Tag Archive for John Forester

Morning Links: A friendly talk with the father of vehicular cycling, gap closure on SaMo Blvd, and Popeye Doyle is one of us

Sorry about that. 

My brother Eric decided to spend a few more days than expected to rest up on his bike tour of the Western US. And after 74 days and 3,500 miles, with at least another 1,000 mile to go, he certainly had the right. 

But now that he’s safely on the road again, we’ve got a lot to catch up on. 

So grab you coffee and settle in. You may need a refill before we’re done. 

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Bike scribe Peter Flax sat down for a surprisingly friendly conversation with John Forester, honored and derided as the father of vehicular cycling.

It’s a good read, presenting the human side of a man often seen as dogmatic and cantankerous.

PF: Well, as someone who presently lives and rides in Los Angeles, I’m curious what it was like to ride a bike in LA in the 50s and 60s

JF: Well, when I was with Los Angeles Wheelmen, we published a newsletter that got posted in bike shops, and some rides would start at a corner of Venice Boulevard somewhere in West LA. Or else they would car start — go in a car to a certain location and unload your bike and go off for the ride. Even then we knew that Los Angeles was just too damn big — if you wanted to get out of town, about the only way you could do it was on the coast highway. On any other route it a long, long time to get out of town, other than the mountains just behind Los Angeles. And the same sort of mix took place in Northern California — some rides starting at a local place, but for Marin rides I’d go up by car.

PF: So talk to me about this period, you’ll probably know the exact start of it better than I do, the late 60s and early 70s, when this bike boom finally came to the US.

JF: What I noticed toward the end of the 60s — I was still in Los Angeles in this time — was that there were road people, meaning Americans who drove sports cars, showing up with bicycles aboard. Good bicycles — I mean semi-racing or racing bikes. I’d upgraded my equipment by that time, too. I ordered a Holdsworth bicycle and parts to make up an all-Campy bike, and I switched to tubulars because they rolled easier. So I saw more people coming in cycling and they were not poor people, they did it because they enjoyed doing things on the road — driving cars and riding bikes.

Yet Forrester is someone who has probably had a greater influence on bicycling infrastructure, or the lack thereof, and how we’ve ridden for the past 50 years than anyone else.

And continues to defend his perspective.

PF: They put in a protected bike lane on Venice Boulevard for a mile a couple years ago, and I ride that stretch often. And what I perceive as a rider is that probably more than before I have to be more attentive when I get to intersections, but when I’m on the mid-block portion, I feel more relaxed because I feel protected. Perhaps it’s rearranged the risk, but my perception is that when you look at both the US and abroad, the data indicates that there are fewer fatal crashes when that kind of infrastructure is put in. That there are instances — like just a couple months ago in San Francisco where a young woman who works in the tech industry had someone open a car door in front of her and she swerved to avoid the door and got hit by a delivery truck. People see those kinds of incidents happening and then when protected lanes go in, they feel like that particular kind of risk has been erased for that kind of rider.

JF: Well, in the first place, don’t ride in the door zone. That’s one of the early rules of the game. And also, what you’re reading is people killed; you don’t read about broken ankles, concussed brains, cracked ribs, they don’t make the news. Only 2% of car-bike collisions are fatal; you’re making the tail wag the dog. And not only are just 2% of car-bike collisions fatal — they’re much more likely to occur during darkness and on rural roads than other car-bike collisions. Furthermore, as I’ve said only 5 percent of car-bike collisions are caused by same-direction motor traffic; 95 percent by turning and crossing movements. In other words, the people who you are quoting are making the tail wag the dog. And doing that because they are more frightened of traffic from behind than they are of anything else. That’s their phobia; it is a phobia because it is an unrealistic fear contrary to scientific knowledge.

It’s a long read.

But worth it to understand how we got where we are today.

For better or worse.

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The good news is Los Angeles has finally closed the gap between the Santa Monica Blvd bike lanes that previously ended in Century City, and the relatively new bike lanes through Beverly Hills.

The bad news should be pretty obvious.

Meanwhile, West Hollywood leaders showed a little more political courage, voting to remove parking on one side of Santa Monica Blvd to connect their long-time bike lanes with the ones in Beverly Hills.

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Gene Hackman is one of us.

Patrick Dempsey is one of us, too. But you knew that, right?

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A writer for the Orange County Register considers why almost no one wears a bike helmet in the Netherlands.

But like most who tackle the topic, he neglects to consider the benefits of a step-through frame on a typical Dutch bike, which allows riders to simply step off in the event of a fall.

Sort of like this.

https://twitter.com/ritaxben/status/1177676740220637185

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‘Nuff said.

https://twitter.com/GreavsieE17/status/1173926051468206080

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Call me crazy, but maybe they’re taking this “shrink it and pink it” thing for women’s bikes a little too far.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes is all too real.

The road-raging Singaporean truck driver caught on video squabbling with a bicyclist swears he only swerved his truck at the man to avoid a taxi. Because when you’re faced with a crash with something hard, like a taxi, always aim for something soft. Like a person.

But sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.

Police in Santa Clara are looking for the vicious jerk who attacked a 91-year old man with a rock while he was visiting his wife’s grave, then made off on a bicycle with the victim’s belongings.

Police are looking for a bike rider who smashed the drive-through window on a Bronx Burger King with a bike chain when they refused to serve him because he wasn’t in a car.

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Local

CD4 Councilmember David Ryu unveils a new HAWK beacon — short for High-intensity Activated crossWalK — to protect pedestrians on 6th Street, where local residents fought to have a life-saving road diet installed instead. And lost.

UCLA looks forward to this Sunday’s Heart of LA CicLAvia, which celebrates the 100th birthday of the university in its former Downtown location.

CiclaValley is a fan of the new Euro-style raised crosswalks in Beverly Hills.

Santa Monica has begun a project to improve the beachfront Marvin Braude Bike Trail from Muscle Beach to the city limit north of the Annenberg Beach House to widen the current path and build a separate walkway; bicyclists will be required to get off their bikes and walk them along a temporary trail through the construction zones.

Brooks McKinney talks with Frank Ching, Metro’s head of alternative mobility and transportation demand management programs.

 

State

A newspaper in Santa Clarita recommends what they call the great eight California bike trails, including LA County’s Marvin Braude Bike Trail, as well as bike paths in Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Tragic news from Orange, where a man died from multiple stab wounds after falling off his bicycle; he was apparently riding his bike to get help when he collapsed.

The Coast Highway in Encinitas will soon get buffered bike lanes. Unfortunately, it comes several years too late to save the life of Encino randonneur Jim Swartzman.

More bad news, as a 28-year old man was killed in a drive-by shooting while walking his bike in San Diego’s Mountain View neighborhood, after exchanging words with the men in the car.

A Victorville man was hospitalized in grave condition after he was struck by a driver while riding his bike. Although judging by the headline, what really mattered was the road closure that followed.

It was a bad week in Fresno County. A bike-riding man from India was killed in Selma by a 19-year old woman who was allegedly driving without a valid license, and reportedly has other undisclosed traffic crimes on her record. Three days later, a 76-year old man was killed in nearby Reedley when he reportedly rode out of an orchard into the path of another 19-year old driver.

Things weren’t much better in neighboring Merced County, where a man was killed when his bike was right hooked by a truck driver.

It takes a major schmuck to steal an entire truckload of donated bicycles intended for a class of Alameda 4th graders.

Megan Lynch forwards more on Cal Poly’s successful effort to set a new collegiate human-powered vehicle record, with a former Davis High grad manning the pedals.

 

National

CBS looks at the great scooter backlash.

CityLab celebrated my birthday with a ranking of the best and worst places to live carfree. Not surprisingly, San Francisco topped the list; shockingly, the LA metro area checked in at number ten. On the flip side, better keep your car if you live in San Bernardino or Riverside counties.

CityLab also says yes, a mass switch to electric vehicles could help bring down planet-killing emissions, but the real solution is for Americans to cut back on their driving right now. And Sacramento is ground zero in the fight.

A Seattle woman wants to know what happened to her ten years ago, when she was found next to her bike on the side of the road with a burst spleen and 22 broken bones, and no memory of what happened. Naturally, police blamed a fall caused by bad pavement, instead the far more likely possibility of a hit-and-run.

A Washington woman proves the old axiom, if you want to place high in a half-marathon, cheat by riding a bike.

Apparently order in the courtroom doesn’t extend to the streets, as a New Mexico judge slammed her car into a pair of bicyclists, killing one person and injuring the other.

A formerly homeless man in my hometown lifted himself off the streets, and turned his hard luck into a nonprofit dedicated to providing bicycles to those in need. Thanks to Tim Rutt for the link.

A Kansas man is suing the police for unlawful arrest after he refused to give his birthdate when he was stopped for riding on the sidewalk without a headlight. He served three months of a 17-month sentence when police found meth on his bike after the arrest; his conviction was later thrown out on appeal when the court ruled he was under no obligation to tell them, and that it’s against the law to arrest anyone suspected of committing a traffic violation.

In yet another example of authorities keeping a dangerous driver on the road until it’s too late, a Wisconsin driver faces charges for killing a 43-year old bike-riding teacher while driving at nearly three-times the legal alcohol limit; it was his third DUI in just three years.

Chicago police are writing fewer tickets to bike riders. But most are still going to people in predominantly black neighborhoods.

A Kentucky cop flipped his police cruiser during a chase. So naturally, someone on a bike gets the blame.

Authorities in Long Island continue their assault on teenage ride outs, monitoring social media to crack down on planned rides, impounding kids’ bikes and fining their parents up to $100 to get them back; advocates describe the ride outs as an effort to escape poverty and drugs, while opponents call it the most dangerous subculture on two wheels.

A Brooklyn town hall called by a bike lane opponent devolved into angry pushing and shoving, accompanied by a lot of shouting. Proof that LA public bike lane meetings can get worse. But not much. Thanks to Victor Bale for the heads-up. 

A New York driver faces life in prison for allegedly murdering a bike rider by running him down with his SUV after the man allegedly tried to break into his SUV, then cut a woman with a screwdriver.

Apparently, a call to kill people on bicycles is what passes for satire at Penn State. Unfortunately, it’s an independent publication, so the unfunny schmuck who wrote it can’t get the F he so richly deserves.

The speeding driver who killed longtime DC bike advocate Dave Salovesh while attempting to evade police last April has been sentenced to eight and a half years behind bars in a plea bargain; he had faced up to 30 years if the case had gone to trial.

Video from Florida shows why you should always inspect a dockless bike or scooter before riding, as a man is seen tampering with two scooters in Fort Lauderdale.

This is who we share the roads with. A Florida man looks almost overjoyed to get his fifth DUI and 12th ticket for driving with a suspended license. Seriously, this is why people keep dying on the streets. Just taking away someone’s license doesn’t do a damn bit of good if they keep driving anyway. We need to impound their cars, and send the drivers to jail for repeat violations. Thanks to Robert Leone for the link. 

 

International

A 12-year old Montreal boy has a new bicycle thanks to Canadian pro cyclist James Piccoli, who replaced his stolen bike after reading the boy’s angry social media post.

They get it. A UK organization for disabled bicyclists introduces a campaign to promote bicycles as mobility solutions. Which should be required viewing for everyone who claims handicapped people can’t ride bikes, and bike lanes are a barrier for them. Because it ain’t necessarily so.

A British designer insists this is a bicycle. Something tells me you might not want to ride it, though.

No bias here. An English writer accuses “ultra-slick, leg-shaved, aerodynamic-obsessed Lycra louts” of being “yobs in tight shorts” who keep other people from riding bikes with their bad behavior.

Dubliners question why it should cost more to park a bike than it does to park a car. Or why it should cost anything, period.

Sexual harassment on the streets is one reason only one in 250 teenage girls bike to school in Ireland.

The prime minister of the Netherlands explains why he rides his bike to work.

Belgian bike riders can now get back to nature on a circular elevated bike path through the woods. Thanks to Fred Davis for the tip.

Horrifying story as a woman on a bicycle was dragged by a German train at 75 mph after she got her hand stuck in the door helping someone else board; remarkably, she only suffered cuts and bruises.

Here’s another one to add to your bike bucket list — a ride through Italy’s Tuscan countryside from Florence to Siena.

Residents of the former Indian principality of Gondal needed a license to ride a bicycle. And continued to renew their licenses for a decade after the law and principality came to an end with Indian independence in 1948.

More proof that some drivers think they own every inch of the road, as a road raging Brisbane driver screamed at a bike rider to get out of his way — while he was illegally driving in the bike lane.

An Aussie opposition leader trots out the ultimate insult, saying an underground highway project will turn Sydney’s west communities into a “Little Los Angeles.” Even though Los Angeles doesn’t have any buried highway junctions like that; all our misery-inducing freeway intersections stand proudly above ground.

 

Competitive Cycling

The women’s worlds were a Dutch affair, as Annemiek van Vleuten finished first in a 65-mile breakaway, while her fellow countrywoman Anna van der Breggen finished second, a little over two minutes later.

American Chloe Dygert prevented total Dutch women’s world domination, winning the rainbow jersey in the individual time trial, and beating van Der Breggen by over a minute to become the youngest ever women’s world champ at just 22 years old.

Twenty-three-year old Dane Mads Pedersen became the youngest men’s world champ in 20 years, when the favorites floundered after a soggy six and a half hours riding in the rain.

An 18-year old Columbian cyclist broke down in tears on the side of the road after losing a tire, as any hope of winning evaporated when the team car couldn’t get to him. Meanwhile, the drama continued as the apparent winner of the men’s U23 race was disqualified for drafting a team car while fighting his way back to the peloton after suffering a mechanical.

The era of doping may be officially over, but someone forgot to tell the Columbian cyclists.

An African website considers the story of legendary cyclist Major Taylor, who became America’s first black sports hero.

 

Finally…

Maybe a fish needs a bicycle after all. If you’re going to ride a bike topless after shoplifting a pair of flip flops, always take the lane.

And if there’s a bear in your way, just jump it.

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L’Shanah Tovah Umetukah to everyone observing Rosh Hashanah today.

 

Long Beach proves separated bike lanes even work here, despite arguments to the contrary

There’s big news from Long Beach.

We’ve seen a number of studies in recent years showing that separated bike lanes are good for business, as well as cyclists.

But now we have solid proof from right here in our own backyard that separated lanes benefit everyone on the streets.

According to a federal study conducted over the last year, the separated bike lanes on Broadway and Third Street in downtown Long Beach resulted in a 33% increase in ridership over the last year, while increasing pedestrian use along the streets by 13%, and cutting vehicle use by 12%.

In other words, not only did they improve the streets for cyclists, but made it more inviting to walk next to them, as well.

At the same time, bike collisions dropped 80%, from five to one, and motor vehicle collisions went down 44%. Average vehicle speeds also dropped to 27 mph on Third and 26 mph on Broadway.

And yes, that’s a good thing.

Meanwhile, the rate of sidewalk riding, the bane of pedestrians everywhere, decreased as much as 42%.

It’s hard to argue that separated bikeways haven’t been proven effective when the results show they benefit everyone on the road.

Even here on the Left Coast, where the hegemony of the automobile has long reigned supreme.

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And yet, the father of vehicular cycling says if you prefer bike lanes — even the sort of proven separated bike lanes discussed above — you’re an “incompetent cyclist.”

No, really. That’s what John Forester says.

He goes on to say that, despite the sort of evidence shown in the Long Beach study, there’s no proof that bikeways increase safety.

Well, none if you choose not to believe it, anyway.

Sort of like global warning.

I’ve ridden vehicularly for over 30 years. Not because of Forester’s book, which came out four years after I started riding, but because my own experience taught me it was the safest way to ride in the almost universal absence of effective infrastructure in those days.

But I’ve never, ever considered it better, safer, more enjoyable or effective than riding in a good bikeway.

And the demonstrated growth in ridership that can be traced back to new bike lanes (pdf) in cities throughout the world — including this one — would suggest that I’m not alone.

John Forester created an effective tool for a time when cyclists could not rely on well-designed roads or effective bikeways.

But those bad old days are, thankfully, fading fast.

As the Long Beach study clearly shows, well-designed bicycling infrastructure and a complete streets approach benefits everyone.

And it’s long past time we all demanded it.

Thanks to Christopher Kidd for the link.

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I’m told that the LAPD has discussed the dooring-by-cop incident mentioned here last week with the cyclist involved, and that the officer in question has expressed her regrets for her behavior.

Wes says he’s very pleased with the response from the department, and sees no need for formal discipline in the matter.

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At least two of the four candidates for mayor of Los Angeles see bikes in the city’s future; oddly, they may not be the ones you’d think. Downtown’s Spring Street should get new parklets next week to go with its semi-green mostly buffered bike lanes. Metro wants your input on the Union Station master plan; a few extra bike votes couldn’t hurt. Highland Park Patch asks if slower traffic is worth it to add bike lanes to North Figueroa and Colorado Blvd; personally, I think slowing traffic in a state where angry drivers honk at anyone who has the audacity to actually drive the speed limit is good thing. LADOT recaps the recent BPIT meeting. CLR Effect’s new cycling cap takes those of us with long memories back to the land of sky blue waters.

The latest update from Calbike, including their 2013 legislative agenda — which includes hit-and-run reform, but not a third opportunity for Governor Jerry Brown to veto a three-foot passing law. Riverside’s mayor rides with local residents; the LACBC asks candidates for mayor if they’ll commit to leading a similar ride. The Classic Gran Fondo San Diego takes place on April 14th; make sure you have your taxes finished first. San Diego cyclists are urged to support bike-friendly changes on the Coast Highway in Encinitas. Great photos of a practice crit from the San Diego Union-Tribune. A Palo Alto woman faces misdemeanor hit-and-run charges after hitting a cyclist and two occupied cars. The story behind Verizon’s romantic new bike ad, courtesy of Cyclelicious. San Francisco lays out big plans — and possibly big money — to improve bicycling and walking. Apple is granted a patent for a new smart bike system.

Bike lawyer Bob Mionske offers advice on what to do if a cop stops you for a bicycling violation. Lance Armstrong offers to help clean up cycling; in other news, John Dillinger has offered to come back and help stop bank robberies. People who commute by car gain more weight than those who commute by bus, bike or train. Fans of Lovely Bicycle will be happy to learn she now has a new weekly column in Bicycling. A Washington driver stops to look at the bike rider she killed and the one she merely injured, then drives off like the heartless coward she— allegedly — is. Perhaps the most bike and alternative transportation-friendly USDOT secretary in our lifetimes sadly says it’s time to go. Maryland considers a mandatory helmet law. A Baton Rouge cyclist is shot three times without warning by a 16-year old thief who wanted his bike. Win the free use of a bike share bike at this year’s Super Bowl. Better bike lanes and crosswalks could help kill fewer pedestrians and cyclists in the country’s second and third most dangerous city for both, respectively.

Simple solutions would help get Great Britain cycling. A British bicyclist is stabbed to death the same day another rider buys him a bottle of brandy to apologize for a bike-on-bike collision. UK police tried to stop a driver just before he killed a couple on a tandem and fled the scene on foot. Potholes cause an estimated 10% to 15% of Brit cycling wrecks. An Aussie cyclist is injured when he hits a man sleeping on a bike path. The excuse a Chinese BMX racer gave for testing positive for steroids couldn’t possibly be true, a sports nutritionist says. Two Singapore brothers sharing a bike are killed when they’re hit by a cement truck; but what kind of sick s.o.b. would circulate photos of their bodies online?

Finally, despite the overwhelming success and popularity of New York’s new bike lanes, separated and otherwise, the city’s Daily News can’t seem to get their collective heads out of their own collective asses.

With all due respect, that is.

There are no safe streets for cyclists

Yesterday, I received an email from a man who had moved with his wife from Portland to South Pasadena.

They had chosen South Pas, at least in part, because it appeared to offer the most rideable streets in the area. Yet in less than a year, he’d suffered two minor right hook collisions.

His point was that riding in the L.A. area is a completely different experience than riding in Portland. And that local communities need to do more to make other forms of transportation besides motor vehicles a priority.

He’s right.

While South Pasadena has recognized the problem, and is actually doing something about it, a lot more has to be done throughout the county to make cycling safer for every rider.

Though not everyone seems to be getting that message.

The LACBC affiliate chapter BikeSGV reports that the Arcadia City Council decided this week not to develop a bike plan — in part because the city’s Mayor Pro Tem doesn’t think bikes are a legitimate form of transportation.

Vincent Chang

Just got back from a disappointing Arcadia City council meeting where Mayor Pro Tem Robert C. Harbicht took the lead to nix a contract with a bike plan consultant to prepare a bike plan for the city. Unfortunately, the rest of the council, including the Mayor (who established a city “mayors bike ride”) went along. Harbict stated he had concerns about federal funding for bike access in general as he didn’t believe cycling can be a legitimate form of alternate transportation. Ironically, both Harbicht and the Mayor claims to be avid cyclists.

I don’t know whether that reflects ignorance of the potential utility of their preferred form of recreation, or the dangers of riding in their own city.

Either way, they’ve failed the residents of their city by denying them the opportunity to ride in greater convenience and safety, whether for recreation or safety.

Then again, the problem could be that they’re “avid” cyclists, as some — though not all — Vehicular Cyclists actively oppose the sort of infrastructure preferred by the overwhelming majority of riders.

They believe that every rider — even the most unskilled, slow or risk-conscious cyclist — is safer riding in the traffic lane ahead of oncoming, often high speed, vehicles than in a separate lane devoted to bikes.

In fact, John Forester, the father of the VC movement, recently commented on the New York Times website that “nobody has yet “create[d] safe bike lanes”; we don’t know how to do it.”

I think many riders in the Netherlands — and even in New York — would beg to differ.

It’s a battle that rages on in cities and states throughout the country. Like in San Diego, where Forester himself helps lead the fight against more and better bike lanes, much to the chagrin of more mainstream riders.

Despite denials from VC adherents, there have been numerous studies that show well-designed bike lanes can improve safety for everyone. Not just cyclists.

Meanwhile, I have yet to see a single credible study that supports the oft-repeated argument that cyclists are safer riding in traffic than in a good bike lane.

Which is not to say there aren’t a lot of bad ones out there.

Maybe that’s because, like Forester, they refuse to believe such things exist. Sort of like another group that denies compelling scientific evidence.

But it does raise a question another rider brought up awhile back, when he asked for my advice on whether it was better to ride a busy street with a bike lane or a quieter backstreet route with no bike infrastructure.

And the sad answer I gave him was that there is no such thing as a safe street for cyclists.

Depending on your perspective, both present their own unique set of dangers.

On a busy street, you have the risk of high speed traffic and an unacceptably high rate of careless and/or distracted drivers. Along with the near-constant risk of doorings, right hooks and left crosses, as well as drivers who consider the bike lane another motor vehicle through lane, or maybe a parking lane.

Meanwhile, riders on backstreets risk drivers backing out of driveways without looking, children and dogs running out into the roadway without warning, and drivers who don’t even consider the possibility of bikes on their bucolic byways.

Even on country roads, where I did some of my most enjoyable riding in my pre-L.A. days, you might not see a car for hours. But there are still dangers posed by truck drivers and farm equipment operators who assume there’s no one else there, and speeding teenagers out for a joyride — sometimes tossing their empties at any unfortunate victim they happen to pass.

And yes, I speak from experience.

And don’t get me started on the ubiquitous risk of potholes and otherwise dangerous road surfaces and designs. Or the unique thrill presented by riding past bears or gators.

Or bees.

That’s not to say bicycling is dangerous.

It’s not.

But it does demand a constant awareness of your surroundings, as well as a focus on defensive riding by anticipating the dangerous presented by your current environment, wherever you happen to be. And being prepared to respond to risks before they arise.

That doesn’t mean that drivers and other in the road aren’t responsible for using it safely. But it’s your life that’s on the line, and you can’t count on them to focus on your safety. Or even know you’re there.

Or care, for that matter.

That point that was driven home the other day on the quiet residential streets of my own neighborhood, as I made my way through the last few blocks at the end of an otherwise enjoyable ride.

I’d just stopped for a stop sign, and was beginning to resume my route across the intersection when an SUV came up on the cross street. The woman behind the wheel looked directly at me, then gunned her engine just as I was about to pass in front of her, cutting right onto the road I was riding on.

Fortunately, I was prepared, anticipating that the driver might run the stop sign — though not that she would attempt to hit me in the process. I was able to swing out onto the wrong side of the road, allowing her to screech past me and race off into the distance.

Yet as so often happens, I caught up to her at the next red light.

So I asked, as politely as I could under the circumstances, with fear and anger and adrenalin coursing through my body, why she’d just tried to run me over.

Her response?

“Cyclists have to stop at stop signs too!”

Never mind that I had already stopped before she ever got to the corner, while I was still the only one at the intersection. Or the irony that she ran a stop sign in her attempt to run me down.

In her mind, she was entitled to enforce traffic laws with the bumper of her car. Just another driveway vigilante using brute force to intimidate, if not injure, another human being.

Fortunately, I’m not so easily intimidated.

I would have loved to continue the conversation, but she quickly cut from the left turn lane she was in to make a quick right in front of high-speed traffic in order to get away from me.

Evidently, I scared her, even though she was the one wrapped in several tons of steel and glass. And I wasn’t the one who’d just tried to attack someone.

Though I did break my Lenten vow to not swear at drivers, however much they might deserve it; risking eternal damnation for the momentary relief of releasing my anger verbally before I exploded into a thousand spandex-clad pieces.

As usually happens in such cases, I didn’t have time to get her license or a good description of her car. And even if I had, there were no witnesses, so there’s nothing the police could have done anyway.

The really scary thing, though, is that the residential nature of the street she was on means that she’s likely to live here herself. Which means that she’s probably one of my neighbors, and there’s a high probability I could run into her again.

Whether either of us will recognize the other is a good question. As is what would happen if one of us does.

Where you prefer to ride is a matter of your own comfort level. Whether that leads you to ride vehicularly in a busy traffic lane, in various bikeways or on quieter bike streets that seldom see another road user, on two wheels or four.

But it’s a good reminder that no matter how peaceful they may look, there are no safe streets.

Even the ones in your own neighborhood.

Thanks to everyone who forwarded me the link to the San Diego KPBS story.

Update: Oddly — or maybe not so oddly, given the KPBS story — Bike Snob wrote Vehicular Cycling today, as well. And as usual, he’s much funnier than I am.

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