I set off yesterday for a long ride, on a route that took me south on Ocean Avenue through Santa Monica.
Thanks to a slight decline, it’s easy to build up speed along there, so I was doing a relatively easy 25 mph as I approached California Ave. Maybe you know it, where the bike lane moves a little to the left, to make room for a right turn lane on the right.
Naturally, I was keeping a close eye on traffic, when I saw a small pickup truck heading north on Ocean drive past the intersection, then make a wide, looping U-turn right in front of me. So I slammed on my brakes to avoid a collision, and watched as she swung all the way across the road, into that right turn lane leading down to the California Incline.
Evidently, waiting in line with all those other cars to make that left at California had been just too much effort for her.
By the time she completed that maneuver, though, the light had changed, and she had to sit there and watch as all those cars who had patiently waited for their chance to turn left — instead of making an illegal U-turn in a vain attempt to speed up the process — went in through in front of her.
So while she sat there at the red light, waiting for the traffic she had tried to skip go by, I found myself rolling up right next to her in the bike lane — and right next to her open driver’s-side window.
Of course, keeping my mouth shut under such circumstances would require more self control than I would ever claim to possess. And certainly more than I’ve demonstrated in the past.
But before I could open my mouth, my mind flashed on Will Campbell’s description of keeping his cool during a confrontation with a driver.
So trying to keep my voice as even as possible, I asked, “Did you even know that I was there?” What I really meant was, did she even care? But I was making a conscious effort to be nice and as non-confrontational as possible.
Her answer was a non-committal “Yeah,” so I pressed my luck. “That’s a very dangerous thing to do when someone is bearing down on you that fast,” I said. “I could have rear-ended you.”
She looked up at me for the first time, and said simply, “Yeah, my bad.”
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the heartfelt apology I was hoping for, but under the circumstances, I’ll take it.
Of course, unlike Will, I wasn’t dealing with a young Mustang-driving man hopped up on testosterone — just a young woman who gave every indication of being at least a half-bowl into her day already.
But still, everyone stayed calm. No one got mad. No voices were raised. No one suggested performing any anatomically impossible acts. And no one’s day was ruined, as we both went our separate ways.
So I have to admit it, Will.
You may just be on to something.
In today’s news, Streetsblog reports the conventions may not be so bike-unfriendly after all. Gary continues his tales of the recent AIDS LifeCycle ride down the Pacific coast. Will once again stands up to evil doers by riding Ballona Creek. Somehow I missed this post from Alex, in which the L.A.P.D. shows more maturity than the Culver City cops. Bicycle Fixation notes that the privileged set is starting to show a little responsibility, as well. Delaware discovers it’s not easy to build a bike culture in a car-centric state. Yeah, tell me about it. A Pennsylvania congressional candidate campaigns by bike. And finally, a Tampa cyclist pledges to ride a 100 mile Tour de Donut if the Rays clinch a playoff spot. Looks like a safe bet if any Dodger fans who want to join in.
Speaking as someone with similar temperament to Will and yourself, I’m pretty sure this reaction by Will was waaay outside the norm. I think it’s the best reaction in most situations, but it’s rare that I can muster the discipline/patience.
Indeed Alex, not only did I surprise myself, but our friend Mr. Rollerz as well, whose witnessed first hand several of my past tirades.
I’ve been trying to keep my cool more then used to, but it’s definitely hard sometimes when you see people behaving in a manner that could seriously hurt or kill someone. Especially for the sake of saving a couple seconds, or as often the case not saving anytime at all when they hit the next light.