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?


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.

  1. The insurance is not offered by all carriers.
  2. You can’t have any motor vehicle registered in your name.
  3. 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.


Good news!!

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.

Lots 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.


Performance Bicycle, Long Beach

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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Appreciative reader maxes out UM coverage

November 3, 2011 § 2 Comments

Dear Wankmeister,

Thank you so much for your tip on raising the uninsured motorist coverage on my auto liability policy. Looks like $500,000 per person & $1,000,000 per accident will only cost me $100 per year…probably the most prudent cycling-related decision I’ve ever made! Now I can relax while I’m drinking coffee and talking about how fast I used to be, and if an uninsured or under-insured motorist plows thru the coffee shop, I’ll be covered! Thank you Wankmeister!

Yusta Befit

Dear Yusta,

Congratulations on bucking the norm for cyclists–i.e. you actually made a smart decision, and more incredibly, it had to do with cycling, and (almost) unbelievably, it potentially benefits your wife and kids. To recap: 85% of drivers in California only carry the minimum liability insurance, which is $15,000. This means that when some drunk chick coming back from an all-nighter in Redondo runs you over on Sunday morning–yes, that’s the horrific, infamous case we all know about–you are only able to recover $15k. This barely pays for the first couple of hours you’ll spend eating through a tube. The remaining 262,800 hours left, assuming you live another 30 years, you’ll be S.O.L. “UM” coverage is the insurance tacked onto your policy that covers you when someone hits you with insufficient coverage, as in the above example. And although some insurance agents will swear otherwise, your uninsured motorist coverage, at least in California, covers you if you’re on the bike, or you’re a pedestrian and you get whacked by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Guess what? It happens all the time: biker gets hit, has lots of medical bills, and the offending driver is only on the hook for the first $15k. The remainder? Comes out of the biker’s pocket or the biker winds up in bankruptcy due to overwhelming medical bills. The great news, as Yusta Befit points out above, is that you can jack your UM coverage up to very high levels for only a few bucks. Considering all the useless bike crap you spend money on in a year, this is the bargain of all bargains. Imagine how happy your significant other will be when you smile up at him/her through a full-body cast and say, “Don’t worry, honey, we’re covered!”

The Wankmeister

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