Since I typically ride home from work after the main part of the so-called “rush hour,” whenever I deviate from that time frame I’m forced to remember that the streets of Los Angeles at 6:30 p.m. bear the burden of a far more selfish, impatient and less-accepting motorist than they do even as little as an hour later.
I was reminded of this fact several times yesterday after leaving work earlier than my usual exit time, but no incident was more stark and telling than the one I witnessed and ultimately involved myself in while waiting at 4th Street to cross La Brea and continue my way eastward.
As I sat at the red, a lady on a bike pedaled past me, heading south on La Brea. She was in the curb lane and owning it, smack dab in the middle like a saavy and smart cyclist should.
Then, speeding up immediately behind her came an older Mercedes four-door, its driver getting right up behind the bike and laying hard and heavy on the horn.
Almost immediately upon letting off, the driver blared the horn again. The hackles on my neck rose, but to the cyclist’s credit (whether aided by headphones, I cannot say) she completely ignored the assault and held her line without changing her pedaling cadence in the slightest.
Me? Not so much. By the time they were halfway down the block the driver honked a third time and that was enough for me. I set off in pursuit, catching up with the Benz in the center laneÂ she’d lurched into only to getÂ stacked back from the red at 6th Street.
Pulling alongside her passenger window I asked her why she was honking at the cyclist.
“Because she needs to get off the road!”
“You’re the one that needs to get off the road,” I said.
She didn’t like that much and suddenly brandished a steering wheel locking device telling me to get away from her car and quit harassing her.
“If you don’t like me harrassing you, imagine how that cyclist feels from your harassment! That girl has every legal right to the road and you have no right to do what you did!”
While apoplectically reiterating her demand that I move away from her vehicle, in a really lame attempt to strike me with the lock she poked it out the window toward me. I considered yanking it from her and either pitching it to the curb or using it to reshape every accessible body panel of her worn sedan, but instead I just let her look a fool for a few seconds, until advising the witch that it would be in her best interest to quit looking so stupid in attempting to harm me.
She didn’t agree and kept up her silliness.
“Then I’ll tell you what,” I said, Â “You go ahead looking like an idiot waving that thing at me all you want, but you damn well better not get behind that cyclist or honk your horn at her. If I see you doing so I have your license plate and I’ll report your recklessness to the police. Do you understand me, ma’am?”
She didn’t, so I leaned in and asked again in my really real outside voice. Of course, that gave her the opportunity to club me if she’d so choosen, but she didn’t. While I like to think it’s becauseÂ I finally got through to her, the reality was the cars in front of her started moving again and so she dropped her weapon and gunned it down the road.
But as I watched her out of sight past Wilshire, she didn’t get behind that cyclist and she didn’t honk her horn.