Now she gets it.
Maybe you remember a couple weeks ago when the internet blew up over a bike-hating video from a woman who was quickly identified as a reserve Santa Paula police officer.
Even though, as it turned out, Laura Weintraub was only peripherally associated with the department, helping out around the office a few hours a week. She was never a patrol officer, and never in a position to enforce the law, fairly or otherwise.
And the bike-friendly department she barely worked for got an undeserved black eye based on the comments of someone who should have known better.
It wasn’t like the anger we all felt wasn’t justified.
Weintraub’s failed attempt at humor fell into a long list of shock jocks, newspaper columnists, comedians, online commenters and just plain anti-social jerks who can’t seem to understand that bike riders have as much a right to the road as they do.
And that we’re all just people trying to get from here to there in one piece.
They somehow seem to think the idea of running us over or off the road is outrageously funny. And fail to grasp the concept that a simple tap that would be nothing more than a fender bender between cars could result in serious injury — or worse — if it was with a cyclist, instead.
I was as outraged as anyone.
Yet somehow felt that in our anger, we were missing out on a teachable moment. One that could allow us to reach out to the Santa Paula police, and maybe even drivers like Weintraub herself, to educate them on our rights and how to drive safely around us. And why.
Turns out, a lot of people read that piece.
Including Laura Weintraub.
So I was surprised when I opened my inbox a few days later to find an email from the alleged bike hater herself, asking if we could talk.
When we spoke on the phone a few days later, I found a very caring and contrite young woman who realized she’d made the biggest mistake of her life. And had listened to the angry comments directed her way, and truly got just how and why she was so wrong, and why we were all so upset with her.
A typical motorist, she had never seen us from anything other than a windshield perspective, unaware of our right to the road and the dangers we face on a daily basis from drivers just like her.
She’d never put herself in our position, literally or figuratively, she said.
But she wanted to.
So I agreed to meet with her, and take her on a ride through the relatively quiet streets of Santa Monica and Venice, unwilling to throw a neophyte rider into the deep end on more challenging streets.
Even that brief tour through tame traffic scared her. But somehow, she held her own, remembering the riding tips she’d gotten from me, as well as cycling instructor Stanley Appleman the day before.
She also picked my brain in an attempt to truly understand the dangers we face, and what we can do to make peace on the roads with people like her.
Or at least, like the way she’d been a few weeks before.
She’s changed. She truly gets it.
She’s doing her best to make amends. Not to improve her badly tarnished reputation, but to fix the mistake she made.
And talk to the people out there who might have found the humor in her previously video, and explain to them and other like-minded drivers that we’re all just people, on two wheels or four.
But don’t take my word for it.
Take a look at her latest video, and decide for yourself.
And let’s stop the death threats. Against her or anyone else, no matter how deserved you think they may be.
Just like her earlier video, it’s not funny.
And never appropriate.
If we have to get every bike-hating driver out in the streets to get our perspective on using the roads we will never get drivers to stop killing.
Thanks for doing this. Far better way to change minds. Wish we could have gotten her to see a ghost bike. The only issue is how do we get the rest of drivers to see this? Can we get this to go equally as viral? Not likely.
Well bravo for her. Restoring a little bit of faith in the human race. I wanted to comment the same on the video itself but comments are disabled. Oh well.
She gets comments in fb. If the video is not watched remember this; she says she last rode 20 years ago. It remains to be seen if now she can really NOW talk her age instead as well. I would like someone to invite her to on video explain the satire of every line previously objected to. Unedited. I have not taken the time to prove it was not satire as most confidently conclude. She fears prosecution apparently if she concedes it fell short of actually being merely wrongfully taken too much at face value. Real satire is too important to confuse and abuse by immodest claim of it. As a bicyclist she can noe speak satiricalally about how she would rather be tailgated by panting drivers then honked at by speeding grandmas. She can strip naked in ten days after flying to join a new annual nude ride to be far less lewd and this time jn a good way be rude on the tube.
Nice. Good job Ted.
Congratulations to Ted for helping Laura see the other side of the story, and for helping her to make lemonade out of lemons. I think motorists and cyclists will be all the better for this effort. Kudos.
Great job! Thanks Ms. Weintraub for working to right the wrong.
This not only brought a tear to The Militant’s eye, it restored his faith in humanity. A little bit.
Ted! Great job on staying on the high road, and encouraging others do so as well. Much appreciated.
Social media works. She has a lot of people who view her videos. Maybe after watching this video some of them won’t have to actually ride on the road themselves to see the bicyclist perspective a bit better.
That said, I still say the most effective approach to achieving safety and comfort riding in all kinds of traffic and road conditions is nipping road rage in the bud by using control and release augmented with mirror use.
That means defaulting to using the full lane, keeping yourself apprised of conditions behind you, as well as ahead, with periodic mirror glances, and moving aside when safe, reasonable and necessary to facilitate overtaking. Once you get the timing down, you experience multiple nods, waves and smiles on every single ride, and anger only a few times per year.
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Laura, you are a great person for admitting your mistake and trying to correct it. The world would be better if more people followed your example. Thank you for being open minded. Hope you ride your bike everyday. Cycling is a lot fun. Think about a goal of doing a 50 mile ride sometime this year and a charity century ride next year. I recommend Team in Training for Leukemia and Lymphoma and America’s Most Beautiful Ride in Lake Tahoe in early June.
Out of curiosity, Ted: did Laura happen to mention if she came to the idea of riding in our shoes on her own? Or did/does she have a support group of people around her who helped her understand the vitriol aimed at her and brainstormed some next steps that included the two rides?
Either way, I guess it doesn’t make a difference. I know if it had been me, I wouldn’t have been able to understand without others to help me, and therefore unable to make a decision about an intelligent course of action.
Her primary support group was her mother, who helped her with the new video; I think they came up with the idea together. And give her mom credit for raising a great daughter. Not many people would take in the kind of criticism she got, let alone have the courage to publicly say she was wrong — then do something about it.
Long time since I’ve commented here (still reading from time to time though Ted), but brilliant video and well done both Ted & Laura. I just wish more could have that lightbulb moment.
Glad to know you’re still around, my friend; I’ve missed the reports from our Kiwi correspondent. Hope life is treating you well!
It is. I’m living over in Austalia now. Enjoying a climate more like that of LA than of Seattle, with better pay! 🙂
Interesting, but WHY is the cycling press calling the original video a “failed attempt at humor”? It was an expression of vile hatred towards a group she feels is “different” than her. It only became “humor” and “satire” after she was called out for her hatred. Enough!
Well, she claimed it was supposed to be “funny” or “satirical” and it was most definitely a failed attempt, in addition to being an expression of hate.
Good for you. Working with people is the only way this is going to get better. Well done and even though I’m suspect of her intentions – good for her.
My only critique – and it’s a small one – there is no reason to make such a note of “bad apples on both sides” which was a theme throughout. Yes, of course there are bike riders who are bad apples and do a disservice to the rest of us. However, there are 2 large variables at play in this situation. First, her original video she was making fun of and threatening bike riders who were doing NOTHING wrong and EVERYTHING right. They were riding to the right, they were signaling – they were sharing the road. They weren’t running stop signs are kicking cars in traffic (examples of bad apples and the stop sign is debatable, but I digress). Second, it’s almost a moot point as anyway as a bike is ZERO threat to anyone in a car. About the worst we could do is damage their quarter panel – while most likely destroying our bike and hurting the driver.
So why apologize? She was 100% in the wrong. End of story.
We as riders have to change the narrative. These aren’t “accidents” these are acts of negligence where bodily harm or death occurs. I’ll be the first person not to flip off a bad driver (cause what’s it’s gonna change) or give a tongue lashing to the idiot who rides like an idiot, but I think we should stand firm when we’re in the right and they are in the wrong.
Anyway, great job. I commend you wholeheartedly.
Thank you. Just a brief explanation of the “both sides” comment.
Her video is was actually directed more to drivers such as herself who just don’t get our right to the road, or the dangers riders face when we ride. Those are the people who, like she did in her previous video, as you note, will point the finger at lawbreaking bike riders as “proof” that we’re the problem.
By acknowledging that there are jerks on both sides, I wanted to move past the “us vs them” arguments, and on to a more honest discussion of our right to the road and the need for everyone to ride and bike safely.
Whether that message gets through to people like that is to be determined.
Riding far right isn’t always the safest thing and it isn’t always the right thing. Using the full lane is not equivalent to not sharing the road.
If I have any complaint about this latest video, it’s that they are riding far right in a few places where it is dangerous to ride far right.
[…] Santa Paula reserve police officer who resigned due to her YouTube rant against bikes has had a change of […]