As an urban cyclist who documents his rides (and shares the negatives or positives experienced in their course), any credibility and integrity I hope to possess would be nonexistent if all I did was call out the fails against me and didn’t share the ones I commit — even if they are equal parts embarrassing and frightening.
Case in point, this morning coming south along the sidewalk on Westmoreland between Wilshire Boulevard and 7th Street and entering the intersection at 7th Street at about the 9:40 point of the above-embedded video segment. It’s a crossing I’ve made without incident or brainfart hundreds. I’m simply not one to launch myself into cross traffic at signal controlled intersections without first being sure I had the right of way, yet in the video as you can see with the green light on 7th and the solid red Don’t Walk indicator facing me on the corner across the street, I most decidedly and completely did NOT.
Westmoreland/7th is not your usual intersection in that immediately north of 7th is part of the Southwestern Law School campus that is gated and permanently closed to vehicular traffic, thus only walk/don’twalk lights are installed for southbound pedestrians, not actual traffic signals. I’ve attempted to find the reason behind my fail and all I can come up with is that I effed up — and that’s a bit terrifying because it could’ve been so much worse than me slowing to avoid the eastbound vehicle in front of me. Consider this: if there had been a westbound vehicle at the same time beyond the left edge of the video’s frame, I would’ve been broadsided.
Whoa. I mean, seriously.
To compound my idiocy the driver of that eastbound vehicle pulled over and stopped at the opposite corner allowing me the opportunity to roll over to berate him for what I fully believed was his violation. He responded to my outrage with curious indifference. And if anything my willingness to confront is evidence I sincerely believed he was in the wrong. When something’s my fault or responsibility I’m not that type of jerk who’ll try to put it off on someone else.
My tirade was brief, interrupted by the arrival of the driver of the pick-up parked at the curb on the opposite side of Westmoreland (the black one with its lights on) who apparently witnessed the whole thing because he made a right onto 7th and pulled up alongside me to my left, vociferously defending the driver and calling me out. When I insisted I had the right of way I believe his words driving off were something like: “No you didn’t, you dumbfuck!”
Could he have been right? Did I somehow see the 7th street green light and transpose it as mine? That would be very odd, because as I said I’ve traversed this intersection hundreds of times and nothing like that previously happened. I rolled the rest of the way to work in doubt and concern, double- and triple-checking every green light I encountered and hoping to be vindicated by a review of my camera’s footage.
Alas and instead, it’s entirely and shamefully true: I was indeed a dumbfuck — and a very lucky one who could’ve sustained far greater injury than just a bruised ego from a hurled insult. I pride myself on my defensive biking and have a pretty dang good safety record to show for it. If there’s a personal lesson to be learned it’s to ramp-up the care I take riding even higher and understanding that letting your guard down or your complaceny up can have embarrassing consequences at best or more painful ones at worst. And if there’s a moral to this story it’s that even when mistakes get made always be willing to take ownership of them.