jerks


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.”

Yesterday was Tuesday, which like most of the Tuesdays since March meant that I would be biking to and from my volunteer shift at the SPCALA Spay/Neuter Clinic on Jefferson Boulevard.

So as usual I got myself onto 4th Street Bike Boulevard (even though specificaly calling it “Bike Boulevard” is now frowned upon by many in the urban cycling complex) and made my way west, where at about Rossmore I found myself riding with two other cyclists — just three two-wheeled commuters cranking it cross-town.

Nice. Right up until a few blocks along when one of us had to prove he was a jerk by pulling off the cliché selfish and endangering move that never fails to leave motorists and us responsible cohabitation-minded cyclists understandably stewing.

Crossing Hudson in a single file-ish line with me in the middle we approached June Street. As you’ll see in the photos sequenced below (captured on my ever-present handlebar cam; images enlarged if clicked), when the lead cyclist arrived at June, (1) she appropriately yielded to a southbound motorist who’d gotten to the intersection first. I followed suit and the motorist proceeded forward until he had to jerk to a stop because the jackass who’d been behind us (2)saw no reason to obey the law or concede the right of way that was not his and instead (3) just plunged across June without so much as a hesitation. Afterward, (4) the lead cyclist and I continued to yield and the driver (5) resumed his way across the intersection on his way, as did we.

My pointedly derogatory comment describing how I felt about such a blatant cheesebaggery was lost on its intended recipient because when I caught up to him waiting in the median gap to cross Highland I found out his audio inputs were fully blocked by earbuds. Of course they were.

So instead when he turned my way and found I’d negated any gain his sociopathically compulsive stop sign jump had made, he also found my my righteously disapproving glare back at him while shaking my head. His response was to turn on the afterburners once Highland cleared. But that impressive display of running away was for naught as well as I rolled up casually at the red light he got stuck waiting for at La Brea.

As mentioned in my previous post, there were two encounters during yesterday’s ride I deem worthy to share and this second one involved a textbook self-entitled red-running cyclist. What makes this blatant demonstration of jerktastically sociopathic tendencies so remarkable is the street he crossed illegally. This wasn’t Clinton and Larchmont or Virgil and 4th or 7th and Cochran. This was San Vicente Boulevard: three lanes in either direction split by a double-wide median. Big sucker.

I want to make it clear: I totally hate this shit wherever it happens. It makes me want to make police siren noises. It makes me want to turn to the motorists beside me and plead for them to stop shaking their heads and lumpsumming me in with “gawdam bikers” like him.

I also want to make it clear: I’ve run red lights. But the reds I’ve run are some of the aforementioned ones at quieter, smaller intersections. And usually laaate at night when the only creatures stirring are zombie mice. And when I do it’s only after fully stopping and waiting/hoping/praying an appropriate spell for the light to change and after that then looking left then right, then left, then right, then left again to make sure the immediate vicinity is not only clear but that it’s vacant as far as I can see.

Then? I go for it. And you know what? On those ones run when I have timed my launch to coincide with the surprise arrival of headlights either way up or down the block? I actually feel a twinge of guilt. Even if there’s only the slightest chance I was seen transgressing, I feel like an assbag.

Not this guy, though. This guy’s the honey badger of assbags. He don’t give a fuck.

And you know what irks me most of all? The run saved him absolutely no time. Zilch. The light on Redondo there above turned green the moment he’d hit the opposite crosswalk. And wouldn’t you know…

Honey badger assbag spent those few ill-gotten few seconds doing what? Yep, waiting at the next red down Redondo at the much busier and unrunnable Pico Boulevard, giving me time to casually catch up to him and not have to wait nearly as long as he did for the green.

When I was blessed/cursed with the opportunity to work from home beginning in May 2010, I lost three of my eight regular readers who tuned in to my bloggings mostly because I always strove to relate the various failed relationships I had with my fellow road users whilst bike commuting 30-plus miles roundtrip 200-plus times a year.

In place of those frothy spittle-flecked regalings those readers were suddenly finding laid-back narratives about backyard flora and fauna, or whatever type of critter whichever of our cats had caught, or rainfall counts, or the latest backyarchaeological find, and maybe pictures of whatever libation I might have been drinking on the porch some sunny weekend afternoon.

Those poor readers fled such non-cycling things. I can’t really blame them.

Not that I’m returning to those glory days, but now that I’m volunteering on a regular basis with the SPCALA, and commuting crosstown and back by bike, as fate would have it I had an encounter worth writing about. A couple actually, but we’ll start with this one.

Allow me to introduce you to this car, a Lexus SUV, California License No. 6JJY356:

It’s hard to tell from the above still, but the vehicle’s at a complete stop in front of me. This after the female driver came up behind me whilst I was pedaling uphill in the right turn lane on Glendale Boulevard under the 101 Freeway in Echo Park, and then gunned it impatiently around and ahead of me while we were emerging from the overpass.

I can only guess at why the driver went stupid and rapidly decelerated to 0 mph: 1) because she’s in a car and she can do whatever the fuck she wants; 2) especially if it only obstructs a guy on a bike; 3) emerging so quickly from the complete shadow to the complete sunlight momentarily blinded her; 4) she dropped her cellphone; 5) she experienced a sudden shock at seeing the drained and closed state of Echo Park Lake for the first time because she’s from Brentwood by way of Dallas and rarely makes it this far beyond La Brea; 5) she was certain the onramp to the freeway was to the left straight up the hillside that Bellevue deadends into.

Regardless of what caused the ineptitude, she stopped long enough for me to catch up to her, pass her and complete the right turn she’d so brainfartingly impeded.

In passing between her and the curb to make my turn I let curiosity get the better of me and inquired aloud as to what she could possibly be waiting for before continuing on my way to the left turn lane at Echo Park Avenue. Only at that point two-thirds of the block away did she catch up to me and in passing give me a look of “Oh, it’s one of those crazy self-entitled bicylingists. Who think they own the road and can do whatever they want. Like stop in the. middle. of it — wait, uh…”

I confirmed her insanity finding by returning her glare and then gesticulating in a generalized nonspecific manner that was supposed to indicate my abject disdain but instead may have resembled either a strange kind of dance or a seizure of some sort. I’ll have to work on that.

She, of course, responded by rolling down her driver window and as she casually turned right onto the freeway onramp — this time not stopping dead — flipped me the bird.

Ever so fresh.

 

 

There are people in my neighborhood who think me an epic jerk. Such festering animosity stems from the fact that they have demonstrated themselves to be jerks as well — most often by parking their vehicles so that the block part — or occassionally all — of our driveway apron.

With the new year, comes our first example, found yesterday afternoon as I headed out to take our Christmas tree to the recycling drop-off station at the LA Zoo.

People who think that this is acceptable — and who concurrently think it’s unacceptable for jerk-o me to consider it unacceptable — both infuriate and intrigue me. I want to cuss them out for being such fails, but then I want to sit down with them and politely find out what their motive is; is there a reason for their irresponsibility, or are they simply sociopathic? Then I want to cuss them out some more.

It used to be if you hindered my access in or out of our garage in even the sliiiiightest itsy bitsy manner, I was one cold-hearted sumbitch who didn’t hesitate to speed-dial parking enforcement and request a citation — hence the bad blood from some fellow residents, physicalized on occasion with a variety of full beverage containers launched against the garage door. But this last couple years or so I’ve mellowed into my late-40s — especially with impeding vehicles that are more nuisance than obstruction. Now instead of a ticket (or in certain uber-egregious instances: a full-on tow) I print out a copy of a long-winded missive I wrote and stick it on their car door. No doubt some of the recipients of my righteously indignant note come away ticket-free still thinking me a pompous jerkbone ass, but there’s just no winning against some losers.

There was no leniency with this parker because the incredible thing is, this was a rare repeat performance — and recently, too. I can’t remember if it was last month or November, but  I came out to find this same sedan blocking the apron to the almost exact same degree. With such a flagrant disregard I made the call requesting a citation, but for reasons unknown to me when the officer arrived in addition to the ticket he ordered up an OPG truck and had the ride impounded (my uneducated guess for the tow was because of excessive and/or unpaid parking tickets).

I stand firm in the belief that is not crazy for me to think that the operator of this particular car might think twice before making the same mistake in the same place. But he or she proved me wrong.

Fortunately, the responding officer didn’t do more than cite the offending vehicle.

 

I wrote about why I would be canceling my subscription to the Los Angeles Times over at Blogging.la (read it here), but just in case there’s  doubt as to whether I walked the walk with my symbolic gesture, I recorded the conversation I had this morning with the customer rep.

Personally, if it were my garage so fully and blatantly obstructed I’d just have said asshatter’s douchemobile ticketed and towed, but I entirely appreciate the frustration with such center-of-the-universe failbaggery that leads someone to take such bold and impressive alternative action.

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