Earlier this week, I was cut off by a driver who pulled out from a side street without ever looking in my direction.
So I jerked on my brakes and yelled out a warning. And he responded by calling me an asshole before speeding on his way.
So let me get this straight.
He drives in a careless manner, putting other people’s lives at risk. But I’m the asshole for trying to avoid getting killed?
Or maybe just being on the planet?
Fortunately, experiences — and drivers — like that are the exception.
Santa Monica Spoke member and bike advocate Eric Weinstein had a couple of much better encounters recently, demonstrating that there is hope for détente on our streets.
And that maybe things are better out there than it seems sometimes.
Sunday I was cycling back from a bar near Universal City. So, I’m southbound on Cahuenga Bvld, through the pass, which I expect to be difficult, with a narrow road and fast cars. Well…the auto traffic is conveniently stopped on most of the downhill portion. About 3/4 of a mile of cars: all nose to tail, not moving at all.
They can’t hurt you if they’re not moving! Nice!
So, I ride between the lanes and arrive at the Hollywood Bowl entrance intersection. There is an event starting, with a bunch of traffic and police types, and everyone waits for quite a few minutes until the cross traffic is stopped. When it’s time to go, the traffic officer points to me and says “You first.” I go, all alone, and she holds the rest for at least 30 seconds, which gives me time to accelerate to speed, take the lane, etc. Nice!
Then I get to Highland and Hollywood Boulevard, where my route turns right. Another line of cars, all turning right, all stopped by a traffic guy and a large bunch of pedestrians in the crosswalk. I cruise up the outside, because you all know you do not want to be between a car and a right turn!
When I get to the head of the line, the cop asks me “ You turning right?” “Yep” I say. Where else would I be going stopped at a right turn. The pedestrian mob ends, and he points to me and says “Go now!” and he holds the rest of the cars until I’m well clear. Nice! And much safer.
Are there new instructions on this to the Hollywood Traffic police? Have any other cyclists been allowed go first like that? This was a great experience! I really felt that a cyclist belonged in traffic.
The following day, I was biking down Colorado in Santa Monica near 20th. It was the part where it’s pretty commercial — the road is two lanes per side with some parking, some curb. It’s reasonably wide.
An unfortunately typical thing happens – the squeeze. When I bike there, I take 1/3 of the lane, putting me just outside the door zone. At almost 20 mph I expect the cars to follow me until there is room to pass in the lane to their left. When there’s room on my right I put over to let them past.
What surprised me was that a small silver sports car could just squeeze by in the 2/3 of a lane remaining at about 35 mph. Always brings that feeling of mortality when there’s a car zooming by right next to your handlebar.
Sometimes, though, you catch them at the next light. That’s what happened this time, so I put up next to the open passenger side window and say “Hey” to the driver.
The driver is a blond woman, who is hunched over, looking down and texting! She is very, very startled as she realizes someone is talking to her from outside the car and sits up, looking guilty. I say, “You just did the same thing to me back there!”
Pause while she (maybe) remembers passing me a minute ago. If anything she looks more guilty. Next I say “Please don’t text!” She says apologetically “I wasn’t texting back there.”
“Please leave more space when you pass,” I say. “Sorry,” she says. And I think she means it. She really looked very embarrassed.
The light changes, and we drive off. I think she got it.
And, I hope, another driver converted to changing their ways.
Something tells me that the driver I encountered wouldn’t have responded quite so well had I been able to catch him.
Not that I tried, of course.
As you may recall, Stephanie Segal is currently facing charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run for the death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last year. Laing was riding in the bike lane on Agoura Road when Segal allegedly ran him down, with a blood alcohol content of .26%.
Now, in what promises to be a very emotional day, Victim Impact Statements are scheduled to be heard on September 7th, starting at 8:30 am in Department 1 of the Malibu Courthouse, 23525 Civic Center Way.
Cyclists are urged to attend to show support for the victim and his family. I’m told that a room full of riders in bike jerseys would make a real statement to the court and offer comfort to the family; however, wear long pants, because shorts — bike or otherwise — are not allowed in the courtroom.
Bicycling offers a look at the top contenders and 3 stages to watch in next week’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, aka Tour of Colorado. It doesn’t bode well for the Pro Cycling Challenge that another Colorado bike race is sabotaged. Mark Cavendish and his HTC-Highroad team want to win one last grand tour at the Vuelta before the team is dissolved at the end of this season.
And then there’s this:
Q. Do you think Lance cheated?
A. Evelyn Stevens. Marianne Vos. Emma Pooley. Jeannie Longo. Kristin Armstrong.
Those are just five of the hundreds of female pro cyclists who deserve more attention and discussion than the question of whether Lance cheated.
That beautiful, brilliant response comes from competitive cyclist Kathryn Bertine, along with her responses to nine other questions cyclists get asked.
The L.A. Weekly decides the city’s new bike plan is already in trouble, just four months after it was adopted. Richard Risemberg points out that the biking black hole of Beverly Hills has a golden opportunity to do something that would benefit cyclists — and everyone else. Stephen Box says Metrolink passes the bike friendly test. Leading bike scribe and advocate Elly Blue’s Dinner & Bikes tour comes to Santa Monica on Saturday, September 10th; word is another local date is in the works on Monday the 12th. More on Temple City’s plans to construct the city’s first bikeway with separated bike lanes on Rosemead Ave. Long Beach makes a long leap towards livability. The L.A. firefighters riding to New York for 9/11 make a side trip to visit the victims of the Joplin MO tornado.
Two Orange County teenagers are under arrest for shooting passing cyclists with a BB gun. San Diego’s Courteous Mass and Critical Manners ride may not bring about world peace, but it’s a start. A driver gets two-years for killing a cyclist in a Bay Area hit-and-run. A Cupertino cyclist rides across Iowa at age 70 after taking up riding just last winter.
As usual, Bob Mionske nails it with a look at internet trolls who respond to every cycling news story from a highly biased and usually inaccurate windshield perspective. Bicycling says follow this diet, and you’ll be able to ride longer on less food and never bonk. Another example showing cyclists are at least as likely as pedestrians to be seriously injured in a collision between the two; oddly, I don’t hear anyone calling for dangerous scofflaw pedestrians to be taxed and licensed. Five easy steps to buying your next bike; they forgot to mention step six, which is finding a way to pay for it. After the rear cyclist on a tandem is killed in a collision, a witness is arrested for going through their belongings. So let me get this straight — did a teenage cyclist riding in a crosswalk dart out and hit a passing truck, or did the driver ignore the girl riding in the crosswalk and cut her off? Springfield Cyclist asks if you’ve ever done anything dumber than locking your bike to a post without the key; maybe that’s what happened here. An Ohio driver is charged with killing a bike-riding judge while driving with a blood alcohol content of nearly .29. New York cyclists may have won the lawsuit over the popular Prospect Park West bike lanes, but some local residents still think they suck — the cyclists and the bike lanes, that is. The sore losers at the Daily News complain about NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s highhanded ways; then again, they’d probably complain if she picked up the tab for drinks. Our North Carolina friend Zeke points out that road rage is relative, as drivers patiently line up behind a slow moving tractor without a single horn or finger.
A Canadian cyclist is injured after firecrackers are thrown from a passing car. A Vancouver cyclist is fighting British Columbia’s mandatory helmet law in court; although a little helmet hair isn’t a bad trade-off when your skull is at stake. A 10-year old Brit cyclist is impaled on his handlebars; fortunately, he’ll survive, but this seems to happen far more often than it should. Cyclists and driveways don’t have to be in conflict. Sydney bike riders would feel safer using the city’s bikeways if pedestrians and buses wouldn’t.
Finally, genius must have skipped a generation, as a bike thief is arrested after mentioning on his Facebook page that the bike he’s trying to sell is stolen.
And after nearly getting turned into bug splatter by a stop sign-running VW Beetle on my way home Wednesday night, I’ve come to the conclusion that my last words on this planet may very well be “Oh fu…!”
But then, aren’t we supposed to be the ones who run stop signs?