L.A. Ruminations
Drivers, Bikers And Bicycle Shorts
By Michael Coscia
Aug 1, 2003 - 9:09:00 AM

LOS ANGELES — I love my 21-speed hybrid Windstream bicycle. I love putting on my black bicycle shorts (yes, those skin-tight Lycra shorts some people find disgusting), my light blue tank top, and my gray protective helmet and biking the streets and canyons of Los Angeles. Not everyone can wear bicycle shorts but I certainly can and I wear them proudly. I like the way they accentuate my toned legs. What I don't like is that with every bike ride I encounter potential death - if not death then potential broken bones, concussion, cuts, bruises, or coma. Insane Los Angeles drivers are too busy chatting on their cell phones, changing CDs, eating, putting on makeup, driving SUVs they don't know how to drive, and not paying attention to the road. This is a serious situation.

When I was growing up in the suburbs of Boston everyone had a 10-speed bike. Mine was orange. A Schwinn. I rode it everywhere. Back then (and it wasn't that long ago, believe me) no one wore helmets. Now I won't pedal an inch without my helmet.

A bicyclist stopped at an intersection. Jenna Skarzenski / Canyon News
The other day I was riding my bike down Wilcox on my way to the gym. As I was approaching the end of the street, an SUV cut over, without looking, and almost hit me. I had visions of flying across the hood and landing with a thud on the pavement. Me, unconscious, with a broken back would not be a pretty picture. That SUV pissed me off. When we both reached the red light I stopped beside the SUV and yelled at her to watch where she was going. The woman rolled down her window. I was expecting an apology. I was dead wrong. She cursed me with such vulgarity (lots of the "f" word) that I was shocked. What? Why? Not about to be yelled at like that, I threw a few curse words right back at her, but it did no good. She was a raving lunatic. Luckily the light turned green and I pedaled away from her as fast as I could. As she zoomed past me, the profanities were still spewing from her filthy mouth. She flashed me the finger. I implore every Los Angeles driver to be more careful and to watch for bicyclists.

Bicyclists are people too. Have you ever noticed pedestrians / bicyclists on the corner ready to cross the street and see a car stop, look left and quickly turn right without looking to their right? Once I witnessed a police car making a quick right without looking and coming within inches of a bicyclist. Did it stop? No. Not long ago a good friend of mine was riding his bike to work during the early morning rush hour. He was riding on the sidewalk when a car came out of an alleyway without looking - and bang! My friend's bike hit the driver's side with full force. He flew off the bike and flipped over the car. The driver looked through the window at my friend lying on the ground. He drove away. Luckily my friend only sustained cuts, bruises and a bent front wheel. What kind of person would hit someone and run? An inconsiderate heartless fool. Are people in such a hurry that they don't pay attention to people on the street? Is Los Angeles so ripe with "car mentality" that they cannot imagine there are people who actually walk or ride a bike? Are people so wrapped up in their own little lives that they are oblivious to others? Or is it that people are trying so hard to multitask while driving that they lose all road concentration?

This brings me to the issue of cell phones. I have one. I use it. It makes me feel so "Hollywood" when I'm driving down the Sunset Strip and speaking with Steven, Tobey, Renee, Megan, Meryl, or Nicole about our latest projects. It's so easy to get caught up in the conversation and forget basic road etiquette - mainly to look where I'm going. It's got to stop and I vow to fight my phone addiction (there should be a 12-step program for all the cell phone addicts). If cell phone lust gets the best of you, pull to the side of the road to relieve your urge. Once satisfied, you can re-enter traffic. Call it safe-phone. It will help save lives. So please people, look both ways and avoid hitting a bicyclist. Here's a proposition: If you promise to watch the road more closely and not distract yourself with cell phones, makeup, etc. then I promise to stop wearing bicycle shorts. It's the least I can do. Deal? Thanks.

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