The point-one percent

August 16, 2016 § 27 Comments

Here’s a quick rundown of things that have happened in the last couple of months:

  • Three cyclists killed in PV
  • Crazy road rager assaulted a man and his kid for riding their bikes
  • Friend #1 got run over on PCH in Malibu
  • Friend #2 got terribly injured by hit-and-run in San Diego
  • Friend #3 got run over in PV
  • Entire club ride narrowly avoided being taken out by road-raging Tesla
  • Group of angry NIMBYs tried to ban cyclists from public roads
  • Surfer gang member advocated death for cyclists who break traffic laws
  • Wealthy citizen compared cyclists to “dog shit”

It’s easy to think that the world has gone crazy. When bicycles are the enemy and cars are the hero, we’ve literally turned the Imperial Stormtroopers into underdogs.

Except, we haven’t.

These same last few months I’ve been riding almost exclusively in PV, ground zero for the bike wars, and I’ve been sticking to some of the most controversial residential areas where opposition to cyclists is supposedly fiercest. What I’ve found is surprising, and it’s this: Most people are friendly.

I make a point of waving and saying hello to everyone I run across. Except for a couple of incredibly sour people for whom death will be a huge relief (for them and for us), people invariably wave back and smile. I’ve stopped and chatted with Mark the Dude with the Two Giant Poodles, and Bob the 80-Year-Old Dude Who Has Run Across America Twice.

What’s more interesting is that I’ve had zero car-bike incidents. This doesn’t mean they aren’t happening; video from other cyclists proves otherwise. But by and large, people in PV are fine with bikes, especially when the cyclist is highly visible.

Since I began riding with super powerful daytime front-and-rear lights, I’ve become visible at all times. A 1200-lumen flashing headlamp gets your attention no matter how distracted you are, and a 100-lumen red taillight does the same.

What’s more interesting is that some very low-grade detective work has revealed that the “horde” of bike haters in PV is actually one guy using multiple fake aliases on social media to create the impression that many in the community share his views. The police know his identity, and although he’s noxious, crude, and wants to incite trouble, he’s nothing more than a harmless crank afraid to show his face in public, not to mention a terribly inept surfer.

At their worst, people may be slightly bothered by having to slow down for bikes. But the 99.9% hardly get enraged, and they certainly don’t wish for death and catastrophic injury as the penalty for pedaling a bike. Of course the .1% that do can do incredible damage, and they have.

But most people are on our side, and recently, so are the police. And 99%? The odds could be a lot worse.



For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, and support bike advocacy in all its forms. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!



Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

§ 27 Responses to The point-one percent

  • Trish Bakst says:

    Nice. We needed this.

    I rode pv a week ago on a friday. No problems either.

    Would be nice to get on a ride together. Lemme know if youre doing anything long.


    Sent from my iphone. Please blame all typos on Siri.


  • dangerstu says:

    Funny that, people being nice, who would have thought it. Personally I think all it takes is a friendly wave and people appreciate it, people in general are just looking for friendly interactions at all points in life, and to get it while being on the road which is not known for its friendly environment makes it stick out.

    Now let’s not get all English National Soccer team and grab defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • Chris says:

    Thanks for posting this. I ride PV once a week and also have very few if any problems, and usually find people waving me through stop signs as I am slowing down. Doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done, but it’s not the all out war that we seem to read about

    • fsethd says:

      It’s not an all-out war, but three deaths is inexcusable and points to broader problems. The main thing is that while we insist on legal rights and educating the community, we remember that most people don’t hate cyclists and want to do what’s right.

  • Midland says:

    Thanks Seth. I too have found a nod and a wave generally gets a smile from most folks. I like to think it helps incrementally.

  • Joninsocal says:

    Great post, my experience is the same. We tend to dwell on the idiots we meet and forget the huge majority who have either no beef or are downright smiley and friendly. Who can beat yesterday’s post on facebag about a driver handing out bananas – brilliant!

    • fsethd says:

      Yeah, pretty awesome. We never hear from the people who are alert, note our presence, make room, and move on. Which is almost everyone …

  • Liz Kurtz says:

    I love it when they wave me through. I especially love it when they have the right of way and I put a foot down for them. Then they wave me though. I wave them through. They insist. I thank them and then take what seems like 15 minutes to clip in, begin pedaling in my big ring, and buffoon my way past them pretending to grimace so they can see that, yeah, they should have gone first. Noinetheless, I love them for doing that.

    • fsethd says:

      Being nice doesn’t cost you anything.

    • ALWAYS be cautious, however, with that.Some idiot, “just trying to be nice”, waved another car in front of me to which I collided with. They were being “nice” to the driver that pulled out, not considering the fact that I was approaching and was unable to stop or avoid in time. They may be “trying to be nice” but ALWAYS remember that YOUR safety is far more important than their need to “feel good”. So, while “being nice” doesn’t cost YOU anything, it may well cost another. I still don’t have complete feeling in my face and am missing about 15 minutes of my life (as in no recollection at all) because of someone “just being nice”.

  • dave cairncross says:

    Life’s so fucking much easier if we all give the slightest amount of courtesy to each other.

    By far, most motorists give courtesy.

    Seth, every entitled hate bearing A hole you dethrone, every BMUFL sign that goes up, every pine splinter in your ass, and every cyclist that carries this cause with you, the world is getting better.
    Thanks for all you do

  • Steven says:

    What a great upbeat post. I agree most people are friendly.

    I do my PV Loopfest a few times each year 11-14 nonstop laps around PV (PVW to PVS to PVE to PVN and reverse), and I’ve never, once had an incident. My last loopfest was two weeks ago and I said “hi” to nearly everyone I pass and get a friendly greeting back – unless they’re zoned out with headphones.

  • Matt Smith says:


    I’ve had some of the best experiences as of late riding in the PVE area. Following Cycling Savvy (haven’t taken the class, but have studied their website for awhile now) has made my cycling experience a little bit less nerve-wracking.

    Anecdotally, I feel that many drivers prefer me to be in the center of the lane. I am visible and predictable, and I move aside as soon as it’s safe, waving the car through. I can’t put my finger on it, but something about this communication, about taking charge of the interaction, puts all drivers at ease (auto, moto, bicycle).

    I’ve gotten in the habit of taking stock in my luck, or blessings, or whatever, after I return from my ride. Like you said, the numbers (99%) are on our side, but there’s always a chance. Always.

  • LesB says:

    Only time I remember encountering anger in PV was when I was grinding up Del Monte few months ago. When I have to pop a lugie I try to be discreet, do it when no one’s watching, and aim for the gutter. This one time, for some reason I failed to see this old dude, even older than me, hobbling along the sidewalk toward me with a cane. And for some reason I missed the gutter and landed it on the top of the curb. The old dude yelled and waved his cane at me. If he had hit me with it he’d a probably lost his balance and cracked his skull.

    Anyway, In this case, he was right, I was wrong.

    My overwhelming experience in PV and elsewhere is people are friendly to me when I’m out parading in my underwear.

  • Brian in VA says:

    This is great!

    Just last week, I posted on the local area FB page a thank you as I had just come back from my morning ride and every single driver had given me wide berth (we’re out in the “country” of Richmond VA) and nearly every single person had waved back at me when I waved to thank them. The resulting responses were interesting; most thanked me, some were amazed that not all cyclists are assholes, and some asked intelligent questions about how they should act around cyclists.

    It turned into an excellent give and take with a great deal of learning among the drivers. (You mean, I shouldn’t honk my horn to let them know I’m passing them? And it’s legal to cross a double yellow to pass as long as it’s safe to do so? What’s a blind curve?)

    One clown posted something negative and the page moderator deleted him after everyone else had chimed in on what a troll he was. It was beautiful.

    I think we may be on to something here…….

  • Woody Foster says:

    99% sounds good at first glance but I’d hate to be run over once for every 100 rides on my bike. At that rate I’d get knocked off 2-3 times per year which would be pretty inconvenient.
    I’d have to say that in all the places I ride around the world I’d feel safest in L.A. Sure there is the odd Muppet there just like anywhere else but your litigation laws seem to make people a bit more conscientious. Here in NZ you can run someone over and not be sued.

What’s this?

You are currently reading The point-one percent at Cycling in the South Bay.


%d bloggers like this: