Living on the Westside, I often ride through the grounds of the Veterans Center in Brentwood — a quiet, low traffic alternative to the area’s frequently gridlocked streets.
When I ride there, I remember that it exists to serve the people who’ve served our country. And that virtually everyone I see there is a veteran, or someone who has dedicated his or her career to helping them.
So I always bear in mind that I am a guest there, and try to act accordingly.
I stop for every stop sign. I signal. I wait patiently for slow-moving people to make their way through the crosswalk. And I make a point of looking into the faces of the people I pass, acknowledging that these are people who sacrificed a part of their lives for us.
So I was more than a little surprised by what happened there on my way home today.
As I approached the hospital grounds, I saw a man about a block ahead, crossing the street in his motorized wheelchair. But instead of rolling up onto the handicap-accessible sidewalk, he chose to ride in the street, on the wrong side, headed directly towards me.
I think he must have been a former navy man, because he gave every indication that he intended to ram my ship; he looked directly at me as he rolled straight towards me with all the speed his little chair could muster.
So I waited until he was about 10 feet away before giving a slight shrug of my left shoulder and swerving around him, passing with over six feet of clearance.
As I passed, I distinctly heard him say “fuck you!”
Now, I have no idea why he was angry, or why he picked me to take it out on. And it probably didn’t help his mood when I rode away, laughing out loud at the absurdity of the situation.
I don’t know if any motorists noticed my grin as I made my way home, or what they thought when I broke into random bouts of giggling — or outright laughter — as I sat waiting for various red lights to change.
But I did notice they gave me an unusually wide berth the rest of the way home.
The 2010 Tour of California will feature two L.A. area stages next May; and yes, Lance and his new team will be there. Dr. Alex looks at a typical bike lane in L.A.’s bike-friendly neighbor to the west, and notes why you shouldn’t try to reclaim your stolen bike yourself. Metro’s new blog says more bike lockers are coming to Metro stations. Bicycle Cop Dave defends Downtown in a new webcomic, starting next week. Indianapolis cyclists question their Bike Friendly City award, too. In Arizona, a right hook apparently isn’t illegal — unless you do it to a bike cop. In Texas, sharrows and bike boxes are considered experimental; in L.A., they’re non-existent. Bike helmets are dorky and unnecessary, until you need one. A Chicago writer lists the best and worst things about bike commuting. A Portland study shows 90% of cyclists also own a car — which means they have a license, pay gas taxes and carry insurance, despite what the bike haters claim. Finally, this is what we miss by not having a real autumn in L.A.