KPCC spent some time on car/bike relations yesterday in response to the conviction of Dr. Dickwad who pulled in front of some bike riders and then slammed on his brakes sending them to the ER as his way of saying, "Pardon me, would you mind fucking off and getting your own damn infrastructure?" Wouldn't it have been ironic if the injured riders got to the ER and Dr. Dickwad was their doctor? Man, that would have sucked. But not as much as picking your missing teeth up off his trunk. I hope the judge drops some science on the good doctor's ass come sentencing day.
Anyway, Larry Mantle covered the car/bike dialog which usually goes something like this:
Bike rider: "We'd like to have some space to ride our bikes to work, school, etc."
Car driver: "GET OFF THE FUCKING ROAD AND P.S. EAT MY INTERNALLY COMBUSTED SHORTS..."
I didn't hear the actual show, or the call in, but I'm guessing it started there and ended with both sides behaving badly and getting nowhere. Larry blogged post-show and while his post is basically reasonable he does have some behind-the-wheel bias, such as when he mentioned a rider taking the lane (which is recommended in some situations for safety) saying, "It might be legal, but it's sometimes unnecessary and, in my opinion, rude to needlessly hold up car traffic." Yeah, that's exactly what Dr. Dickwad was thinking too, only he expressed in a less socially acceptable way.
I posted a comment on Larry's blog and since it might be read there by, oh, one person I thought I'd post my comment here too so I could double that readership (Hi, Tom!).
So here it is, my contribution to the comments section:
"One problem here is that many car drivers see a bike rider acting dickishly and then make the leap to 'all bike riders are dicks'. That's not true, by a mile. Clearly from the Mandeville case we see that poor behavior is not limited to bike riders, and when you get a jerk behind the wheel of a car, it's no longer an annoyance, it can be deadly. My feeling is that the guy who rides his bike like a jerk is probably a jerk when he gets in a car, too. So it's not the mode of transport, it's the jerk.
"Cars are awarded the overwhelming majority of infrastructure dollars compared to bikes - it's not even close. You spend much time out there on a bike and you are quickly made to realize that you are second class. You piss people off if you use the sidewalk, and you piss them off if you use the street. (You piss SOME off - most car drivers are really respectful - in my experience) You are forced to go rogue out there - you're really left to fend for yourself. So the fact that bike riders improvise, for convenience or for safety, is to be expected. The roads aren't made for us, the laws aren't based on our impact or our threat to others. So we improvise. Car drivers may see it as lawlessness, but they should try it sometime, you learn to make do however you can.
"That doesn't excuse rudeness. I live by Santa Monica College and I see some true retards out there on bikes, salmoning up the wrong side of the road and blowing through crowded intersections. Obviously Darwin has plans for these scofflaws.
"I think that car drivers should spend a bit of time on a bike - for many reasons. Health, sense of community, and for a little understanding of what we face. We're out there literally 'pulling our own weight', and really don't deserve the intolerance some car drivers send our way. And hey, when they pull into that empty parking space, maybe they could send a little goodwill to those of us who left our car at home."
There. World saved. Crisis averted.