Tag Archive for jerks on wheels

If you were harassed by a driver in a white van Monday morning, Bus Bench has it on video

According to L.A.’s Bus Bench website, they were nearly hit by a speeding white van while driving to work on Cesar Chavez Blvd. Monday morning.

Shortly afterwards, they saw a cyclist arguing with the driver of the same white van, who had nearly hit the rider as he sped by. The driver lurched forward as if to strike the cyclist, then swerved away at the last second, nearly hitting another car in the process.

What the driver didn’t count on, however, is that they recorded the incident, as well as license of the van.

So if you had an altercation with a jerk in an older white van about 6:20 am Monday on Cesar Chavez, you’ll find witnesses and video documentation at thebusbench.com.

Monday’s ride, on which I got dangerously buzzed

I never get honked at when I ride.

I honestly can’t remember the last time it happened. I go out of my way to ride safely and courteously. Yet the other day, two separate drivers honked at me as I was riding.

Maybe it was the stress of driving crowded L.A. streets. Maybe they were still ticked off about some other cyclist who cut them off or ran a red light. Or maybe Rush Limbaugh or some other bike-hating jerk went on another anti-bike rant and got their listeners riled up once again.

Maybe it was just a coincidence.

But two drivers honked at me yesterday. And not in a friendly way.

The first came about 30 miles after my encounter with the undead dog. I was riding east on Washington, after the bike lane from the beach ends a few blocks before Abbot Kinney.

Even without the bike lane, the roadway is wide enough that I was out of the traffic lane, and riding only a few miles below the speed of traffic. And yet, as a driver came up on my left, he suddenly blared his horn.

Not the friendly tap some drivers employ in a misguided attempt to tell us they’re there. As if we don’t already know. No, this was a loud, long leaning on the horn that could only be heard as “get the f… out of my way, ‘cause I’m coming through.”

No really. I’m quite proficient in horn as a second language. And there was no mistaking his message.

Nor was there any mistaking mine as he went by.

Of course, he was shocked and appalled that I would respond in such a manner. In fact, he wanted to continue the conversation at the next red light. But I’ve had that discussion before, and didn’t see any reason to get into it again.

So I gave my signal, and made a left onto Abbot Kinney as he continued to shout after me.

The next one was more troubling, though.

I was headed north on Ocean, directly in front of the Frank Gehry designed building with the binoculars.

The road is narrower there, although traffic is lighter, so I’d taken the lane since turning off from Abbot Kinney. As I passed the Gehry Building, a huge garbage truck came up from behind.

I moved slightly to the right to give him a little more room. But just as his front bumper came up beside me, he suddenly laid on his horn — a loud, long basso profundo blast that was completely unnecessary, since he was already in my field of view.

Then he buzzed me, passing not more than a foot away, so close that I couldn’t extend my elbow — let alone my arm — without hitting him.

Fortunately, even though I was startled, I stayed in control. Because swerving in either direction could have been fatal.

Had I reacted by swerving left, I would have hit him and probably ended up under his wheels. Swerving to the right would have sent me into the parked cars, and most likely caused me to ricochet back into him with the same result.

Of course, what he did is perfectly legal in California. While other states are rapidly adopting the three-foot passing law, the law here only requires that motorists pass at a safe distance — which is usually interpreted as anything that doesn’t actually come in contact with the rider. And there is no law here against harassing a cyclist, even if that harassment causes an accident.

Sure, other charges can be filed. But they usually aren’t. And calling the police is often a waste of time.

In retrospect, I wish I’d chased the driver down, and gotten enough information to get him fired. Anyone who drives like that doesn’t belong on the street. Let alone behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle the size of a small house.

But I was too shaken to even catch the name of the company. And frankly, even though I knew I could catch him, I was angry enough that I didn’t trust what I’d do once I did.

So I rode home, shaken and angry.

And he gets to keep his job, and will likely do it again to someone else — who may not be as lucky.

And he’ll probably get away with that, as well.

……….

The Mid City West Neighborhood Council — covering what the rest of us would call the Fairfax District — took matters into their own hands, and designed their own bike plan. Write your Congress person to support HR 2521, which would create a development bank to fund infrastructure projects, railways and — dare we hope? — bikeways. Stephen Box explains how Melbourne has it backwards, or maybe upside down, compared to L.A. Mark your calendar for the upcoming Bike MS 2009 charity ride, and movie night at the Encino Velodrome (be honest, did you even know there was an Encino Velodrome?). Here’s your chance to tour Pasadena by foot or bike, and discover upcoming bike routes. The Christian Science Monitor asks if bikes and cars can really share the road, while N.Y. Times finds that more bikes lanes fail to bring peace to the city. A paper in Quebec goes on an anti-bike rant — citing a tragic pedestrian-bike collision that occurred nearly 20 years ago — and suggests that all bike lanes in the city center be removed. Paramedics in London — where everyone has medical coverage — have taken to their bikes. Finally, goodbye Teddy. You’ll be missed.

A jerk by any other name

Let’s talk about jerks.

I mean, it’s not like there’s any shortage of them around here. Like the one I ran into — almost literally — on the bike path in Venice last week.

Thanks to the winter-time lack of crowds, it was easy to maintain a good head of speed. So I made a point of letting slower riders know I was there before I passed them, and gave them as much clearance as possible when I did. No point in ruining someone else’s day just so I could enjoy mine.

Unfortunately, not everyone felt the same.

Just as I was rounding a sharp bend in the path and about to swing around couple slower riders — in other words, at the worst possible moment — a cyclist suddenly appeared on my left. No warning, and passing so close that he actually brushed against me as he went by.

Needless to say, I was pissed. But the massive over-the-ear headphones he wore suggested that he wasn’t likely to hear a word of it, so I saved my breath.

Instead, I warned the other riders ahead that I was about to pass. And about the jerk who was also passing them right in front of me.

As it turned out, he wasn’t that much faster than me. So I watched as he passed other riders in the same fashion; at one point, nearly knocking over a young mother riding with a small child on the back of her bike.

And that, in my book, pretty much defines the word “jerk.” Along with several others I’d rather not use right now.

Problem is, to much of the non-riding public — and even some members of the cycling world — such riders are the rule rather than the exception. They see us as a rude, arrogant and lawless band hellbent on obstructing their God-given right to the road, and flaunting every law and courtesy in the process.

And people like him — the ones Bob Mionske calls scofflaw cyclists — offer all the proof they need.

I have another theory.

As far as I’m concerned, a jerk is a jerk. And it doesn’t matter if that jerk is on two wheels or four. Or pushing a shopping cart through a crowded market, for that matter.

Because really, what’s the difference between an aggressive driver who weaves in and out of traffic at high speed, and a cyclist who blows through red lights even in the presence of oncoming traffic?

They both operate as if the law doesn’t apply to them, with total disregard for the havoc they leave in their wake. To people like that, it doesn’t seem to matter if they cause an accident, as long as it doesn’t involve them.

It appears to be exactly the same mentality at work when a driver intentionally cuts off a cyclist, as when a cyclist blows through an intersection and forces everyone else to swerve or brake to avoid him. Or her.

A jerk is a jerk is a jerk.

And while it is in everyone’s best interest to encourage everyone to ride safely, as cyclists, we bear no more collective responsibility for the two-wheeled jerks, than other drivers do for the four-wheeled ones who are undoubtedly speeding down the 101 or 405 at this very moment.

Which is to say, none at all.


Evidently, cycling isn’t the only sport with a doping problem. Even Arkansas considers sharrows, so what’s taking L.A. so long? Following Bob Mionske’s final column for Velo News, comes word he’s moving to Bicycling Magazine. A New York writer says bike lanes aren’t the whole solution; you have to learn to ride safely in traffic, tooA Santa Monica columnist, who gave up cycling because it was too dangerous, insists that creating livable streets and making the roads safer for bikes is wrong if it means slowing down traffic, and rails against the “small cadre” of “snarky” “gonzo cyclists” who dare to disagree with him. And finally, a current Santa Monica cyclist sells his Burley bike trailer, only to see it in the pages of People. Welcome to the bike blogosphere, J.

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