Worst day cycling ever
June 28, 2014 § 170 Comments
After experimenting with riding in the lane on the fastest, most heavily trafficked section of Pacific Coast Highway between Temescal Canyon and Trancas, I reached the following conclusions.
- A large group of 10 or more riders can do it easily and safely with little or no cager hostility.
- A small group of 2-4 riders will get a small amount of harassment in the form of honking and yelling, with an occasional chop.
- Riding in the lane and obeying the traffic laws while politely defending my right to be there is safer and more enjoyable riding on the edge of the lane or in the gutter.
Last Sunday I rode by myself, further testing the practice, curious to see what the difference in cager reaction would be towards a small group versus a solo rider. Exiting onto PCH at Temescal Canyon at about 8:00 AM, I elicited six quick angry honks, but not much else all the way to Cross Creek and back. My confidence soared.
Then yesterday morning I took the plunge, getting out solo on PCH at about 7:00 AM on a Friday morning. It was the worst cycling experience of my life. As dedicated as I am to lane control on this stretch of PCH, I simply cannot recommend that a solo rider tackle this stretch of road riding in the lane on a weekday morning.
I stopped counting the honks at fifty, and that was only until Cross Creek. One driver after Pepperdine got on my rear and laid on his horn for almost a full minute. I was buzzed several times, and although this has never really bothered me in the past because buzzers usually pass with plenty of room, one cager missed me by less than a foot. I was flipped off and yelled at continually.
The hatred and anger fed on itself; as one motorist began honking, others would lay on their horns as well. I noticed that by far and away the most common harassing vehicle type was a pickup, usually with a toolbox in the back or a modified tool rack in the bed. Young surfer types in cheap cars were also more likely to honk, but I was blasted by everyone.
Going up Pepperdine I thought I would be killed. Drivers were screaming and tailgating, and a line of cars was backed up behind me in my lane. A succession of about ten cars in a row honked as they passed. I even got screamed at by a jogger who was running against traffic on the shoulder. “What’s wrong with you?” she yelled. I have pretty thick skin and am pretty good at holding my ground, but I was shaken. I’ve never been abused like this before on a bike, and the cute chick in pink running tights added insult to injury.
However, none of this was anything compared to what happened after climbing the hill past Latigo. Firmly in my lane, traffic backing up behind me, I heard the squeal of tires. My heart leapt into my mouth. “I’m going to get hit,” I thought. I looked back and a Toyota minivan packed with construction workers had avoided rear-ending me by a couple of feet.
They were laughing, doubtless from the look of abject fear on my face.
I wasn’t just terrified, I doubted the principle that you’re safer in the lane — at least riding solo on this stretch of PCH during a workday. One of the criticisms that gutter bunnies make about lane control is that riding in the lane makes you more liable to getting hit from behind. Despite thousands of miles in the lane, I’ve never had a cager rear-end me or even come close, but it almost happened yesterday.
The minivan changed lanes and raced by, and a pickup got on my tail and started honking and gesturing. I was still shaking from the minivan, so I flipped him off. He raced past and pulled over, jumping out of his truck and motioning me to stop.
We had a heated exchange. He told me to ride “in my lane,” pointing to the shoulder where he was parked.
“That’s not a lane, it’s a shoulder, and the law doesn’t require me to ride there.”
“Yeah? Well you’re a fucking idiot because you almost got killed. And you could have killed someone else!”
“By making someone hit the person in the car who hit you, asshole!”
“So it’s my fault when a driver runs me over illegally and then someone who’s tailgating him has an accident?”
“You’re fucking right it is! Get out of the road! You were in the middle of the fucking lane! You have the whole goddamned shoulder! What’s wrong with you? You’re a complete fucking idiot!”
I thought he was going to punch me out. I tried to stick to the law and my right to be there, but I was still shaking from fear, and the conversation got crazier. “I don’t give a shit about the law!” he said. “Your Nigerian president spies on me with his fucking IRS and lets all these fucking Mexicans into the country. What about those laws? People break laws all the time!”
The only thing that might have fanned the flames was to mention the 2nd Amendment or maybe Benghazi, or to tell him that it was Kenya not Nigeria. “You don’t seem real happy about laws being broken,” I said.
“Damn right I’m not!”
“So why are you making the case that it’s okay to break the traffic laws? I have a right to be here.”
“Fuck you! This isn’t a goddamned debate it’s a fucking freeway! You are gonna be in the right all the way to the fucking morgue and you’re gonna kill someone else. Hope you and your fucking legal rights are happy! And I’ll tell you something else. You are the biggest idiot I have ever met in my whole fucking life. Goody-bye, Big Fucking Idiot!”
With that he got back in the cab and drove off, but not before I started again, got out in the lane, and made him pass me in the other lane.
Still, I was shaken, and worse, my ride was worse than an 8-hour trip to the dentist. When PCH turned into two lanes past Yerba Buena, I moved over onto the shoulder. My stress level plunged. I was happier dodging shit and running over glass and nails than getting continually harassed.
On the return trip I stayed in the shoulder except for sections — particularly past Cross Creek — where the parked cars are right against the fog line and there’s nothing to do but get in the lane. Moreover, when I did get in the lane I never ventured more than two or three feet from the edge, even though this encouraged cagers to squeeze by in my lane, passing me uncomfortably closely.
When I got back to the bike path at Temescal, I was relieved beyond belief.
So although I still think that group riding in the lane is the way to go for this roadway, it’ll be a while before I tackle it again solo on a workday morning.
In order to make this stretch safe, and more importantly, enjoyable for bicyclists riding solo, much work needs to be done. More groups need to take the lane so that cagers expect us there. Shared lane markings need to be put in the lane, along with plentiful “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signage. The people who are advocates for lane control need to get their asses out on PCH on a workday morning, solo, and ride this stretch of roadway. And don’t be surprised at the brown stripe in your chamois after you get home.
Now is a great time to subscribe to “Cycling in the South Bay,” before I get killed on PCH! It’s only $2.99 per month, which is kind of a bargain. Sort of. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!
Shit Wanky, thanks for taking one for the team. Next time, carry an air horn?
Remember, primary reason: It is the safest place to be. Secondary: It is legal for cyclists to be there. If it isn’t the safest position, then it really doesn’t matter if it is legal.
Agreed. Proof positive that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Not to mention the ripple effect of rage that carries on to some other unsuspecting mope who’s just out for a ride, not a statement.
We suspecting mopes are the worst!
Right. But the harassment was amazing.
No question! Only pointing out that when the spittle starts flying, the first comment should NOT be “I can legally be here,” but “this is the safest place for me to ride.” That avoids the “I don’t give a shit if it is legal, you’re being stupid.” May even make them think for a beat. The expected response would be, “What?” Instead of “I don’t care.”
I’ve replayed it multiple times and should have said many different things differently. But … I didn’t.
I think I saw you at Naja’s yesterday afternoon, hopefully a few IPA’s helped calm the nerves.
I had four and immediately felt better! Was that you sitting next to me in the bike kit?
No, I was at Gambrinus (next door to Kegs). Saw you walk by. That’s our normal stop after our daily ride. Stop in some time and I’ll buy you a beer.
Holler and I will!
Hey, I drive a truck with a tool box. The guy you had the debate with did he have Texas plates?
He did! And a bumper sticker that said “I brake for cyclists after they are dead.”
Words fail me. (shocking, I know)
I did manage to get out a “Fuck you!” to the wanker who missed me by an inch. Jeez.
Wow. I’ve had all of those things happen to me plenty of times but never even close to that many in one day. The tailgating thing is rare but it’s happened to me a few times.
We need more BMUFL signs and we need TV ads informing the public.
And a gunship. And armor. And tactical nukes. It’s a retreat, not a defeat!
Interesting account. While cyclist lane control of this stretch of the PCH makes sense as the default mode of cycling and is perfectly legal, I feel that there is some social responsibility to not excessively delay large numbers of motorists. So finding ways to safely release the motorists behind when the left lane is not clear is part of savvy cycling on the PCH.
A solo cyclist or small group with good communication skills has much more flexibility to move out of the lane where it is safe to do so (not along parked cars) than a large group where the risk of some cyclists touching wheels and going down is much greater.
I am planning to do a solo weekday ride on the PCH this week with front and rear video to explore control and release options. At least now I know that weekday solo control on the PCH is possible if not necessarily pleasant.
Thanks for blazing the trail, Seth!
I’d tell you to be careful, but that’s redundant because you careful anyway. How about this: “Be lucky.”
Isn’t there some section of the Vehicle Code that requires a slow moving vehicle to pull over if five or more vehicles are trailing it? How does that square with VC Section 21202, etc.? Does it mean you can take the lane until there are five cars tailing you, then have to get out of the way and do it again and again ad nauseam?
(I would have been a good law professor: I have many interesting questions but few answers.)
You have to get out of the way and let them pass if it’s two lanes. On a four lane road, the cagers have to slow the fuck down, change lanes, and deal with the massive five or seconds of lost time, which usually makes them late for something really important, like the next red light they get stuck at.
CVC 21656 requires turning out at the first safe opportunity when 5 or more vehicles are backed up behind you and unable to pass safely and legally. Of course, that last part is key. They have to be unable to pass. That means that it never applies when there are multiple lanes, as I believe there are on this section of road.
It’s not just the last part that makes 21656 apply only on 2-lane roads. The first four words of CVC 21656 are quite clear:
On a two-lane highway …
Sharrows really help as they have hugely improved the experience of PCH through Encinitas. It took a little time but the ride through there was either major harassment or close passing if on the edge. Pretty stress free now and motorist either drive in the number 1 lane or change lanes to pass. It Is it so ridiculous that they feel so entitled in your area that they can’t move to another lane. Work does need to be done there. Cyclists should go and visit the city traffic engineers to get the Sharrows and BMUFL sign in.
This is the solution, Judy. That, and riders getting out there and doing it, at least in groups for now.
Wanky, I hate to say it, but you should bring Rahsaan with you. Nobody thinks twice about abusing your skinny ass, but they’ll be wary of pissing off a big, bad brother.
This is the conundrum — 2-4 riders elicits relatively little ill will. It’s when you’re alone on a workday, taking the entire lane, that they go nuts.
Think how great it would be if there were a sign, a sharrow… ANYTHING to point at when the inevitable encounter happens. Especially with law enforcement, but also with any driver. We have no problem putting up signs to tell people what they can and cannot do… why not for this? It would a a relatively cheap and easy action, that combined with actually riding in the lane would raise awareness immensely.
Sharrows with BMUFL signage are a must out there, along with people who will take the lane in groups and start acclimating these idiots to the reality of bikes in the roadway.
Have you picked an epitaph yet?
“He was ornery.”
It is so similar it’s difficult not to menton the similarity to racists’ treatment of those they consider not to belong – though nothing nearly as pervasive or violent; bicyclists are not lynched, but we are certainly being discouraged from exercising our rights – equal or less than equal. Disturbing to me is the Uncle-Tom response seeking, in effect, separate and usually inferior facilities – the back of the bus may be safer and using shoulder space may be more comfortable, bit it shouldn’t be.forced on anyone by harrasment or misapplication of laws.
The unfairness and bullying nature of these people is why I resist.
what if California simply provided a better series of bikeways along 60mph sections of the PCH, Jim? its not ‘discrimination’ when a road commission plans for safer- and more equitable access, for more people on bikes – choosing to bike along the pacific coast.
If Rosa Parks is given her own Tesla Model S while the rest of the folks sit on the bus, I’m all for it!
What shall we do in the meantime? Stay seated on the bus, or give up the seat to somebody who has more “equal rights” than the rest of us?
There is no option on this part of PCH — no legal option — other than the lane. There is no room between Santa Monica and Cross Creek for a separate-but-unequal facility, or a facility of any kind.
You have never ridden or seen this stretch of road, obviously. The shoulder is 0 feet in places, and less than 1-2 feet for miles between Cross Creek and Temescal due to on-road parking, garbage can set-out, and continual construction work.
The residents of Malibu have made it clear that they will never accept a bike lane, because it will take away their parking. In other places, the roadway stops at the edge of cliff. You should ride this road before opining about it.
The speed limit isn’t 60. Why do you keep saying that it is? This is willful misinformation.
Dude, your skin’s thicker than a Razorback hog’s.
Still feel beaten down …
Get a yellow police vest. My friend did that in Florida, and never got any shit…not even horns!
And a gun!
And get a blue blinky light. Run it together with a red and you’ll look like law enforcement. Since you’re an officer of the court it would be almost true.
Almost truth is my favorite place!
Waldo, it’s illegal to use a blue light unless you are law enforcement or certain other emergency vehicles.
Road ID, of all companies, sells blue blinkies, and I run one blithely and so far without police attention.
I think Levi sells it with a EPO-breath test kit.
It can’t be a coincidence that both Froome and Obama were born in Kenya.
But more to the point: it’s up to the rest of us to make sure Seth is remembered more like Rosa Parks and less like Timothy Leary.
Remember me like the Bill Murray character in Caddyshack.
You are a brave man. I would have been a coward and when I saw him jump out would have pulled over well before I reached him dialed 911 and tell them some crazy dude that was honking at me was waiting for me up the road. He looks like he is on PCP bring several tazers he might not go down easily.
Not brave, just stuck in the trenches, taking whatever comes … plenty scared.
Hard to believe there is so much rage and hatred in the world. Unfortunately cars bring it out in people as you are seeing in Malibu … Hope to ride with you soon.
See you on July 4! People are angry because they live in one of the nicest places in the world, have incredible weather, breathtaking vistas, beautiful roads, a shit-ton of money, and it’s all ruined by some d-bag riding his bike in his underwear.
I second the thing about safety first. If you die I may have to pick up War and Peace again, I’m rooting for Napoleon and am starting to get “bad feelings”, as the Euros say. The first and fatal assumption you make is that society is worth changing. Just make sure you get home to Mrs WM and you’re kids’ Racer 5 clone! I speak for everyone when I say I am not interested in doing the Seth Davidson Memorial Ride (Except maybe that dude that thinks you’re “not savvy”, a fate worse than death).
I agree! Safety first, and with the exception of this one day safety has invariably proven to be in the lane. (My memorial ride better have a shit-ton of beer!)
A shit-ton you say…take the lane my good man.
I agree that riding in the lane makes one more visible. I agree that only a psychopath would run one down on purpose. For me the discussion is about drivers who get mad, but not mad enough to kill you on purpose. These mad drivers will do things, just short of killing you, to teach you a lesson. When people are mad, their judgment is compromised, both mentally (in making choices), and physically (in handling a vehicle safely and precisely). So in my opinion, having mad drivers on the road who can see you clearly increases the odds of a mistake in their education of you that will cost you dearly. They are mad at us and they see us trying to teach them a lesson…
Over the past few months as this dialog has gone on, I have been experimenting with taking the lane as well. I do it on Prospect, in Redondo Beach, between PCH and 190th. Before I took the lane, someone would buzz by a bit too close about once every week or so (I typically ride that stretch 3 times a week). But it seemed like a buzz with no particular malice other than their desire to get to their crappy job a few seconds sooner. A lot of folks would also give me a wide margin.
Once I started taking the lane I noticed a lot of cars going around me with wide margins. But I also noticed several folks coming after me with clear rage. Those folks were friggin mad at me. And they came close. Real close. (I went home shaking. Took my shower. Thought about my 3 year old daughter. Life changing event).
So in the end, I will go back to watching for doors, glass, and cracks in the gutter, and hoping that the cagers that buzz me don’t whack me.
I really feel strongly that not adding anger to the situation is a wise move.
I do want to make it clear that I believe the law affords us the right to take the lane under certain conditions (which parts of Prospect & PCH certainly satisfy). But I don’t think the streets are where drivers should be educated when the educator’s life is at risk.
I’ve never had that degree of rage on Hawthorne or on Del Amo between Prospect and Hawthorne. More importantly, no one has ever come so close that I’ve felt like I was endangered; in retrospect I was being buzzed by people who really weren’t that close to hitting me. But this solo ride on PCH was different.
I can’t fault anyone who thinks that taking the lane on certain streets, solo, is a dangerous move. You gotta ride where you gotta ride!
Ape alone weak, ape together strong
But still ape.
This is exactly why I will never own a road bike. Although I understand the right to ride the roads, I will never understand not using common sense as to which roads should be ridden. Is proving a point worth being crippled or killed? I say no and that is why I will stick to the trails. Good luck to you.
Please understand that many (most?) of us don’t do this to make a point. We ride in the road to get somewhere. You know… transportation…. like some people do in their cars? I assume that most of the car drivers are just trying to get somewhere too… and that they are not all trying to make a point when they drive in the lane.
I pay for the roads. I drive a bike. I’d like to use the roads.
Also, notice that none of the danger to Seth was due to anything accidental. It was intentional endangerment by psycho bully sociopaths. Psycho bully sociopaths need to be stopped.
Yup. If you believe in something, act accordingly and accept the consequences. If you don’t believe in it, don’t do it.
Right. If you want to go north to ride the Santa Monica canyons, and you live in the South Bay, you have one choice. One. It’s unfortunate that exercising that choice makes you an “activist” or a zealot.
Now if I could just find a wooded, tree-lined trail from home to work in the middle of LA.
I’m not saying you don’t have the right to do it; I love to ride my bike too. I’m just saying I see cyclist riding on roads I never would. I don’t honk my horn or yell, but I do think to myself, “that guy/girl is fucking crazy”.
On an intellectual level you would therefore be in the camp with the pickup driver who pulled over to berate me. His point was that my lawful activity is crazy, his unlawful abuse is normal. See? It’s all because of that damn Nigerian president of mine anyway. And Benghazi.
When people begin ascribing insanity or mental illness to my legal pursuit a healthy and harmless and enjoyable activity, they are revealing much about themselves, but not really making much of a diagnosis regarding my mental health.
What’s also irksome is that the “he’s fucking crazy” conclusion typically underlies unconcern when the “crazy” cyclist is maimed or killed. “He had it coming” and “You proved a point but you’re dead” are the most common post-facto rationalizations to justify harming others who are acting safely, legally, and harmlessly.
What you should question is yourself. Why is riding my bicycle legally, safely, harmlessly, and enjoyably crazy? Because people who hate me or who are careless or who don’t give a shit may kill me? If so, then we can say that driving a car is even more crazy. We can say that being a pedestrian in New York is crazy. And we can conclude that only the only sane activities are solitary ones, indoors.
Now that, if you ask me, is crazy.
I suspect Psychos who harass, berate, and threaten cyclists, are the same types who would harass or attack women, eg:
“She had it coming, just look at the tank top/ miniskirt /etc she was wearing”
It’s taken women decades in the USA to (mostly) overcome this … it may take another decade for cyclists to reach same general legal and social status.
Right. You’re on a bike so you deserve to die.
People always wonder why guys on motos split lanes and, or go to the front at signals…its so we dont get rear ended! The thought of soloing pch on a work day, and taking the lane is semi suicidal IMO and at the very least added to you grey hair collection. Be carefull Dude, I dont want you to get hurt!
I’m not trying insult anyone and I’m sure I’m one of the least experienced cyclist here when it come to riding roads. Lets just hope that everyone here follows all traffic laws when they are on the roads. Do you come to a complete stop at every stop sign, use hand signals when switching lane, stay below posted speed limits,etc… I’m sure you do, but I’ve seen plenty a cyclists breaking these laws as well. And I assure you I’m on your side in this argument, not the side of the angry motorist. Just saying , this is one of those debates that will never have a solution.
It’s not insulting, but it’s a thought process that leads to certain consequences, none of which are very good for bicycle riders.
I run stop signs often and rarely give hand signals, and until last year got at least one citation annually for running red lights, etc. When I’m in the traffic lane, though, I’m a Boy Scout. Usually.
>> Lets just hope that everyone here follows all traffic laws when they are on the roads. <<
What does that have to do with this discussion? There should be open season on cyclists who roll through empty intersections? If a cyclist commits one traffic infraction, then automobile drivers are justified in terrorizing them and endangering their lives? What does one have to do with the other? When an automobile driver speeds, rolls through a stop sign, honks at a cyclist, parks in a bike lane… it should be acceptable for a semi to run the car driver off the road?
Please. Think this through just a but further.
You haf run ze stopping sign und for dat you must die!
“I run stop signs often and rarely give hand signals, and until last year got at least one citation annually for running red lights, etc. When I’m in the traffic lane, though, I’m a Boy Scout. Usually.”
How is this any different than the angry motorist deciding which traffic laws he thinks are justified?
“On an intellectual level you would therefore be in the camp with the pickup driver who pulled over to berate me.”
Guess that put you on his intellectual level as well. Good day sir.
And this is why the primary argument has to be about safety, and not about the law. The problem, Andy, isn’t that the motorists are choosing which laws to break, or that some cyclists break some laws. EVERY road user breaks some laws. The problem is when these motorists purposefully put a cyclist’s life at risk. THAT is how it is different. There is no comparison between a cyclist not using a hand signal (only needed when it effects another road user), or rolling through a stop sign that makes no sense for a cyclist – and a motorist purposefully terrorizing a cyclist with their automobile, or pulling a cyclist over to berate them for trying to get somewhere legally on the public roads.
Following the law doesn’t always make us safer. Breaking the law doesn’t always make us less safe. Purposefully putting a cyclists’s life at risk has no moral or legal or safety justification.
Exactly. It’s part of the cyclist-inferiority complex. If I break a single traffic law I deserve to die.
Or at minimum we don’t deserve any right to the roadway if we break any “rule of the road.” Because clearly that’s the same metric we use for automobiles….
I think it would be good to separate out the emotional charge incited by using words like “crazy” and adjectives like “fucking.” This whole discussion is too emotionally charged, at the moment, to be had rationally by all sides.
I think what is going on in this blog & comments is: Folks agree about the laws / rights etc… Seth’s opinion, generally speaking, is that drivers need to be educated via a demonstration of his rights. A lot of readers are expressing concern / disagreement based on emotional “its very dangerous arguments.”
As I wrote a few paragraphs up – the lesson is being taught under a high degree of emotion (both ways, in fact.) I question the logic and benefit of teaching when the student is irate (anger) and the teacher’s life is at risk (fear).
Avoid political inserts which lower the level of the dialog. Everyone here is already at full attention.
Imagine being a teacher in a class room with a drug dealer who has their loaded weapon sitting on the desk, finger on trigger, in fact. Now, get this dealer angry at you, on top of the anger they have for being trapped in a class room. Really angry. Now get in their face and argue with them about your interpretation of various laws.
Now imagine hanging out at a beach volleyball game with the dealer. Being relaxed. Friendly. They’re in a good mood. They’re not hating the fact they’re trapped in a class room. Give the person some pamphlets about laws etc… phrase your points in terms of this being better for society, environment, etc… Avoid I HAVE A RIGHT type arguments. Now there’s a chance to stimulate their thoughts because they’re not in a fight or flight situation.
In many civil rights protests / struggles, folks would put themselves at risk of bodily harm through civil disobedience. They were at risk for being clubbed, shot with rubber bullets, hit by water canon, or having tear gas / impact grenades shot at them. Those folks put themselves in danger, but not clear, obvious life threatening danger to emphasize their point.
The folks in Tianamen square lay down in front of tanks & armed soldiers believing that the “laws” that govern them or tank driver empathy would protect them. But terrible judgement on the part of someone, somewhere, in the tank driver’s seat or up the ranks, cost them their lives. (I honestly don’t recall the root cause at the moment). Did they make a point and gain attention? Yes. Were there alternatives? Probably. Point is: terrible judgement in a heated moment = bad outcome.
I doubt there are many here who don’t support what you are advocating. It is the personal risk you are taking on to do it. And yes, I agree, you have a right to do so…
I just want to get where I’m going. While you could claim that I – and Seth and millions of others – are making a point by by riding on the roadway to get where we’re going, it doesn’t change the primary reason that we’re riding there. We just want to get where we’re going. And in the roadway is where that is safest (also happens to be what the roadway was designed for).
The discussion has to be about safety, not the law, not making a point. If we wish to get somewhere safely on the road, we generally need to be visible and in the lane.
The rest is noise. Loud, angry, scary noise yes. Buy never lose sight of the real reason that any of this is happening.
Because the only way to get to the Santa Monicas from the South Bay is via PCH. So do you want to:
a) Give up on going there.
b) Get there in the gutter.
c) Get there lawfully using the full lane.
It’s that simple, and it’s only a political statement for the people who want to kill you or harass you or deny you the right to ride your bike. At the end of the day, the people in the civil rights movement just wanted to eat a sandwich at a lunch counter without being killed.
The difference is quite simple. The driver tries to punish me through violence — injury, death, forcing me to stop using the roadway — for traffic infractions.
When motorists disobey the rules of the road, I don’t seek to harm them or deny them their rights to travel on the streets. The person who has authority to enforce the law is called “law enforcement.” The person who uses my traffic infraction as an excuse to kill me or bully me is a vigilante.
You have also bought into a common mode of cyclist-inferiority thought, i.e., the idea that in order to use the roads you must never ever violate any traffic law. This is like saying that in order to use the freeway you must never, ever go even 1 MPH over the posted speed limit.
You are the one who tried to characterize me as crazy for lawfully riding in the road and defending myself when the driver harassed me. I pointed out that this is hardly crazy. You then seemed to suggest that only a 100% law-abiding bicyclist is entitled to protection of the law.
If you can’t see the differences between these simple things, you should go back and re-think them, carefully. My behavior running a stop sign with no one present at 6:00 AM on a Sunday doesn’t equate to pulling over a motorist, berating him, and endangering his life. If you think it does, you are mistaken.
Bravo well put Seth.
It’s infuriating how often people drop logical fallacies under the conceit of original thought. The “obey the law” trope is dead, Andy, because it’s illogical. Look it up.
Everyone who doesn’t obey the law must die. Except for those who mustn’t.
I feel for you brotha
This isn’t a goddamned debate it’s a fucking freeway!
I’ve posted before that one problem with PCH from Santa Monica onwards is the multiple designations the road has acquired by various agencies.
One of the road’s designations is highway depending on where you are and drivers immediately jump to “freeway” as in “get the f*ck out of my way bike person. This is my road.”
I know it sounds pedantic, but part of the problem can be solved by engaging the city of Malibu and the two counties, (L.A. and Ventura???) to figure out a way to get the message out it’s a multiuse roadway. Traffic related incidents will go down with speeds going down and that’s without mentioning a single cyclist. For example, speeds have gone down between Santa Monica and Malibu.
The perfect scenario is to remove the highway designation altogether so speeds are consistently lower from Santa Monica to somewhere near Port Hueneme. That has it’s own problems though as budget for maintenance would be impacted. (some agency pays less, another pays more)
Boring! Boring! Boring! But, it will make PCH safer for everyone.
This isn’t boring and isn’t pedantic. Words matter. Thanks —
Very few people realize that their quiet little residential street is a “highway” by vehicle code nomenclature. More and more it seems we should toss the entire VC and start from scratch – and create some relevant definitions and rules for our modern modes of travel.
I will assist with Section 1 of the New Galactic Vehicle Code: Bicycles are always right.
Sounds like the PCH needs to be widened to include bike lanes where possible and Sharrows with “Bikes my use full lane” signs where not.
Widening is a dead letter because it will take away parking for the people who own multi-million dollar oceanfront homes.
BMUFL signs are what is needed; you’re spot on.
Last year on PCH, a sheriff’s deputy pulled over about 20 of us for having taken the lane on PCH, in area north of Pepperdine U.
Deputy was super-nice & professional, explained we were pulled over due to some complaints from motorists who had phoned in to complain. He let us go after couple minutes.
The deputy told us the Malibu motorists were possibly the least-law abiding and most self-righteous of any jurisdiction in LA County he had worked.
Deputy said in many motorists won’t even pull over for emergency vehicles to pass.
So basically Malibu has a very high % of pricks and assholes
I think we have it pretty good in the So Bay, overall.
They are angry at us because they live in such a nice place and what the hell are we doing there?
The deputy told us the Malibu motorists were possibly the least-law abiding and most self-righteous of any jurisdiction in LA County he had worked.
Definitely not the case that every resident out there fits that description, but the phrase “Do you know who I am?!?” and the fact that Larry Ellison has a place out there contributes to the LEO’s view.
The nastiest people I encounter during weekdays are not residents but rather construction workers and contractors.
Shit Wanky – that sounds awful.
I think I would have bottled it and got into the gutter.
We have the same issues here In the UK but without the same levels of aggro unless you are in London, so I feel for you man! Please don’t get yourself killed to prove a point, as much as that point needs to be made. Group rides seems to be the best way forward ?
Yes, and we need to get the lanes marked and keep increasing the number of people in the lane.
I’ve got a couple of resources to share.
First is a letter from Caltrans District Director Michael Miles explaining to a Malibu resident exactly how and where cyclists may ride on PCH:
Second is Gary Cziko’s excellent handout of California Bicycle Law:
You are spot-on with your recommendation for Sharrows and “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs.
Here in Newport Beach honking/harassment went way down on PCH through Corona Del Mar after Sharrows and BMUFL signs went in. On the rest of PCH in Newport Beach it’s as bad as Malibu.
We gotta get the sharrows.
I get shit for it, but the experience here is exactly why I don’t just use the full lane. I also use a mirror, and I mean use it to communicate with other traffic.
It’s sounds like a lot of trouble, but it’s actually really easy to glance in your mirror every few seconds, which is what I do. Basically, I double the area in which I maintain situational awareness.
Because of my periodic mirror glances, I know when there is a gap behind me, I know when someone is approaching, I know about when they should be changing lanes, and, if they can’t, that they should be slowing.
Because of my periodic mirror glanes, I know when they aren’t changing lanes nor slowing as they should be – which is when I do something to acknowledge them and grab their attention: either turn around and look at them or issue the slow/stop left arm signal. I cannot over-emphasize how effective that maneuver is. I can only imagine why it works so well since I’m not in their heads, but I think it has a lot to do with them being taken aback by my display of awareness of their presence and approach. They just don’t expect that. Prior to that moment they think I’m an oblivious moron, but In a fraction of a second I vaporize that premise. They’re astonished, I believe, and perhaps impressed. Regardless of what’s really going on, all I know for sure is that they always instantly react, by hitting the brakes. Then, if I move aside a bit, even just a foot or two, a purely symbolic gesture of cooperation, I almost always get a smile and wave out of them when they change lanes and pass.
But when I’m without my mirror on a road like PCH, I’m blind to what’s behind me, unable to effectively communicate as I just described, and so I’m in the gutter too.
Take a Look. Fits great on my SPY Screw Unders.
[…] Cycling in the South Bay discovers taking the lane on PCH through the ‘Bu works fine when you’re riding in a group, not so much when you’re on your own. […]
That mirror is excellent although it’s a bit more than Amazon sells them for. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000C17M26/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I must say, you have some big balls to be doing what you are doing and I commend your efforts. I just hope you survive them. Up here in Fresno, we have a lot of the pickup driving types you described. However here, they will run you off the road, throw bottles and cans or whatever they have at you. Once, I was even confronted with a tire iron. Sometimes you have to choose your battles and live to tell about it. Will be down in the OC this week and hope to ride plenty on PCH but luckily down there most is 4 lanes and in Newport, they have some nice Sharrow lanes.
Be safe and Onery!
or, a better bikelane/bikeway, and regular sweeping and maintenance, just like they do in other, bicyclist friendly regions when the mission is set about to plan for bike traffic and 60mph freeway traffic in the same traffic corridor.
glad you tried weekdays solo in the lane. makes more sense to ride out of the way. maybe a bikelane for youse guys out there instead of expecting sharing lanes with 60mph PCH traffic is much of a solution for anything.
i am glad to read of your nuanced ride back into town; riding safely and controlling the lane when needed. good work, the nuance involved in riding a bike in traffic can take years to comprehend. some people can be riding bikes for decades and never achieve enlightened approach toward traffic management and what it means when riders leave the protection of the audax formation to fly solo amidst much faster traffic.
The speed limit is 45, not 60 as you continually assert. I get the impression you have not ever ridden this stretch of PCH.
My ride wasn’t “nuanced.” I was denied the right to ride where I belong due to threats of violence, harassment, and fear.
I don’t expect to share lanes with anyone. I expect them to slow down, change lanes, and pass, as they do with slow moving trucks, buses, and other vehicles going less than 45 on this stretch of ride, which is common.
[Censored due to excessive stupidity.]
[Censored due to excessive stupidity.]
and an FYI- sharrows are not acceptable design facility on roads above 35mph. not likely as a countermeasure on the higher speed sections of the PCH.
Yes they are and the 2012 edition of the California MUTCD included an amendment to allow them to be used on roads about 35mph.
Er, weird typo: “about” was supposed to be “above”
And that same MUTCD update has this usage tip for Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs,
“…may be used in locations where it is important to inform road users that bicyclists might occupy the travel lane.”
If this isn’t a case where it is important to inform road users about bicycles in the lane, I’m not sure what is. So… how do concerned road users point out this need to the folks who are charged with proper signage on the PCH?
There is no space for a separate-but-unequal facility here. We must have sharrows and be allowed to control the lane pursuant to the law.
there were no significant speed revisions to the sharrow warrants in the california mutcd. sorry. sharrows allowed in lanes with or without parking, but general guidance for sharrows remains the same- suggested for 35mph or less, only exceptions for narrow laned roads. bicyclists are not going to get a sharrow in a 60mph lane of the PCH while theres 8 feet of shoulder to the right, CALTRANS will simply put in a bikelane.
You are still piping out misinformation. The speed limit is 45. You do not know anything about this roadway. Have you ever ridden it? Where will the bike lane go? Please show me. Also, you have never attended a Malibu bike working group meeting.
i did some deep digging and stand corrected, the option 2a- suggested for inclusion in the 2012 MUTCD by none other than Jim Baross! – allows sharrows on narrow laned higher speed roads.
Still not likely CALTRANS is going to approve placing sharrows in 60mph traffic lanes of the PCH while there’s a 8 foot paved shoulder.
Hopefully, when Jim and the CABO dominated cbac suggested the revised language to the CA-MUTCD they didn’t intend sharrows to substitute for bikelanes along 60mph sections of the PCH in places like Malibu, but i suspect this was, at least, Jim Baross’s express intent, judging by his comments made at this blog.
More falsehoods. The speed limit on the stretch of PCH in question is 45. You are an armchair activist. You do not know and have never ridden this roadway. Your ideas are silly.
You keep saying it’s higher speed. The speed limit is 45.
[Censored due to excessive stupidity.]
The difference is that the braking and stopping distances are nearly twice as long.
speed: 40 mph
thinking distance: 40 feet
braking distance: 80 feet
stopping distance: 120 feet
speed: 50 mph
thinking distance: 50 feet
braking distance: 125 feet
stopping distance: 175 feet
speed: 60 mph
thinking distance: 60 feet
braking distance: 180 feet
stopping distance: 240 feet
He isn’t interested in facts, much less physics.
[Censored due to excessive stupidity.]
Samantha Olinger, a member of the CBC Board, has lied again when she tweeted, “My God. The head of CABO says you’re an Uncle Tom if you want safe bike lanes and pathways.” I don’t think for a minute that she is just confused; more likely she is seeking to to disparage CABO and people like me who promote the right for lawful bicycling on public roads.
Ok, to the Uncle-Tom comment – as I understand it, this is a derogatory term for someone giving in/accepting being forced from full participation in or use of a public resource, such as race-separate drinking fountains, separated places to be served or not being served at all with signs and rules “whites only” places at lunch counters, seats on a public bus, hurdles to voting, etc. “Separate but not equal” was and is not acceptable any more (hopefully) for providing different (inferior?) levels of service or rights to others based on their age, race, gender, physical ability, sexual orientation, etc.
People choosing or having to use bicycling as a travel mode choice seem to be subject to illegal harassment and violence from some motorists, and unequal treatment by law enforcement and courts. Some “solutions” for reducing the harassment and increasing safety from the hazards of motor vehicles seem like they are willingly accepting less than equal access – “we will be safer in the back of the bus” or similarly, riding in a cycle track. It is tempting and resonates to me to apply the Civil Rights equal protection/equal rights themes to situations where people are denied access/equal rights to public roads because of their choice of travel mode. Seeking separated facilities – too often like the inferior back of the bus – rather than safe accommodation on ALL roads seems near enough to an Uncle-Tom approach to call it out as being inappropriate, not good enough for people who choose to use bicycles instead of motor vehicles. We all deserve equal – if not superior – access to public roads for Active Transportation modes; roadways are for people, not only for people in cars.
Comparing the actions and terms from the USA civil rights racial struggles of the 60s to the road/travel rights of people using bicycles on public roads in among motor vehicle traffic has been considered/discussed among some bicycling advocates for some time. Certainly there are important differences; the pervasiveness and level of violence are far, far different – and travel mode choice IS a choice while ones’ racial background is not. I have concern and try to be sensitive about making these comparisons especially since the comparisons would come from a white guy – me. That said, I expect that some comparisons such as Civil Rights “Freedom Riders” busing themselves into hostile environments could be considered to be similar to bicyclists attempting to ride among hostile motorists on sections of PCH; the harassment and sometimes actual physical violence that people bicycling sometimes encounter for lawfully “taking the lane” or even being on a roadway “in the way” has some similarity to the racist threats, lack of service, and violence encountered during Civil Rights activists performing lunch counter “sit-ins” – also seeking their lawful space in a public realm; the requirements for “whites-only” at the front/best seats on buses sounds similar to being relegated to/required to use often less desirable road space or routes – narrow, unkempt Bike Lanes, out of direction Bike Paths, some cycle tracks, etc.
I’m a freedom rider bicyclist willing to fight back while enduring some harassment rather than to be content with or required to use any special “back of the bus” inferior facilties.
‘safe accomodations’ along 60mph highways means a preferred class bikelane or better, Jim. Being grossly obtuse about appropriate design standards while using a disingenuous, racially charged analogy to describe it really shows the tremble of your character and your lack of knowledge about applicable traffic warrants for bicyclist ‘safe accomodations’ amidst 60mph highway traffic.
disappointing this is what is representative of CABO’s bike advocacy. is this the official position of CABO, bikelanes on the PCH are akin to racial discrimination?
laughable this organization has ANY credibility. Too bad they wield an undeserved, inordinate voice of bicyclists to caltrans What a bag of twaddle being peddled in order to obstruct better planning for bike traffic along california’s high speed arterial roads and highways.
The person with no credibility is you, for perpetuating the falsehood that the speed limit is 60. This is a blatant untruth. Shame on you.
You keep ranting about 60mph but very few surface roads have speed limits that high. That is a speed limit usually reserved for controlled access highways. You want to talk about disingenuous?
Discrimination against bicyclists isn’t racism but it has a lot in common with racism because it is bigotry and elitism. People will move over to pass any slow moving motor vehicle. Put a garbage truck or cement truck on PCH going 20mph and people will change lanes to pass it without complaint. Some have a double standard when it comes to bicyclists because they think bicyclists don’t belong. Some will quite literally tell us that we need to know our place.
Many bicyclists have also been attacked and some of those hospitalized or even killed for the crime of riding on the road, much like victims of racism and other bigotry have been for merely being who they are. Bicyclists are hated for existing.
You are spot on about the double standards and the bigotry, and he is clueless or deliberately dissembling regarding the speed limit. It’s 45 mph on the stretch of PCH in question. I’m not sure that PCH has a 60 mph speed limit anywhere in SoCal.
And you’re also right about being told to know our place. Cagers’ favorite line is “Get off the road!”
The right to freely move on the roads in a legal fashion is a civil right in that is enshrined in the vehicle code, and that it’s violation carries with it criminal penalties. I also agree that we should not be forced to accept separate-but-unequal facilities, and riding in the lane is our right. Being killed, attacked, or harassed for exercising our right is repellent and evil.
I disagree with the comparisons to the civil rights movement, however, for the same reason that many Jewish people oppose use of the word “Holocaust” when applied to any genocide except the one practiced by the National Socialists against Jews in WWII. The Civil Rights Movement and the language associated with it refers to practices against blacks and other ethnicities based on racism.
Racism, unlike bicycling rights, is a systemic method of thought, underlain by economic policy, laws, unwritten rules, politics, and mass incarceration that is designed to deny the human worth of entire classes of people. The Civil Rights Movement was primarily a black rebellion against Jim Crow, which was itself a form of “polite slavery” designed to thwart the guarantees of the 13th and 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
I don’t think it’s correct to broadly apply Civil Rights imagery or language to what is essentially a fight about mode sharing, even when that fight could well result in me being hurt or killed. Part of the reason I don’t thing we should appropriate the language of the Civil Rights Movement except for the occasional use of words that really do apply — separate but equal, for instance — is that it detracts from what those who participated in movement sacrificed and it puts our fight on a level of human rights, a level we don’t necessarily deserve to be on.
The other reason is that we have to create our own movement and fight our own fight using our own terms and images if we are going to win support. We cannot do this by appropriating the gains and language of the Civil Rights Movement; in fact we will alienate people. No one who is a victim of racism or who has fought for human rights will warm to us when we say that we, too, are fighting for a fundamental human right. As much as I hate CVC 21202 and FTR mentality, it doesn’t rise to the level of human rights, yet, and when it does we will have to present it using language of our own.
This is one reason I like CABO. They have clearly developed language and ideas and arguments that are cogent and powerful and convincing. We don’t need any language or imagery other than what we already have.
[…] the following comment from Baross, left on the Cycling in the South Bay blog in response to a story about harassment from motorists […]
[Censored due to excessive stupidity.]
I read all of these posts and replies…wow. I just rode home from LA the last two days…It is about 160 with my route….the most dangerous places was where the bike lanes were placed/forced into the four lane road, without widening. I stopped for coffee and talked with a couple who had passed me. They were courteous on the road, gave me some room, then passed when there was space and waved with a little toot on their horn. When speaking with them, I thanked them and she said, “What’s the big deal? All I had to do was slow down, and then step on the gas when it was clear. That’ isn’t very much effort.” Wanky, that’s the rub here….and why, after all these years, I don’t see it getting better: Humans are a psychotic fucked up group…trying to legislate or guilt them into proper behavior is futile, like trying to teach my dog Honey not to lick her privates…I’m tired today, so I road the rollers for a half hour, and you know what…I actually liked it better. I think I’m too old for the road most days now….
You mean we can’t lick our privates?
If I could, I’d never have time to ride.
You clearly need an assistant.
its absurd this blogger is insisting motorists drive the speed limit in malibu.
I wouldn’t like it but at least I could understand if a driver honked at me because he came up behind me and couldn’t pass immediately. That doesn’t happen to me though, most often the drivers that honk were not inconvenienced at all, ie: going on the opposite direction of a two lane road; passing on a light traffic four lane road, or passing without oncoming traffic.
Ha! Same crazy experience here, Paul! The few cars going our direction weren’t complaining. But at 4:15 am, the solo taxi driver going the OTHER way decided that it would be prudent to yell at us to get the F off the road. An empty, four-lane road with no bike lanes, that is.
Good samaritan, I guess.
Get off the road and onto the bike path! No bike path? Then get off your bike!
if the blogger is scared riding in 45mph traffic, it really doesn’t matter if it is signed 45mph or 60mph – or if SoCal residents obey the speed laws.
There’s lot of lane width between riding ‘in the gutter’ and controlling the entire lane.a LOT of middle ground.
Bicyclists trying to always have a road lane width to themselves when riding amidst much traffic faster are fooling themselves about not just human nature but also the required, safe operating parameters of riding a bike.
Bicyclists who post comments on blogs who think they’re safe in the gutter are just fooling themselves. Which is okay since they’re fools anyway.
“Safe operating parameters of riding a bike.”
Spell those out, smarty pants. We’re dying to be informed.
It’s very simple, and a method you probably already use yourself.
Control lanes when needed, and share the road safely. if there’s 16 feet of clear pavement- shoulder and lane, or bikelane and adjacent lane, or unstriped roadway, a rider who knows how to operate a bike vehicularly can ride somewhere safely to the right and not have to control all 16 feet of pavement, even if the road lane is less than the magical, statutory ‘unsafe to share’ lane width.
Riding on snow five months a year, i often cannot see the lines of traffic where i ride my bike.
similar to how you describe vehicular cyclists not having to control wide lanes…… ” Most vehicular cyclists are fine with riding far right when the lane is wide enough and there are no crossing conflicts.” with one slight caveat.
. NEVER ‘far right’. please. don’t ever suggest a vehicular cyclist should be ‘far right’ it is always, ALWAYS ‘only as far to the right as is safe at time and place’.
It sounds like, when you rode in the safe shoulder, your stress levels dropped.Please, tell me you weren’t riding UNSAFELY and endangering yourself. I would be afraid for you if you are choosing UN-safe road positions. Please, choose the roadway if you consider the shoulder portions unsafe to ride in.
However, for at least a portion of your return ride, it sounds like smartly choosing the shoulder as your default- except when you had to avoid the parked cars- was your preferred alternative.
so, like i said, it really doesn’t matter if all claifornia drivers do the speed limit on the PCH- which is signed 55mph just a few miles north of malibu.
I was out riding today on my dutch bike in 45mph divided highway traffic, and didn’t think twice about it. i took the lane when needed, not bluntly, and shared the road when safe to do so. this included riding on shoulders when safe, like when you rode your return trip-
Telling other people to ‘take the lane’ when it’s got you scared, how do you describe it “worst day ever” – a male, aggro roadie with a blog about his riding – doesn’t it seem a little feeble, even to you? An argument whose merits fail the reasonableness test?
You’ve exhausted the 2 Response allotment. Further engagement requires subscription, $2.99 a month. As MAD Magazine used to say, “Cheap.”
Otherwise, accustom yourself to being ignored.
I can’t comprehend how some people think that “share the road” means “share the lane side by side with cars”. It’s the stupidest most illiterate moronic idea ever. Motorists do not share the road with other motorists by traveling side by side in the same lane with other motorists. That idiotic definition of sharing ONLY applies to bicyclists.
This guy thinks “share the road” means “give cagers the right to push you around.” Really simple, and sad.
Who said he was scared to take the lane?
That’s your delusion.
He was scared of the sociopathic bullies who were threatening him because the left lane is made of cooties.
When you acknowledge that almost getting killed frightens you, Sir Pudknocker focuses on that and nothing else.
I think the ‘you deserve what you got’ commentary (by redacted idiot included) fail to recognize one simple fact – the driver reaction to a cyclist in the lane on the described stretch of road was an abberation brought on by a single cyclist experiment. Seth has already demonstrated that, during a group ride, the exact same lane-control scenario on the exact same stretch of highway that the experience is altogether pleasant. Is it really “hopeless” to expect that drivers might react the same way to both scenarios one day?
Thanks for this. You nailed it.
The lane is too narrow for a bike and a car. What middle ground could there be?
Starting from the gutter, as you move left, initially you will get closer and closer passes until you are controlling the lane and drivers are changing lanes to pass you and then you are getting safe passing distance. At some point, they stop trying to pass you in the same lane. That’s a key point of lane control relative to parallel overtaking traffic.
I do not understand how it is seen by some as such a terrible hardship to change lanes to pass a bicycle. I do not understand why it is so vitally important to pass bicycles within the same lane.
I also object to your use of the word “always”. Most vehicular cyclists are fine with riding far right when the lane is wide enough and there are no crossing conflicts.
Having to slow down and pass means that the operator must actually “drive” the cage rather than simply point it. And, like, that’s a hassle, dude.
I’m glad you object. Objection overruled. Moving party to give notice.
Back here in reality, changing lanes to pass a bicycle rarely requires slowing down. When I see slow traffic in front of me, bicycle or otherwise, I change lanes as soon as I safely can so that I don’t have to slow down.
This guy doesn’t get it. He believes that he’s inferior to motor traffic and should get out of “their” way.
Thought of you when I saw this today Wanky. From the guy that gave us Radical Rick in BMX Plus!
[Comment censored due to failure to pay troll tax.]
It has NOTHING to do with fear of 45mph hour traffic.
It has EVERYTHING to do with sociopaths who can’t handle the amazingly trivial inconvenience of moving over to pass a bicycle and deliberately and maliciously threaten him.
Why don’t you get that?
Because he has a “blame the cyclist” mentality, that’s why. Sadly, it’s all too common.
[Comment censored due to failure to pay troll tax.]
Accident on PCH yesterday:
What’s it gonna take?
I thought of you last week as I peddled my bike from Dana Point to Newport Beach and back. It was early enough that traffic wasn’t too bad but still felt a tad dangerous riding alone even with 4 lanes. Then, heading through Laguna, I came across a memorial for a 55 year old man killed in mid June. Was hit by a Prius with a 19 year old driver and news claims no charges were filed against the driver. Why is it that Prius drivers seem to be the worst offenders??? Also had two dumbasses speed past me, cut in front of me and slam on the brakes to make a right turn. Both were close calls…………….
Relax. The worst than can happen is death or permanent debilitating injury.
LOL, I prefer death to permant disability. Had a gnarly crash just over a week ago and hope its a long time before my next one.
Yes, long time as in “never.”