Fear of not flying
November 24, 2019 § 7 Comments
The closer you get to living without a car the scarier it gets.
It’s true that I haven’t driven since August 17, 2019. But the car, well, it is still there, a giant 5,000-lb. security blanket all plugged in and ready to go.
I’ve used the Kelly Blue Book online quote service and have found that a 2017 Chevy Volt with leather seats, 48,000 miles, and nary a scratch will fetch real money. And worry not, the dealer will come to you.
I don’t miss driving, and I’m daily astonished at the mass stupidity of it all.
Car washes? Are you kidding me?
Gas stations? Are you kidding me?
Car shopping? Are you kidding me?
Stopping in a line of 30 cars to go through a light? Are you kidding me?
Status based on your brand of steel cage? Are you kidding me?
Pulling over for a fire truck? Are you kidding me?
Sitting on the freeway? Are you kidding me?
Drive-thrus? Are you kidding me?
Oil changes and maintenance? Are you kidding me?
Road rage? Are you kidding me?
Flipping through radio stations hoping to find Tom Petty? Are you kidding me?
Paying tolls? Are you kidding me?
Going 3 mph through parking garages? Are you kidding me?
Rental car packages with airfare? Are you kidding me?
Parking? Are you kidding me?
Valet? Are you kidding me?
Speeding tickets and traffic cops? Are you kidding me?
Finding a charging station? Are you kidding me?
Exhaustion from doing nothing? Are you kidding me?
The 110/405/10/101? Are you kidding me?
18-wheelers? Are you kidding me?
Depreciation depression? Are you kidding me?
Insurance? YOU ARE NOT KIDDING ME.
Because as a bike lawyer, cyclist, and 4:00 AM blogger I know that having underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage is the third leg of the stool for savvy cyclists: Use a light, Take the lane, Insure thyself.
And once you get rid of your car you lose your UM/UIM coverage. Or at least that’s what I thought. But then I recalled Francis X.’s famous quote: “Wouldn’t it be great if all the computers in the world were connected with some kind of electronic network that would allow them to instantaneously share information on demand so that you could get answers to questions right away?”
A google later I discovered “Non-owner Liability Insurance.” This is liability insurance for anyone with a driving license who doesn’t own a car, and it comes with UM/UIM coverage. There are a couple of catches.
- The insurance is not offered by all carriers.
- You can’t have any motor vehicle registered in your name.
- The UM/UIM coverage generally maxes out at $250,000, rather than the $500k or even $1M policies offered by some carriers.
Since we haven’t sold our Volt yet I’m not eligible for a policy, but once it’s gone I’ll be reaching out to State Farm agent, cyclist, and friend Stephan Buckley and buying coverage. It’s almost $900 cheaper than my current $500k/$500k policy, which only means one thing: More carbon.
November 23, 2019 § 6 Comments
About two years ago I stopped reading the news.
Before that I was a news junkie, I mean a trash junkie. I would have to read the news first thing when I got up and then check it during the day.
One day I read an old article in the Guardian that explained how awful news is and how bad it is for you to read it. The takeaway was that not reading the news will make you happier.
I read this in the early days of the current presidency, which in and of itself was an unending source of unhappiness. Sure enough, when I stopped paying attention, I felt better.
Since I had never consumed teevee news, I became instantly insulated from the news effect, which is what I call the highs and crying jags that come from being emotionally manipulated. I found out that whatever happened to the stock market was going to happen. That the globe would continue to heat. That bad actors would continue their badness, and no matter how much I read about it or didn’t read about it, all those things would continue.
Most importantly, simply listening to people talk was enough to get the basics of what was “going on.” And what was “going on” is what’s always “going on.”
I started focusing on real events in my life and on people I actually know and hang out with, both of them. For me, news became “What had I and my family/friends done?” rather than “What high crimes and misdemeanors did the president commit today?”
This extended most importantly to cycling news. I used to actually pay attention to the results of a UCI 3.1 race in Belgium. I wanted to know who the next stage winner of Tour of Qinghai Lake was going to be. Vanderpoel’s latest cyclocross win? Had to know.
But that was all news, so I stopped reading it.
Actually, what I stopped read were advertisements. Online content now is designed so that you can’t get more than two or three paragraphs, sometimes lines, without having to read or consciously skip over an ad. It’s the ultimate brain cage. I compare it to the books I read, where you go page after page after page, hundreds of them, AND NEVER SEE AN AD.
See? Old technology isn’t all bad.
Despite all this, like a wino and his bottle, the background hum of impeachment has gotten so loud that I decided to read an article yesterday, if article is what you call modern Internet newsvertising. This was in the New York Times.
All I can say is that my generation and the ones preceding have left everything in tatters. There is no law, no order, no logic, no decency on the national stage. It’s not the president’s fault. He’s simply the most extreme exponent of a national creed that doesn’t want to study, think, discuss, compromise, and love strangers.
But the good news? I promised good news, so here it is: If you quit driving in order to become a full-time bike commuter in LA, you don’t have to give up your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, even if you no longer own a car.
Details to come!
Buy a lottery ticket, PLEASE!
December 7, 2017 Comments Off on Buy a lottery ticket, PLEASE!
I am an expert conversation killer, having the ability to bring the liveliest discussions to a screeching halt with a few ill-chosen words, or well-chosen ones, such that you could even consider me a mass murderer of happy dialogue, a Ted Bundy in the world of social gatherings. One of the main reasons that conversations in my presence wilt like delicate orchids in a blast furnace has to do with the topics I introduce.
The topics themselves are harmless, just like guns, because after all, topics don’t kill conversations, people kill conversations. For example, it’s conceivable that there are many social groupings that would relish a conversation about learning Chinese, or about medieval European cities, or about the relationship between Croatian and Bosnian and the degree of mutual intelligibility between Czech and Slovakian, but that’s like saying there are many foods that go well with Bearnaise sauce … and not knowing that chocolate ice cream isn’t one of them.
Even good friends who like to read and who enjoy a robust chat never take the bait, so what I usually do is end up listening, adding a comment every now and then, and keeping most of my thoughts to myself. This, in fact, is the only reason I’m able to hang onto the admittedly few friends I have; I have the hard-earned wisdom to know when to be silent, and its corollary, the knowledge of when to shut up.
Still, even my mustard gas convo weaponry can’t account for the fact that the moment I mention the word “insurance” a pall goes over the crowd. And I talk about insurance a lot.
It’s not because I sell insurance, but because my job puts me into contact with insurance policies all the time, every day, and what’s worse, it puts me into contact with no insurance policies where there by all rights should have been one. I’ve written about the importance of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and how it can protect you when you are on a bike and you get hit by a car. If you’re unfamiliar with this crucial topic, please read this.
But recently in L.A. I’ve noticed a very disturbing trend: Cyclists who get hit by cars and who themselves have no UM/UIM coverage under their own auto policy because they don’t own a car. More and more people are simply going bipedal or bicycle-only and stepping off the one-man-one-car, an-auto-in-every-pot mentality that made America mildly great and obese and prematurely dead.
For these cyclists and pedestrians, who have no auto insurance and therefore no UM/UIM coverage to protect them when they are victimized by a hit-and-run or uninsured driver, there is actually a very practical solution. But before I get to it, I have to conquer the conversation-slaughtering effect of the word “insurance.”
Why do people hate the word so much that the moment you say it they stop listening, reading, thinking? Why so much odium surrounding a word that’s ostensibly there to protect you? I’ll tell you why: Because insurance is one of those things in life that signifies a negative obligation with no payoff. Sure, if you need it it pays off, it’s insurance, but the connotation is “pay something and get nothing.” So, like trying to sell people a “living will” or “probate services,” you’re pretty much fucked the minute you mention it.
So I figured out a way around it. All along we’ve been calling it the wrong thing. Instead of saying “insurance,” we should be calling it by its real name, which is “lottery ticket.” Now that will get anyone’s attention! Hey, can I sell you a lottery ticket?
Even if you don’t want one, at least you’re listening. And everyone has an opinion on lotteries, and deep down everyone wants a winning ticket. NO ONE WANTS A WINNING INSURANCE POLICY BECAUSE YOU GENERALLY HAVE TO GET MAIMED OR DIE. But everyone wants a lottery ticket because you might get money!!!!!
Therefore, today’s blog post is about getting a Non-Operator Lottery Ticket. These lottery tickets can be purchased even if you don’t own or drive a car or even have a driving license. The way they work is this: You go to a Lottery Ticket Sales Company (formerly known as an insurance company), and tell them you want one of these non-operator lottery tickets. They will sell you tickets which, if you win, will pay up to $500,000 if the driver who hits you is uninsured or underinsured. These lottery tickets are affordable and a must-have if you ride a bicycle and don’t own a car.
Before you go out and purchase a new speedsuit or a pair of rad cycling glasses or some more carbon to go with your 100% carbon that is all carbon, please get yourself one of these non-operator lottery tickets. Because unfortunately, if you ride enough on the streets of Los Angeles, there’s a real good chance you’re going to win.
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Don’t get hit and then what?
September 15, 2017 § 24 Comments
There are a lot of dark stories in the world today about the cager v. biker wars. And they are wars. The bikers get killed and maimed and the cagers get a speeding ticket. The bikers put in an imaginary magic protection road stripe and the cagers rip it out. The bikers say “You’re killing us!” and the cagers say “Exactly!” Cf. Jennifer King and the troll triumvirate of Garrett Uno, Cynthia “the Beast” Uno, Robert Lewis Chapman, Jr., and the unbearable heaviness of cager hate and stunted lives of those who wage it.
Maybe I will get around to expanding on this article by Peter Flax, but I doubt it. How do you expand on the universe? Read it and bleed.
However, on September 21 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM at Performance Bicycle in Long Beach, I will be expanding on my own tiny little universe of how not to get killed while riding your bike. If you’re in the neighborhood I hope you can make it.
Cycling Savvy, led by Big Orange’s own Gary Cziko, has been instrumental in the last two years teaching people the very best in Bee Gees riding techniques, i.e. “Stayin’ Alive.” Gary’s techniques work. There are two parts of the Cycling Savvy curriculum, however, that are either ignored or lightly addressed, kind of like not enough vinaigrette on a mountain of salad, and I’m going to talk about them at the event in Long Beach.
- What to do if you’re a victim or witness to a bike-car collision.
- How to protect yourself and your family if you or they get hit while cycling.
- How not to get hit through insane use of over-the-top lighting, day and night.
Performance is supporting the seminar with some killer deals on, guess what, lighting. There will also be covfefe to keep you awake. However, I can promise that you won’t need it, or you’ll get your money back at this free event.
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PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could.
Please get “R” done
October 26, 2015 § 67 Comments
This is a topic that I’ve written about before and that I can’t write about enough. It’s dry, it’s a bit legalistic, and it includes the dreaded word “insurance,” but please take a minute to read because it concerns the most important purchase you’ll ever make as a cyclist.
You may think that if you get hurt in a bike-car collision you’ll be able to recover money from the negligent driver as long as the driver is insured.
What you may not know is that in California the minimal insurance coverage for collision liability is $15,000. What you also may not know is that 85% of the drivers on the road have this minimal coverage.
This means the odds are overwhelming that the driver who hits you will have to compensate you for a maximum of $15,000 and THAT’S IT. Once your expenses exceed the $15k that most drivers carry, you’re done, even when you’ve suffered injuries totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There is, however, a very cheap and very effective way for cyclists to protect themselves and their families from cagers who carry minimal insurance. It’s called uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), and it comes standard with every auto insurance policy unless you specifically decline the coverage. [Note: NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER DECLINE THIS COVERAGE. You may think you’re saving a few bucks but in reality you’re declining the best and cheapest insurance you will ever buy as a cyclist.]
Few cyclists know that UM/UIM coverage on their own auto liability policy exists, and even fewer know that it covers them in a bike-car collision when they’re cycling and get hit by a motorist. This means that if, for example, the driver’s policy tops out at $15k, you have the legal right to turn to your own UM/UIM insurance for the remaining expenses or damages above and beyond the $15k paid out by the driver.
So far, so good, but there’s a catch: If you’re like most people, your UM/UIM coverage is also minimal, often only $15k or $25k. Since you have to deduct the amount already paid out by the offending driver from your own UM/UIM claim, if you have minimal UM/UIM coverage the additional recovery is very small or zero. (15k UIM coverage – Offending Driver’s $15k liability coverage = 0 additional recovery.) It’s not uncommon at all to see a cyclist who has a responsible liability policy for $500k, but a measly $15k or $30k for the UM/UIM portion of his policy.
In other words, the cyclist is being very responsible with regard to paying for damage he might do to others, but completely failing to make adequate provision for the damage that some uninsured drunk or underinsured deadbeat may do to him.
There’s a great solution, though. You can increase your UM/UIM coverage so that it equals the amount of your liability coverage for only a small increase in your monthly premium. Although your UM/UIM coverage is barred from exceeding your liability coverage, as an example, if you have $500k of liability insurance but only $25k in UM/UIM, you can bump up your UM/UIM from $25k to $500k for only a few bucks a month. If you only have $25k or $50k of liability insurance to begin with, you have a problem.
If you ride a bike and have liability coverage of anything less than $100k you are grossly underinsured. I’d say that a barely adequate UM/UIM policy should be no less than $500k. If you have a family nothing less than $1M is enough. If you can’t afford $1M in liability/UM/UIM coverage, sell your extra bike or extra set of carbon wheels. It is the best money you will ever spend as long as you ride a bike, and obviously it’s exactly the kind of protection you want if you’re driving. UM/UIM coverage also kicks in if you get hit by a car while you’re walking.
There are certain insurers such as Mercury who will not offer a policy for more than $250k. Run from these insurers and go with an insurance company that will sell you an adequate policy. Chubb, Allstate, AAA, State Farm, Farmers, and Tokio Fire Insurance and Marine are just a few of the insurers who offer adequate policy coverage. I’ve found Tokio Fire Insurance and Marine to have the cheapest rates with the best coverage and the best claims responses.
For the sake of yourself and your family, take a minute to look at the declarations page of your insurance policy, check liability limits and the UM/UIM coverage, and then call your agent or go online and raise it to the max. This is something you can’t afford to put off.
The other huge benefit to turning to your UM/UIM coverage in the event you get hit is that if you’re forced to use it because the driver’s coverage was inadequate, you actually wind up with a larger recovery than you would if you were making a claim against a driver with adequate coverage.
This is because your health insurance provider will have a lien against any recovery you get from the driver’s insurance. In other words, if Anthem pays your doctor $15,000 in medical bills, Anthem will be able to recover what it paid your doctor from the insurance proceeds you get from the offending driver, effectively reducing the amount you ultimately receive by the amount of their lien. However, when the recovery comes from your own UM/UIM motorist policy, the health insurance provider will have no claim on those proceeds except in a very few limited instances.
Call your insurance agent and raise your limits now. I’ve seen too many injured cyclists with six and seven-figure injuries who are hit by uninsured or underinsured motorists and whose own UM/UIM coverage is only for a few thousand bucks. Don’t be that cyclist!
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May 6, 2015 § 53 Comments
I have lots of unkind things to say about cagers. Like it or not, in general they are the enemy, seeking to kill and maim me at every opportunity. They hate me and want me destroyed; even the ones who stick their hand out of the window and wave are probably just drying their nails prior to reaching for the Glock.
And in general I have nothing but good things to say about the noble bicyclist, even when he’s veering, cursing, scofflawing, spitting, and getting off his bike to urinate in plain view of granny and the littl’uns. The worst spitting, public urinating, middle finger waving, ass scratching, profanity spewing wanker on a rusted out beach cruiser with two loaded beer coozies is, in my mind, infinitely preferable to the kindest, sweetest, most thoughtful and considerate cager.
There is this one thing about some bicyclists that gets under my skin, kind of like the heads of a thousand deer ticks. Now I’m probably going to offend someone you know and love, and for that I am really happy. If I don’t offend you, I’m sorry. Send me a private note and I will try again. As Abe Lincoln said, you can piss off some of the people all of the time, but it’s damned hard to piss off all of the people some of the time.
Here’s the deal: You’re sitting at work getting paid more than you’re worth, fiddling on the computer wondering if you can knock off at 3:47 and still look vaguely occupied until 4:30-ish, when you can begin the pre-exit rumblings and fumblings that show you’re bringing a most productive day of Facebag-checking and Google news reviewing to an end. Suddenly, you get a message. It goes like this:
Hi, Bill — you know our mutual friend, Wanker McGee? He rode his bike off the edge of a cliff while doing front-end downhill wheelies with Manslaughter, and he misjudged the log he was trying to jump backwards and flipped off the cliff and onto the cactus 200 feet below and got LifeFlighted out and it looks like it’s going to be a while before he’s racing again or able to eat without a straw.
Anyway, his medical bills are in the six figures and you know he’s been living in that cardboard box down on 3rd and Main as he’s in his third season of trying to get his first pro contract, so I’ve begun a GoFundMe campaing for him and would really appreciate it if you could spread the word and maybe kick in a few bucks.
If you’re like me, you click on the link and kick in a few bucks. Then, feeling sorry for the poor bastard, you share the link with your friends and hope that the next time an appeal goes out it’s not you with the squashed melon. After a couple of weeks ol’ Wanker has piled up a whopping $5,000 to help defray his medical bills of $354,000. Which kind of raises the question of …
What the fuck is anyone doing riding a bike without health insurance? While I realize that there are a lot of destitute people who use a bike to get to work, the communist-socialist-atheist-Islamist Obamacare program makes it possible for the poorest of the poor, yes, even bike racers, to get health insurance.
In other words, if you can afford the $5k rig, two extra full-carbon wheelsets made of 100% carbon, the wardrobe, the entry fees, the podium cap (still unused) and transportation to the race, then you can afford the $90 communist-socialist-Islamist health insurance offered by our foreigner President who is trying to destroy democracy and our great nation by getting health care to sick people.
In other-other words, if you’re too much of a cheapfuck to get Obamacare but insist on racing the local crit/riding offroad with Manslaughter, I’m not sure you deserve anything from me. To make it even worse, there are bike racers who refuse to get the free (that’s “free” as in “your mom doesn’t even have to pay for it”) insurance because if you make less than $15k (and what bike racer makes more?) you get put on Medicaid, which, in addition to being free, is the Antichrist for many a Republican, welfare-hating, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps bike bum.
In short, the shame of being on socialist welfare free healthcare is worse than getting smashed to bits, asking others to pay for the damage, and then discharging the debts in bankruptcy.
My attitude towards this isn’t because I’m a heartless, unpleasant, penny-pinching Scrooge, although that’s part of it. A famous case here in LA a few years back involved a well-known rider with two kids who tore his face off descending Las Flores, and had to rely on crowd-funded donations to retire his medical bills. I helped promote the fund and donated to it, even though several people pointed out that a grown man (he was in his late 40’s) with two kids giving descending clinics on white-knuckle descents without health insurance was exactly the kind of guy who deserved the old “you made your bed, now lie in it” treatment.
Of course no matter how irresponsible someone is, when little kids are involved even the mostly heartless will reach for their wallets, and I still don’t regret doing so.
The main problem I have with shifting affordable health insurance premiums or even free Medicare coverage onto the greater biking community is that no matter how much your friends kick in, it won’t be enough. First of all, even if you raise $50k, it’s going straight to the hospital or other healthcare providers. Do I want to donate my somewhat-hard-earned money to Kaiser Permanente? Um, nope.
Second, raising money before you’re finished treating — assuming you’re a completely broke bike racer; redundant, I know — is a terrible decision because ultimately you’ll have to file bankruptcy and the money that’s rolled in may not be exempt, especially if it’s over $25k. In other words, Kaiser will still get a bite.
Third, there’s something really wrong with raising a stink about cagers who are uninsured or underinsured, which means they can’t make you whole when they run you over, then turning around and displaying the same financial irresponsibility when you crash out in a bike race and thrust the bill onto friends, family, and sympathetic strangers.
Century rides, race promoters, and other entities that put on bike events should require entrants to show proof of health insurance. USA Cycling (the great useless entity in the sky) should require you to submit proof of health insurance before it will issue a racing license, because unlike many activities, bicycle falling off incidents in bike racing are guaranteed if you do it long enough. 100%, no exceptions.
In addition to health insurance, if you so much as pedal down the block you should also obtain maxed out uninsured/uninsured motorist coverage on your auto liability policy. This will cover you for the collisions when the cager who mows you down doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your brain transplant, acting in effect as a third-party health insurance policy for you. And if you can afford a car and a $780 set of bike racks, you can afford the few extra bucks a year it costs to max out UM coverage.
So, I wish I could help out all the people who need it, and I don’t regret having done so in the past. But even more, I wish they would take that tiny ounce of prevention so we wouldn’t have to donate the massive pound of completely ineffective cure.
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