Life Without Wheels: Chronicle of a Car-Free Lifestyle
 
I wish I had said this "Lady, a jerk-douche-face driver is a jerk-douche-face driver no matter what sort of vehicle they're piloting." Oh, to have a time machine to go back to that moment!

Wait, let me start from the beginning, and I'll try to keep it brief.

On my way to the Girls Only Ride, I turned South onto La Brea so I could then cut through Redondo to Venice and hit up the bike lane. Now keep in mind that there are businesses dotted along La Brea with parking lots that have driveways between street parking. Meaning...as a bicyclist I have to be extra-vigilant in making sure that I see cars coming out of these driveways (as it's possible for me to be hidden behind the parked cars on the street) and that those motorists see me as I continue down La Brea--WITH THE RIGHT OF WAY, mind you. 

Shortly after I pass 9th Street, I see a woman in a car (some trashed up Honda Civic or Toyota Camry--blue or silver, couldn't really tell) who is attempting to negotiate traffic and pull out of a parking lot driveway. She's inching out into the street, trying to view the oncoming traffic. As I begin to come up on the driveway (not passing it yet) she and I make eye contact. Instead of stopping, however, she looks beyond me and continues to let her wheels roll, creeping out of the driveway right as I'm in front of her vehicle.

Now, rolling wheels mean a car isn't stopped and, therefore, means you could be in danger. So I went into defense mode. I shot my hand out in front of her, making a stop signal with my hand (similar to a police officer) and shouted "STOP!" She slammed on her brakes, so I know she then saw me, and I kept going. I wasn't mad; I wasn't even phased. This kind of thing happens frequently, it comes with the territory. Most drivers are glad that I make a gesture, because they honestly don't see me, and they don't WANT to hit a cyclist. I was so not concerned with the incident, I forgot about it almost as quickly as it happened.

Which is why, when I came to the stoplight at Olympic, I was completely taken off-guard when she pulled up next to me with her window down and started screaming at me. She's yelling about how she could see me, and I didn't need to curse at her (which I did not, BTW). She yelled that she was a good driver, and she had stopped. I respond (big mistake) by saying that I did not swear at her, I merely made a stop gesture and yelled STOP, so I could ensure my safety. I tell her that her wheels were rolling, which to me suggests that I'm in danger. (Mind you, she's not listening to me, she just keeps yelling.) She tells me "well I ride a motorcycle, so I know that it's dangerous...I watch out for cyclists." I respond by saying, that I don't know that she's a motorcyclist and that I can't predict what she's going to do, all I know is that her wheels are rolling. She interrupts with "well, I know. You need to keep your temper! blah blah blah."

I need to keep my temper? Seriously? Which one of us intentionally stopped alongside a cyclist in traffic so she could scream her head off, and continue to put the cyclist at risk?

Here's the kicker folks, which I didn't think about until afterwards. She was holding her iPhone in her hand the whole time she was yelling at me, looking back and forth from it to me while she texted and played with it. Oh yeah, I feel very safe with her out there on my side.

I vented this story to Tweeters Wildbell and ActOut (Will and Enci, respectively), and reminded myself that even though I did nothing wrong, I should not have let her get to me. The lesson learned is: when confronted with an angry motorist, take a deep breath, think about your words, smile, and respond as politely as possible. If they continue to yell and harass you, pick up your phone and call the police. And take a picture of them.

Oh, and it gets even better. As I turn down Redondo, I'm stewing. I'm spitting mad. Still riding safe, but just wanting to hit someone as hard as possible. I'm really worked up. So it certainly seemed appropriate that as I'm on Venice Boulevard, approx 5 miles from the Ocean, I feel and hear a loud pop, followed by HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! Yup, nail tore through my back tire. I don't like to swear online but seriously F***in MotherF***er!
 


Comments

11/24/2009 09:49

How did I know that she had a cell phone? I'm just truly amazed at how some drivers are adamant about teaching cyclists their version of the law while ignoring the law about using handsfree phones, about not honking and cyclists, about signaling, etc.

Thank you for making me laugh at the end, just like Will did with his article. Great writing!

Keep on riding and don't let those a*holes get to you!

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11/25/2009 09:38

My mom used to yell this at me as I left to walk to school in the morning, "Don't let the creeps get you down!"

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