Can You See Me Now?

Don’t lecture me because I understand that I am to blame. Instead of asserting my right to the lane I’m biking in, I have a tendency to ride too far to the right — only a couple-three feet out from the curb, or well within the doorzone. I’ve tried to change that habit, but that’s just how I roll.

So when motorists decide to stay in the same lane as me when they pass, I don’t get mad anymore when they squeeze by me a couple feet or less on my left because I understand it’s my fault. My chosen position in the lane is basically an invitation to roll on through, regardless of the explicit inconsideration and hazards of them doing so. Fortunately the vast majority of motorists who pass me do so by either scooching to the left a bit or making a half or full lane change. But for those that don’t, how can I get angry at them for taking advantage of my accommodating nature when I’m basically encouraging them to do so.

Which is a variation of what I was thinking when I was southbound on La Cienega Boulevard below Jefferson this morning and after the lady on the cellphone in the beat-up Dodge Stratus sedan sped by me with less than a foot between me and her passenger side mirror, no doubt so that she could get to the red light a half-block up at Rodeo that much faster. Keeping my cool instead of defaulting to the apopleptic outrage I’m so good at, I casually rolled up to the driver’s side window and advised her in a calm and nonthreatening manner that she passed me way too close.

Taking the cellphone from the side of her head and putting it into her purse she said “That’s because I didn’t see you,” the typical lame excuse at which I bristled a bit before replying that it might be best for both of us if she used her cellphone less and her eyes more. Of course she then bristled at that because what the hell kind of lowlife on a bike am I to tell her what the hell to do when she’s behind the wheel of her vastly superior mode of transportation!?

“Excuse me!” she yelled. But I wasn’t clear if she was asking for my forgiveness or wanting me to give her the space cushion her admitted blindness had precluded her from giving me so that she could pull closer to the car stopped behind the car stopped behind the car stopped at the red light.

Seeing my confusion, she repeated herself a bit more emphatically, which tilted her tone to the latter. So I pretended it was the former.

“Nope,” I said. “Why should I excuse such behavior that’s not only reckless but also illegal?”

She repeated herself a third time and I pointed out that “because I didn’t see you” is the lamest excuse of all. So then she laid on the horn in protest, but it turned out her car’s horn was as worn out as the car and its feeble tone made me giggle. And that pissed her off even more, forcing her to shove harder and repeatedly on the steering wheel as if that would somehow make the horn louder. Sorry for the bad movie reference but she reminded me of Danny DeVito as the Penguin in that Batman movie as he gets progressively more frantically enraged when the controls of the machine he’s operating start failing.

“I give up,” I laughed. “You win: you’re excused!”

Then I rolled in front of her car, where she finally took her hand off the horn and I took the full lane. After the light turned green and the car in front of the car in front of the car in front of me started moving, so did I — but slooooowly — until I made my right turn onto Rodeo and she continued straight saluting me with her right middle finger.