Shocked! Shocked!

Santa Monica Greenway
Car parked in both red zone and bike lane on neighborhood greenway

Yesterday I enjoyed a most pleasant ride from the Miracle Mile to Downtown, to join in the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Civic Engagement Committee meeting. Poor souls, they always invite everybody, and then I show up and ruin things!

The meeting, which is in the process of developing questionnaires to hand to candidates for various offices in LA, so we can get an inkling o f what, if anything, they understand and stand for regarding bicycling in the county, went quite well despite my interruptions.

What was more interesting to me, and in an odd way relevant, was my ride to and from.

As you know, pretty much every time anyone anywhere suggests any improvement to bicycling facilities, the droolers start up with their two favorites themes:

Cyclists don’t pay gas tax, so they don’t deserve anything!

Cyclists don’t obey traffic laws, so they don’t deserve anything!

Well, I’ve dealt with the first lie pretty neatly I think, in an article called Who Pays, Who Plays: the Gas Tax Fallacy

And Carlton Reid dealt cleverly with the second in this spoof recently. That story was in my mind as I rode to Downtown and back last night–about a half hour run each way, all of it along bikeways of some sort, half of it along a sharrowed residential street.

This is what I saw, in order:

  1. A man who nearly T-boned me by running a stop sign to make a right turn into my lane. (I know, motorists never run stop signs, so I assume he was a cyclist who had somehow ended up in a little white car.)

  2. Another man, in another little white car, who would speed along at well over the limit on quiet little 4th Street, then sit at stop signs for twenty or thirty seconds at a time till someone blew their horn at him. Turned out he was—you guessed it!—texting as he drove.

  3. A man who ran a red light at a major intersection to make a left turn.

  4. Another man in a little white car who drove backwards against traffic into an intersection to swerve around and make a contorted inverted three-point turn and head off the other way.

  5. A woman in a little white car (why this association of little white cars with drooling imbeciles?) whom I came upon parked in the Main Street bike lane. Just after I passed her (I kept watch, since she was now behind me), she drove backwards along the bike lane for about a hundred feet, then changed her mind and drove forwards—never leaving the bike lane! As she caught up with me, I remembered that the doctor said to take it easy on the bike while I’m recovering from my little stroke a couple of months ago, so I slowed down. Way down. The woman in the little white car poked along just as slowly behind me, refusing to leave the bike lane. A DASH bus came up alongside her, and the driver went nuts, honking and gesturing to her to get out of the bike lane! I gave her a little wave indicating that she should pass me. The DASH bus driver ostentatiously gave her room, and at last it all penetrated into her little brain and she pulled out into the motor traffic lane and gunned it past me and away from the bus…for about a hundred and fifty feet, where she got caught at a red light and decided to turn right.

  6. A middle-aged man in—you guessed it—a little white car, who turned right without signaling, then turned left without signaling, to commence a very wide U-turn in an intersection. I interrupted him with a gentle admonition, since I didn’t want him to run me over.

  7. A middle-aged woman in a black SUV (some variety at last!) who blatantly ran a light that had been red for nearly two seconds.

Well, that was all…but it was a short ride.

Oh, yeah: I also saw dozens and dozens of cyclists, all over every street I rode on, solo and in bunches and platoons, strung along 7th and 4th and Main and Spring and New Hampshire, crossing my path or riding along it.

And damn if they didn’t all drift through stop signs!

Considerably more slowly than every single driver did, though.

I’m shocked—shocked!—that there are scofflaws on two wheels as well as four.

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