How We Roll, July 19: a lil’ respect for cyclists, please

From the Department of Show Bike Riders Some Respect: After another grueling day of blogging for the government, I went home to the 91106 last week and decided to go for a bike ride to stretch the legs and enjoy some semi-clean air. I’m pedaling along a bike lane on Cordova Avenue — neither very fast or very slow — when the motorist piloting a car waiting to turn right yells at me to “get on the sidewalk.”

My first reaction was to stop and quickly survey what items I currently had to hurl at the car. I contemplated tossing my phone, but ruled it out because I’m still paying it off. The only other weighty item I had was my bike, but also eliminated that option: I just had it tuned up and it’s riding really nice.

I considered a swift kick to the car. But I deemed that option a poor one, given that I assume much of America is driving around with a small armory stashed in their cars these days. And, thus, I did absolutely nothing but continue on and fume silently. Grrrr. Next time I ride I’m bringing along some of those “the gene pool could use some chlorine” bumper stickers.

Oh, and some very useful safety tips for motorists and cyclists at Yield to Life.

Metro is one of the five county transportation agencies that funds Metrolink, our region’s commuter rail agency.

Heads up: there are a few upcoming overnight ramp closures on the 60 freeway to accommodate some soil analysis work for the Eastside Gold Line Phase 2’s ongoing environmental studies. More here.

Norwalk to oppose proposed transportation sales tax hike (Wave Newspapers)

The Norwalk City Council voted 4 to 0 to approve a resolution against Metro’s proposed half-cent sales tax increase likely to be considered by L.A. County voters on Nov. 8. As noted in the article, “City Manager Mike Egan said city staff can’t tell people how to vote, but could provide information on the issue. Council members can legally oppose it.”

The reason for the opposition is twofold: a project to widen the the 5 freeway between the 605 and 710 wouldn’t be completed until 2042-44 (the 5 is being widened between the 605 and the Orange County line) and officials are concerned the city would have to contribute three percent of the cost of extending the Green Line to the Norwalk Metrolink station, which could cost $22 million.

Of course, these aren’t the only projects that would serve the southern or southeastern part of the county. For a full list of projects that would be funded by the sales tax measure, click here.

Between now and Election Day, other City Councils may resolve one way or the other on the Metro ballot measure. Such was the case in 2008 with Measure R and 2012 with Measure J. How much does it impact how voters vote? Hard to say.

Too many deer on the road? Let cougars return, study says (NYT)

Source: Federal Highway Administration.

Source: Federal Highway Administration.

Wildlife researchers estimate that allowing mountain lions to more robustly repopulate former habitat in the eastern U.S. would prevent 155 deaths resulting from motorist collisions with white-tailed deer.

The above data is more than a decade old, but shows the difference between eastern and western states when it comes to totals and rates of wildlife collisions. We certainly have big game and lots of cars on the road out West. But we also have viable mountain lion populations and a lot fewer highly-trafficked roads that run through thick forests and prime wildlife habitat.

TTC to develop new app to allow riders to report harassment (CBC)

Here’s the top of the story — sounds like something similar to the TransitWatch app used by Metro:

The Toronto Transit Commission is working on a new app that would allow riders to discreetly take a photo of a person who is harassing or assaulting someone — and immediately submit a report.

TTC CEO Andy Byford said he hopes the app will be a less obvious alternative to pressing the emergency strip on trains, buses or streetcars. The app should roll out by the end of the year, he said.

The story goes on to note that about half of Toronto’s subway system has wifi and the rest should have it by year’s end.

23 replies

  1. Steve, I”m glad you’re okay. Drivers are getting angrier and angrier, and while I no longer ride my bike because where I live (Koreatown) is too polluted, too bumpy and too crowded with angry drivers, I sympathize with you as a pedestrian. As such, I usually just use my middle finger when someone drives through an intersection on a red, or doesn’t stop to turn right. So far, nobody has taken the trouble to stop his car and get out. An organization that I know of in South Central is called Driving Close Kills. You may want to bring them into the discussion.

  2. The problem with Norwalk… When the green line was being built in the 80s Norwalk wanted the line to go be underground from where the terminus is today, 105/605 Fwy, to the Metrolink station. Metro had the funds to build the line above ground but, Norwalk rejected the offer. Its no surprise Norwalk would reject the current plan. It appears with Norwalk its their way or no way…

  3. Bicyclist have to follow the rules of the road just as drivers of vehicles has to do. The rules of the road includes keeping up with the flow of traffic and riding in the direction of the flow of traffic. I find it odd when bicyclist are riding in a driving lane and are travelling at a very slow pace. Also, I see a lot of kids riding in the streets not following the rules of the road.

    • There’s no specific law requiring cyclists to “keep up with the flow of traffic”; however, CVC 21202 requires a cyclist riding less than the normal speed of traffic ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge. There are provisions written within the law which allows the cyclist to ride further away from the curb or edge, such as when avoiding debris, other vehicles, or when there’s two or more marked traffic lanes in one direction, when the lanes are sub-standard (not wide enough for both cyclist and a car/larger vehicle to ride side by side). The cyclist designates whether or not it is safe to right to the far right as practicable, not the motorist. While I agree that there are some cyclists who ride against traffic, it’s often their parents who teach and/or encourage it at a young age. Unfortunately, schools no longer teach safe riding. Bottom line is, all road users need to respect one another and there’s a lot of education required for all road users. Too often motorists want cyclists to ride right next to parked cars, I cringe when I see this; being doored (hit by the drivers side door), right hook (motorist making a right turn in front of the cyclist) and left hook (motorist making a left turn in front of a cyclist) are the primary reasons why I “take the lane”, especially in sub-standard lanes; in addition, too many motorists fail to yield at junctions, only stopping once they are well over the “white line” and have entered into the oncoming traffic lane, right where the cyclist would be riding, but the motorist would not be driving. Motorists rarely look over to the far right when driving, their attention is naturally at the middle of the lane. Which is why most motorists will tell the cyclist, or police officer, “I didn’t see you/the cyclist”. If you honk your horn at me, I know you can see me; however, there’s usually a full lane next to me, just move over to that lane, as you would any other slow moving vehicle. If I’m in a single lane, I’ll move over as soon as it is safe for me to do so, and allow you to pass me safely. I don’t want you overtaking me on a blind hill only to hit an oncoming vehicle, because you are impatient. The road is for everyone – remember for every cyclist that’s on the road, s/he is not in a car, while they may hold you up for a couple of seconds, if you hit him/her, you’ll be held up even longer. Let’s all be careful, and respectful, out there. Just because there’s one, or two idiotic users out there, please don’t tar us all with the same brush. I see as many motorized scofflaws as I do cycling scofflaws and I don’t like either.

        • I’m very familiar with the law regarding cyclists rights, the handbook is a summary of the rights and responsibilities of cyclists; and while the link you inserted included some of the exceptions, they do not include all of the exemptions. In addition, it’s the cyclist, not a motorist, who determines how far to the right is “practicable”. I reiterate, there is no vehicle code which requires a cyclist to “keeping up with the flow of traffic” the requirement is to ride with the flow (the same direction as the traffic, not against the traffic). Per the Driver Handbook “Bicyclists may occupy the center of the lane when conditions such as a narrow lane or road hazard make it unsafe to ride in a position that may provide room for a vehicle to pass. With any slow-moving vehicle or bicycle, drivers should follow at a safe distance. When it is safe, the bicyclists should move to a position that allows vehicles to pass. Remember, bicyclists are entitled to share the road with other drivers.”

    • Totally agree that bicycles need to ride in the direction of traffic, but you don’t legally need to be able to bike at the speed of cars in order to be in a traffic lane. A bike legally needs to ride as far right as is safely possible, and just like drivers we can hope that they’re courteous to not block too much traffic. Riding on a sidewalk can be dangerous because you’re often crossing blind corners and in some sections of the LA metro area it’s illegal (Culver City, Santa Monica, West Hollywood). I totally agree that bicyclists ought to follow the law, but it’s important to know what the law actually is. Stay safe out there! 🙂

  4. Once had a driver zoom up to the last bit of crosswalk line at a stop light, coming pretty close to where I was waiting on my bicycle. And like you, I considered my options for letting the driver know what I thought of his running thru the crosswalk. So I tapped the rear of his car as he made a right turn & I went on my way. And much to my surprise he made a u-turn & caught up with me & popped out his car in the middle of the street wanting “why’d you hit my car” duke it out stance – to which I laughed & headed for the sidewalk and out thru a parking lot.

    In my opinion, If you mess with folks (or their cars) they’ll think nothing of getting even. So I generally resist the temptation.

    • This one always annoys me–“Oh, the only person I’m risking is myself!”

      First, think of seatbelts. Why do we have seatbelt laws? After all, if I don’t wear a seatbelt, the only person I’m risking is myself, right? But we have these laws to make everyone safer.

      Second, bicyclists risk the lives and well-being of pedestrians. Yeah, you may not kill me, but I’d rather not spend a week in the hospital because some cyclist decided that he was going to run the stop sign.

      Finally, though, the argument is inconsistent. “Hey, if I run a stop sign, the only person I’m risking is myself!” Okay, great attitude: The rugged individual who understands the risks and makes his own decisions and doesn’t need no traffic laws that were designed around cars, not bicycles. Then you get hit by a car which you didn’t see at an intersection and suddenly, “It’s so dangerous out there! We need to do something about these cars!”

      Hey, if you’re the rugged individual who makes their own decisions about what’s safe and what isn’t, you stand by those decisions. Even when they’re wrong. You can’t say, “I thought it was safe and it’s your fault that I was wrong!”

      • Totally agree, when hear cyclists use those types of comments, I ask them how they think the motorist would feel, if they injured or killed the cyclist. I normally get a stutter or stammering response, or “that won’t happen”. I’l tell ya, the motorist will feel bloody awful, potentially for the rest of their life, especially if the cyclist is severely injured or killed. I once came inches away from hitting a man wearing dark clothing and riding his bike the wrong way after he had crossed from one side of the street to another on a blind corner without any lights or reflectors, at least an hour before sunrise one winters morning. Thankfully, I managed to serve and miss him, fortunately for me, there wasn’t oncoming traffic. I was shaking all day long, with anger (he had the audacity to give me the bird and yell at me, when he was 100% at fault) as much as relief (he took off promptly); I have no idea how I would have felt if I had hit him, I do know I would have been totally devastated had I killed or injured him.

  5. Both bikers and drivers disobey the law with unacceptable frequency, the major difference is the repercussions of their disobedience. When a biker breaks the law, the biker risks their own safety, when a driver breaks the law, they risk the safety of themselves, their passengers, bikers, pedestrians and other drivers.

  6. Just a few hours after reading your post I got harassed for a solid mile and a half during my daily Lincoln Blvd commute because apparently some rage-filled Infiniti driver thinks it’s acceptable to travel straight through an intersection from a right turn lane! Be on the lookout for California 5XGE345!

  7. Regarding WVCs, I saw a recent SFBA news report that I-280 along the peninsula watersheds and preserves has the highest number by far in the state. Note that the high numbers in Maine and Michigan probably include MOOSE, gauranteed to total your vehicle!
    Back here in the south bay, bike riders seem pretty well behaved except for teenage boys.

  8. The issue is that the driver is always at fault in any accident with a bicyclist when it could be argued that the bicyclist typically does not obey regular traffic laws. Look you probably were not hogging up the right turn lane personally i’ll concentrate on how wide a turn i have to make.

    • I was in a bike lane on a stretch of Cordova and had the right-of-way. The motorist was at a stop sign waiting to turn onto Cordova. There is no gray here. It literally was a matter of waiting three seconds for me to clear the intersection. Sure, not every cyclist follows the law and some do things downright illegal and dangerous. But all in all, I see a lot more illegal and dangerous behavior from motorists than I see from bikes. Being frustrated at a bike is not the same as a cyclist doing something illegal. Apples and oranges.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Feel free to take the gamble whenever i’m walking in downtown LA I’ve taken to waiting a few second before i start in a crosswalk because invariably a car making the right hand turn feels he/she has the right of way and besides i was lucky one day when a young girl stopped at the last millisecond before hitting me.

  9. Do you know about the Cyclist Anti-harssmnent ordinance? Being yelled at in a threatening manner in the City of LA is crime!

    Don’t know where you where, but if you file a police report will it document one more incident. If enough people document this….

    Keep biking!

    • Hey Eric —

      I was in Pasadena. I should have noted license plate but was too busy contemplating violence.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • You may want to consider riding with a camera on your bike. I have camera’s on the rear and front of my bike to capture those behind and in front of me. Besides, Go-Pro’s, there’s also Cycliq, which are camera/light combo’s. They are not cheap; however, you can upload the video and take it to the police station – like it or not the police will want proof of the harassment. It saves you having to try and view/memorize the license plate number.

  10. Next time that nasty motorist tells you to stay on the sidewalk, calmly tell her: “Oh yeah, well, when you climate changers agree to pry open your wallets and pay for more than 35 percent of the cost of maintaining our roads with user fees, plus the associated environmental and health costs, I’ll be glad to give you the whole road and ride my carbon neutral mode of transportation on a safe and separated cycling facility.” Burn!

    • By the time you finished that soliloquy, the motorist would be a mile down the road!
      Easier to shout back, “Get on the interstate!”