Not surprisingly, the 4th of July incident in Mandeville Canyon was one of the main topics of conversation on Craigslist yesterday. Or at least it started out that way, before quickly devolving into the usual hate rants and death threats that typically characterize CL’s Lord of the Flies mentality.
One of the more rational posts — okay, one of the few — took riders to task for failing to ride safely. He (she?) gave the example of San Vicente Blvd., the Westside’s bicycle highway to the sea, ranting about “pretentious assholes” who insist on riding in traffic lanes despite the presence of a bike lane virtually the entire way.
Problem is, he’s got a point.
We’ve all seen them. While the vast majority of us are happy to ride safely and courteously, there are always a few who seem to feel that traffic laws and the mores of a civil society — let alone common sense — don’t apply to them.
Like the guy I saw on San Vicente awhile back, who insisted on riding in the left lane the entire way down the hill. And then proceeded to blow through the red light at the bottom, despite the fact that he had to pass between cars crossing from the other direction. Without a helmet, of course.
Or the idiot I saw drafting a few feet behind a city bus through downtown Santa Monica. Of course, as buses usually do sooner or later, it came to a sudden stop — forcing him to dart into the other traffic lane without warning, and nearly causing a chain reaction collision as drivers braked to avoid him. (This is the same jerk who used to try to draft on me on the way up San Vicente, without ever taking a pull himself, let alone saying thank you. Or even hello, for that matter.)
The point is, riders like these are the exception. But they’re the ones most drivers notice, just like we notice the one or two drivers who cut us off or pass too close, rather than the countless cars that passed us safely or waved us through the intersection. And then they assume that we all ride that way.
It’s not true, of course.
It does tend to be a self-correcting problem, though. Because no one who rides like that rides that way very long.
But it leaves the rest of us dealing with an image we don’t deserve. And angry drivers who blame us for problems we didn’t create.