idiots


photoMy friend David and I have made it something of an irregular tradition to walk to Tommy’s for lunch every few months, and schedules conspired to allow us to do that today, joined by his brother-in-law Mark who was in town to participate in Sunday’s CicLAvia.

So after we got our burgers and fries and drinks, we settled into a section of counter near the end, and conversation included my TAP card travails and, of course, CicLAvia, which apparently caught the attention of an elderly gent a few feet away, who approached after I mentioned coming back to downtown via the Blue Line that day.

He stepped toward us saying how he heard me mention the Blue Line and that it’s his firm belief that bikes have no business being brought on the trains.

I held myself back from saying something impolite  and instead curiously inquired as to why he was so firmly against the acceptable and encouraged practice. He replied that cyclists already have a form of transportation at their disposal and they shouldn’t be crowding up the train cars.

Wide-eyed at such an idiotic statement, I started to point out that by his logic walking was a form of transportation, so why wasn’t he an equal opportunity hater in feeling the same about all those pesky pedestrians loading up the trains, but realized I was in a battle of wits with an unarmed geezer.

And the fact is, there is a kernel of truth buried deep under his bullshit. MTA rail cars are really not designed to accommodate anything but passengers, and I don’t think they ever will be. One needs to remember that back in the early days of our reconstructed light rail system, bikes were not only allowed on trains during limited time-frame windows, but you actually had to be registered and carry an MTA-issued picture ID card that had to be presented upon demand.

We’ve come a long way since then, baby. But it’s been an uncomfortable integration.

Today sure, a couple cyclists with consideration can position themselves out of everyone’s way, but it’s still awkward, at best. Add more cyclists and compound it with the inconsideration that is too often demonstrated in blocking aisles and doors and seats, and to a degree I can appreciate where this grumpy old man is coming from. I could just imagine him on the Blue Line on Sunday with a train car overloaded with raucous bikes and riders coming to or going from the event, and all he can do is get progressively grumpier as the trip went along.

But instead of  commiserating with him, I asked him next if he felt the same about bikes and buses. And he was quick to say they had no place there either. When I mentioned the bikes are stowed outside the bus, that didn’t matter to him. He just shook his head vehemently, spitting out some more generalized negativity that concluded with this doozy:

“Bikes are the reason for everything that’s wrong in this city.”

I stood stunned for a moment, trying somehow to understand how someone could wholesale equate cycling to “everything that’s wrong…” to the city’s struggling economy and to its crime and to its homelessness and to its school drop-out rate, and its gridlock. How does one even begin to counterpunch such a ridiculous haymaker? People with more patience and smarts might know, but for me there is simply no way or reason to continue a discussion or debate with so spiteful an intellect of such a small caliber.

So I didn’t.  Instead, I wished real hard to myself that I never be so hateful and stupid about anything if I’m fortunate enough to get to be this kook’s age, while out loud I brought it to his attention that by insulting and demonizing cyclists as a whole he was in fact insulting and demonizing me — to which he replied that he didn’t care and restated that all of us are inherently detrimental to his way of living (or at least what little living he’s got left).

With that clarifying point of order out of the way I then admonished him for making such a despicably baseless judgment and criticism, adding that though I was personally raised not to make such uninformed criticisms, he and his insults were making it hard for me not to formulate one about him. Raising my voice well over his and in no uncertain terms I insisted that in the interest of stopping his senseless jawing so that he could return to gumming the remainder of his Tommy’s burger, he vacate my vicinity as quickly as was physically possible for a man of his years.

That caught him off-balance, and some flustered words fell out of his mouth whose syllables quickly broke apart into gibberish, before he realized we weren’t ever going to be friends and complied with my directive to cease and desist being audibly inane in my specific direction.

David, Mark and I hung around long enough to finish our meals and for my hackles to lay back down, before taking our leave to ruminate on the walk home the fact that no matter the issue, some people will find a way to magnify it out of proportion and hate on it all the harder.

 

 

You might recall last week that I got on my trusty singlespeeder “El Naranja” and undertook my first road ride of 2013 by pedaling to the DMV in Glendale and back to purchase a copy of the California Vehicle Code required for my present public safety training module. What I forgot to relate was the negative contact I had with a grumpy-assed old cyclist almost immediately on my way back home.

No sooner had I left the DMV when this guy passed me on Glenoaks and I made a right and fell in behind him heading east in the bike lane at a nice plus-10mph clip. Everything was totally peachy for the first block or so and I was happy to see I wasn’t the only one at that moment making use of the relatively new Class II addition to the boulevard, right up until he suddenly came to quick and full put-your-foot-down stop in the lane, as shown below, despite there being plenty of room to ease off to the right like most aware and considerate people would do.

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Fortunately I was able make a semi-evasive move that allowed me not to pile all up into his lower intestine and instead move to the left out of the bike lane into the No. 3 traffic lane and safely pass him. In doing so (and while coincidentally aware due to the aforementioned training that it is a violation of CVC Section 21211[a] “to stop, stand, sit, or loiter upon any bike lane, path or trail if the stopping, standing, sitting or loitering impedes or blocks other cyclists”), I offered the suggestion that he really shouldn’t make a habit of doing what he’d just done and then pedaled on up to the intersection of Glenoaks and Sonora where I soon learned that he was none to happy with the advice I’d offered.

I offer this next photo up primarily to showcase the bike sensor I found embedded at the front of the signaled left turn lane on Glenoaks and Sonora as indicative of how totally awesome Glendale has become in regards to including bikes on its streets:

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I also include it to to show where I stopped while the cyclist I’d encountered caught up to me. Though he also needed to make a left and go south on Sonora, he opted to execute his turn the old-fashioned 90-degree long way, by crossing Sonora to the opposite corner and then waiting for the green to continue southbound.

I personally like to utilize left turn lanes whenever possible for no other reason than to get whatever motorists in my vicinity who don’t know better to perhaps replace their “What the hell is that cyclist doing there breaking yet another law instead of being on the sidewalk where he belongs!?” with a realization that it is the perfectly proper and legal way for a cyclist to make such a turn. And I didn’t begrudge this guy his decision not to follow my lead, at least not until he crossed Sonora, pointed his bike south on that far corner, and started jawing at me angrily accompanied by a series of gesticulations that were concluded with the clear pointing of a middle finger in my direction.

Without going into a lengthy “folks that know me” explanation of how I might’ve badly  handled such an affront in the past, suffice it to say that in a previous far more demonstrative don’t-give-a-damn life I would’ve personalized it and gone to great and histrionic lengths to directly educate the gentleman as to how little tolerance I have for such bullshit. Today, being kinder, gentler and infinitely more aware of what a complete waste of time it is to get mad at such jerks, I just laughed him off and blew him a kiss, which caused him to flip me off a second time and jaw even louder until the green light was finally his and he proceeded across the intersection wth the second part of his gradeschooler’s left turn, as seen below (I had to use an arrow to indicate the little guy’s location as he angrily pedaled across in unintended imitation of Dorothy’s dog-hating spinster schoolmarm Miss Gulch):

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Of course, you’re way ahead of me. You’ve already figured out that with both of us heading south on the same street, I’d eventually get my green arrow and his headstart down Sonora would quickly evaporate as I reeled him in until we’d once again be in close enough proximity to each other.

You’re gooooood! That happened at the next light at San Fernando Boulevard, when I pulled up behind him and cleared my throat loudly enough for him to peek around and know I was now readily available if he wished to continue the conversation.

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Funny what a difference distance and cross traffic makes to one’s bravado. Maybe age and size, too — with me being a head taller and at least 10 years his junior. From across the buffered safety of a busy intersection this guy couldn’t insult me and flip me off enough. But when I get close enough to count the overburdened stitches in the buttcrack seam of his dark blue Dickies, suddenly he’s got absolutely nothing to say.

And it stayed that way for the rest of this red light and for the time it took me to pull alongside him as we approached the railroad crossing, wherein I looked him square in the gritty stare he gave back to and before putting him behind me for good, said:

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“Have a nice day.”

In this Season Nine premiere of the never-ending dramedy we find our sleepy homeowner who has just pushed his trash cans out to the street early this cold morning for today’s pickup. In so doing he discovers a pearlescent green Honda Element SUV parked in too small a space at the curb by his garage whose late-for-yoga, mat/coffee-carrying driver is exiting and whose vehicle’s rear end is encroaching more than two feet across his driveway apron, effectively prohibiting his wife’s imminent departure from the tight, two-car garage, even though there are at least two curb spaces within the homeowner’s spitting distance  large enough to accommodate the vehicle.

The devil-side of our homeowner considers simply speed dialing parking enforcement and towing said illegally parked pearlescent SUV of said late-for-yoga, mat/coffee carrier, but goodness triumphs and instead homeowner attempts to spare the person the imposition of ticket and impound fees by requesting that the vehicle be relocated. Stupid him.

Homeowner: Excuse me?
Yoga Mat/Coffee Carrier (walking away from locked car turns in surprise): Yes?
Homeowner: Your vehicle is blocking my driveway enough to make it next to imposs —.
Yoga Mat/Coffee Carrier (interrupting while walking to the rear of the vehicle and over dramatically throwing up the hand not carrying the rolled up yoga mat and cup of coffee): May I stop you there?
Homeowner (considers not stopping, but does): Sure.
Yoga Mat/Coffee Carrier (talks slowly to homeowner as if addressing someone developmentally disabled, accompanied with a deliberately irksome nodding): Yes. I seeeeeee that your driiiiiiveway is blooooocked, and I will reeeeeelocate my caaaaaar immeeeeeeediately.

A few seconds pass quietly as the Homeowner and Yoga Mat/Coffee Carrier stare at each other, the latter oblivious to the fact that the former is intently considering the ramifications of bum-rushing the latter.

Yoga Mat/Coffee Carrier (breaking the silence): OooooKaaaay?
Homeowner (considers giving Yoga Mat/Coffee Carrier the award for Best Extended Use of Vowels in Marked Condescension to the Wrong Person at the Wrong Time before saying, nonplussed): Wow. Inconsiderate AND patronizing.
Yoga Mat/Coffee Carrier (obviously irritated at being cross-condescended, as well as reminded the center of the universe is elsewhere, while also  being forced to be a couple more minutes late to yoga class): We’re done and you’re welcome!
Homeowner: Not quite. The irony is if I hadn’t given you consideration and gotten this STARTED you’d be returning to a vehicle that had been ticketed and towed. So it’s YOU who are welcome.
Yoga Mat/Coffee Carrier (unlocks door, gets in and before slamming door and starting vehicle repeats): We’re DONE!

Happy Ending: Pearlescent-green Honda Element seen below on StreetCam parked in a legal space (with another one across the street) that the late-for-yoga mat/coffee carrier could’ve and should’ve utilized aaaaaaaaall aloooooooooooong, Ooooookaaaaaay?!

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What’s Behind Door No. 1?

The prize package emerging from this sweet looking El Camino revealed himself to me on Redondo approaching Washington Boulevard, while the treasure behind Door No. 2 flung herself directly into my ride line later in the afternoon on Sunset Boulevard just past Alvarado (click both images for the bigger pictures):

The wide perspective of my handlebar-mounted GoPro camera can be deceiving, making it look like I’ve got plenty of room and time to evade the invasions. In fact, these two happened with me essentially at the respective vehicles’ rear bumpers, giving me just enough time to call out “Way to look!” to both startled idiots as I steered wide and rolled past.

At least there wasn’t a Door No. 3.

 

I biked to my mom’s in Burbank today to take care of some business with which she needed help. And then I biked home. It was rather head-windy coming back to Silver Lake, so as I grrr’d and grinded my way up Glendale Boulevard to Silver Lake Boulevard, caught my breath coming around the reservoir and looked forward to the downhill at the south end.

Trouble was the head of steam I’d built up at the top of the curvy grade had to be reversed. As I came around the lower bend I had to lay hard on the brakes and abort my weeeeeeeee to avoid barreling into a lady in a Prius who couldn’t be bothered to obey the ample signage and instead of going down to the next side street to turn, had to instead execute a full bike lane-blocking stop at Van Pelt with her right turn blinker going while attempting to “interpret” the NO RIGHT TURN signs and the cones that reinforced them for any loopholes. Of which there weren’t any:

To most decent people the explicit meaning of this abundant signage is: Don’t Even Think About Turning Right Here. But to this driver, it’s apparently just a suggestion.

 

At the center of her own universe, she was still camped there well after I passed her because I guess she figured the utility workers would have to finish sooner or laterand open the street back up. Or, maybe she thought hybrids were exempt. Or idiots.

Grrrr, indeed.

While I couldn’t find any listing of it on the LA County Bike Coalition website, I heard it through the blogvine via Green LA Girl that the LACBC is in need of volunteers tomorrow to help count cars whose drivers park them in the first-of-its-kind-in-LA Spring Street buffered bike lane, exactly like this specimen I had to go around last week — with bonus points for it being double-parked next to a CHP cruiser, no less (click it for the bigger picture):

I saw that the driver was sitting somewhat stupefied and immobile behind the wheel as I approached, perhaps mesmerized by the bright green paint he was straddling that extended seemingly to infinity from the front of his sedan. But my pointing out his infraction spoken to him through the open driver-side window while passing, snapped him out of his trance.

You’re blocking the bike lane,” I said.

“Go to hell,” he said a second later, where it bounced harmlessly off my back as I eased back onto the green.

Not too long ago, as many of my past bike buddies can attest, I might have taken that personally and RSVP’d to his invitation with one of  my own urging him to meet me there, but nowadays I’m all grow’d up now and instead of letting the jerks crap on my ride, I just ride on past the jerks’ crap.

Susan and I made a getaway to MOCA downtown on Grand Avenue to check out the awesome “Naked Hollywood” exhibit of  photos by Weegee, and afterward we walked through the halls housing the museum’s permanent collection, where we found many creations that left me shaking my head — especially the one pictured above. This “painting” literally makes me want to slug anyone who’d dare earnestly defend it as “art,” which in this bullshit’s case can only qualify if art is defined as “paint applied to a canvas that’s hung on a wall.”

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