Kiss My Ashphalt

Dear L.A. Drivers Who Don’t Think Bikes Should Be On The Same Road As You –

I have every bit as much right to be on the road on my bike as you do to be on it in your car. And where there is no bike lane available, I am, indeed, contrary to your opinion, allowed to take up an entire car lane so that I may safely travel through the city. That is the law. It does not just apply when there’s seventy-five of me riding down Wilshire into downtown, but also when there is just one or two of me using the same public roadways that my taxes also pay for. And no, I am not going to go a half-mile out of my way to use the only pothole riddled “bike lane”, either. I’m staying right here, because I’m only going a few mph slower than you on this nice, smooth ashphalt.
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Now, if you can just wait thirty seconds, then I’d be delighted to swerve out of your way at the next alley or side street. And if you don’t like it, then I also suggest you stop and consider that, if time is money, then you are wasting more of both pumping overpriced gas into your car. You will probably waste more time than you spent waiting for me to give up this lane, when you’re circling a mall parking lot trying to get the spot closest to the door.

And if you’re still determined to honk at me, yell at me, menace me, or deliberately try to clip me with your car, then you’re just a jerk and I hope that you get morbidly obese when gas prices go up too much for you to drive to the gym and use the stationary bikes there.

with love,
-jillian

edit: this doesn’t refer to all drivers. just the ones that are deliberately hostile to cyclists who are riding carefully, as far to the right as possible without their handlebars hitting parked cars. this certainly doesn’t apply to cars who respond negatively to the cyclists who deliberately bait them, or who do not practice safe, considerate urban cycling – although, some of us get less considerate after being honked at for the fourth time in a day

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13 Replies to “Kiss My Ashphalt”

  1. That only works halfway – because an equally biting criticism of cyclists who act like they not only get access to the lane, but sole access to the street, etc, drive us behind-the-wheelers just as mad.

    And I’ll freely admit that cars can be nicer to cyclists if you’ll admit that cyclists might do well by riding with an increased sense-of self-preservation. Y’all are squirrley – popping up out of nowhere, zigging this way and that. We try to look out for you, but you could make it a bit easier on us all.

  2. Yep, I know, it’s a compromise – but it just drives me insane when a car actually threatens me because they can’t wait for me to get out of the way, or because they want to make a point. Three separate drivers tailed us, deliberately, to threaten us while four of us were biking across town on Wilshire very late last night. The other lanes were open, but these people just didn’t believe that cyclists were entitled to any portion of the road.

    I apologize for my colleagues on bikes who have thrown themselves underfoot – or underwheel. I drive as much as I bike, so I try to see the road from both sides of the wheel – not everyone does.

  3. Oh, please. My husband rides on a pro. bike team,
    and frankly the Freds out there make it hard on everyone. Most cyclists I see have utterly no idea that they’re occuping a 3D space. And spare us the self-righteousness.

  4. Regardless of the way the cyclist behaves, that doesn’t give a car the right to threaten that cyclist, or to make that cyclist feel unsafe. Sometimes, it just isn’t possible to ride on the side of the road, far enough over to the side to get out of the path of traffic, and in that case, the law says that cyclists get a lane. It doesn’t make it OK for a driver to insult me, or honk at me, or try to scare me, because I’m taking up a lane as per my rights as a moving vehicle.

    Now, it IS OK for you to honk or (nicely!) point out that a cyclist is not behaving with consideration to other drivers, if that is the case, but I’m talking about jerks who threaten me when I’m trying to get from Point A to Point B with a my well-honed sense of urban cycling.

  5. Personally, I try to give the rider I come upon as much room as possible (i.e. change lanes if I can), and do so with enough time for the guy behind me to see the rider. I have no problem with a cyclist taking the middle of the lane – sometimes that’s a lot safer than hugging the gutter and risk getting clipped by a driver’s mirror. Technically, it’s against the law for a cyclist to ride on the curb, so that’s not really an option.

    OTOH, I’m sometimes amazed at the rider’s sense of imortality! On a busy road there must be a lot of near misses. They also seem to forget that the same traffic laws apply to them – signal turns, stop at stop signs, give the right of way to other users of the road when appropriate etc.

    I also ride a motorcycle and I’ve also been the victim of a “cager’s” attacks. They don’t seem to realize that when they threaten you with their car it’s an attack with a lethal weapon. In my opinion, this is the same as if they pointed a gun or swung a bat at you. I only wish that the law could treat them accordingly.

    Most drivers are disassociated with their surroundings; they are looking through a screen/window (i.e. a TV), and are sitting in their “territory”. Everything that happens outside has an aura of not being part of their world. As a cyclist/motorcyclist, we need to remember that the world we are in (the real one) is NOT the same as the average driver’s.

  6. “My husband rides on a pro. bike team…”

    Who gives a shit Rachel. You’d be more uniquely qualified to spout your worthless bile if you just prefaced it with “I’m an asshole…”

  7. I always ride in the street whenever possible, but there are some areas where it seems suicidal to me because of potholes, sewer grates, narrow lanes, insane traffic, or other hazards. (Beverly Blvd. through Koreatown and Hancock Park, I’m looking at you.)

    But just to clear this up, I believe riding on the sidewalk actually *is* legal, as long as it’s not done with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” See LAMC Sec 56.15.

  8. Some of you may wish to help publicize, participate in and possibly guide our region’s nascent “Watch The Road” campaign.

    No matter your mode of conveyance. Please be safe!

    Brian Humphrey
    Firefighter/Specialist
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

  9. I always try to give bikes as much room as possible. But it’s hard to when the cyclist is riding on the wrong side of the street, wearing dark clothes at night, on a bike with no headlight and/or missing reflectors, and running a stop sign as I’m turning left. Driver courtesy can only do so much, as some cyclists are completely ignorant of the traffic laws and lacking in common sense.

  10. I have no problems with people on bikes. I have problems with people who go 7 miles per hour on a 40 mile per hour street. I don’t care if you’re steering a bike, car, golf cart, or Hoveround. If you’re going that slow, you need to get the hell out of the way.

  11. I’m always stunned at the righteous bicyclists that take a left hand turn lane and put themselves in the middle of an intersection. Although legal it just doesn’t seem safe or smart. When riding a bike as a kid they always told us to right to the right of the cars and to dismount and cross at the lights like a pedestrian. When did this change?

  12. That’s a cyclist judgement call – so long as they aren’t affecting traffic. It isn’t particularly safe at bigger intersections, but on one or two lane roads, so long as the cyclist stays within their lane and doesn’t affect either turning lane, it’s fine.

    The point of the original post though, was to express my frustration with drivers who menace or yell at cyclists who are complying with the law – but do not have the space to ride outside of a car lane. I’ve never slowed car traffic for more than a minute before I was able to get oit of the way for long enough to let the cars by – but many drivers, in their impatience, will honk at, yell at, or threaten me for those few seconds. I had FOUR drivers do so while I was biking down Wilshire on Friday night, legally, in a lane, with reflectors and flashing lights, and they could have easily changed lanes to avoid me. They just felt like making a point.

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