Tag Archive for rude cyclists

A Register writer points the finger, bike crime fighting councilmembers, and a trail full of bike links

The OC Register’s Dan Whiting calls for better etiquette from riders after a couple of roadies yell at a group of children scattered on the wrong side of the Santa Ana River trail.

While yelling at children who may not know any better is never the right thing to do, I question if the parents involved — and Whiting, for that matter — considered the danger uncontrolled children pose to themselves and those around them on shared trails.

Personally, I consider it child endangerment when parents allow their kids to run around on pathways oblivious to the presence of other path users. I’ve gone to the ER myself when I had to lay my bike down to avoid a small boy who darted out in front of my bike with no warning.

Whiting’s explanation is that the cyclists were simply unwilling to slow down. Having been there too many times, I’d suggest it’s far more likely they were worried about a collision that could have sent both them and the children to the hospital.

And responded in a predictable, if inappropriate, manner.

Yes, the situation he describes was a violation of trail etiquette, as well as safety. But he may be pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

While there are no shortage of rude riders — and walkers, drivers, skaters, equestrians and humans in general — as Rashomon makes clear, there are multiple perspectives to every story.

And please, enough with that bike bashing “Lance Armstrong wannabe” crap, already.

Meanwhile, Lovely Bicycle gets it pretty much right on how to share pathways with pedestrians.

………

After dragging on… and on… and on… it looks like we may finally see white smoke on the new federal transportation bill.

Despite rumors that negotiators were going to cave in to the more radical anti-bike and pedestrian elements in Congress — even though 83% of Americans support continued funding, as do over 70 national organizations, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and 13 state governors — at least some protected funding for non-motorized traffic appear to have made it into the final bill.

………

A New York cyclist and bike researcher says it’s insane for the city to offer a bike share program without mandating helmet use, while the city’s CFO calls for mandatory helmet use, but gets the numbers, among other details, wrong.

So let me get this straight. Anyone wanting to rent a bike would have to bring their own helmet, or share one with the all the greasy haired, lice-ridden riders who used it before you?

Count me out.

Besides, there are other ways to keep cyclists safer.

………

Evidently, local politicians are going the extra mile to get the bike vote, as a Santa Cruz city councilmember chases a bike thief during a break in yesterday’s council session. And a Costa Mesa council candidate calls police after spotting a bike thief, leading to his arrest.

The bike thief, not the council candidate.

………

David Hembrow compares L.A.’s new bike plan to the Netherlands and finds it, not surprisingly, lacking. Streetsblog looks behind the scenes at the upcoming, and somewhat questionable, Bike Nation L.A. bike share program. Better Bike reports on the bike studies presented at the LACBC’s recent grad night. KCET Departures rides the L.A. River bike path, while the Orange Line bike path gets a four mile extension. South L.A.’s Real Rydaz are doing more than just getting paint on the street. The Source says potholes are good for nothing and we should get them fixed before they hurt someone; good advice, even if the repair is sometimes worse than the hole. Former BMX rider Stephen Murray still loves the sport that nearly killed him. Local riders prepare for the first Pasadena Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia; thanks to Matthew Gomez for the heads-up. Cyclists from Cal Tech are asking for east-west bikeways through Pasadena. Alhambra moves forward with the city’s first bicycle master plan. A Long Beach company is looking for test riders for their new bike.

AAA’s Westways magazine talks bikes this month. OC Girl Scouts create their own biking map of San Clemente. An allegedly drunk cyclist is seriously injured in a Hemet collision. Inspiring story as a former Camarillo CHP officer qualifies for the Paralympics cycling team five years after his spinal cord was severed by a drunk driver. A San Luis Obispo woman intentionally runs down a cyclist following an argument in a parking lot. Six women cyclists will ride the Tour de France course one day ahead of the men. Sunnyvale could be the third city to pass an L.A.-style bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance. A San Francisco attorney is charged with felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor manslaughter for leaving a cyclist to die in the street; at least he shouldn’t have trouble getting a lawyer. Bike lawyer Bob Mionske writes about the Strava racing San Francisco cyclist charged with felony vehicular manslaughter in the death of a pedestrian, and follows-up by answering questions about the case in detail. A 68-year old Sonoma cyclist was killed last week in an apparent SWSS after reportedly signaling for a left, then making his turn directly into the path of a big rig coming from behind.

Bicycling looks at Americans riding in this year’s Tour de France; we’re not so parochial as to only cheer for our fellow countrymen, are we? Bicycling’s Bill Strickland falls in love with the new, nearly $12,000 Trek Madone. Washington AAA now offers bike assistance; if they’d do that down here, I might reconsider renewing my membership — if they promise not to use my dues to lobby against bike safety legislation. American cycling scion Taylor Phinney takes his appointment to the U.S. Olympic team seriously. One Colorado highway, three world-class bike parks. The Colorado wildfires force postponement of a mountain bike race in my hometown, but don’t seem to affect the city’s Bike to Work Day. A Knoxville cyclist is sideswiped, then beaten by an angry driver — apparently for touching the car to keep his balance. A Louisiana man pleads not guilty to killing one cyclist and critically injuring another, despite a BAC of .307. Twitter gets a writer’s bike back just hours after it was stolen. Good news for New York drivers, as it’s still legal to kill a cyclist with your car door. Our North Carolina friend Zeke has lost his cycling mojo; any suggestions on how to get it back would likely be appreciated.

Bike advocates head to Vancouver for Velo-City. The Toronto Sun calls mandatory helmet laws a no-brainer; so is finding a new editorial writer if they can’t get past that tired no-brainer cliché. Or maybe the solution is to require helmets for drivers. A group of 25 Canadian opera singers are biking around the country to promote their art. Bookmark this page — a UK cyclist offers an extraordinarily detailed response to virtually every objection a motorist could have to bike riders. British bike traffic is up 18%. NBC re-ups to cover the Tour de France for another 10 years. An Aussie Olympic cyclist gets a slap on the wrist after being convicted of drunk driving in Spain. A German physician guesses there’s a high rate of drunk cycling crashes in his town. Here’s your chance to compete in a one day race in the Himalayas against the prince of Bhutan; one word of advice, it’s not always a good idea to finish ahead of the local royalty.

Finally, the Economist looks at the great Agenda 21 conspiracy in which a single sidewalk or bike lane will inevitably lead to one-world government.

They’re on to us, comrades.

Bicyclists are ***holes. I am a bicyclist. Therefore…

I stumbled on this the other day.

Just another rant from an indignorant bike-riding driver who can’t understand why cyclists are such assholes. Not him, of course, or others like him who only ride on side streets or sidewalks.

But those other jerks. The ones who ride in street, acting like they actually had a right to be there, or have the audacity to move up to the front of the intersection at a red light. Or, God forbid, flip him off when he expresses his righteous indignation.

Riders like me, in other words. And possibly, like you — though I hope you have better control over your middle finger than I do sometimes.

Normally, I’d just click on another link, and move on to something else. But this one stuck with me, because he was complaining about exactly the same things I do every time I ride — the same things most bike safety experts tell us to do, precisely because they help us stay alive.

For instance, he can’t understand why cyclists insist on moving to the front of the intersection at a red light. Let alone why they get so upset when he tries to block their path with his car so they can’t.

Since he doesn’t ride his bike in traffic, maybe he doesn’t know that stopping behind a line of cars is one of the most dangerous things a rider can do.

That’s because the single most important thing any cyclist can do is make sure he or she is seen. And when you stop behind a line of cars — or often, even a single car — you’re completely hidden from oncoming traffic.

Which means that a driver waiting patiently to make a left turn may not know you’re there, and could turn directly into your bike once the car ahead of you clears his path.

It’s also likely that drivers on the cross street may not see you, either. And anyone coming up from behind probably won’t be looking a cyclist behind a line of cars, resulting a high likelihood of a crush crash that could smash your bike against the car in front.

Of course, you can easily avoid that simply by working your way to the front of the intersection where you can be seen by everyone. So by blocking cyclists from moving up, driver’s like him are willing to put the lives of their fellow human beings at risk.

Just because they don’t understand.

Then there’s his complaint about cyclists who ride in “the center of the lane…just because (they) can.” Except what he’s really complaining about is someone riding just three feet from the edge of the lane.

In other words, exactly where many experts would tell you to ride. Not in the gutter, with all the cracked pavement and broken glass. Not next to the parked cars, where you run the risk of being doored by a careless driver. But slightly into the lane, where cars can safely go around you when there’s a break in traffic.

Of course, I wasn’t there. Maybe the rider really was just an asshole. But I find it very hard to believe that traffic — through a park, no less — was so heavy that this driver did not have a single opportunity to pass for “a good three or four minutes.”

Obviously, this is just one guy, posting in another city over 6 months ago. Yet a simple Google search for the phrase “bicyclists are assholes” returns over 58,000 hits.

So the question becomes, how can we communicate to all these people that we’re not going out of our way to be rude just because we can, and there’s actually a good reason why we do the things we do.

Because they don’t read cycling blogs like this.

And they’re clearly not getting the message.


The new Flying Pigeon lands downtown; Bicycle Fixation drops in for a visit. Stephen Box reports Metro drivers think bikes must yield to big ass buses. The Anonymous Cyclist suggests that building your own wheels can be as relaxing as preparing for a tattoo. The old Freeloading Cyclists canard rears its ugly head once again. El Monte wants you to experience their Emerald Necklace — and discover riverbeds that aren’t lined with cement. Baton Rouge peddles pedaling paramedics. A lawyer discusses dangerous driving habits cyclists hate. Finally, it seems there’s real science behind rolling through stop signs.

Today’s ride, in which I don’t inconvenience anyone

As I was riding today, I was still a little steamed about last week’s unpleasant interaction with a driver who tried to tell me off after he nearly hit me — even though I had the right of way and was riding safely.

I was also considering his anger, and my unfortunate reaction to it, in the context of the anti-cyclist comments that are all too common online — such as the recent ones on the Times’ website.

You see, to a certain segment of the driving population, we seem to be an almost evil presence on the road — something to be tolerated, at best. Or for some, to be run off the road, if possible. Whether literally or figuratively.

To those people, there are no good cyclists.

As far as they’re concerned, we’re a breed of rude, arrogant, two-wheeled law-flaunting scofflaws who block the road, don’t signal, consistently run stop lights and never, ever observe stop signs. Especially the ones they see as the ultimate, crème de la vile crème of roadway criminality — the spandex-clad racers and recreational riders.

Like me.

Of course, you don’t have to watch the road very long to notice that many, if not most, riders actually do signal, as well as stop for — and wait out — red lights, and observe stops at least as often and well as most local drivers do.

But it seems that many drivers don’t notice the countless riders they pass who ride safely; just the few who blow through lights or commit some other unforgivable act. Even if it’s something that other drivers do on a near daily basis.

So that’s what I was thinking when I was stopped at 7th on San Vicente, and another rider — also a spandex-wrapped roadie — came up behind me.

We struck up a conversation, and once the light changed, fell in together as we rode side-by-side up the hill and back down the other side.

Turned out he was a pretty a nice guy. We discussed how nice it was to be riding in 80 degree weather when people back east are digging themselves out from the latest storm. About his work in the film industry, and the prospects for yet another crippling strike. And about his avocation a racer — an expert-level mountain biker, and a CAT-4 roadie who competed in last year’s Brentwood Grand Prix.

As we rode, an interesting thing happened. As the outside rider, when something came up that posed a risk for me on the inside, he’d briefly move out into the traffic lane to give me a little more room. And when I noticed something that could force him into traffic, I slowed down just enough to let him pass before moving back up beside him.

Just two riders working together to keep each other safe, without having to exchange a single word.

And despite riding tandem for nearly two miles, up and down hill, we both stayed comfortably within the bike lane virtually the entire time, allowing traffic to pass by uninterrupted. No red lights were run, no drivers inconvenienced.

So if some drivers insist on blaming us all for the actions of a few, I guess I can live it that.

Then a little further on, I encountered another cyclist. This time, it was an older woman riding slowly as she struggled up a short, steep hill and around a sharp corner.

As I approached her, I noticed a car coming up from behind, and realized that the driver’s view of the woman was blocked — and would have no idea she was there when he rounded the corner.

So I swung out around her, taking the corner much wider than I usually would, and blocking the lane to prevent the driver from going by.

I’m not sure the woman even knew what I was doing. But once the driver rounded the corner and saw her, he seemed to understand what I was doing, and why. So I moved back to the right to let him by, and he passed both of us — very safely — with about six feet of clearance.

Just one cyclist looking out for another.

 

Illuminate LA offers a guide for reducing cycling collisions, with studies to back it up. LA Rides provides a pair of maps for riding safely between Westwood and Mar Vista. No Whip describes a 75-mile ride on and off road through the hills of L.A. Ubrayj envisions a car-free Lincoln Park. Will gets excited about volunteering for the Tour of California. Cynergy Cycles announces their Women’s Week, a week of exclusive events for female riders; too bad their website isn’t as cool as the email, which I can’t link too. The Daily News calls on the MTA to speed up its support of cyclists. And finally, Streetsblog talks about the need to reform the laws governing cycling, while Indiana is in the process of doing something about it, with the support of the local paper.

Today’s ride, in which I don’t inconvenience anyone

As I was riding today, I was still a little steamed about last week’s unpleasant interaction with a driver who tried to tell me off after he nearly hit me — even though I had the right of way and was riding safely.

I was also considering his anger, and my unfortunate reaction to it, in the context of the anti-cyclist comments that are all too common online — such as the recent ones on the Times’ website.

You see, to a certain segment of the driving population, we seem to be an almost evil presence on the road — something to be tolerated, at best. Or for some, to be run off the road, if possible. Whether literally or figuratively.

To those people, there are no good cyclists.

As far as they’re concerned, we’re a breed of rude, arrogant, two-wheeled law-flaunting scofflaws who block the road, don’t signal, consistently run stop lights and never, ever observe stop signs. Especially the ones they see as the ultimate, crème de la vile crème of roadway criminality — the spandex-clad racers and recreational riders.

Like me.

Of course, you don’t have to watch the road very long to notice that many, if not most, riders actually do signal, as well as stop for — and wait out — red lights, and observe stops at least as often and well as most local drivers do.

But it seems that many drivers don’t notice the countless riders they pass who ride safely; just the few who blow through lights or commit some other unforgivable act. Even if it’s something that other drivers do on a near daily basis.

So that’s what I was thinking when I was stopped at 7th on San Vicente, and another rider — also a spandex-wrapped roadie — came up behind me.

We struck up a conversation, and once the light changed, fell in together as we rode side-by-side up the hill and back down the other side.

Turned out he was a pretty a nice guy. We discussed how nice it was to be riding in 80 degree weather when people back east are digging themselves out from the latest storm. About his work in the film industry, and the prospects for yet another crippling strike. And about his avocation a racer — an expert-level mountain biker, and a CAT-4 roadie who competed in last year’s Brentwood Grand Prix.

As we rode, an interesting thing happened. As the outside rider, when something came up that posed a risk for me on the inside, he’d briefly move out into the traffic lane to give me a little more room. And when I noticed something that could force him into traffic, I slowed down just enough to let him pass before moving back up beside him.

Just two riders working together to keep each other safe, without having to exchange a single word.

And despite riding tandem for nearly two miles, up and down hill, we both stayed comfortably within the bike lane virtually the entire time, allowing traffic to pass by uninterrupted. No red lights were run, no drivers inconvenienced.

So if some drivers insist on blaming us all for the actions of a few, I guess I can live it that.

Then a little further on, I encountered another cyclist. This time, it was an older woman riding slowly as she struggled up a short, steep hill and around a sharp corner.

As I approached her, I noticed a car coming up from behind, and realized that the driver’s view of the woman was blocked — and would have no idea she was there when he rounded the corner.

So I swung out around her, taking the corner much wider than I usually would, and blocking the lane to prevent the driver from going by.

I’m not sure the woman even knew what I was doing. But once the driver rounded the corner and saw her, he seemed to understand what I was doing, and why. So I moved back to the right to let him by, and he passed both of us — very safely — with about six feet of clearance.

Just one cyclist looking out for another.

 

Illuminate LA offers a guide for reducing cycling collisions, with studies to back it up. LA Rides provides a pair of maps for riding safely between Westwood and Mar Vista. No Whip describes a 75-mile ride on and off road through the hills of L.A. Ubrayj envisions a car-free Lincoln Park. Will gets excited about volunteering for the Tour of California. Cynergy Cycles announces their Women’s Week, a week of exclusive events for female riders; too bad their website isn’t as cool as the email, which I can’t link too. The Daily News calls on the MTA to speed up its support of cyclists. And finally, Streetsblog talks about the need to reform the laws governing cycling, while Indiana is in the process of doing something about it, with the support of the local paper.

Today’s ride, in which I don’t inconvenience anyone

As I was riding today, I was still a little steamed about last week’s unpleasant interaction with a driver who tried to tell me off after he nearly hit me — even though I had the right of way and was riding safely.

I was also considering his anger, and my unfortunate reaction to it, in the context of the anti-cyclist comments that are all too common online — such as the recent ones on the Times’ website.

You see, to a certain segment of the driving population, we seem to be an almost evil presence on the road — something to be tolerated, at best. Or for some, to be run off the road, if possible. Whether literally or figuratively.

To those people, there are no good cyclists.

As far as they’re concerned, we’re a breed of rude, arrogant, two-wheeled law-flaunting scofflaws who block the road, don’t signal, consistently run stop lights and never, ever observe stop signs. Especially the ones they see as the ultimate, crème de la vile crème of roadway criminality — the spandex-clad racers and recreational riders.

Like me.

Of course, you don’t have to watch the road very long to notice that many, if not most, riders actually do signal, as well as stop for — and wait out — red lights, and observe stops at least as often and well as most local drivers do.

But it seems that many drivers don’t notice the countless riders they pass who ride safely; just the few who blow through lights or commit some other unforgivable act. Even if it’s something that other drivers do on a near daily basis.

So that’s what I was thinking when I was stopped at 7th on San Vicente, and another rider — also a spandex-wrapped roadie — came up behind me.

We struck up a conversation, and once the light changed, fell in together as we rode side-by-side up the hill and back down the other side.

Turned out he was a pretty a nice guy. We discussed how nice it was to be riding in 80 degree weather when people back east are digging themselves out from the latest storm. About his work in the film industry, and the prospects for yet another crippling strike. And about his avocation a racer — an expert-level mountain biker, and a CAT-4 roadie who competed in last year’s Brentwood Grand Prix.

As we rode, an interesting thing happened. As the outside rider, when something came up that posed a risk for me on the inside, he’d briefly move out into the traffic lane to give me a little more room. And when I noticed something that could force him into traffic, I slowed down just enough to let him pass before moving back up beside him.

Just two riders working together to keep each other safe, without having to exchange a single word.

And despite riding tandem for nearly two miles, up and down hill, we both stayed comfortably within the bike lane virtually the entire time, allowing traffic to pass by uninterrupted. No red lights were run, no drivers inconvenienced.

So if some drivers insist on blaming us all for the actions of a few, I guess I can live it that.

Then a little further on, I encountered another cyclist. This time, it was an older woman riding slowly as she struggled up a short, steep hill and around a sharp corner.

As I approached her, I noticed a car coming up from behind, and realized that the driver’s view of the woman was blocked — and would have no idea she was there when he rounded the corner.

So I swung out around her, taking the corner much wider than I usually would, and blocking the lane to prevent the driver from going by.

I’m not sure the woman even knew what I was doing. But once the driver rounded the corner and saw her, he seemed to understand what I was doing, and why. So I moved back to the right to let him by, and he passed both of us — very safely — with about six feet of clearance.

Just one cyclist looking out for another.

 

Illuminate LA offers a guide for reducing cycling collisions, with studies to back it up. LA Rides provides a pair of maps for riding safely between Westwood and Mar Vista. No Whip describes a 75-mile ride on and off road through the hills of L.A. Ubrayj envisions a car-free Lincoln Park. Will gets excited about volunteering for the Tour of California. Cynergy Cycles announces their Women’s Week, a week of exclusive events for female riders; too bad their website isn’t as cool as the email, which I can’t link too. The Daily News calls on the MTA to speed up its support of cyclists. And finally, Streetsblog talks about the need to reform the laws governing cycling, while Indiana is in the process of doing something about it, with the support of the local paper.

Today’s ride, in which I think like a driver.

I’d planned on taking a nice, sunny spin down the coast today. After all, this was supposed to be an easy day, since I’d ridden hills yesterday and only needed another 20 miles to meet my goal for the week.

But once I got down to Santa Monica, I found the weather wasn’t so inviting. It was cool, overcast and windy at the beach; the most un-summer-like August day I think I’ve ever seen around L.A. So rather than fight the wind, I decided to just take a quick ride along the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path — despite my rule of thumb to never ride there during on Fridays during the summer, due to the early weekend influx of tourists, kids, pedestrians and other assorted path-clogging flotsam.

To be honest, though, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, I had to dodge the occasional training-wheeled toddler weaving across the path with no parents in sight, as well as the usual clusters of tourists stopped in the middle of the path to chat or gawk at the view. And it certainly didn’t hurt my cheerful disposition knowing that I had an Old Speckled Hen on ice at home, waiting for my return.

That is, until I encountered a couple of young women walking up the bike path, despite the presence of a pedestrian walkway just a few feet away, and “bikes only” markings on the one they were walking on instead. And they were walking on the wrong side, headed straight for me, directly in my path.

Now, as anyone who has ever ridden along there knows, that’s not entirely unusual. Usually, such people will look up, see a cyclist coming, and politely move out of the way. Which is exactly what I thought these two would do.

Instead, they just kept walking directly towards me, with the same uncomprehending stare one would expect to see in a flock of sheep. But then I saw a small gap to their right and attempted to slip by, just as one of them moved in that same direction, bumping up against me and almost forcing me into the sand.

I just couldn’t help myself, and yelled out, “Other side, stupid,” as I rolled past. And immediately regretted adding the word “stupid,” although, to be fair, it was the mildest of the many words that popped into my head.

Of course, the catcalls from bystanders started immediately, including, among many other epithets, “rude” and “arrogant.” So there it was once again, as I found myself being called a rude, arrogant cyclist.

My mind reeled.

How was it that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, on a pathway build exactly for that purpose, while they were exactly where they weren’t supposed to be, doing exactly what they weren’t supposed to be doing. Yet I was the bad guy?

Suddenly, something snapped, and my mind I became a driver. Not the courteous, safe kind that actually make up the vast majority of local drivers, but the indignorant, letter-writing kind who feel perfectly justified in taking out their anger on cyclists.

So I thought, just for a moment, that I should have just ridden directly into them and knocked both women on their ass. After all, they were in my way, and so clearly they deserved it.

When the police came, I would say it was an accident, and I just didn’t see them, because they weren’t where they were supposed to be. Then I could give him a knowing look, and say “When pedestrians learn to respect the rules of bike path, then we’ll respect the rights of pedestrians.”

And I’d get away with it, too. Because drivers usually do.

But then I snapped out of it, and realized, no matter how hard I might try, I could never really be that big a jerk. And so, once again, I was just another rude, arrogant cyclist.

But for once, it really didn’t seem so bad.

 

Mack Reed writes about riding tandem with arachnids, while Will•I•Am (no, not that one) puts his bike cam to work nailing parking tards. David Byrne, ex-Talking Head, now the Dick Cheney of bike rack design. Bicycling tells us how to de-escalate conflicts between cyclists and drivers. Finally, VeloNews’ own cycling PI attorney recaps the recent road rage incidents, including the good doctor’s Mandeville Canyon brake check and biker-on-biker violence in Portland.

Today’s ride, in which I think like a driver.

I’d planned on taking a nice, sunny spin down the coast today. After all, this was supposed to be an easy day, since I’d ridden hills yesterday and only needed another 20 miles to meet my goal for the week.

But once I got down to Santa Monica, I found the weather wasn’t so inviting. It was cool, overcast and windy at the beach; the most un-summer-like August day I think I’ve ever seen around L.A. So rather than fight the wind, I decided to just take a quick ride along the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path — despite my rule of thumb to never ride there during on Fridays during the summer, due to the early weekend influx of tourists, kids, pedestrians and other assorted path-clogging flotsam.

To be honest, though, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, I had to dodge the occasional training-wheeled toddler weaving across the path with no parents in sight, as well as the usual clusters of tourists stopped in the middle of the path to chat or gawk at the view. And it certainly didn’t hurt my cheerful disposition knowing that I had an Old Speckled Hen on ice at home, waiting for my return.

That is, until I encountered a couple of young women walking up the bike path, despite the presence of a pedestrian walkway just a few feet away, and “bikes only” markings on the one they were walking on instead. And they were walking on the wrong side, headed straight for me, directly in my path.

Now, as anyone who has ever ridden along there knows, that’s not entirely unusual. Usually, such people will look up, see a cyclist coming, and politely move out of the way. Which is exactly what I thought these two would do.

Instead, they just kept walking directly towards me, with the same uncomprehending stare one would expect to see in a flock of sheep. But then I saw a small gap to their right and attempted to slip by, just as one of them moved in that same direction, bumping up against me and almost forcing me into the sand.

I just couldn’t help myself, and yelled out, “Other side, stupid,” as I rolled past. And immediately regretted adding the word “stupid,” although, to be fair, it was the mildest of the many words that popped into my head.

Of course, the catcalls from bystanders started immediately, including, among many other epithets, “rude” and “arrogant.” So there it was once again, as I found myself being called a rude, arrogant cyclist.

My mind reeled.

How was it that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, on a pathway build exactly for that purpose, while they were exactly where they weren’t supposed to be, doing exactly what they weren’t supposed to be doing. Yet I was the bad guy?

Suddenly, something snapped, and my mind I became a driver. Not the courteous, safe kind that actually make up the vast majority of local drivers, but the indignorant, letter-writing kind who feel perfectly justified in taking out their anger on cyclists.

So I thought, just for a moment, that I should have just ridden directly into them and knocked both women on their ass. After all, they were in my way, and so clearly they deserved it.

When the police came, I would say it was an accident, and I just didn’t see them, because they weren’t where they were supposed to be. Then I could give him a knowing look, and say “When pedestrians learn to respect the rules of bike path, then we’ll respect the rights of pedestrians.”

And I’d get away with it, too. Because drivers usually do.

But then I snapped out of it, and realized, no matter how hard I might try, I could never really be that big a jerk. And so, once again, I was just another rude, arrogant cyclist.

But for once, it really didn’t seem so bad.

 

Mack Reed writes about riding tandem with arachnids, while Will•I•Am (no, not that one) puts his bike cam to work nailing parking tards. David Byrne, ex-Talking Head, now the Dick Cheney of bike rack design. Bicycling tells us how to de-escalate conflicts between cyclists and drivers. Finally, VeloNews’ own cycling PI attorney recaps the recent road rage incidents, including the good doctor’s Mandeville Canyon brake check and biker-on-biker violence in Portland.

Today’s ride, in which I think like a driver.

I’d planned on taking a nice, sunny spin down the coast today. After all, this was supposed to be an easy day, since I’d ridden hills yesterday and only needed another 20 miles to meet my goal for the week.

But once I got down to Santa Monica, I found the weather wasn’t so inviting. It was cool, overcast and windy at the beach; the most un-summer-like August day I think I’ve ever seen around L.A. So rather than fight the wind, I decided to just take a quick ride along the beachfront Marvin Braude bike path — despite my rule of thumb to never ride there during on Fridays during the summer, due to the early weekend influx of tourists, kids, pedestrians and other assorted path-clogging flotsam.

To be honest, though, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, I had to dodge the occasional training-wheeled toddler weaving across the path with no parents in sight, as well as the usual clusters of tourists stopped in the middle of the path to chat or gawk at the view. And it certainly didn’t hurt my cheerful disposition knowing that I had an Old Speckled Hen on ice at home, waiting for my return.

That is, until I encountered a couple of young women walking up the bike path, despite the presence of a pedestrian walkway just a few feet away, and “bikes only” markings on the one they were walking on instead. And they were walking on the wrong side, headed straight for me, directly in my path.

Now, as anyone who has ever ridden along there knows, that’s not entirely unusual. Usually, such people will look up, see a cyclist coming, and politely move out of the way. Which is exactly what I thought these two would do.

Instead, they just kept walking directly towards me, with the same uncomprehending stare one would expect to see in a flock of sheep. But then I saw a small gap to their right and attempted to slip by, just as one of them moved in that same direction, bumping up against me and almost forcing me into the sand.

I just couldn’t help myself, and yelled out, “Other side, stupid,” as I rolled past. And immediately regretted adding the word “stupid,” although, to be fair, it was the mildest of the many words that popped into my head.

Of course, the catcalls from bystanders started immediately, including, among many other epithets, “rude” and “arrogant.” So there it was once again, as I found myself being called a rude, arrogant cyclist.

My mind reeled.

How was it that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, on a pathway build exactly for that purpose, while they were exactly where they weren’t supposed to be, doing exactly what they weren’t supposed to be doing. Yet I was the bad guy?

Suddenly, something snapped, and my mind I became a driver. Not the courteous, safe kind that actually make up the vast majority of local drivers, but the indignorant, letter-writing kind who feel perfectly justified in taking out their anger on cyclists.

So I thought, just for a moment, that I should have just ridden directly into them and knocked both women on their ass. After all, they were in my way, and so clearly they deserved it.

When the police came, I would say it was an accident, and I just didn’t see them, because they weren’t where they were supposed to be. Then I could give him a knowing look, and say “When pedestrians learn to respect the rules of bike path, then we’ll respect the rights of pedestrians.”

And I’d get away with it, too. Because drivers usually do.

But then I snapped out of it, and realized, no matter how hard I might try, I could never really be that big a jerk. And so, once again, I was just another rude, arrogant cyclist.

But for once, it really didn’t seem so bad.

 

Mack Reed writes about riding tandem with arachnids, while Will•I•Am (no, not that one) puts his bike cam to work nailing parking tards. David Byrne, ex-Talking Head, now the Dick Cheney of bike rack design. Bicycling tells us how to de-escalate conflicts between cyclists and drivers. Finally, VeloNews’ own cycling PI attorney recaps the recent road rage incidents, including the good doctor’s Mandeville Canyon brake check and biker-on-biker violence in Portland.

Blameless victims? Or two-wheeled vigilantes?

Now Seattle is up in arms over a road rage incident involving bicyclists. And once again, it’s the cyclists who are being painted as the bad guys.

According to news initial reports, last Friday’s Critical Mass turned violent when a group of cyclists attacked a driver. As these reports put it, the frightened driver tried to back up, hit a couple of bikes, then got scared and tried to drive away. The bikers chased him down, slashed his tires, smashed his windows and hit him with a bike lock, sending the frightened driver to the hospital with a head injury.

Of course, once the initial hyperventilating news reports aired, a more nuanced picture began to take shape as the real reporters — as opposed to the pretty heads on TV — filed their stories, suggesting that there might actually be two sides to this event. According to these accounts, the driver became angry and/or scared, as the riders may or may not have threatened to tip his car with him and his passenger in it. Then he tried to drive off, dragging injured cyclists with him, until he was chased down by bikers who forced him to stop.

And unfortunately, turned violent in retaliation.

As usually happens these days, though, the full picture only took shape online, as the local bloggers began giving first, or at least second, person reports.

Ryan provides the riders’ perspective, describing how his first CM went painfully wrong, as the driver tried to escape his corkage by accelerating through the riders in front of him, running over one cyclist as another held on for dear life. Even with a cyclist clinging to the hood of his car, the driver gave no sign of stopping, so the riders chased him down and forced him to stop.

Then the police — and reporters — took the standard approach and blamed bikers first. Apparently, both had already decided the driver was the victim, and neither seemed to have any interest in the bikers’ side of the story.

Meanwhile, Jonah talks with the driver himself, painting a very different picture of a frightened — and sympathetic — man, who felt intimidated by all rampaging cyclists who surrounded his car, and by his account, threatened him. He responded by revving his engine in an attempt to get the riders to back off, not realizing his car was in gear. It lurched forward and inadvertently struck a couple of cyclists.

He says the other bikers responded by trying to hit him or clinging to his car, so he began to speed off, then stopped when he heard someone say a rider was hurt. When he got out of his car to apologize, the riders attacked him and his car.

So who’s right — or more to the point in this case, who’s wrong?

Everyone.

Intentionally or not, frightened or not, the driver struck and injured at least two riders in an ill-advised attempt to escape corking.

The police and press — as usual — leapt to the assumption that the cyclists were at fault, and weren’t about to let the facts get in the way.

And — ignoring any questions about the propriety and effectiveness of Critical Mass and corking tactics — the cyclists were wrong for retaliating against the driver, however justified they may have felt at the time. Once the driver struck the cyclists, they should have simply taken down his license or taken a picture (I keep my camera phone in reach when I ride for exactly that reason) and reported it to the police. Then it would have been a clear case of hit-and-run, the cyclists, rather than the driver, would be seen as the victims, and both the police and press might have been a little more sympathetic.

Instead, everyone loses. Especially the biking community.

We’re here. We ride. Get used to it.

Let’s go back to those Letters to the Editor we were discussing yesterday, now that the Times finally has them online. (You may have to search for the letters the paper printed on Saturday.)

The first printed letter, signed by Cecelia Grace of Los Angeles, ends with this: Motorists will respect cyclists when cyclists respect the rules of the road.

In other words, drivers don’t need to drive safely around us, because we just don’t deserve it. It’s our fault that, because of our bad behavior, they get mad and run us off the road. Isn’t that the same excuse every spouse batterer used? It’s not my fault, because you made me do it.

Or from the second letter they published on Saturday, from Lillie Reines of L.A., referring to those bad, bad people who ride for recreation: They are the ones who come steaming down the curves and cut off cars pulling out of driveways. They are the ones who encourage road rage.

Yes, she actually wrote that we encourage road rage. And the Times, for reasons that will forever escape me, actually printed it.

So let’s just make this as clear as humanly possible:

No one encourages a road rage incident, any more than they encourage a drive-by shooting.

Yes, there are rude cyclists, as well as riders who seem to feel the law does not apply to them, just as there are drivers — and pedestrians, for that matter — who demonstrate the same dangerous traits.

But no one deserves to be the victim of violence. Not drivers. Not pedestrians. And certainly not cyclists, no matter how egregiously rude or law-flaunting they may or may not be.

The simple fact is, a motor vehicle is not a weapon, nor is it an instrument of justice. It is not a tool of divine retribution or an outlet for even the most righteous anger. It is, simply, a car. A means of transportation. A way of getting from here to there.

And we are not your victims.

Cyclists may or may not deserve your respect, but you are required to give it, nonetheless. That is the agreement you make when you accept a drivers license. We are legally entitled to use the roadway, and you are legally required to let us do so, no more or less than you would any other vehicle.

And there is nothing we can do on or from the seat of a bicycle that would justify anyone using a vehicle as a weapon against any one of us, or any other human being. Nothing we may do gives you the right to kill, maim, injure or threaten us in any way.

Nothing.

So if a cyclist impedes your progress or breaks the law, call the police. It’s their job, let them deal with it.

If a rider is rude or insulting in any way, feel free to be rude in return. Give him the finger. Yell something. Or better yet, be the better man — or woman — and turn the other cheek. Just grit your teeth, go around him and get on with your life. You can tell your friends all about it later, as they nod in agreement and chime in with their own stories about all those rude and aggressive cyclists.

And we can go home to our wives, husbands, children, dogs, cats and/or goldfish.

Because, like it or not, we have a right to ride.

We have a right to the road.

We have a right to live.

And we’re not going anywhere.

 

According to yesterday’s article in the Times, anecdotal evidence suggests that more people are taking up cycling (sorry, drivers), and we need to find a way to live together. If you don’t like sharing the streets with us, it could be worse — according to the Bottleneck Blog’s Steve Hymon, we could be passing you the next time you’re stuck in gridlock on the 405. And LAist points out that those on two feet can be just as annoying as those of us on two wheels.

 

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