Can I ask you a question?

February 6, 2016 § 26 Comments

When I am getting off my bike at a coffee shop or lounging around at a coffee shop or standing in line in a coffee shop no one ever asks me anything. My scruffy facial mold and salt-caked dark glasses seem stand-offish, if not downright contagious.

Derek the Destroyer, however, always gets chatted up. He is always clean and clean-shaven. His kit is never caked with salt. He looks like the upstanding member of society that he is, amiable, professional, approachable. In other words, he attracts the nutjobs like patriots to a bird-watching refuge.

Today we had put in some huge hours, about four, doing a total of thirty miles. This is harder than it looks and always involves coffee stops. As we entered our fourth hour we decided to do something I’ve never done in the middle of a bike ride, and neither has he. We swung by the Baskin-Robbins for a double-dip in a fat waffle cone.

As Derek was tying up his horse this lady came up. We were at the PV Mall, where none of the customers work, and most are only vaguely aware of the mechanism by which their bank accounts are regularly replenished.

“Excuse me,” she said. “Can I ask you a question?”

Now the only appropriate answer to such a question is “No.” Firmly. Then you spin on your heel (hard to do in cleats but still necessary) and clip-clop into the ice cream store.

But not Derek. “Sure,” he said.

“Now I don’t mean this to you personally,” she began, which is the passive-aggressive intro to saying something very personal, “but why is it that you cyclists all ride out in the middle of the street?”

I was halfway into the shop but turned around. This was going to be good. “That’s a good question,” Derek said in what appeared to be his opening gambit for a Nobel Peace Prize.

I, on the other hand, was more in search of a Sauron Medallion of War. “It’s a terrible question,” I interjected.

The lady looked at me, concerned that the moldy-faced salty one had chosen her over the peanut butter-chocolate double dip. “A better question would be, ‘Why don’t all you cyclists just go kill yourselves or go get cars because you’re slowing us down for our hot yoga and orgasm workouts.'”

“Don’t mind him,” said Derek, “he’s harmless. Mostly.”

“Or an even better question would be, ‘Why is it that all of you cagers are ignorant of the vehicle code sections that allow us to occupy the lane?'”

“Cyclists really get in the way,” she said plaintively, “and I’m a cyclist, too. I ride my Motobiccany, when I ride it, on the sidewalk or in the bike lane. Why can’t you?”

I thought about giving her an Academie Francaise award for her pronunciation of “Motobecane,” but didn’t think I could spit that far. “Well,” said the diplomat, “it’s often safer in the lane, which is perfectly legal, than on the edge, where cars try to squeeze by on the way to yoga and accidentally kill or maim you by mistake. Those ‘oops’ moments can be really inconvenient when you spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair. And of course they scratch up the vehicle’s clearcoat.”

“Hey, can I ask you a question?” I said.

“Okay,” she said.

“This isn’t personally directed at you, but why is it that middle-aged women at the PV mall look like they’re … ”

Derek grabbed me by the elbow. “C’mon Wanky,” he said. “The ice cream is that way.” He turned to the lady, who was imagining the awful ending to my unfinished question. “Have a nice day, ma’am. And share the road.”

END

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Words sort of matter

November 29, 2015 § 34 Comments

One of my favorite words when describing stupid people in their underwear getting run over by even stupider-er cagers has always been “accident.” It rolls off the tongue, and it fits our existence in the cosmos.

Like it or not, the sperm that hooked up with your mother’s egg was an accident. It could have been the tadpole vigorously swimming next to him, but it wasn’t.

“Accident” also perfectly describes the universe: There is no dog, only random chance. The gas cloud that swirled and eventually became the Milky Way, which has 68 different stars, and which eventually calved off Earth and the glaciers which are themselves calving off … all accidents.

Things don’t happen for a reason, they happen at random. For example, my broken hip and dislodged pancreas. There was no reason that I decided to take the hairpin full bore, it was a spur of the moment thing: Hugely beautiful weather, no cars, great legs, and a happy desire to get to the start of the Donut Ride and try to drop the shit out of all my friends.

It was random that I hit on my incus bone instead of my hyoid bone, and it was random that even though I was PRAYING TO DOG that traffic would be coming in the other direction so they could see me hit the apex of the curve like the Master of the Universe™, bent so low and leaned so far that I could lick the asphalt with my tongue, in fact there were no cars in the opposite direction which prevented me from getting run over and crushed to death when I slid out into the other lane, licking the asphalt but not being all that happy about it.

Everything is random. It was random that G3 came by as I sat shuddering on the curb and gave me a quick neural check that the EMT’s hadn’t bothered with. “No neurons here, guys,” he confirmed.

Of course “accident” leads naturally from “random” because like “random,” “accident” is cause-neutral. Shit just happened. Bonehead came out of nowhere. I never saw anything, Ossifer.

The problem is that even though everything happens at random, thereby eliminating dog and the search for an ultimate cause, random events nonetheless act according to set laws of physics, and they are the result of specific choices.

So I’ve got this troll. Okay, he’s not a troll, he’s a pretty awesome guy, but he acts like a troll, and here’s how he does it. Every time I use the word “accident” in my blog, he sends me an email and often posts a comment that reminds me “There are are no accidents in cycling. You described a crash or a collision, but not an accident.”

You can easily see his point. “Oops. It appears that I just killed your husband, child, and dog due to this important picture of my dick I was sending to a teenager while driving. Sorry. I feel terrible about this tragic accident.” The word accident robs the victim of justice and allows the dick-picker to evade responsibility.

Nor is this just one of my trolls getting on his high horse. The oldest peer-reviewed medical journal in the galaxy has retired the word “accident” for much the same reasons.

The Washington Post, hardly a mouthpiece for foamy-mouthed bicycle advocates, has also seen the light, albeit dimly. And of course well over a year ago Bike Snot NYC took the word “accident” out behind his garage and shot it. And it wasn’t an accidental shooting, either.

But there’s more. The most boring, orthodox, gear-pimping, unreadable publication ever printed, Bicycle Magazine, even wrote a primer for newspapers about how to rephrase headlines. And then the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency, which is responsible for keeping bicycles off the streets and making the roads safe for cages and the cagers who inhabit them, got on the “crashes are not accidents” bandwagon way back in 1997, although admittedly it was for the benefit of cagers, not underwear pedalers.

The reason for discarding “accident” is simple. Vehicle crashes and injuries are predictable, preventable events. Continued use of the word “accident” promotes the concept that these events are outside of human influence or control when in fact they are predictable results of specific actions. Since we can identify the causes of crashes, we can take action to alter the effect, and avoid collisions. These events are not acts of dog but predictable results of the unpredictable combination of stupid choices and the rather impersonal laws of physics.

Of course the problem is that there is no perfect substitute for “accident.” Crash, collision, and incident seem good on the surface, and they are an improvement over “Shit, I killed him on accident,” but they don’t fit the basic problem of bicycles, which is that you are a functional fool for riding around in your underwear at high speeds in order to take deadly hairpin curves while praying for witnesses as you skid out on your incus bone.

Nor do these words cover the inherent motivation behind caging, which is that you are a lazy, careless slob who thinks that because you can point 4,000 pounds of metal and mash down on a pedal that you are somehow a good driver. We need a lexicon that will alert people to the fact that two inherently stupid people are about to meet in a mashup of gore and broken parts, with all of the gore and breakage happening to the underwear-wearer, and the spilled latte happening to the scrap-metal-pointer.

I’d suggest the following:

  1. Did the underwear pedaler fall off unassisted, for example by speeding around a hairpin while recklessly hoping people would witness his awesomeness only to be scrubbed across the asphalt like the idiot he is? These and similar occurrences should be referred to as “bicycle falling off incidents.”
  2. Did the underwear pedaler get killed by an impaired cager? These occurrences should be called “Murder” and treated accordingly.
  3. Did the underwear pedaler take out another underwear pedaler under the auspices of an organizing body? This has been written about extensively and to great effect, and although not accepted in most Baptist churches, we will call this “natural selection.”
  4. Did the underwear pedaler get creamed by a cager? We will call this “Seth Davidson, Injured Bicyle Injury Lawyer Referral” and call (424) 241-8118 ASAP.

Now … go ride your bike!

END

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Popes on bikes

September 29, 2015 § 32 Comments

pope_and_bike

With the publicity surrounding his rock star tour to the USA, I’ve been wondering what the Pope thinks about bicycles.

Now don’t mistake me. I like this pope.

He seems like a good guy, and very un-Catholic for a Pope: Bringing down the hammer on the rich, extolling immigrants, championing the environment, and urging us to live up to our American ideals (funny, I thought we were already doing a pretty good job of hating foreigners, starting foreign wars, devouring the planet, and guns).

But what does the Pope think about bicycles? Turns out he talks a pretty solid line. In an informal audience given a couple of years ago, he criticized people seeking flashy new cars and talked about how happy it made him when he sees his personal secretary pedaling around on a bicycle.

Then a couple of days ago he was gifted with a bike from the City of Philadelphia.

As it turns out, like most PR, he talks a pretty good game but admits that for him, “cars are a necessity.” It’s kind of one of those “do as I say, not as I do” deals. Catholics will understand.

Still, there’s something really problematic about all this, and it’s sort of related to bicycles and the fact that the Pope says one thing but does another. Let’s imagine this:

A major corporation — say, Volkswagen — while it is manufacturing cars, puts in place a system whereby it also rapes several hundred thousand children. The assembly line is boring, so to spice things up the managers bring in young children and together with the the workers rape them over and over and over. And over and over.

In fact, the child raping becomes an ingrained and profound part of the corporate culture, and it’s such a popular pastime that even, or especially, guys in the head office partake in child raping from time to time. The children’s lives are predictably ruined. Occasionally a few children complain about getting raped to shit and having their lives destroyed but their complaints are either ignored, or hush money is paid, or the outed rapist gets shifted over to the assembly line in Mexico (where he rapes little Mexican kids).

Then, people get tired of the child raping and the big corporation is called to account. It pays out billions, apologizes, fires a few people, and makes a big deal about its new corporate culture. “Eco-Friendly Cars and No Child Raping!”

Then the company hires a new CEO and he’s all about eco-friendliness and being nice to children instead of raping them. And THEN the new CEO plans a tour of the USA. Would the President meet with him? Would he be invited to address Congress? Would millions throng the streets to welcome him?

Would he be given a new bike?

It’s (almost) always worth the fight

September 22, 2015 § 22 Comments

Winning!

Winning!

Several months ago I was contacted by a rider who got ticketed by CHP for violating CVC 21202(a), the infamous “FTR” or “far to the right” law, not to be confused with Dave Jaeger’s French Toast Ride. At all.

The rider, Dan Funk, emailed me a copy of the citation and asked my professional opinion, and after the cursing finished I told him that it was a bogus ticket and that he should fight it. The problem is that he got the ticket riding on Angeles Crest and although he lives in West LA, the ticket was assigned to West Covina. This is like living in Manhattan and having to go to court in South Carolina, only the drive from Manhattan is faster and there’s less traffic.

The place where he was ticketed was absurd; there’s no shoulder and the only place you can ride is in the travel lane. In Dan’s case, he was actually trying to hug the fog line, and even then the cop pulled him over and ticketed him. “What’s this ticket for?” asked Dan.

“We’ve been ticketing motorists so we have to ticket some cyclists to balance it out,” advised the CHP cop.

You know, it’s the policy of equal enforcement, and I kind of like it, and wish they would apply it in other areas. “For every black person we arrest, we’re going to arrest a white person.”

“For every poor person we execute, we’re going to execute a rich one.”

It would bring some much needed change to our criminal justice system, and it’s a concept we could apply to other areas as well. “We’ve been giving out lots of tax breaks to big corporations, so we have to give tax breaks to ordinary people, too.”

Or what about this? “We’ve been letting abortion activists burn down clinics and shoot doctors, so we’re going to burn down some churches and shoot a few fundie pastors.”

There’s a lot to be said for equality.

Dan and I took the day off and met at West Covina. The courtroom filled with CHP cops. “This looks like a court where they show up,” I said. “Recognize any of these guys?”

“Nope. Mine was a motorcycle cop.” They were all in patrol car costumes.

Finally a very badass moto cop strutted in. “That him?” I asked.

“Nope.”

Our case got called and dismissed, and we celebrated by getting to drive through eighteen more hours of traffic to get home.

Next time, under the principle of equality, I’m going to ask the judge if he’ll make a random CHP cop have to drive home in the back seat with me.

END

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To serve and protect

September 17, 2015 § 44 Comments

Before bike video cameras and dumb phones and such, I used to practice memorizing license plates of passing cars. You never knew when some cager would buzz you or hit you and if you couldn’t identify the car the police wouldn’t do anything.

I always had a chip on my shoulder about law enforcement that didn’t care about cyclists, a chip that grew with each passing stop-sign-blowing citation. As a buddy mused the other day, and I agreed, “You know, I can’t work up outrage anymore at senseless cager killings.” He was referring to the gal who was looking for her mascara and swerved onto the shoulder, killing a cyclist, then overcorrecting into oncoming traffic and killing a motorcyclist.

Oops!

Thankfully, though, she wasn’t charged or even taken in for questioning. Ventura County law enforcement is understanding like that.

My pal and I agreed that the constant stream of killings, buzzings, screamings, harassings, abusings, and throwings has made us numb. Another one bites the dust? That’s what you get for riding a bicycle, you were warned. Warned, for example, by entities like the Boston Globe, which ran a nice editorial about how bicycling is dangerous so get off the fuggin’ street.

Closer to home, The Daily Breeze champions the cause of repressed and downtrodden cagers in the South Bay.

On my afternoon pedal along PV Drive West today I heard the catcall behind me followed by the deep hum of fat tires. PV High School had just released its Adderall-addled spoiled children from their playpen, and what could be more fun than hauling your brand new Jeep Wrangler stuffed with two friends within a foot of a grumpy old fart and pelting him with a sandwich?

Answer: NOTHING!!

I swung over after forcing my middle finger back into position and dialed 911. The PVPD dispatcher took my information. “What kind of car was it?”

“2014 or 2015 Jeep Wrangler, black.”

“Did you get the license plate?”

“In fact I did. 7LBC437.”

She was kind of surprised. “And you’re on a bike?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll send a car out. Stay there.”

“But … ”

So I stayed. The cops arrived, and one of them was the same officer who had pulled me over and ticketed me the month before. He smiled when he saw me. They took my statement and then their radios beeped. “Just a second,” said one. He listened, then looked up at me. “Well, we’ve apprehended them. Do you want to press charges?”

“Hell, yes.”

“We’ll need you to come make a field identification. They’re just up the road.”

“Great,” I said, but in reality I thought, “FUCKING AWESOME! THIS NEVER HAPPENS!”

Things soon got complicated, though. I had ID’d three boys, but in fact the driver was a boy and the thrower was a girl. They grilled me about whether I could identify her. “No,” I admitted. “I thought they were all guys. Plus, I was so busy not crashing and memorizing the license plate and model of the car … ”

The cops nodded sympathetically. Later, another cop came, this time the head supervisor. He was direct. “If he tried to hit you with his car it’s assault with a deadly weapon. You want to press charges?”

“Yes,” I said.

He was all business and had exactly zero sympathy for these rich little brats. “Okay. Let’s go do a field ID.”

“Just a sec,” I said. “I didn’t get hit. I don’t want these kids to go to jail.” I thought about my own youth, the felonies I’d committed, the people who had given me a second chance (or third, or fourth), and about how different my life would be if I’d started out life with a felony conviction.

“So you don’t think he intended to hit you?”

“If he’d intended to hit me I’d be dead now.”

“What was he doing, then?”

“He was trying to get close enough so that his girlfriend could whack me with some ham and mustard.”

“That sounds like reckless driving to me.”

“Officer,” I said, “maybe pressing charges and dragging this kid’s sorry ass through the courts will change him. But what I’d really rather have happen is that, while he’s in your custody, he comes to appreciate the seriousness of what he’s done.”

“The girls are in tears and he practically is, too. We’ve got him in our database and we’re making a report and will refer it to the city attorney, who can file charges if she wants to. I think he’s terrified.”

“I’d like to let it go, then.”

The officer nodded. “Okay.”

“And one other thing.”

“Yes?”

“Your guys popped me for running a stop sign the other day and it always seems like you take bicycle stop sign violations more seriously than motorists trying to kill cyclists.”

“Yes?”

“And your presence and actions today have convinced me I’m wrong. Thanks for chasing those kids down.”

“It’s our job.”

“I know,” I said. “And thank you for doing it.”

END

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Join our support group on November 18!!

September 14, 2015 § 16 Comments

I hope everyone will take the day off on November 18, 2015, to join me and my friends for a super celebration at the Torrance Courthouse, 8:30 AM, Department 3. It’s going to be awesome!

We will all gather to show our support for Ryan Michael Marco, who is being UNFAIRLY arraigned for violating Penal Code Section 245(a)(1), which reads in pertinent part:

Any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.

Ol’ Ryan, who I’m sure is a fine, upstanding family man who would never beat his wife for burning the canned chili, will be having an arraignment party as a result of assaulting a local cyclist in PV with his work truck. It is something of a long story, and hardly worth retelling because it happens so often, but in this instance Ol’ Ryan committed his alleged crime in the presence of a peace officer and was ultimately charged for his alleged misdeeds.

Most of the time that a cager tries to kill a cyclist, or when, as in Milton Olin’s case, they actually do, law enforcement looks the other way or gives them a certificate of merit. Sad to say this didn’t happen with Ol’ Ryan, and he’s now staring down the barrel of a felony. The mean old LA Sheriff’s Department at the Lomita Substation has taken the crazy position that you can’t try to run over cyclists for sport. Are they messed up or what?????

You’re probably wondering how you can help this cool dude? How you can show your support? How you can let him know that he’s loved because deep down inside he probably only meant to partially kill the cyclist rather than waste him completely?

Here’s how!!

Join me and my other cycling buddies for Ol’ Ryan’s arraignment where we can show our moral support as cyclists for poor, misunderstood homicidal cagers who are just having a bit of fun on the way to work. Plus, the city attorney needs to see that we think there’s nothing wrong with trying to kill people who dress up in clown suit underwear while pedaling bicycles, as long as the attempt is all in fun.

After Ol’ Ryan’s arraignment we will hold a candlelight vigil in the parking lot and stomp a ceremonial baby seal to show our moral support for this victim of the judicial system. A collection will also be taken up to pay for his legal defense fund, and we will take this miscarriage of justice all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to!!!!

Thank you and see you there!

END

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Making the roads safer for reckless LEO’s

August 11, 2015 § 38 Comments

Yesterday I blogged about some traffic tickets that we, a fearsome threesome of stretchy-underwear clad older fellows and a twig-man, incurred when we violated California Vehicle Code Section 42123.234(i)a-delta.

In other words, we ran a stop sign.

The Palos Verdes Estates cops wagged their fingers and told us about how it was for our own good, even though there were no cars on the road, at the intersection, or anywhere except in the garages of the rich and infamous.

We drooped our dicks in the dirt and let them get stomped on, then went home, scolded, punished, and left to contemplate our misdeeds.

Then this morning I got this message from a friend driving to work in Palos Verdes Estates:

Hey, Wanky! Listen to this …

I was driving northbound on Palos Verdes Dr. at 6:26 AM in the No. 1 lane. As I was crossing Hawthorne, there was a dump truck in the No. 1 lane. The car in front of me moved into the No. 2 lane and passed the dump truck. I did the same thing, and so did the vehicle behind me, a white Ford pickup. As the two lanes merged into 1 lane, the white truck began tailgating my vehicle. We reached Silver Spur and the road opened up into two same-direction lanes again. I pulled into the No. 1 lane and the white truck merged into the No. 1 lane. I came to a complete stop, but the white truck went through the stop sign, not touching the brakes, which I could tell because his brake lights didn’t go on. I estimate his a speed at 20 to 25mph minimum. The exact speed was hard to judge because I was coming to a complete stop.

At this point I decided to call 911 because the operator was driving recklessly, and it occurred to me that he may have been drunk. When I crossed Silver Spur, continuing on PV Drive North, the truck slowed down to 25mph, and was now in front of my vehicle. It began to slow as we approached the next stop sign. At that moment the truck swerved towards me and rolled the stop sign, this time at 3 to 5 mph. I was still on the phone with dispatch giving them a license plate and description of the vehicle and merged back into the lane to proceed on my northbound route. I followed the vehicle to the stop sign before Malaga Cove, where it proceeded to stop at that stop sign for 45 to 60 seconds. I knew at this point that the driver was either documenting my vehicle or just trying to harass me with the long stop. As I was making a left into Malaga Cove, the vehicle pulled into the police station.

I realized that the driver was a PV Estates policeman, and was shocked at his reckless driving. I’m a cyclist and know that the PVEPD has recently been ticketing cyclists for running stop signs due to safety concerns. I couldn’t believe the intentionally reckless behavior of the driver, and was even more upset by his harassment. I immediately filed a verbal complaint with the watch commander.

At the time I thought it had to be some whackjob or high school kid driving like this … but it was a law enforcement officer, someone who is supposed to “serve and protect” not “endanger and kill.” On top of that he used scare tactics, swerving towards me in his personal vehicle, a Ford F250 with blacked-out windows and an American flag on the back. What a great American he is!

This cop has probably done this before and will likely do it again. If you had been on a bike, in a car, or on a horse, and had made a complete stop before trying to cross PV Drive north on Silverspur, you would have been severely injured or killed, even though you were obeying the law. He should be prosecuted and lose his job. I don’t think he realizes or cares how dangerous his behavior was.

END

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