Tag Archive for cyclists

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.

You’re a cyclist. Get over it.

A Toronto writer, citing a recent article on PubliCola, says we need fewer cyclists. And more people who ride bikes.

Please.

I understand that it’s the fashion these days to ridicule those who have the audacity to wear spandex and ride their bikes for recreation rather than transportation. And that those who ride casually, or in street clothes, or to and from work or the local market, feel a need to say “I’m not one of those people.”

As if your attire, style of riding and/or choice of bike didn’t say that already.

Although when exactly a concern about health and fitness, as well as athletic performance and just plain fun, became a bad thing, is beyond me.

But seriously.

No one benefits from getting caught up in a question of semantics.

A cyclist is simply someone who rides a cycle — in this case, short for bicycle, though those who ride motorcycles are also often referred to the same way. It’s meaning is no different from bicyclist, bike rider, rider, velo jockey, spokes person or yes, someone who rides a bike.

It doesn’t imply anything about the rider’s manner of dress, or purpose for or style of riding. It doesn’t mean you’re a racer, a Lance Armstrong wannabe or a lycra lout any more than it means that you do or don’t ride your bike to work everyday or around the block every other Sunday.

It doesn’t suggest that bicycling is the central aspect of your life anymore than describing all those people stuck in traffic on the freeway as drivers or motorists suggests that their lives revolve around their cars.

Even I spend more time writing about bicycling than I actually do in the saddle, dammit. Yet my life still revolves around my family and work far more than both of those combined.

And the only ones who benefit from drawing arbitrary distinctions between cyclists — excuse me, people who ride bikes — are the bike haters who would like nothing better than to dilute our strength by pitting one type of rider against another.

So face it.

You’re a cyclist. And a rider. And a hundred other equally apt ways of describing someone moves from Point A to Point B by two non-motorized wheels.

If you don’t like it, call yourself anything you damn well please.

But please. Seriously.

Get over it, already.

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More on the LAPD’s Critical Mass Takedown —

Both Streetsblog and LAist offer great wrap-ups on Tuesday night’s discussion at the BAC meeting in Hollywood, which included a surprise appearance by Chief Beck. Streetsblog offers a first person account from a witness who almost became part of the story. The Times says four officers have been relieved of duty pending an internal review, while Treehugger says Critical Mass may be on its way out.

And a founding member of Midnight Ridazz says group night rides will end when we have adequate infrastructure in place to allow cyclists to ride safely anytime.

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The attorney representing Patrick Roraff, the 18-year old driver accused of killing pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado while street racing, claims his client didn’t do it and wasn’t racing, and it was just all a “tragic accident.” Then again, that exactly what he’s getting paid to say.

Note to all readers: I know a lot of you are angry about this case; personally, I’m mad as hell. But threatening the accused killer and his family does far more harm than good. If you feel a need to do something, demand that the District Attorney file felony homicide charges against the suspect. And let the legal system do its job.

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A Burbank pedestrian questions why the city spends thousands to encourage cyclists to come to town, then treats them like dog droppings when they do; preaching to the choir, bro. Bike racks appear at the new TraJoes at Hollywood & Vine. The Board of Public Works proposes tearing down a historic bridge to make room for cyclists and pedestrians; haven’t they ever heard of a road diet? The Santa Monica Spoke forms a steering committee to guide the group. A mountain bike-hating Bay Area trail advocate is arrested for slashing at two riders with a hacksaw. Stats alone don’t tell the full story of women and bikes. The fact is, most drivers don’t actually want to run over us. Taking biking back to when it was fun. Trek unveils what may be the most aero bike ever made. One point five meters, s’il vous plais. The best solution to riding in the door zone would be to eliminate it. It’s hard to stop parking in the bike lane when it’s the police who are doing it. Back on two wheels, but afraid to ride. Evidently, it’s not a joke after all — bike racing authorities launch an investigation into charges of “mechanical doping.”

Finally, a writer shuttling a Porsche from SF to LA complains about traffic on PCH being so slow, he resorted to frightening RV drivers off the road and writing his review on his Blackberry while he drove.

Honestly, I don’t even know where to start.

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