye Teddy. You’ll be missed.

Only in L.A…. driving while very distracted

As a rule, I try to avoid confrontations when I ride.

No, really, I do. I’ve learned the hard way over the years that cars are bigger than I am. And they hurt. But sometimes, someone will do something so stupid, so dangerous, that I just can’t help myself.

Like the other day, for instance.

I was making my way back up San Vicente at the end of a hard ride, riding in the bike lane, and just focused on getting up that hill a little faster than I have before. So I wasn’t really paying that much attention to traffic passing by.

Then without warning, a car zoomed past me, two wheels inside the bike lane, missing me by less than two feet — passing so close that the wind from his slipstream nearly knocked me over before he straightened out and returned to his lane. I shouted a few choice epithets, steadied my bike and continued up the hill.

And there, waiting at the next intersection for the light to change, was the very same car, with his right window rolled down.

And I just couldn’t help myself.

So I pull up to his door, and yell through the open window that he should never pass a bike that close. His response? All together now…

“Fuck you.”

Right about then the light turns green, and I zip through the intersection, only to realize that now I have a dangerous — and angry — driver behind me. And that’s never good.

So I pull over to the right, and wait patiently for him to drive pass.

Except he doesn’t.

He sees me waiting on the side of the road and pulls over into the gas station next to me. Out steps a guy who looks like he’s doing an impression of a bad Kevin Costner character — faded T-shirt, baggy cargo shorts hanging down past his knees, and baseball cap turned backwards. And looking for a fight.

He asks what I’m so pissed off about, and I explain that he almost hit me. He responded with all the keen debating tactics of a grade school playground.

“Did not!”

Yeah, like out of all the cars that passed me that day, I’m going to single out his and make up a story just to create a confrontation like this. I explain that he had crossed over into the bike lane next to me, passing me by less than a couple feet.

“Did not!”

Meanwhile, I’m thinking that maybe I should try to defuse the situation before things get physical. So I pull out my cell phone and snap his picture, as well as another shot of his license plate. As I do, I happen to glance down — and notice that the zipper on his pants is pulled all the way, exposing everything from waist to mid-thigh.

And trust me, there wasn’t much to see.

Right about then, it dawns on me then just why he was so distracted that he didn’t even see me as he drove.

And I thought drivers with cell phones in their hands were a problem.


Newsweek joins the discussion on the conflict between cyclists and drivers in one of America’s best cycling cities. The article also includes a link to a cyclist hanging on for dear life. Missed this one when it came out; the S. F. Examiner cycling writer — they actually have someone to cover biking! — shares my complaint about riding and cell phones. Looks like the CHP is cracking down on BUIs in Tahoe. And the LACBC urges us all to write the mayor to support dedicated funding for cycling in the new Metro tax proposal.

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