The anti-cyclist cyclist

November 14, 2014 § 58 Comments

It seemed pretty harmless. My fan sent me a private email and told me about a little bike-citation-trap that the LA Sheriff’s Department was running on PCH southbound. There is a shortcut that about seventy eleven billion riders take coming home on PCH, and it’s illegal because it requires you to go the wrong way down a one-lane, one-way street for about fifty feet before it becomes a two-lane, two-way street.

The reason that you break the law here is because you are tired and it’s the last 30 miles of your ride back to PV and if you go straight with your shot legs you have to “drag your wagon” as Miss Kentucky would say, all the way up Pepperdine Hill instead of sailing back to Malibu on a pancake flat, untrafficked road.

Problem is, the untrafficked road leads by Cher’s compound, and the trillionaires along the road, or at least one of them, doesn’t like it when bikers break the law to “sneak” onto “their” road. So, after getting a tip from my fan — the equivalent of someone telling you about a sobriety checkpoint — I went onto my Facebag lawyer page and gave the cycling planet a heads-up. “Don’t break the law here, and either go straight or walk your bike until the road becomes two-way.”

Pretty soon a maroon reared his ugly head, some wanker named Heath who is presumably a cyclist, and he made a couple of nasty comments about “lazy cyclists” and insinuating that the trillionaires were right to be angry at the scofflaws. I counter-posted once or twice and then deleted all of his comments, adhering to my new Facebag policy of “you gotta pay to play.”

In the past I would hunker down and engage in multi-day Facebag comment wars that were immensely entertaining to everyone but me. I realized the depth of my illness when, coming up for air, I realized that I had posted over 200 comments in a battle of the maroons between me and some wanker in upstate New York about whether or not his ‘cross skilz class would have prevented a crash. Yep. It was that weighty a topic. I engaged in this tweetle-beetle-battle-in-a-Facebag-bottle while visiting my elder son at college, ruining the weekend, and causing permanent emotional damage to the other maroon, who threatened legal action against me. (Note to reader: threatening lawyers with legal action is like threatening Bre’r Rabbit with the briar patch.)

However, it takes two maroons to have a tweetle beetle battle, and after reflection I realized that in this case I was the other one, and vowed not to do it anymore. So when Heath began tossing out the red meat I just tossed out the red delete and that was the end of it. Henceforth, I decided that if anyone wants to argue with me, they have to do it in my sandbox, here on the blog, where I not only make the rules but where I can edit everything they write or block them completely if I so choose. It’s not fair, just like life.

What struck me about Heath, though, is a common thread that runs through cycling in which cyclists themselves are extremely critical of other cyclists when it comes to obeying traffic laws. It’s a hall monitor complex, and it’s bizarre. I don’t condone scofflawing most of the time, but unless it’s egregious and puts someone else’s life at risk, I don’t much care about it, either. Cars break the laws all the time too, and when I’m motoring along and someone changes lanes without using a turn indicator (that actually happens), I don’t honk, or scream, or post a rant about it.

My motoring time is better spent driving defensively than it is screaming, cursing, flipping off, honking, or Facebagging about all the maroons out there who are trying to kill me.

Cycling is already dangerous enough without having to split my attention to whether or not someone runs a stop sign or goes the wrong way for 50 feet down Cher’s street. And in the battle between the scofflaws, it’s the motorist, not the cyclist, who is the overwhelming bad guy.

My buddy C. was dropping down Manhattan Boulevard a few days ago, traveling at the speed limit, and lawfully riding in the lane. A very busy and important manageress of a local MB optic shop came by, speeding, let out a blast on her horn, totally ignoring the new law that requires a passing motorist to give a cyclist 3-feet of clearance. C. got out of her way just in time to avoid being turned into pulp, and at the stoplight a few feet ahead, the one she had apparently been rushing to get to so she could stop, he thwacked on her window and yelled at her.

“I’m calling the police!” she screamed.

“Great,” he said. So they pulled over while she dialed 911. Unlike the LA police, where they don’t even bother to show up unless at least three shots have been fired and one person has been hit, the MB police aren’t quite as busy, and five minutes later a cop approached. To C.’s incredible joy and disbelief, it was a cop on a … bicycle. Finally, for once, justice was about to be done.

The eyeglass lady had been speeding. She had passed C. illegally. She had broken the law prohibiting unnecessary use of the horn. She had illegally crossed the double yellow line to pass. More to the point, she admitted to all of it.

So of course, the bicycle cop on the bicycle (did I mention he was riding a bike?) began to berate … the cyclist. After hearing both sides of the story, he asked C. “Why didn’t you call me?”

“You mean while she was trying to kill me as I descended at the speed limit? Kind of whip my phone out of my jersey pocket and dial 911?”

“Well, it’s illegal to hit someone’s window like you admit to having done.”

“Right. And my reaction was in response to her assaulting me. So are you going to cite her for all the things she’s admitted doing?”

“It’s your word against hers.”

“Right, except she and I both agree that she was breaking the law.”

“Well, you should have called me.”

“Look,” said C., feeling very much as if he were living the Monty Python argument clinic or descending into tweetle-beetle-battle hell, “she called you and you’re here. What are you going to do about it?”

“It’s your word against hers,” said Deppity Doofus.

And that’s pretty much how it ended: The motorist, having admitted to a plethora of violations, one of them a moving violation, got to continue on while the Manhattan Beach bicycle cop (he was riding a bicycle) blamed the cyclist.

I thought about all this as I pondered Heath’s cyclist-hating comments and it made me think of Pogo. “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

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§ 58 Responses to The anti-cyclist cyclist

  • Tom Paterson says:

    Cyclists are the lowest items on the transportation food chain.
    I got bawled out for getting hit, once.
    Right turn from a middle lane, by a Ford Explorer. Right lane had an “enclosure” for a generator (street work). I was sheltering in the enclosure, going straight, clear road ahead, on near-downtown, multi-lane one-way street. Light changed, we both went. She cranked it over so hard and fast that I barely had time to turn my handlebars to avoid going under her front bumper, and I hit her just ahead of her rear wheel.
    Drivers like her are why pedestrians are admonished, in spite of having “the right of way” (ha! HA!!!) to make sure the intersection is “clear” before crossing.
    I heard the cop say to the nice lady “Yeah, we get this all the time, don’t worry!” before he came over to give it to me. With the now-flangy front wheel, little bit of road rash, and an ankle bone bruise that took a year or two to totally heal and go away (lucky me).
    “Give me the first little bit of backtalk and you’ll be going downtown and we’ll deliberately damage your bicycle further and charge you for towing!” was the message. “Yes sir” said I.
    I was about two feet away from the marked ped. crossing when I went straight. A few ped-witnesses were still hanging out, somewhat goggle-eyed, when the oinkers left. Yup, “It could have been me!” looks, for sure. And they were right, too. All the way from the center lane, and extra room to build up speed!
    The only satisfaction I got was when the Exploder passenger got out, all shaky-knees, and leaned down to ask (wait for it, you know what’s coming!) “Are you OK?”
    “Fuck no I’m not OK!!!” I barked, and laid there even though I was mostly OK until the driver came over, also very scared. I didn’t get up until she threatened to call the ambulance, and my show was over anyhow– maybe I should have bled profusely? As long as I couldn’t sue her, she was cool with it. And thus presented herself to the cop as the victim. And she didn’t even have to cry-cry, he was totally sympathetic.

    “Cyclists are the lowest item on the transportation food chain”.
    Remember that…
    (Apologies, this is almost as long as your piece, Seth! But, “enjoy”!)

    • fsethd says:

      Why couldn’t you sue her?

      Wow.

      • Tom Paterson says:

        I didn’t do this right, I admit. On the other hand, where would I get witnesses– the poor people waiting to cross who didn’t get run over (apparently only because I got hit first)?
        The cops “found” for the motorist, I wasn’t going to get any help there.
        Mostly, it was impressed on me that I was the “one who broke the law” by entering into that enclosed work zone, and therefore– besides the Original Sin of being a cyclist, of course (and the lyrca, etc. etc)– I needed to shut up and go away after I acceded to the holy authority of the cop.

        Yup, cost me to put a new rim & spokes on that hub, and I should have had a Dr. visit and treatment for my injury. Plus a nice chunk for pain, suffering, and punishment would have been very satisfying.

        Thank you (sincerely). I’ll try to do better and hope I never have to.

      • one of our buddies was sued by a rollerblader…after the rollerblader made a U-turn right in front of him. He slammed into her…on the bike path, that literally has printed on it “BIKES ONLY”…
        A week later he was sued by the blader…and his homeowners insurance PAID HER!!!!!…

      • fsethd says:

        Fear the blade!!

    • fsethd says:

      Also, no surprise that cops and motorists are out for blood, but it’s the pile-on mentality of other cyclists that puzzles me.

  • TomH says:

    So motorist confesses and the best the $150K+ officer can come up with is, ‘It’s your word against hers” WTF??
    So if I shoot multiple bullets at someone, but don’t actually hit them, can I also use the “my word against theirs” defense?

  • A-Trav says:

    “Heath” sounds a lot like a some right-wing asshat surfer who professes his love for the ocean (probably a Surfrider Foundation member) by driving a huge 16mpg 4WD truck- when he’s not, you know, cycling.

    • fsethd says:

      And then yaps about the other surfers hogging “his” waves in “his” lineup.

    • Tim says:

      Conservative? A conservative would Claim it’s his road, his taxes paid for it too so I will ride my bike on it.

      And make no mistake about it. Some of the most offensive drivers are rolling around with those dumbass Coexist, Choose Civility in Howard County, Meat is Murder, and Obama Biden bumper stickers.

      Jerk off anti cyclists know no political stripe.

  • Winemaker says:

    Out here in redneck country, it is way worse…there is an unofficial ‘sport’ between the ‘bros’ to hit/hurt/maim/kill cyclists. Yes, ‘they’ try to hit you, and the sheriff just laughs. It is an unfortunate fact of life for me, but I have to gear up ‘mentally’ for road rides. There are good mountain bike trails/roads starting a mile away, so my dog and I do those instead… Well, most of the time.
    As you know, I am just naturally curmudgeonly and ornery, so every coupla weeks or so, I just screw myself into that aggro state of roadie and head out….looking for some action! Spike Bike lives!

  • Crashgybe says:

    I was going to go for a ride this morning. I think I’ll go for a drive instead.

  • Tamar T. says:

    1. I block people. Usually they are right wing gun nuts on other friends pages, but if I am offended by a comment, I block the writer. They don’t know I blocked them and my peace is maintained from their hateful presence. Namaste.
    2. Confession. If I get to a red light, and it’s (kinda) clear, I’ll slow down but then ride through. Last week, on a group ride, i was reprimanded for riding through a red light. Whatever. I said sorry, because I got called out. The next red light, I stopped, and the guy who called me out rolled right through it. I said nothing! We have become such nannies….

    • fsethd says:

      I like nannies, but when they give me a pacifier and let me snuggle against their bosom.

      I hardly ever block people unless they repeat troll. I just unfollow their feed.

      It’s such a weird compulsion to monitor others’ riding behavior. We’re all guilty of it to some degree, but this idea that “I’m the perfect rider and anyone who ever breaks a law deserves to die” is foreign to me.

  • Peter Schindler says:

    Guess you now have to walk your bike on the colony right turn. I have been riding that road since 1974 and have never encountered the heat. I am sure you are right, some resident doesn’t like watching cyclists ride by.

    • fsethd says:

      So lame. But while I can sort of understand how the colonists hate anything that doesn’t travel in a limo, it weirds me out that this Heath dude, a cyclist, has it in for … cyclists. Don’t we have enough headaches already without having to worry about Heath? [Answer: Yes, Seth, we do. That’s why Sherri gives us moonshine.]

      • Winemaker says:

        I bet Heath-buddy really didn’t like that TT the North Hollywood Wheelmen used to put on using that road in the late 70’s. It was the unofficial start of the season…I rode it in tights and a jacket one time. The turnaround was right in the one way zone ticket trap you are talking about. As most Feb. races are, there were about 8 zillion entrants…Kevin Lutz won 22:30 for ten miles…no hassle from the celbs, tho’…maybe that’s what should the response should be…a TT there !

      • fsethd says:

        Heath don’t race. He trolls.

  • Les.B. says:

    Winemaker: “there is an unofficial ‘sport’ between the ‘bros’ to hit/hurt/maim/kill cyclists.”

    I read where one Texan cyclist would wear a USA Cycling jersey in its all RW&B. Then he’d get cheered by the redtards instead of bombed with projectiles.

  • David Huntsman says:

    Some kind of communal self-loathing. Burbling a little deeper under the surface than the dynamic that causes the tar-and-feathering of anyone who shows up without a helmet, but still betraying massive insecurity.

  • Robs Muir says:

    We have met the enemy, and he is them.

  • gttim says:

    “It’s a hall monitor complex…”

    After looking at the people who profess to doing that, I realized it seems to be a lot about privileged. Usually they are from privileged groups. I always find it odd, and being from every privileged group myself, do not respond well to it.

  • It’s been a while; maybe the trail slid in to the sea, but there used to be a way to cross-country it to the right of the guardrail and stay on the shoulder until you got past the “one-way” part of the road. One-way is in quotes there because I don’t know if the road is really one-way there, I think it’s just that you can’t make a right off SB PCH.

  • sirpa the biker says:

    likes to blather, yet can’t stand your own in a conversation. hilarious. got rid of your training wheels yet?

  • Jim Bangs says:

    You might have to explain to many of your readers who Pogo is.

  • velomonkey says:

    Well said. I simply can’t talk “bikes” with people as close as my family members. They get all “you never signal, you think you own the road, blah, blah, blah.” On my brother inlaws FB page he posted something anti bike – and while I agree there are idiot bikers (cause people ride bikes and some people suck) – it matters not to a driver – no bike rider, anywhere, ever, has killed a person in their car. EVER. Every year it’s 700 of us dead because of them and none of them. Anyway, on his FB page some friend of his – who has a bike as his profile pic – was all like “biker’s suck, I ride and you all suck.”

    We need a nation of islam type movement for biker’s rights. Pride in who we are and defense by any means nessary.

  • […] Cycling in the South Bay writes about an all too typical exchange between a cyclist, a dangerously aggressive driver and bike cop who blames the wrong one. […]

  • pvannuys says:

    Pogo was right.
    And basic courtesies toward other road users would improve– albeit slowly– the motorist/ cyclist relationship.
    But 95% of cyclists would rather act the victim than take responsibility to learn new skills or change their behavior. Every time I speak before a city council I have to answer for the jerks who blow stop signs, pass cars on the right, or ride sidewalks against traffic. Full kit or jeans and hoodie, we’re lumped into the same minority tribe by the majority in power. “Bicycle Culture” will never improve through cycletracks, green paint, or Cyclavias.
    It’s up to us, as individuals, to consistently give and get respect. If they don’t kill you, just smile and wave. (And think “Dumb Shit..!)

    • fsethd says:

      Basic courtesies are important and are a good idea. But many people when confronted with a narrow escape from death or serious injury respond emotionally.

  • 900aero says:

    Maybe I’m missing something ( & I don’t live in Cali so I don’t have local insight) but I can’t really fault the cop on the bike here. Doesn’t sound like he blamed the cyclist, more that he pointed out that the cyclists own actions had negated the wrongs done against him – in terms of being a black & white, open & shut case. Retaliating is always tempting in the heat of the moment but it rarely improves your point of negotiation. Cop was possibly frustrated that he couldn’t book the driver because he knew the charge would go nowhere – and needed to explain this.

    But I may be missing something.

    • fsethd says:

      Well, in law wrongs aren’t negated. If I assault you and you hit my car window, the cop has a duty to report my assault as an assault and, if he feels it necessary, to report my window-hitting as an assault as well. The city attorney will then review the facts and decide which person to charge, or as is sometimes the case, both. When the woman admits to the assault, it’s not true that “it will go nowhere.” It will be in the records so that the next time she tries to kill someone she can be held to a higher degree of culpability. Also, the city attorney can conclude that the window-hitting was not a crime, but that the dangerous car maneuver was.

    • ipdamages says:

      First, I am C – the cyclist in said story. The cop said he understood my frustration, but because I had no proof it was he said she said, so I should expect nothing to happen to her. But I definitely shouldn’t have slapped her window because if I had broken it with my slap that could have been assault. I almost burst out in laughter. When I asked him about the clear evidence showing that she had passed me on the wrong side of the road, she had been speeding (my Strava data showed my speed was 25 mph, the speed limit), and her admitted honking (in addition to her running me toward a car and not giving me 3 feet, which she disputed), he said it wasn’t enough. But there was no part of this that involved me tainting his case against her. He had no intent to do anything to her. Just to calm things down. The first thing he said to me was that I was not to talk to her again. Oh, and he said we will never have a 3 foot citation in MB until someone drives closer than 3 ft to him, in uniform, because it is impossible to prove.

  • vcscribe says:

    Buddy of ours (Tom P. and mine) was on an underpopulated Saturday AM group ride when a pickup full of drunken idiots drove alongside the group and began swerving at them/it. Group slowed. Truck moved ahead a bit, then slowed as group picked up the pace. Another threatening swerve. Group turned off. A few minutes later the truck reappeared and caught the group again, yelling and gesticulating and smashing beer bottles in the group’s path. On of the group pulled out a phone and dialed 911. Truck took off. Peace ensued for several minutes until, upon turning again, the group encountered the 1/2-ton yokel-mobile approaching it/them head-on. Truck gunned it and began swerving wildly from side to side, forcing several group members into the bar ditch and our buddy into a minor — but annoying — stack-up. Truck again took off. Group regrouped and continued. Once again, upon turning, the group spotted the pickup in question pulled over by one of Travis County’s finest. Deputy Dog was in his cruiser checking license and registration info as the group slowly cycled past the scene, generally grinning and taunting. Our buddy (a slight individual — picture Lucien Van Impe on a vegan diet) slowed, pulled up to the open driver’s-side window, and threw a sweet right cross at the driver’s chin, connecting with a satisfying ‘pop.’ Deputy Dog scrambled from his cruiser and shouted ‘HEY!’ The group held their/its collective breath/breaths. “If I see you do that again, I’m gonna have to arrest YOU!’

    • fsethd says:

      Best “skinny dude beats up redtard” story ever.

      And mad props to Deppity Dawg.

    • Tom Paterson says:

      Those are substantially the events related to me– including the punch line. Referred to as “applied psychology”, apt and fitting according to participants.
      Wish I could have been there.

      • fsethd says:

        Sometimes the best behavior mod is a crack on the jaw, followed by jumping through a plate glass window head-first.

  • Worldchamp says:

    Haha! This is too funny! Amazing how real life is more amusing than made up stuff.

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