IAAL•MAF Slaminated, Part I

Chances are good if it’s Tuesday morning between 6 and 7 a.m. that’s where you’ll find a core contingent of the mightymighty IAAL‚Ä¢MAF bicyrcling around the Silver Lake Reservoir. We’ve been doing it for a couple months now rather uneventfully — until last week when we were almost partially the cause of a really low-speed bumper thumper that never had to happen (and thankfully didn’t) at the top of the hill on Armstrong.

I qualify our responsibility in the inane event because while we do not dispute that our stopped curbside location contributed to the situation, it was the abject imbecility of one of the motorists that is deserving most of the credit/blame. Such an over-reaction to us coupled with poor driving skills resulted not only in a near miss but also in a half-assed and all-righteous laminated reprimand of us that we discovered this morning nailed to a power pole nearest to where everything went down.

More on that moron later. First, a recap. On August 8 at approximately 6:50 a.m., the four of us were taking what’s become a customary curbside hydration breather on the backside of the reservoir atop Armstrong before heading down the hill to Silver Lake Boulevard and back along the lake’s east side. Granted it’s not exactly the safest place for a siesta, but at that hour there’s not that much traffic around and that’s where we hang. Anyway, coming uphill from Silver Lake Boulevard is a Blue Scion hatchback. Coming in the opposite direction slowly is a red hatchback. As its driver putters to within 100 yards or so one of our party in the midst of telling the rest of us something takes a step or two into the lane while making his point before returning close to the curb well before the red car arrived. Nevertheless to get past us it slows even more and then fully crosses the double-yellow line to go around. The blue hatchback, also traveling at a cautious rate of speed sees this and comes to a full stop. But instead of the red car sliding back over into the proper lane with plenty of room to spare, it goes well past us heading straight towards the blue car in slow-mo only at the last moment diving hard right and barely avoiding a fender bender to continue on its way. All of us breath a sigh at such a whacked display of automobile ineptitude and then the dude driving the Scion pulls up to the hill’s crest and catches us all by surprise when he first yells “Great place to stand!” then punctuates his derision by flipping us the bird as he punches the gas. Not being the mild-mannered and confrontation-avoiding type who can disregard such mass asshattery, I stepped into the street and gave him a double salute in return while simultanesouly inviting him not to run away like a super chickenshit. Declining my offer he goes his way, we go ours and I’m figuring that though there exists the possibility of meeting this guy again, it’s all over and done with.

Then comes this morning’s one-sided myopic and really nicely weather-proofed smackdown:

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2006/08/ac-thumb.jpg[click to biggify for better readitude]

Our response? Stay tuned for Part II.

23 thoughts on “IAAL‚Ä¢MAF Slaminated, Part I”

  1. w00t, first post.

    Just a few things I’d like to get off my chest.

    1. Just because I am a grown man does not mean that I have an understanding of basic physics! How dare you assume that just because I’m a “MAN” and “GROWN” that I should understand anything. What if I have a learning disorder? What if I’m dim. What if I’m just plain stupid? What if I’m French and thought you were on the wrong side of the road. FOR SHAME!

    2. Did your mom make you put up that note?

    3. Do you have anything better to do with your time? You snuck back to “spy” on us? Read the f*ckin Hardy Boys much? And, you have time to type a note, laminate it, go back to the hill and post it?

    4. Um, get a life, LOSER.

  2. Wow. And I thought my life was boring! Seriously. If just once idiots like this would hop on a bike they would shut up and have respect for bikers. On second thought, yo-yo’s like this might just run you over with road rage so get outta the road! Or better yet, lay in wait tomorrow at 6:30 am, and attack with glee! I say high-powered water guns should be your weapon of choice.
    Yay! a throwdown!

  3. I walk my dog twice a day over that hill. I drive over that hill very often. The road gets very narrow right at that spot. Also, there is a huge dirt sidewalk right next to the road. But, then, you already admit you guys caused this by stopping in the wrong place. Except you don’t. A few sentences later you say the real blame lies with the driver who had to avoid a pack of bikers in the road while driving over a blind hill. Sounds like a non-apology apology to me. So, are you at fault, or are you not? Seems like you are to me, and you know that. So, don’t blame someone else for something you caused. Even if that other person is an asshole.

  4. I do agree with Michelle (the above post). I know that hill and its somewhat dangerous because even if you’re approaching it slowly, its impossible to see if the oncoming car is even slightly on your lane (most of the time theres a car parked on the right side if Im facing north). Anyway, like what Michelle said, your post sounds like an apology non-apology. which one is it really?

  5. Agh, don’t make me clean up your mess Ernesto. You’re getting Jason’s comment mixed up with Michele’s. I suppose that’s my fault too? Fine, forgive me!

    As to whether I’m some sort of sorry/not sorry waffler, let’s clear that up right now: I feel very sorry for everyone involved: the idiot driver of the red car, the bitchy asswipe in the blue one, and most especially sorry for the lame-inator person who Michele rightfully describes as “a fucking retard.”

  6. OK, you guys could have been standing in a better spot, but you rightly admit that. But I’m sure that after a long ride you weren’t thinking about being a possible obstruction, though I am sure you will the next time.

    However, if the Laminator was standing there ‘not 20 feet away … long enough to watch two or more near misses’, why didn’t he/she just speak up and tell you guys to move out of the road? Wouldn’t that be more productive than sneaking back later and putting up that post and HOPING you would read it? Or are they going to lay in wait every morning around that time to watch and see if you read it?

    And here’s the other thing I find interesting about the post. On the one hand, the Laminator is pointing out that this is a difficult part of the road ‘at the top of the hill’ … where ‘cars facing each other in traffic can’t see over the hill as to what may be approaching’ … and most probably would require being alert and careful while you ‘stop and pray … you wouldn’t get hit by oncoming traffic’, apparently he/she does not have any problem navigating this difficult traffic dilemma while talking on a cell phone, or while (apparently justifiably) hanging out the window, screaming at or flipping the bird at the interlopers, instead of watching out for the harrowing oncoming traffic.

    But I guess that is just my narrow minded east coast way of thinking.

  7. At least “the laminator” was concerned enough about a potential accident to go through all the trouble to make and post the sign.

  8. That’s a lot to process. For some reason, “Takin’ It To The Streets” by the Doobie Brothers has just popped it into my head. I’ll consider it a good thing and get on with my day.

  9. Just turn the situation around: how would you have reacted if a car had been sitting in that narrow lane, and your group of bikers had to go around the car while another car – who could not see either the bikers or the stopped car – came up the hill and almost hit the group of bikers?

    I’m not some anti-biker, and I get very angry at the all too common behavior of stupid drivers in this city. But, just admit that you guys were the critical factor in this little incident, and don’t try to make yourself feel better by ridiculing the person who posted the flyer.

  10. That’s the greatest irony of it all, Val. The lame-inator went to all that trouble to craft and post that sign smarmily urging us to stay out of the street — and then where does the tard post it? In a place where we need to be standing in the middle of the fucking street to read it! That’s a whole new sub-basement level of brilliant.

  11. Unlike the motorists, Will was the only one who admitted to his own culpability, albeit in a “but what we did wasn’t nearly as bad” kinda way. Which might be true, but it was still kind of a stupid thing to do. As for Will’s “clarification” of being sorry/not sorry, pity is not remorse, which suggests that Will does not care that he contributed to a near-accident.

    But I do agree that the motorists and witness behaved poorly. The guy in the red car was probably too busy rubbernecking to get back into his lane.

    Getting a driver’s license needs to be much more difficult.

  12. For you Jason, I’ll Turn the scenario around. If a car had been stopped where we had been stopped we would’ve gone around, BUT KEPT TO OUR SIDE OF THE DOUBLE YELLOW SO AS TO NEVER INVOLVE AN ONCOMING VEHICLE, because there would have still been plenty of room to do so.

    Gah! What part of the picture are you not getting? We four bikes are much narrower than any vehicle — AND WE WERE AGAINST THE CURB AS IN CURBSIDE AS IN NOT BLOCKING THE LANE.

    You deem that a critical factor? No, the critical factor was the red car’s driver crossing completely over the double yellow soooo overly far around us as to endanger herself and the oncoming driver.

    We’re just going to have to agree to disagree here. We have taken all the responsibility we need to in stating that our positions contributed to the red car’s reckless actions. Minus our bikes parallel to the curb in the gutter she had all the space she needed to proceed at the slow pace she was thankfully traveling (and had been) to go right on by us while remaining fully in her lane.

    As to ridiculing the person who posted the flyer. Sorry again, but I just can’t help myself for being such a belligerent motherfucker who doesn’t put up with much bullshit in any of its forms. And see the way I see it is since that person openly ridiculed and insulted us and without the full facts of what transpired or a willingness to understand them even though that person “claimed” to be standing so close to us, it’s open season on that idiot’s ass. So instead I invite you to spare me your righteousness.

  13. Mr. H., I appreciate your far more reasonable voice so I’ll give you this: I am not so much remorseful at our role in what transpired as I am relieved nothing resulted from it more than a near-miss and some bad behavior.

    Having said that, as I stated in my post regarding the top of the hill not being the safest place to rest, from our next Tuesday’s ride onward, whenever a stop is to be taken there I plan on parking myself as far off the street as I can.

  14. You know I’m going to have to take the counter opinion to this – i think at that time of day the street is in fact the safest and most responsible place to stop for several reasons.

    First off it’s the least used area – The streets are empty. Each morning when we stop there, for 5-10 minutes on each roundabout we’re passed by only 1 or teo cars the entire time. Meanhile there are tons of people jogging around the lake at that time of day and the path closest to the lake isn’t that wide. In fact the sidewalk completely ends right there so if the 4 (or more) of us where to pile our bikes into that area we’d be forcing the joggers and walkers to move around us by moving out into the street. With no bikes, and since they are moving, they are a much harder object to see and in more danger than us so leaving the path for them is the responsible thing to do. Additionally, because the hill is so steep, the top of the hill is the most visible place to be. If we were on either side of it we’d only be visible to one direction of traffic, being right at the top gives everyone equal viewing of us.

    The specific incident in question was NOT because we were in the street, but because the person passing us went completely into the other lane rather than just a few feet to the side, and also because she didn’t slow down while heading into the wrong side of the lane, and was oblivious to the oncoming traffic she was driving into. We’ve been parked at the top of that hill for months now and this is the first time that has happened, which says to me the driver of the car that was on the wrong side of the road is the new element that caused the problem.

  15. Im not trying to defend any asshole behavior, just pointing out the contradictions in your own statement.

    Anyway, you know as well as I do that the street at the hill is very narrow. I would say its not wide enough to accomodate two cars and a single file line of bikers. It is very narrow. There is a sign that warns of the street narrowing at that point.

    As for the “new element” being a car driving early in the morning at a place where you never see cars … how does that change anything? The car was legally driving a public street. You were stopped at a place that is (to exaggerate slightly) dangerous. Just because you do something dangerous for months or years with no negative consequences, does not absolve you for the behavior.

    If the person went around you, too far, as you say, its possibly because he/she was trying not to hit you bikers. You deride his/her driving skill, but the fact remains that he/she was trying to avoid your group. You also said that just before the driver went around you one of your group stepped out further into the road. Perhaps that explains the excessive evasive manuever? Maybe. Or maybe he/she is just a terrible driver.

    As for stopping at the top of the hill being the safest place: please. Both drivers could see you but not one another. That’s the point. And as for the crowd of joggers that you don’t want to block, which can cause more damage? A runner slamming into you or a car?

    Anyway, Im not trying to be an asshole here. I respect the bikers that go around the lake, and think they are almost entirely better behaved than most drivers. I just think it wouldnt hurt you to admit that the incident was mostly your fault and not begrudge the person who posted the flyer being so upset. A little self-deprecation on your part mixed with a desire to understand the person who posted the flyer might have made for an interesting post about the mixture of bikes/cars/pedestrians in Los Angeles.

    Anyway (again) … enjoy the blog.

  16. Oh boy that Jason. Seems like a fine chap, but ain’t nothing gonna budge him. But really now… if anyone could use his little pep talk about understanding and self-deprecation it’s the lame-inator.

  17. I don’t understand the contempt for the person who posted the flyer. He/she is trying to communicate a point to you and does not seem to use any ad hominem insults (e.g. lame-inator) to accomplish the task. Seems like the flyer is trying to get you to acknowledge the problem caused by your behavior. Obviously more upset than maybe the situation warranted. Obviously doesnt know you personally. But, seems better than road rage; seems like a fairly healthy alterantive to road rage at the next biker or dangerous driver he/she comes across. We assume that the person who posted the flyer was the person that was almost hit? If so, perhaps its instructive to think about why he/she blames the bikers and not the other driver?

    By the way, Will, feel free to respond to me instead of referring to me in the third person “oh boy that Jason.” I am a regular reader, part of the community you might even say.

  18. I did respond to you directly Jason, and you totally ignored my points as to why we are not to blame. I even answered and discounted your hypothetical “switch places” scenario. Silence. Thus the “that boy won’t budge.” And besides, with your previous comment close of “enjoy the blog” you made it sound like you were signing off.

    It doesn’t surprise me that you don’t understand the contempt we feel for the poster of the sign. The contempt is because of this: If that person who went to ALL that ridiculous trouble just wanted to communicate as you say, why not cut to the chase and have the stones to call over to us from that so-called position of “20 feet away” and say “Hey guys did you see what just happened? Howsabout moving along or giving the cars a bit more room?”

    No doubt you’ll come back and say we were WAY to aggressive to be approached. Puhlease. What we were was an easy target for that person’s half-assed bias, which came through loud and clear and insultingly in that laminate posted.

    So maybe now kinda sorta can you see why there might just be a little bit of comptempt on our side now? Huh, Jason? Can ya? Just a weeeeeee little bit?

    Didn’t think so.

  19. First off, I said “enjoy the blog” meaning I enjoy the blog. I understand how that might have been misunderstood, but I do think I have made it clear that this isn’t personal.

    Second, I have responded to several of your points directly. And, I hardly think you can call this thread “silence.” Im not sure exactly what you mean by “switch places” but it seems to indicate the argument over whether stopping on the dirt “sidewalk” would have been better than stopping in the middle of the street. You said that would have been even more unsafe because of pedestrians, if I am not mistaken. I responded that I found that argument highly dubious due to the relative safety issues involving cars vs pedestrians.

    I responded to your points about the skill of the driver causing the problem with the idea that the skill of the driver isn’t the central issue, but rather stopping at an unsafe place by your group. Simple idea. Not irrefutable, but simple.

    I think the centrality of my point: the narrowness of the road there, is mainly in response to your central point that there was plenty of space and, again, the driver’s lack of skill is at fault. In fact, I just drove that road again with my small compact car, and I cant imagine having to go around a group of bikers because there is literally barely enough space for two cars to pass each other. If anything, you seem to have ignored this central point; the narrowness of the road mitigates your opinion that you are not entirely at fault because the driver had plenty of space to go around you. I just think that is wrong.

    As for the idea of contempt, it was my attempt to get you to see that there was alot of bloggy comment contempt addressed at the laminated flyer and its author; alot of name calling that seemed out of proportion to the language used in the flyer. It seemed like childish name calling even. So again, I sincerely do not understand the sarcastic contempt directed at the flyer’s author, and seemingly possibly directed at me ;-) I even suggested that less contempt and/or anger might have led to a more interesting blog post (but I have certainly spent too much time commenting on this particular blog post, so mission accomplished).

    As for your hypothesis about other avenues of communication being blocked by your “aggressive” group, I said no such thing, nor did I imply it. On the contrary, I indicated that I am sure that your group of bikers is probably more attentive to the rules of the road than most drivers. Except in this instance, in which I think you were at fault, and which I am sure will not happen again.

    Anyway, I have wasted too much of your time today (procrastinating from my own writing), but I have two final points to make, if you will indulge me.

    First, your last post seems to contain an attitude of victimized bikers facing the world that is no doubt usually warranted in your relationship with drivers in this city. But, I have made pains to communicate that I understand your sense of victimization, and do not share a attitude of contempt for bikers. Still, I think your victimization here is misplaced because your group was essentially at fault.

    And, I suppose that is why I deserve the title of “boy who wouldn’t budge” (My wife would love that nickname) because I have a stubborn pet peeve of trying to persuade people to accept their portion of responsibility in order to advance understanding. And I especially hate when blame-shifting is accompanied by contempt for the other party. Blah blah, I suppose.

    I think it would be interesting and productive of you to post a note on that same power pole containing 1) some sort of apology, 2) assurance that you will not be stoping there again, and 3) an invitation to your blog. The person is trying to communicate. You are in the business of communicating on this blog. So, Communicate!

    Finally, I am a fan of your blog, and I have enjoyed this exchange.

    “the boy who wouldn’t budge”
    (not “the boy the earth talked to”)

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