In general, I find the vast majority of drivers that I meet to be fairly courteous towards cyclists.
Sure, one has the occasional problem, but really, when one considers the traffic volume of Los Angeles, it's amazing that there are any cyclists left alive.
Most of the time, if I'm involved in any sort of incident, it's unintentional and the driver gives me that sheepish smile and small wave, and I smile and wave back because it's all good and no one got hurt.
But every so often, someone behind the wheel of a car is a callous, horrible, soulless asshole who deliberately tries (and succeeds) to seriously injure a cyclist.
Over the weekend, cyclist Susanna Schick, aka Pinkyracer, was hit by a car driven by a horrible excuse for a human being who got angry about an exchange of words that was probably completely trivial, chased down a woman on a bicycle, hit her with his car and then drove off.
Yeah, that's a real man, there. That'll show that cyclist who is the boss. Duders.
The full story is on BikingInLA, along with a link to a fund to help her pay for medical bills, since she has a concussion, broken collarbone, six broken ribs and a shattered pelvis, among other injuries.
Reading this was especially poignant today, after nearly going 'splat' on my morning ride.
A friend, who rode the L'Etape du California (a fancy French phrase for "horrible long uphill grind from hell"), wanted to do a recovery ride today, so we did a few loops of San Vicente Blvd. here in West LA.
It started out nice - the street was full of cyclists and runners, the sun was out and it was a gorgeous morning, even if I was hungry and talking about bacon way more than I should have.
On our third (and final) loop, we were slowing down as we approached a stoplight and a lady driving a giant SUV (of course) cut us off in order to wedge her boat into a parking space.
By slamming on the brakes, we missed hitting her door by about two inches. If she'd chosen to pull that move 100 yards earlier when we were riding faster, we both would have hit her.
Of course, as we rode by, we shouted at her.
Not anything cruel, but more along the lines of "Hey, watch it".
Lucky for us, she just looked sheepish (no smile or wave, though), and we rode past.
How many times have we all done this?
Although I like to solve problems with a smile, I'm certainly not above yelling at someone if they're making a really bone-headed move.
I've never had anyone chase me down and my first instinct is "get on the sidewalk, that way the car can't hit you", but I'm willing to bet that whatever happened to Pinkyracer happened so fast she couldn't do anything about it.
It's inexcusable, horrible and makes me really hope that if the police do find the guy who was driving the car, they throw him in prison with gang members and puppy kickers.
But they probably won't find him, so if anyone can afford any donation to help her, please do so.
And if you're in your car, try to give the cyclists some warning before you pull across the bike lane. That would be awesome. Remember, we're just trying to get where we're going in one piece.