Tag Archive for anti-bike harassment

They drive among us: Letter writer threatens all cyclists for the water-squirting actions of one

I recently received the following letter from an anonymous source.

I’m told the writer, a Hollywood screenwriter, has circulated it among his friends as a joke. Apparently, one of them didn’t think it was funny.

I can’t imagine anyone else would, either. Let’s hope he specializes in horror; if he’s a comedy writer, he’s in the wrong business.

My source also said he may be trying to get the letter published. So I’m going to do him a favor and publish it for him.

Read it for yourself, and we’ll discuss afterwards.

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Let’s answer that last question first.

No one who isn’t a psychopath is likely to accept that invitation.

Now let’s get this out of the way.

The cyclist who squirted his girlfriend was a jerk. By the simple act of squirting her with water, he committed misdemeanor assault, punishable with a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in county jail.

So let that be your warning.

But it was water. Unless his pretty 20-something girlfriend is a witch, she probably didn’t suffer any lasting injury.

And let’s not forget she was breaking the law by parking in the bike lane, which, despite the perceptions of some people — apparently including our humble letter writer — wasn’t striped on the street to provide a waiting zone or a secondary parking lane.

Under California law, a bike lane is a legal lane of traffic reserved for bicycles, just as HOV lanes are reserved for vehicles with two or more occupants.

And on a busy street like Main, blocking the bike lane can force riders out into traffic, risking their safety in front of drivers who are more focused on finding a parking space than looking for bikes where they don’t expect them.

If the guy on the bike had been hit by a car, she could have been held liable, at least in part, for any injuries he suffered as a result.

Yes, what the guy did was wrong. But so was what the woman in the car did.

And the writer of this letter clearly doesn’t get that.

Then there’s this notion.

Not a Saturday morning goes by that I don’t witness some menace on wheels screaming “Hey watch where you’re going asshole!” at a peaceful and law abiding driver.

Which, unless he encounters an unusual number of mentally unstable people on two wheels, is highly unlikely; few cyclists feel a need to yell at “peaceful and law abiding” drivers.

Unless maybe they’re yelling at him.

Perhaps he just doesn’t understand traffic law well enough to recognize when drivers put people on bikes in needless danger. Like his girlfriend’s parking issues, for instance.

Which leads us to the real problem with this letter, and the person who wrote it.

Back in my starving writer days, the convenience store where I worked nights was robbed by a couple of kids in their early teens. One of whom had to talk his friend out of shooting me to see what it felt like to kill a white guy.

That marked the beginning of a multi-week crime spree that culminated in their arrest for pistol whipping another clerk so badly that he lost an eye.

I could have concluded, as have some I’ve had the misfortune of knowing, that all members of that particular ethnic group, or maybe minorities in general, were somehow to blame.

Even though that would have included my boss, her boss, and the friend-of-a-friend psychologist who volunteered over two hours of his time to talk me through it. Not to mention the woman I was dating at the time.

Yet this writer somehow blames every spandex-wearing person on two wheels for the action of one.

Never mind that some of those who appear to be riding recreationally may actually be riding to work, as part of the group he immediately absolves of collective guilt.

And never mind that some people at the agency that represents him are undoubtedly cyclists themselves. Not to mention at least a few of the studio execs capable of greenlighting his projects.

Which is I’m withholding his name.

It would easy — and admittedly, tempting — to let his own words destroy his career. But rather than grasping just how foolish he was in writing this letter, it would probably just reinforce his belief that we’re the evil creatures he thinks we are.

That brings us to his self-professed life of crime, which ranges from vandalism and simple assault, to criminal stalking and assault with a deadly weapon. Not to mention inciting violence by encouraging others to do the same.

His plan to repeatedly brake-check groups of cyclists — what he calls the “speed up slow down tactic’ — is exactly what got Dr. Christopher Thompson sentenced to four years hard time for slamming on his brakes in front of three riders in Mandeville Canyon.

And we’ll ignore his final chloroform fantasy, which he should take a good whiff of the next time he’s tempted to dash off another letter like this.

So on behalf of recreational bike riders everywhere, I’d like to apologize to his girlfriend, while politely suggesting that she watch where she parks in the future. And maybe reconsider her taste in men.

As for the letter writer, maybe he’d like to join us for a bike ride some time. And see that there’s another way to see the world in which bike riders aren’t the bad guys he thinks we are.

Once he calms down, that is.

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Check back this afternoon for today’s Morning Links.

Morning Links: Brake-checking driver harasses cyclist; curb-jumping drivers don’t get Redondo bike lanes

The problem with sharrows is that they put you right in the path of drivers.

Impatient, road-raging and brake-checking drivers, at times, as cyclist Michael Schinderling learned out the hard way while riding on Fountain Ave in Los Angeles.

The driver first honks, then repeatedly slams on his brakes in front of him. Even though Schinderling was riding exactly where the sharrows indicate he should be.

The big problem with LA’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance is that it’s so hard to get proof that a driver deliberately antagonized a rider.

But this looks like an open-and-shut case.

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Caught on video: Those new Redondo Beach separated bike lanes seem to be working well. Except for curb-jumping drivers who can’t seem to figure out why the traffic lane is green and there are so many bikes in it.

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American cyclist Tyler Farrar is heading back to the Tour de France as part of the first African-based pro team, while Tejay van Garderen is older and wiser and says he’s ready for the challenge. The Wall Street Journal asks why no Latin American rider has won the Tour de France, as Nairo Quintana attempts to become the first.

Meanwhile, former pro team leader Bjarne Riis chose to ignore doping by his riders. Or more likely, tacitly encouraged it, if not openly.

Cycling Weekly looks at the best bike tans in the peloton. Dutch police evidently feel the best way to get a new collective bargaining agreement is to delay riders in the Tour de France, thus ensuring it won’t besmirch their country again.

And sad news from the UK, as a British bike racer was killed in a collision with another rider last weekend.

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Local

The LA-area’s Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) wants your input on a new regional transportation plan.

State Assemblymember Richard Bloom and two Westside councilmembers say Metro is going the wrong way with plans for a bike share system that will be incompatible with systems opening soon in Long Beach and Santa Monica, and as well as systems planned for West Hollywood, UCLA and yes, the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills.

San Gabriel gets a new bike lane on Las Tunas Drive.

Santa Clarita opens a new 1.5 mile stretch of the Santa Clarita River Trail, including a bike bridge over the Los Angeles aqueduct.

A Long Beach councilwoman will host a bike safety program for kids from 9 to 17 years old next week.

The second Tour de Laemmle will roll on July 19th, as Greg Laemmle invites you to ride with him on all or part of a 125+ mile tour of all the Laemmle Theaters.

 

State

Santa Ana conducts a reverse road diet, forcing long-time residents out of their homes to make room for an added lane and bike lanes on Warner Ave, as the OC Register says evicted residents will have to be made whole.

A bike rider suffered major injuries in a collision with a pickup in Anaheim on Tuesday; a comment on Bike Forums suggests the victim was riding in the crosswalk over the onramp to the 57. Thanks to Mike Wilkinson for the link.

Big oops from the Bay, as San Francisco retracts a report that a new bikeway saw a 651% jump in bike traffic; the actual figures ranged from a 12% to 62% increase depending on time of day. You’d think someone would have noticed that those numbers seemed just a tad high before sending out the press release.

Oakland is planning to trade traffic lanes for bike lanes, with twelve road diets proposed for the next three years; needless to say, bike riders are thrilled while motorists are worried. Maybe Oakland could explain how the process works to Santa Ana.

The Marin tech exec who viciously beat a driver who clipped him with his mirror has been found guilty of felony battery and misdemeanor assault; he faces up to four years in prison. Seriously, never resort to violence. Period.

 

National

Tragic news from Las Vegas, as a 16-year old boy riding without ID was hit by a car last week; he died the next day before family members learned about the wreck and he could be identified.

A Utah driver has plead guilty to intentionally running down a bike rider with whom he had an adversarial relationship.

Evidently, the penalty in Texas for riding a bike without lights is to get Tased, then beaten after falling off your bike. Thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up.

An Iowa man is back on his bike six months after losing a leg to complications from diabetes; he’ll be riding in the Tour de Cure this weekend.

Needless to say, Chicago business owners are worried about the loss of parking with the city’s first curb-protected bike lane; Chicagoist asks if it will be good for business. Bikes are usually good for business. And there’s something seriously wrong if your customers won’t walk a few extra feet to do business with you.

A Maine driver is accused of intentionally running down a 10-year old boy on a bike over a dispute with the kid’s mother; unbelievably, the man was released on just $1,000 bail — despite using his car as a weapon to attack a child.

Just days after an LA bike rider was attacked with a machete in an attempted bike theft, a machete-swinging road-raging PA teenager attacked a cyclist and his fiancée, who used his bike to defend themselves.

The Baltimore Sun says bike helmets aren’t ugly anymore, while The Week offers a look at six bike helmets of the future. Can we just get one that actually protects against concussions and other serious brain injuries in real world collisions?

A Georgia website offers advice on how to get a red light to change for your bike.

A cyclist rides 1,400 miles up the East Coast while towing his dog and a cargo trailer.

 

International

Here we go again, as a Facebook page devoted to shaming law-breaking Victoria BC cyclists devolves into a hotbed of anti-bike hatred.

Two Edmonton councilors call for ripping out bike lanes on three streets, calling them unsafe and underutilized.

Cyclists halt London traffic to protest the death of yet another young woman killed by a truck while riding to work. Although not everyone was willing to show a little respect.

Caught on video: The UK’s “vigilante cyclist” catches a woman texting behind the wheel with two kids in her car. I see something similar almost every time I ride. Like a woman who was steering with her knees as she texted with her kids in the back seat.

A pair of Good Samaritans pitch in to replace a British nurse’s bike after it was stolen from outside her apartment.

A Brit bike rider gets a year in jail for killing a 73-year old woman in a collision while riding a brakeless BMX.

Switzerland is telling e-bike riders to slow down, following a rise in single-vehicle bike wrecks due to riders misjudging their speed and stopping times.

India gets its first cycling café in the “Detroit of India” even though the city doesn’t have a single bike lane.

Australian bike riders may soon be allowed to ride on sidewalks in the state of Victoria, but could face on-the-spot fines for using a handheld phone. So what happens if they can’t pay? Are they arrested on the spot?

“Selfish” Aussie cyclists are accused of illegally riding in high-speed bus-only lanes to avoid slower bikeways.

Don’t ride under the influence in Japan, don’t report a falling down drunk bike rider to the police, and don’t ride with groceries on your handlebars.

 

Finally…

It takes a bold thief to ride off with a bike cop’s bike as she stood just a few feet away. Caught on video: an Ohio bird defends his territory against a cyclist. Or maybe he just doesn’t like they guy’s taste in bike helmets.

And a new study from the University of Duh confirms that marijuana use impairs driving. Next up, a study confirming that it gives people the munchies, too.

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I need to find a better name for the Morning Links, since I seem to be temporally challenged these days. Chain Links is too cutsie, while Bike News seems a little dull.

Any suggestions?

Weekend Links: A massive list o’links and a whopping videopalooza

It’s a veritable link and video-palooza today on BikinginLA.

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Caught on video: This is what anti-bike harassment looks like, in all it’s brutal ugliness.

Here in LA, this video would be all the evidence needed to file — and win — a suit against the driver under the city’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

Instead, the Kentucky cyclist, Cherokee Schill, was charged and convicted for the crime of riding a bike in the traffic lane. And the police look the other way when she’s threatened and harassed by angry motorists.

Which is a polite way of saying they don’t give a damn because they don’t think she belongs there to begin with.

Fortunately, she’s less than $200 away from the $10,000 needed to appeal her illegal conviction.

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Caught on video: Before Governor Brown signed the current three-foot passing law, he vetoed a much better version that would have allowed drivers to briefly cross the center line to pass cyclists when it was safe to do so, fearing endless carnage and lawsuits.

Even though the state is largely immune from being sued. But still.

Evidently, it’s not that big a deal, as this video from the Austin TX police department shows.

Any chance we could get Brown to watch this?

No, I didn’t think so.

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Caught on video: An irate woman berates a Chicago cyclist for riding on the sidewalk, nearly getting herself arrested in the process. And being unclear on the concept, tells him to ride in the street before wishing he gets hit by a car, which is probably why he was on the sidewalk to begin with.

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Caught on video: I missed this one earlier this year, as three cyclists experience a viscous goathead attack on the San Gabriel River trail. Thanks to David Wolfberg for the link.

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And one more while we’re at it.

Caught on video: Wolfpack Hustle offers video of the recent Huntington Park Gran Prix.

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Good advice, as a writer suggests three things all cyclists should do.

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Great idea. UCLA is hosting Bike (Re)cycling Day on Sunday the 19th; the university’s police and transportation departments will give out free abandoned bikes and parts to UCLA students, staff and faculty members.

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If you hurry, you may still be able to make one last training ride today before next Saturday’s first ever El Gran Fondo de Angeles Crest. And my apologies for not getting this notice up sooner.

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Local

Okay, so it’s not bike related. But in an apparent case of induced demand, travel times on the 405 freeway have increased a full minute following the $1 billion —that’s billion with a b — project to add an HOV lane through the Sepulveda pass.

Good news for Valley cyclists, as the second phase of the San Fernando Road bike path opens.

Turns out there will be three workshops to discuss the Las Virgenes Malibu Regional Bike Master Plan, in Malibu on the 21st, Westlake Village on the 22nd and Calabasas on the 23rd of this month.

The Pasadena Star-News calls out one of the San Gabriel Valley’s most bike unfriendly cities while endorsing Eric Sunada for Alhambra city council. Thanks to Wesley Reutimann for the tip.

Haven’t checked in with Cycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson for awhile; here he puts the great helmet debate in perspective.

 

State

Evidently, the DMV has reworked their website and made everything harder to find, including bike laws.

Around 4,000 people took part in last Sunday’s first ever Santa Ana ciclovia.

A San Diego writer says the new three-foot law will increase tensions with drivers, but gets it right in calling for more protected bike lanes. Another writer on the same site calls cyclists “scourges of the road,” while decrying that bikes aren’t required to stay three feet from drivers; seriously, I could spend all day just pointing out the fallacies in this piece of bikelash drivel.

Palm Springs gets its first bike corral.

Caltrans did the right thing for a change, building a pedestrian bridge and off-road bike path connecting Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties as part of a six-mile carpool lane project; I’m told it has dramatically improved safety for riders along the coast highway. Thanks to Alan for the heads-up.

Too typical. Santa Cruz creates up a sandwich sign to warn drivers to give cyclists three feet. Then puts it in the bike lane.

Yet another teenage driver faces charges in the hit-and-run death of a bike rider, this time in Milpitas.

A Monterrey couple ride 2,300 miles to attend their 50th reunion in Kansas.

San Francisco cyclists are the victims of violent assaults to steal the bikes they’re riding.

 

National

A blogger offers a great list of some truly badass biking women, including Elly Blue and our own Nona Varnado.

In the latest attempt to thin the herd by enabling more distracted drivers, a new app promises to let drivers use all their apps behind the wheel.

Despite that, it looks like the Feds are finally taking bike safety seriously, as the Department of Transportation releases new guidelines to make the streets safer for you and me. Maybe they could ban the use of onboard computer systems by drivers next.

A bike-friendly Portland convenience store finds sales exceed expectations, as 34% of customers arrive some way other than driving.

Unclear on the concept. An Ohio driver complains about cyclists riding in the traffic lane, then insists bike riders need to act like motorists.

Yet another caught on video, but one that can’t be embedded: A cyclist accuses a Penn university cop of using excessive force in a confrontation partially caught on camera.

After a New York driver runs down a cyclist from behind — and is found at fault by her own insurance company — she sues the victim for damaging her car. No, really.

Bike Snob introduces you to suddenly bike-friendly New York.

 

International

Here’s what’s wrong with London’s pie-in-the-sky proposals that would remove bike riders from the street.

“Old men in limos” are working behind the scenes to derail London’s plan for separated bike lanes.

The Daily Mail freaks out when Kerri Russell rides a bike sans helmet and talking on a cell phone.

A former British soldier recalls liberating a Dutch town in World War II by bicycle 70 years ago.

Sad to see Andy Schleck retire from pro racing at 29, after a career that started with such promise.

Okay, so maybe bicycling isn’t really the fastest form of transportation in Perth. Then again, the results might be a little different coming from a less biased source, no?

 

Finally…

Probably not a good idea to ask your Twitter followers to shoot another bike journalist, even if you’re not serious. Or especially if you are. If you profess to be a psychic, don’t channel a recently fallen rider, all the details of which could probably be found by picking up the local paper.

And one more benefit of bicycling — you probably won’t have a secret police file from scanning your license plates.

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Thanks to John Hall for his generous donation to help support this site.  

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