Can I ask you a question?

February 6, 2016 § 41 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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The road ahead: Mark & Udo

November 12, 2015 § 10 Comments

Two items from two friends:

ITEM 1: The Road Ahead

My friend Dave Worthington is working with the cycling community in Orange County to put together a ride this Sunday that will benefit legendary SoCal racer Mark Scott. Mark is undergoing chemo for advanced leukemia. The ride leaves Bike Religion, 34150 PCH in Dana Point at 8:30 AM. Click on this link to register and learn more about Mark.

MarkScottFlyerFinalExtended

Here is what it’s all about, in Dave’s words:

To Seth:

August, 8th Floor, Hoag  Memorial Hospital. Surgical masks at the door, tubes and monitors everywhere. I held his arm for a moment. Sick, but still solid gold, and asked my friend Mark Scott, “What music are you playing to help you through the night?”

“David, lately, ‘Shine Like it Does.’

‘This is the story

Since time began.

There will come a day

When we will know

And if you’re looking you will find it.’

“Shit, Mark, that’s a good one. Helped me through my freshman year at Texas. And bro, the chemo diet seems an extreme measure just so a sprinter like you can climb with the goats.” Our tears pooled like rain.

But you know something? We got this.

News We Can Use

Last June a cycling champion, advocate, and all-around great guy named Mark Scott was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). After several rounds of chemo, Mark is still in need of a life altering bone marrow transplant.

With the help of his healthcare team and with your support, Mark is poised to return to life as he once knew it, filled with love, surrounded by family and friends, driven by hard work and by his love for pedaling about this amazing planet.

Until the exact genetic markers are matched for the transplant, the immediate concern is to minimize the effects of the cancer via chemotherapy and blood transfusions. The entire oncology department at Hoag has fallen in love with Mark, and as far as we’re concerned, there’s no surprise there. Mark is so strong, always cool with his Colgate smile and sapphire eyes.

Inside, of course, it hurts like hell, but from the smile on his face you’d never, ever know.

Post ICU

Mark’s eyes were coal. Who dimmed the lights? “Mark … WTF?”

Mark was unresponsive. He was digging deeper than ever before, at war on the inside. For the first time in a long friendship he had nothing to spare for my tiny Me-Problems. “Mark, I’m your little brother, WTF?”

At his bedside, Mark told the enemy, “I’m gonna keep fighting.” Every cell in his body under attack and every cell fighting back.

“Now back off! I’m gonna keep fighting, man.”

More News We Can Use

To date Mark has endured four grueling chemotherapy sessions. From head to toe, his body has been riddled with a battery of probes, needles, bone core drills, aorta catheters, lumbar punctures, spinal taps, x-rays, and MRI’s. Through it all, Mark has yet to utter a single word of complaint, not one. All he’s done is smile, then grit his teeth and battle back. Mark Scott has spent a LIFETIME being the first guy to step up for his friends and for his community, and since he’s too humble to ask for your help, we are asking for him: We need your help.

This Sunday, Nov. 15, we are raising funds to directly benefit Mark during this fight with cancer. Additionally, Team Mark Scott wants to increase awareness of leukemia and those it afflicts. Simply by registering for ride, whether you attend or not, you’ll be helping MARK SCOTT.

Cancer can hit any of us at any time. Why Mark? We don’t know, but we know he’s not the only one. Another champion, Rahsaan Bahati, has an 8-year old nephew suffering from leukemia. Rahsaan will be joining us on Sunday, too.

Words from a Friend

Mark loves and appreciates you all. He has the stomach and backbone to beat this. Though not out of the woods, he’s made huge strides. Still, the hard part is yet to come. Remember, more than the rubber on the road, it’s the inner tube that’s 100 times stronger because it carries the pressure and the load; it’s what’s inside that counts.Whether you can make it or not, a donation of any amount will make a huge difference since Mark will be unable to return to work during this fight. www.gofundme.com/markscott

You can also support simply by registering for the ride. And like the song said:

“Shine Like it Does

Into Every Heart.

Shine Like it Does.

And if you’re Looking

You will Find It.

You will Find It.”

ITEM 2: Celebration of the Life of Udo Heinz

The Belgian Waffle Ride was conceived to challenge limits and to connect us as a community. Udo Heinz, a husband and father of two who was struck and killed near Camp Pendleton in 2013—is the closest to our heart.

Join us as we celebrate Udo’s life with a 55-mile memorial ride featuring friends, road and dirt on Saturday, November 14, starting from Stone Brewing Co. at 8:00 AM.

Hosted by the Ranchos Cycling Team, please RSVP for the ride and view additional details here: http://www.ranchoscycling.org/#!events/ccto

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But that’s just the beginning. Udo’s wife Antje shared this beautiful letter.

My Dear Udo,

It has been more than two years that I could ride behind your wheel and hear you yelling at me to “hang on to the wheel.” How I miss your wheel, my love.

I still feel closest to you when I am in the saddle of my bike. Sometimes a simple bike ride makes all the difference in my day. Blue sky above me, road under me, my heart pounding and my legs screaming, climbing up the hill.

I love riding my bike. You loved riding your bike. And we both loved riding our bikes together.

In the first year after you left us, my grief was raw and obvious. And the first anniversary was not a benchmark, really. It was merely the day after day 364, followed by 366, 367 and so on. Year one was a struggle to get up, get the kids to school and to figure out all those things like car title transfers, new health insurance, the mechanics of life.

By year two, most of those things were resolved. But now there is another big job waiting to be resolved: Learning to live life alone, a new identity because you are still GONE and you will always be gone. Year two means struggling to live life again. And it is hard.

Some days I don’t care about anything, some days I am just tired. Tired of fixing the printer without your help, tired of making big decisions alone, and tired of caring for our children by myself.

It is hard because I have to live without the one I can’t live without.

But I always go on. I take breaks when I am really dark but I always come out the other end. I have so many wonderful people in my life that carry me. They didn’t disappear after the first year of initial grief. They are still by my side and encourage me, listen to me, hug me and ride with me. Like all those friends that come to the memorial ride again this year to celebrate your life, your birthday, your smile, your love for riding. We will all ride for you and with you, Udo. We will remember you and talk about you. Because we cannot forget you. You were the kindest and most loyal and smartest guy I have ever met. You touched all of us.

I am still working on trying to live without you. C.S. Lewis said that getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.

Antje

November 2015

END

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If you believe in karma …

October 6, 2015 § 17 Comments

Sometimes I ride my bicycle to run errands. I put on my hipster pants and black hipster socks and hipster shoes, slap on my flat pedals, shoulder my hipster bag, and pedal around to the various grocery stores trying to save a buck here on pork tenderloins, a dollar there on vine-ripened tomatoes, and a few cents on eggs.

[Note to shoppers: The Hanmi Korean Mart on Sepulveda and 235th has the cheapest fruits and vegetables and tofu.]

After picking up a lemon, a box of tofu, and a tomato, I rode down Sepulveda to the Marukai to grab a bottle of Bulldog sauce. As I swung into the driveway off Hawthorne, a very busy lady talking on her iPhone 6s Massive decided that rather than waiting for me to enter, she would pass me then slam on the brakes and get into the parking lot first.

I’m pretty sure she never really saw me despite my blinding rear light and bright orange helmet.

I slowed down and let her chop the shit out of me; she was obviously in a real hurry and had something important to do. She raced through the parking lot, nearly clocking an old lady loaded with groceries, and jammed her car, nose first, into one of the slots right in front of the grocery cart rack. A few seconds later I pedaled up and noted that after nearly killing me and speeding through the lot, heedless of pedestrians, she was now continuing her breezy chat and had no plans to get out of the car anytime soon.

So much for the big hurry.

Before I could nestle my bike against the return cart cage I had to first move a shopping cart that someone had been too lazy to place in the rack. Instead, they had pushed it against the outside of the cage, and the only thing keeping it from slipping down the slight gradient and into the parking lot was the front wheel, which had been lodged against one of the poles.

My bike in one hand and my backpack in the other, I gently moved the cart over, planning to first lock my bike and then properly return the cart. I turned my back for a second to clamp down the u-lock, and glanced over my shoulder in time to see the flying basket launch off the curb into the grill of the chatty lady’s black, shiny, brand new Mercedes. It made a horrific smashing sound and dented the shit out of her grill.

She jumped out of the car and I braced myself for the verbal attack, already calculating what it was going to cost me to replace the new grill on an S-class Mercedes. $50?

But the attack never came. The woman had been so engrossed in her conversation that she hadn’t seen me dislodge the cart. “Can you believe it?” she yelled. “Some stupid bitch left the cart out like that!”

“Oh, wow,” I said sympathetically. “Looks like it trashed your grill.”

She spun around, inspecting the damage. “Oh my god! This car is brand new! That stupid bitch! Did you see who left the cart here?”

“No, I sure didn’t.”

“I can’t believe people!” she yelled. “They don’t give a shit, you know that? They just don’t care at all! Careless irresponsible stupid assholes!”

I nodded in total agreement.

“My husband’s going to kill me,” she hissed. Then she grabbed the cart, jerked it back onto the curb, and rammed it back up against the outside of the cage, where, with the slightest jostle, it would again run amok into the lot and smash up someone else’s car. “You should have been paying attention! Why didn’t you stop it?”

“I’m really sorry, ma’am,” I said. “I was locking up my bike.”

She stared contemptuously at my rig and spun on her heel towards her car. “Roads are for cars!” she snapped. The cart came unhitched again and started for the curb. I grabbed it. “Here, ma’am,” I said. “Let me put this up for you.”

She slammed the car door, squealed out backwards, and drove off. I gently returned the cart to its proper place and gave it a loving pat.

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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