Where’s a cop when you need one?

May 11, 2018 § 48 Comments

We were on our way to Dogtown Coffee when a cyclist rode up behind us. “Hey, annoying cyclists! Out of my way!”

I didn’t even bother to glance. I knew Bearclaw’s voice when I heard it. He pulled up alongside, grinning. “Where are you guys headed?”

“Coffee. You?”

“Morning commute, man. Best part of my day.”

“Bike commuting is the best,” I agreed.

“Commuting over here is amazing. None of the rage you get in the South Bay, where people hate you just for existing.”

“It’s not that bad lately,” I said.

“Really?” he was skeptical.

“Really,” I said. “With the exception of one encounter with Nasty McButtchaps, people seem to more or less accept that we’re entitled to be there. I haven’t been hassled at all.”

Bearclaw shrugged. “That’s a good thing. Wonder what changed?”

Biker friends everywhere

A few minutes after hooking up with Bearclaw, who agreed to accompany us to the coffee shop before continuing on, we ran into Gary going the other direction. He flipped a u-turn. “Mind if I join?” he asked.

“That would be awesome,” I said. “Coffee’s on me.”

We always joke before leaving on our Friday coffee rides that we are certain to run into someone we know, and we always do. I am pretty sure that doesn’t happen on the 405 freeway. It’s one of the many things that make pedaling around LA on your bike so much fun. The hectic pace of the city is slowed down to a human speed, with plenty of time to pause, take it all in, and enjoy running into people.

Once we got to Dogtown, Gary elbowed me out of the way and bought all of our coffee just as Ralf showed up. We had met Ralf and his wife there a couple of weeks ago, and he was going to ride with us for a short distance back to Venice. I’d promised his wife some sourdough starter, and I had a couple of books I figured he might like. We four sat around and talked about silly stuff, then talked about serious stuff, too, like how things seem to be headed back to the 30’s, and not in a good way.

Homeward bound

After we got the world’s most pressing problems lined out, we headed home. Everything had been perfect. Good coffee, good friends, good conversation, good bicycling.

As we turned onto Esplanade in Redondo Beach, cruising up the little bump in the middle of the lane conspicuously marked with a “Bikes May Use Full Lane” icon, a woman drove up a few feet behind us and let loose with a massive honk. I gave her a friendly one-finger wave and we continued on.

She blew through the stop sign, window down, and pulled up alongside, forcing me up against the line of parked cars. “Pull over!” she screamed. Her face was twisted like a nasty dishrag and I eyed her bumper with apprehension.

“Can’t you read, you [adjective] [colorful noun]?” I said. “The marking says ‘bikes may use full lane.'”

Now she was in full rage mode. “Pull over! Pull over now!”

“What you need,” I said, “is a reliable weight-loss program. Because the one you’re on isn’t working.”

Surprisingly, she got even madder, wildly swinging the front of her car towards me and pulling away at the last second. “Pull over! Pull over!” she continued to scream.

At this moment, a woman in a silver Audi SUV who had been following us pulled up alongside Broom Hilda. “Are you crazy? You’re going to kill them! They haven’t done anything wrong!” Now we had one driver shouting at another driver shouting at two cyclists shouting back.

Crazy lady ignored the other lady and kept screaming at me. All I could do was politely say “Hey, you [adjective] , [adjective], [adjective] [colorful noun], you can [verb] my [adjective] [colorful noun]. And lay off the Totino’s while you’re at it. That shit is making you rage.”

Oddly, this made her rage. “I’m calling the cops on you, you smartass! Let’s see what you tell the police!”

She pulled out her phone and dialed 911. “Oh boy,” I thought to myself, “another biker-v-cager he-said-she-said. We know who’s getting reamed now.”

The cavalry arrives, then leaves

At this very moment I spied an orange Lamborghini. There is only one orange Lamborghini I know of that lives on Esplanade, and it is owned by the chief sub-leader of Team Lizard Collectors, Greg S. “Sweet!” I thought. “G3 will see all this crazy and be my character witness when they try to drag me off in handcuffs!”

The Lambo slowed as Broom Hilda took another twelve swipes, running stop signs while shouting on her cell phone to the dispatcher. With all 45,000 lumens from my headlights blasting into G3’s rearview and sideview mirrors, I was all aces.

Or so it seemed, because unbeknownst to me G3 had just found the Sirius channel with a 24-hour playlist of Spanish jazz guitar songs written in the key of B, and he was oblivious to the perils of his buddy. The orange Lambo rolled away just as Broom Hilda made another vicious swerve that missed my front wheel by inches.

“I’m so fucked,” I thought.

He-said-she-said-they-saw

Seconds later I saw, miracle of miracles, a Redondo Beach police cruiser parked against the esplanade. Broom Hilda shrieked with glee. “You’re gonna get it now, asshole!” she yelled.

For a couple of blocks she continued shouting into the phone at the dispatcher. “What are the cops doing?” I wondered. “I believe in donut breaks and all, but this is ridiculous.”

On cue the flashers lit and the sirens howled. I pulled over, as did Broom Hilda. She sneered and said nothing. She didn’t have to.

The first cop got out and walked up to her while the second came over to us. “Please step over here,” he said firmly. As we stepped, I glanced at crazy lady, now several yards away. She was still screaming, only this time it was at the officer. “What do you mean?” she shrieked. “I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG!”

The cop nearest us turned to me. “We’ve been following you for two blocks,” he said. “We heard the whole fake report to the dispatcher and saw everything. She’s getting cited, don’t worry.”

Of course it crossed my mind to say, “Cited? You mean arrested, right? She tried to kill us and you saw it!” But then a bunch of other things crowded in. If she had wanted to kill or hit us, she easily could have. She was a crazy lady in a beat-up POS screaming at the cops in Redondo Beach. She had basically gone to the Karma Cafe and ordered from the drive-thru express window; the rest of her week would likely be spent figuring out how she was going to pay the citation.

Then, to make it even more unbelievable, the woman who had been following us in the Audi came dashing up. “Officer!” she said. “I saw the whole thing! Those bicyclists didn’t do anything wrong! They were where they were supposed to be and that lady tried to run them over!”

The cop nodded. “Thank you, ma’am, we saw it, too.”

“Can we go now?” I asked.

“Sure. Sorry for all this,” he said.

“Thanks for being there when we needed you.”

As we pedaled by, Broom Hilda interrupted her screams of innocence at the cop and yelled “Fuck you! Fuck you!” to our quickly receding backs. I was pretty sure I’d never seen anyone get out of a ticket with epithets.

We labored up the hill, suddenly exhausted by the tension. “The South Bay,” I mumbled, thinking about the woman last week who’d had her throat cut in the middle of the day at the Peninsula Mall, a few hundred yards away from where we live. “A family place.”

END

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§ 48 Responses to Where’s a cop when you need one?

  • Mike Hancock says:

    Nothing will kill the positive vibes emanating from a bicycle-induced endorphin rush faster than an angry, self-righteous cager. Sorry that happened.
    I’m glad the police responded as they did. Maybe a kind word back to the station about how the officers handled the situation could build a bridge or two. It always helps when they see you as actual people and not as a faceless user-group.
    You should take the wife up to the mountains for a bike-riding weekend, just to get out of the city and away from the tension.

  • …total verrueckt die Ami’s😀

    On Fri, May 11, 2018, 1:50 PM Cycling in the South Bay wrote:

    > fsethd posted: “We were on our way to Dogtown Coffee when a cyclist rode > up behind us. “Hey, annoying cyclists! Out of my way!” I didn’t even bother > to glance. I knew Bearclaw’s voice when I heard it. He pulled up alongside, > grinning. “Where are you guys headed?” “Coff” >

  • gcziko says:

    Damn, I missed all the excitement by pulling off in Playa del Rey. And I had my cameras running, too!

    I have to wonder what part of BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE (which is almost always the case, signed or not) did Broom Hilda have difficulty understanding.

    • fsethd says:

      I think she had massive problems with the following parts:
      1. Bikes (what is a bikes?)
      2. May (what is a may?)
      3. Use (what is a use?)
      4. Full (what is a full?)
      5. Lane (what is a lane?)

  • daytriker says:

    The one main thing I see as being wrong here is that your approach to dealing with this has done nothing but cause Broom Hilda to act even worse on the next group of cyclists she encounters. She may have been 100 % in the wrong & you may have been 100% within your rights to be riding where you were but a better outcome would have been for you to set an example where she could have discovered that cyclists are people too & not ass holes which is what will determine her attitude towards her next victims.

    • fsethd says:

      I guess you’re right if you consider cyclists responding to aggressive behavior “assholes.” And you don’t know what her attitude will be next time. She may think twice after being pulled over and slapped with a hefty fine. It’s easy to armchair a scenario in which someone may be trying to kill you as they repeatedly veer into you with their car. Less easy to be the model citizen. And being 100% within one’s rights matters. A lot.

    • fsethd says:

      And it’s interesting that the “main thing” you see as being wrong is the cyclist.

  • daytriker says:

    Not at all. Just how much do you think her attitude will change towards cyclists given that she already has a hate on in her mind against some evil cyclist delaying her stressed & busy day? Did you ever drive away after receiving a fine thinking, “Oh I will now try & become a model citizen.” or did you come away with even more anger thinking of ways you could have changed the outcome in your favour? Just to clarify, the biggest problem is attitude whether it comes from the driver or cyclist and the only way to have a lasting satisfactory outcome is to change ones attitude. I saw the cyclist as provoking the situation instead of trying to resolve it for everyone’s benefit. I agree the driver was raging & was out of control but do you know what circumstances put her in that frame of mind? Do you know what crisis might be going on in her life at that moment? Do you know whether she was armed, on drugs or just a nut job? You as a cyclist were extremely lucky she did not go Postal & decide to run you & your buddies over & then back up to make sure she did the job right! Provoking the already raging motorist was the worst thing you could do.

    • fsethd says:

      Here’s your comment, caught in the spam filter, which itself is pretty funny.

      “Just to clarify” is where you make even less sense. “The biggest problem is attitude whether it comes from the driver or the cyclist.” Guess what? It came from the driver, who literally swerved into two law-abiding cyclists multiple times. You are a typical cyclist who feels inferior, like you have be a good little boy when someone treats you like a piece of dung. I’m not that way. If you drive up behind me, honk like an enraged idiot, and swerve into me, I will curse you and more.

      I’m glad you are pschoanalyziing the aggressor. Too bad you’re not willing to do what the situation requires. Also, the facts prove you wrong: What I did was great because it resulted in her getting pulled over and ticketed, instead of playing the victim.

      So, you’re wrong on all counts. Facts and logic. They are so impersonal.

    • LesB says:

      What you are sorely missing is that this a mentally deranged person. There is no likelihood attitude adjustment here.

      SHE’S CRAZY

      Herein is a problem in the US right now, people don’t recognize mental illness when they see it. e.g. orangeman.

      • fsethd says:

        Was she crazy? Or just a bully? If crazy she would have hurt someone. If a bully, she would have crumpled like a tin can when challenged. Which is what happened.

  • daytriker says:

    Amazing how you deleted my counter point to your accusations. – I guess logic & mature dialogue is not within the scope of your existence.

    • fsethd says:

      ???

      • dangerstu says:

        I guess you file this in the “it ain’t just drivers who are crazy” file…

      • fsethd says:

        There is an entire population of cyclists who think the cyclist should never defend himself because “you might get hurt.” It’s called letting the bullies get their way. Most of the time de-escalation is okay, and I practice it. But not yesterday. And no regrets.

  • Marc Caruso says:

    Follow up how many citations did she receive. How the heck did you match her speed for so long. Were there seriously no opportunities for her to pass you?

  • daytriker says:

    fsethd – Caught in the Spam filter? haha – Provoking an already out of control Rager makes no sense? Typical cyclist that feels inferior? I HAVE to feel like a good little boy? Now who’s trying to psychoanalyse? I have just seen the results of 2 idiots who’s ATTITUDE precludes common sense & a desirable safe outcome when there is a conflict on our roads. Since in terms of risk & injury, you & your friends were the inferior party, you would go & provoke the situation because of your ego. Here’s a scenario for you, She decides to go Postal after you mouthing her off, giving her the finger & provoking her to the point where she decides to use her SUV to teach you a lesson. She runs your friends over, maybe several times and maybe YOU escape unscathed while your friends end up either dead or quadraplegics for the rest of their lives. All because YOU had to be the instigator, to provoke an already bad situation & make it worse. Think about that the next time you are riding with your buddies.

    • darelldd says:

      I had to look up the definition of “instigator” to make sure that I haven’t been using it wrong all these years.

      • fsethd says:

        It’s instigating when someone tries to kill you and you react aggressively. EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT. Also, it’s important to think deeply about the person’s crappy day/crappy life/constipation before defending yourself. After all, she might have been served whole instead of soy milk with her latte earlier that morning.

    • fsethd says:

      Yes, let’s always expect death and dismemberment so we will never stand up for ourselves. Bullies are bullies and 99% of the time they can be faced down. But the cowardly folks like yourself want the right to ride in the streets safely but are unwilling to ever call out the bullies because all you can think about is your own injury and mortality. You aren’t willing to risk anything, so you hug the gutter, apologize for existing, and then wonder why the next person gets run over. To call me an instigator when I’m assaulted and threatened shows you don’t understand law, fact, or anything else. Grow a backbone and act like you have rights. And you can start growing your backbone by posting under a real name so that there is actual accountability for your nonsense. You know, the kind of free speech where the right to say what you think is balanced by the risk that someone will punish you for it. Easy to hide behind the “daytriker” moniker, but it only proves my point: You’re content to be frightened and intimidated and inferior and pray that the cagers “let” you live. Tough way to get through the day, but it works for you.

  • Marc Caruso says:

    Are you going to file a police report what about charges?

  • Driver threatens bicyclist, cop gives driver a ticket, and you don’t believe in miracles?

    I’m glad you and your friend(s) are OK!

  • Sibex Czar says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Why wasn’t she cuffed and escorted to the station in the back seat and booked for attempted vehicular homicide? Would she actually have had to hit you for that to happen?

  • Sibex Czar says:

    Sounds like another case of white privilege. Sure I am assuming she was white, because if she was black or Latino? She would have been carted off.

  • daytriker says:

    Wow! FSTEHD – Do you actually believe what you write? Accusing me of HIDING (?) behind my handle & being a coward when clearly your only objective is to throw out insults behind your own hidden moniker. Funny, how you are quick to brand me with character weaknesses instead of being man enough to admit that you didn’t help the situation. I have to wonder would your actions have been exactly the same had your riding partners been your Grandmother or 12 year old kids? Would your behaviour be the example you would want them to follow? Would your actions be any different had they been run over by Broom Hilda’s out of control mental state? Before you go accusing someone of being a weak minded individual that just wants to play safe & be victimised try using some MATURE brain cells & think, “Is there a better way to handle this situation?” How about you try this the next time? – Let her have her rant, spilling vile language & venom into the universe & then calmly ask her if she is in need of help? Maybe ask her if she has an Emergency going on? Can I suggest a quicker route? Get the idea? – You’d be amazed that once the rage has subsided & you do not react to her with the same venom spewing out of your mouth, there is every possibility she would have apologised for being so aggressive. Grave yards could be full of Head Stones that read, “I had the right of way” and you have done nothing but put the next group of cyclists she encounters at risk.

    • fsethd says:

      You need to get off the Internet for a while. And in future you’ll need a verified name and email to poop here.

    • Marc Caruso says:

      @Daytrike

      Get off your high horse. Could Seth have improved his actions possibly? But that is neither here nor there. He reacted instinctively at the moment. We all can talk about de-escalation. but something happens someone tries to kill you and that whole de-escalation plan can go out the window in a heartbeat. Survival instinct kicks in and you think of two choices fight or flight.

      As to broom Hilda’s attitude it may or may not change. But I highly doubt she’s going to harass another cyclist or escalate to assault. Because if she does when the police arrive they won’t bother to ask her what happened they will simply say “You again?”

  • J Marvin Campbell says:

    So awesome that there was a cop there when you needed one! Pretty sure that once Daytrike gets hit by a car or two, he will have a whole new perspective. Sure worked for me.

  • Vlad Luskin says:

    Then, there’s the sub-species of cager that drives dangerously to get a reaction out of cyclists it buzzes for entertainment. A gesture- and expletive-filled response is its entire goal. Usually, I ignore close-passers — though not aggressive Hildas — and have a civil conversation if I catch them at a light.

    Hildas of the world get the same response as Seth’s, especially when my friend Brian is with me 🙂

  • Way to stand your ‘ground’ in several dimensions in this whacked-out encounter. Good outcome in a really volatile situation where no one got hurt is always a win. Bullies 0, Cyclists 1. Keep riding and writing brother!

  • leo d says:

    This just happened while reading these comments. A dog across the alley aggressively barks at some who walk by. Some politely shush the animal, some ignore. But just now walks the same guy who always yells back at this barker. The dog always get always gets more aggressive. Some of these road dogs are armed, and I am not, you want the road you got it. The cops are not there.

  • flehnerz says:

    Hopefully cager lady learns a lesson that it’s not okay to endanger other road users or make #fake statements to the police.

    Also, did troll commenter not read the disclaimer?

    “This is another way of saying that everything on this blog is true, except for the parts I make up, which is all of it. ”

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