We’ve all been there.
And if you haven’t yet, just keep riding and you will.
Sooner or later, some driver will take offense at how you ride, where you position yourself in the lane or the simple fact that a bike is taking up space on his road.
So he’ll show his anger by buzzing you, passing way too close for comfort, or maybe making a sudden right-hook turn or braking directly in front of you, forcing you to jam on your brakes to avoid a collision. See Thompson, Dr. Chistopher.
Or maybe it’s just someone who doesn’t have the good sense to put down her cell phone, blowing through a stop sign just as you were about to enter the intersection.
Whether it’s your skills or the fact that the driver has just enough sense and ability to avoid a collision, you escape unscathed but shaken. And mad as hell, wishing there was something you could do about it.
Even if you did call the police, the driver would be long gone before they could respond, or off the phone, or just deny everything. Or the police would tell you that they have to witness the infraction before they can do anything.
Which means you’re on your own and SOL.
That should be changing soon.
While the police may not be able to do something about a specific incident, they can do something about the larger trends, like policing intersections where cyclists frequently encounter problems or stationing officers along a stretch of roadway where drivers refuse to play nice.
The problem is making them aware of these issues.
Philadelphia police, working in conjunction with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, have addressed that by developing an online system that allows cyclists to report hazards, harassment, crashes and blocked bike lanes.
Locally, the LACBC recently forwarded a list of the city’s most dangerous intersections to the police as part of their work with the LAPD Bike Task Force, enabling officers to examine them and determine if the problem can be resolved through roadwork, better signage or tougher enforcement.
Meanwhile, Bikeside has worked with the LAPD, as part of that same task force, to develop an interactive map that combines police collision data with a system to report near misses, collisions, harassment and bike thefts. It not only gives you a way to report incidents you’ve experienced, but allows you to search for dangerous areas you might want to avoid or at least use a little more caution when you roll through.
As they say, forewarned is forearmed. Not that I’d recommend carrying weapons on your bike, as tempting as that might seem sometimes.
You’ll find a similar system for reporting crashes, hazards and thefts — without the integrated police data — at Bikewise.org.
And the LAPD is working with the Bike Task Force to develop an interactive system similar to the one in Philadelphia, which should be online later this year.
Now comes word that the London Metropolitan Police have developed an online system allowing anyone to report dangerous drivers and unsafe conditions. But it goes further by asking people to report uninsured or unlicensed drivers, as well as people who make a habit of drinking and driving.
Around here, it would also have to include a way to report drivers who consistently phone or text behind the wheel.
But if there’s any question whether their system works, consider this.
After a London driver honked, swore and swerved his car at a cyclist, the rider reported the incident on the Roadsafe London website. The police followed up by contacting the employer, which prompted the company to review their tapes from the car’s on-vehicle cam.
And then they promptly fired the driver.
Even if you use an online system to report an incident, you should still report crimes to the police by calling 911 for emergencies, or 1-877-ASK-LAPD (1-877-275-5273) for non-emergencies — and yes, you should have that programmed into your cell phone. And if there’s any question whether you should report an incident to the police, call them and let them figure it out.
After coming in for harsh criticism from Dr. Alex, LACBC explains the facts behind their recent grants, and how they intend to work with the South Bay Bicycle Coalition to develop an integrated bike plan for the South Bay area.
And yes, the work will be done by professionals with training and experience in the field, despite what you may have heard.
Thanks to Green LA Girl for the reminder about Thursday’s Bike Night at the Hammer, and the first ever Streetsblog Fundraiser this Friday at Eco-Village; Damien says admission to the Streetsblog event is a suggested donation, and no one will be turned away due to empty pockets.
Meet Congressional candidate Marcy Winograd when she speaks at Bikerowave on Wednesday. The L.A. Chapter of the American Institute of Architects endorses the 4th St. Bike Boulevard. Santa Monica unveils its draft Land Use and Circulation Element Wednesday; Gary explains why this matters to cyclists. A Claremont cyclist says an effective traffic signal button would work even better with a green bike box; I seriously want his banner art. Better directional bike signage is popping in Long Beach, even if they misdirect sometimes. The California Bicycle Museum is merging with the U.S. Bicycle Hall of Fame; bet you didn’t know either one existed. A Colorado Springs cyclist faces down a gun in a road rage incident. The bikefication of New York continues, with upcomming green bike lanes leading from the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. It’s spring, when a rider’s fancy turns to riding rough roads. How to pass a horse when you’re on a bike; that’s not a problem we have too often around here. EcoVelo offers a pretty picture from a springtime commute. I understand getting hit by a car, but how does a cyclist get hit by a train? Miami police investigate the outgoing mayor for corruption after he accepted a $321 bike from his staff, while Miami cyclists get tickets for doing exactly what the city encourages. In more Miami news, yes, that is Jamie Foxx on a bike. A little further north, drivers are an increasing danger to Jacksonville cyclists and pedestrians. Austin’s planned bike boulevard shrinks. A Vancouver cyclist struggles to reclaim his life nine years after an excruciating collision, while an Edmonton cyclist collars a firebug. A New Zealand truck driver is charged with killing a German tourist just three days after she wrote about the dangers of Kiwi truckers, while the family of a Christchurch cyclist says there was nothing she could have done to avoid a fatal collision. A London cyclist faces charges of involuntary manslaughter by recklessness and negligence after a fatal collision with a pedestrian. We Yanks might call it something else, but all cyclists seem to face that Oh Sod It, Just Carry On moment.
Finally, a Holland, Michigan cyclist looks at the bike path from the mindset of an impatient driver; some of the commenters don’t seem to get the joke.