To start the morning, I thought I’d link you all to an interesting article by Stan Sesser in the WSJ about taking the metro to cultural destinations in Los Angeles. I feel a little scooped, since I’ve been doing this for more than a year, and like the writer, I’m a professional not a “failure”, as he cites is the preconception of anyone who takes the bus in LA. Anyways, it’s an interesting and short little read.
Check back later this afternoon for an exciting post about how I didn’t get run over today!
Update: for those of you in the Berkeley area (or in DC) these gals have written some interesting points on taking the bus in those cities.
Here’s the story of me not getting run over or the story of me almost getting run over or the story of the man and woman in the volvo who almost committed manslaughter. Call it what you want.
I’m on my bike, of course, traveling West on 4th Street, having just crossed La Brea. 4th Street generally ends about three blocks after La Brea, due to the large apartment complex of Park La Brea. The road becomes very narrow there because many people park on the street (in both directions) and there really is just enough room for one car to go safely. If two cars are oncoming to each other, one usually slows and let’s the other safely pass. There is enough room, but it’s tight.
So as a cyclist, when you are on a narrow road, one of the things you don’t do is hug the curb. Any second, a driver can open their car door, and you’re toast! Also, you’re more visible if you ride in the center of the lane. Also, there is a stop sign at every block of this stretch of 4th. One of the things you’re also taught as a cyclist is that in tight traffic areas, or places with lots of stop signs, it’s safer to be seen–so ride in the middle of the lane, not on the side.
So I’m riding in the middle of the lane, and this guy and his gal in a black volvo (wish I had the license plate so I could call ’em out for this crap), are behind me, and they decide they want to pass me. Now here’s the deal, I’m fine with cars passing me. I mean, I’m on a bike! Of course, you’re going to go faster. But when there’s a stop sign every 20 feet, what is the point of you passing me until you can do so safely? So first he tries to pass me by pulling up alongside me at the stop sign, so he’s basically parked on the wrong side of the road. Since I stopped there before him, I continue to pull out across the intersection, and a few seconds later, so does he. Then he decides he’s REALLY going to pass me, or not. He starts to pass me, but instead of pulling in front of me fully, he starts to bank right, basically forcing me over until I almost run into the cars parked on the street.
At this point, I’m fearing for my life because he’s about to run me over, all so he can pass me. So I yell out at him, “What the F*** are you doing? Either pass me or don’t, but don’t run me off the road!”
Now, usually drivers don’t stop when I yell at them. They just laugh and keep driving. Not this time. They actually stop (did I mention they’re now in the middle of the road, traversing both lanes going opposite ways?) and the passenger (the girlfriend, I assume) says, “We’re looking for parking.” And I’m like, you almost ran me over and your response is “We’re looking for parking?!” Then she tells me to “calm down” in a very rude tone. At that point I actually swore at her and kept riding on. Forgive me for not keeping my temper, everyone. I wish I had said to her, YOU ALMOST KILLED ME AND YOU WANT ME TO CALM DOWN?! Listen, it’s not that bicyclists are people who swear a lot naturally, it’s just that we almost get run over on a daily basis, and usually the only way to get someone’s attention so they see us when they’re about to mow us over is to yell and scream and wave our arms and, yes, scream a profanity or two. It does help to get someone’s attention if you swear at them.
I wish I had told her that what she and her boyfriend almost did would have been considered at least manslaughter in a court of law. I mean, they’re trying that guy from up in Coldwater Canyon for manslaughter. So here’s my daily lesson for drivers who want to be nice to cyclists: if you want to pass a cyclist, please make sure that you have enough room to do so that you pass them fully before braking and that you aren’t immediately slamming on your brakes when you get around them. This would make me and cyclists everywhere very happy. In return, we won’t swear at you for almost killing us. Thanks! =)
On another note, the past few weeks I have noticed quite a few younger (as in my age) men who are quite attractive cycling on my route. I’m trying to think of various ways to spark up conversation or initiate contact beyond them passing my slow ass in the street. Submit your ideas for ambushing the cute cycling guys in the comments section, and I’ll try them out and tell you how they go. Heck, I’ll even try and videotape them if I can get a collaborator on my schemes. Anyone up for that job?
Can’t wait to hear all your ambushing ideas!