What it’s like to ride a bike in Los Angeles, Part II

This morning I ventured out to The Bootleg Theater to check out Creative Mornings with Barbara Bestor, which was totally awesome. Barbara owns an architecture company that tries to introduce weirdness and creativity into people’s everyday lives, which I think is super important, and is one of the reasons LA is home to such wonderfully creative people. I also decided to ride my bike to the event. Fresh air and a little exercise in the morning–what better way is there to start the day than that?

The ride over was awesome. The right back, frankly, sucked. Here’s why.

The Squeal and Peal

Riding in the bike lane, I pulled up to a red light at a T intersection and stopped. The only options here were to turn left or right, and the bike lane was in between the left and right turn lanes. I was waiting to turn left. When the light changed, I proceeded, but the car to my left, also making a left turn, did so with complete negligence to her surroundings, swinging extra wide and nearly knocking me over sideways. When she saw me, she got mad. She rolled down her window and yelled something profane before driving ahead toward the next red light. Now, I’ve committed myself to being as respectful and civil as possible on the road, so despite the bubbling frustration her arrogance was stirring, I decided I would remain calm and simply tell her that being a cyclist in Los Angeles is difficult, and that I’d appreciate it if she would try not to yell at us in the future. When she noticed I was about to catch up to her at the light, however, she rolled up her window and ignored me!

The Spontaneous Decision Maker

Not more than a minute later, I was riding in the bike lane toward an intersection when a truck carrying safety cones (ironic, right?) in the lane to my left decided all of a sudden that he was about to miss his turn. Without so much as a glance, he swerved right, straight into the bike lane. I slammed on my breaks, missing the back of the truck by about 2 feet. I yelled. He didn’t notice, and continued onward.

The Anxious Left Turn

Finally, as I entered the very next intersection–again, in the bike lane–a man driving a big white SUV coming the opposite direction decided not to wait for traffic to finish before making his left turn. Well, at least not bike traffic. As soon as the stream of cars ended, he began to make his turn, getting about halfway through it before realizing he was about to plow directly into me. He and I both slammed on our brakes. To his credit, he did wave apologetically and motion for me to go ahead once we’d regained control of the situation, which was nice.

Three close-calls in a span of no more than 3 minutes. No wonder people are afraid to bike in this city. Fortunately after all that, I made it home unscathed. But not before getting stuck for a whole block behind some guy in a Camry who decided driving in the bike lane was a good way for him to bypass the traffic in the lane he should have been driving in.