Road Worrier

btw2.jpgI’ve done my share of mountainbiking of late, but it’s been awhile since I’d saddled up and cycled in traffic. Doing so to my place of employment not just for today’s designated “L.A. County Bike To Work Day,” but the previous three days as well, I’ve had no choice but to become reaquainted with some of the driving habits, behaviors, attitudes and opinions (and let me not forget decrepit road conditions) that make L.A. such a lip-smackin’ cyclist’s paradise.

So in the interest of helping better assimilate cyclists into the grand transportation scheme, I’ve devised the following short and simple quiz that seeks nothing more than to gently and unbiasedly educate those of you vehicular operators who may have a willingness to share the road with your two-wheeled cousins:

The “The Better To Share The Road With” Quiz
Complete the following sentences:

1) Cyclists _______________________________________ .
a) should all just get their driver licenses out of suspension so that they can get their AA meetings the real American way: in a car by themselves.
b) suck.
c) should stay on the sidewalks with the crackhead pedestrians and homeless people.
d) are cool because that means that much more gas and oil for the rest of us to burn.

2) After stopping at an intersection, before turning left or right, _______________ .
a) whatever you do, only look in the direction opposite from where the shitbird cyclist might be coming.
b) you should creep your car out far enough and then stop suddenly so as to force a cyclist with the right of way to make an evasive manuever to avoid hitting you. Then observe their facial reactions; they’re hilarious.
c) answer/dial your cellphone.
d) motion for the cyclist to pass and then punch the accelerator, cutting them off.

3) When driving alongside a cyclist, ____________________ .
a) it’s OK to get as close to them as possible, especially when the road curves. Afterwards, be sure to get ahead of them and cut in front… while braking.
b) throw something out the window at them. They love that.
c) honk the horn just to see if they’re awake. They love that, too! Especially if you simultaneously yell that they suck.
d) distract yourself by making a cellphone call or punching the presets on your car stereo.

4) You’ve just done something that visibly irritates a cyclist and quite possibly could have severly killed them. You should _____________________ .
a) offer an apologetic, supplicatory gesture such as a shrug of your shoulders or a slap of your wrist.
b) provide an entirely nonapologetic, offensive gesture augmented with verbal abuse.
b) acknowledge that something happened but that it was all the cyclist’s fault รณ no way in hell was it yours.
d) shoot the bastard.

5) Marked and designated bike lanes are _________ .
a) just a suggestion and a stupid one at that.
b) a damn waste of good asphalt.
c) thankfully kept in a worse state of repair than the part upon which cars drive.
d) the absolute best place to not pay attention when throwing open wide your car door after you’ve parked.

8 Replies to “Road Worrier”

  1. As a full-time bike commuter, I have to say that I really enjoy riding in traffic. I’ve had very few drivers act dumb around me, but I’m also not all that reluctant to take a whole lane when I feel I might need it. You get the occassional driver who honks at you for no apparent reason before passing you, but I always figure at least they see you.

    Other than that I have the most fun with buses. Usually we’re moving at about the same overall speed, so they’ll pass me, then make a stop and I’ll pass them and the whole game will repeat. I think I enjoy it more than the bus drivers do. -e;

  2. My favourite cycling in LA traffic story:

    I’m in the dedicated left hand turn lane where Artesia intersects with Hawthorne in Redondo Beach, and this 40’ish guy in a vintage Jaguar convertible cruises up to me (it’s a long ass light) and says “What the hell are you doing out here?” I respond “Riding my bike to work.” He says “You are not allowed to be in the street, the street is for cars.” I say “No, actually this is the legal way to ride a bike.” He then looks at me and then says “You’ve got bigger balls than I do.”

    Thus confirming my suspicions about the relationship between automobile choices and feelings of inadequacy in middle aged men.

  3. I’m a daily bike commuter but I’m usually the only person I see on my ride home (down 4th and 6th btw Fairfax and Rossmore), even though I’m on an official “bike route” for most of the way. Today I saw one other guy waiting to cross Highland on 4th and I wanted to cheer.

    But it seemed like a pretty measily showing for bike to work day – one other guy during morning commute hours on a bike route. Oh well, more shoulder for me to squeeze between traffic and parked cars on.

  4. Busses scare me. I’ve been riding to work (a measly 2.75 mi scoot down Sunset) regularly for the last few weeks, but I haven’t quite gotten the hang of going around stopped trucks and busses.

    And today, my cow orker watched a cyclist get beat up at Hollywood and Vine by the guy who nearly flattened him with a truck. After being forced to ditch in the intersection, said cyclist spit on the guy’s pickup, which, you know, can’t pass without opening a can of whoopass. A police officer who was lunching nearby broke it up.

    Such a happy city.

  5. I concur with Josh that the turnout for Bike To Work Day was disappointing. Sure, there was an increase Thursday over the first three days of the week in the number of cyclists I saw up and down the L.A. River Bikeway between Fletcher and the Zoo (six on Thursday versus between one and four Monday through Wednesday).

  6. It’s difficult not to get too cynical or angry if you bicycle to work regularly in Los Angeles. But we need to keep at it and try to keep positive. That’s why we bicycle in the first place, right?, because it’s healthy and happy.

    I ride 7 mi from my home in Los Feliz to The Walt Disney Company in Burbank. Luckily for me, the route is mostly through Griffith Park and then along Riverside Dr in Burbank, which has a bike lane. My helmet’s off to those of you who ride harsher routes to your workplace. Mine’s cushy by comparison.

    Livestrong!

  7. I bike to work three days a week from Silver Lake to Downtown. On Tuesday, I rode with a fella coming in from Sherman Oaks. He said that his ride is okay except coming through the pass there were some hairy spots. The ride along Sunset is nice, has a big bike lane and big lanes for the cars. I’ve not had too many problems with drivers. Downtown I’ve found is difficult to ride around in because many streets are just deisgned for accessing the freeways without thought about someone on a bike or even someone walking. Of course, the biggest accurate generalization is that the people in their SUVs are just pure evil monsters – big cars with no practical purpose – being buffetted and insulated from the world and environment in their big hulking shells of steel have little regard for anyone else (smaller cars, pedestrians, animals, bikers, humanity). The tragedy of LA is that it is the perfect city for biking. Fun hills to ride on, great interesting parks and neighborhoods to ride through and weather that rocks years round.

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