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A Lesson
January 8, 2010 12:47 PM   Subscribe

"If my incident shows anything it's that confrontation leads to an escalation of hostilities"

On July 4, 2008, Dr. Christopher Thompson slammed the brakes on his red Infiniti, injuring two cyclists in the process. Today he was sentenced to five years in jail.

More details from the closing arguments.
posted by PBR (212 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Where Ron Peterson face went through Dr. Thompson's window. His nose became 'detached.' (Photo: Chris Roberts)"

Oh...oh god...
posted by jckll at 12:50 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good. Fucking asshole.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 12:51 PM on January 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Not long enough.
posted by fixedgear at 12:54 PM on January 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


*Note: There are other Dr. Christopher Thompsons in the Los Angeles area who work in medicine and unfortunatley some are being wrongly threatened

Because there is always a correct way to threaten somebody from the internet.
posted by Think_Long at 12:54 PM on January 8, 2010 [13 favorites]


...Thompson said he was driving down the road on his way to work when several cyclists swore at him and flipped him off as he called on them to ride single file.

I've never seen this happen, though I suppose that's just my personal experience.

[The cyclists] said he honked loudly from behind them and passed by dangerously close as they moved to ride single file before he pulled in front and braked hard.

I have, however, seen this, and actions like it, far too often.


Tragedy all around, I think.
posted by lekvar at 12:58 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Something people in cars -- and I confess I'm one of them, in my impatient moments -- don't understand:

If the speed limit is 30mph and the vehicle in front of you is doing 25, they are not abridging some inalienable right of yours to go 30mph. This applies whether the vehicle in front of you is a bicycle, a car or a farm tractor. If the difference is much greater, say 15MPH or more, yeah, you could be forgiven for getting a little impatient after a while, but that still doesn't mean you're entitled to fuck somebody up.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:58 PM on January 8, 2010 [40 favorites]


Good thing he wasn't stopping for a child or dog that had run out in front of him.

That being said, he seems like a jerk.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:59 PM on January 8, 2010


Jesus Christ. Road rage indeed. This is the kind of bullshit I'm continually afraid of as a cyclist in California.
posted by Brak at 12:59 PM on January 8, 2010


Not long enough.
posted by fixedgear


Really? And I'm not asking snarkily...I'm actually curious if 5 years is a disproportionally short sentence for a conviction like his. From the first link:

Jurors convicted Thompson in November of mayhem; assault with a deadly weapon, his car; battery with serious injury; and reckless driving causing injury.

Is 5 years in prison right for this? Should it be longer / shorter?
posted by lazaruslong at 1:02 PM on January 8, 2010


Good thing he wasn't stopping for a child or dog that had run out in front of him.

You seem to be implying that the cyclists may have been following too close for their own safety.

The allegation appears to be that he passed them and then immediately slammed on the brakes, thereby preventing them from achieving a safe distance.
posted by gurple at 1:02 PM on January 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Let's not forget that not only had the good *ER doc* harassed cyclists on Mandeville Canyon in the past, but in this case he also drove away from the scene after seriously injuring the cyclists.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:03 PM on January 8, 2010 [11 favorites]


Good.

It's all too easy for a motorist to forget he's driving a 3000 lb potential murder weapon. Hopefully this will remind a few.
posted by bondcliff at 1:04 PM on January 8, 2010


What possible good reason is there to post this to Metafilter? I mean, other than the obvious inevitability.
posted by rocket88 at 1:04 PM on January 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


Ah, yes, violent physical injury. Nothing teaches a lesson about civility and respecting other people's space like hospitalization. Well done doctor. Not quite the brighter future through increased medical care I had imagined, but certainly done with gusto.
posted by yeloson at 1:05 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


NPR covered the story last month; from the sound of it there's a lot of car-vs-bike hostility in that canyon.
posted by contessa at 1:06 PM on January 8, 2010


Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Scott T. Millington called the case a "wake-up call" to motorists and cyclists and urged local government to provide riders with more bike lanes.

I know this debate has been going on for nearly 80 years now, but cycle lanes aren't the answer. It shouldn't be about removing hazards from "car space", but about changing the nature of that space entirely.
posted by Sova at 1:06 PM on January 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


wait, this is the same state that gave Chris Brown community service for beating the crap out of Rhianna?
So road rage = not cool (I agree); while Relationship Violence = ah, not so bad.
posted by Neekee at 1:08 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Of course, this was never just about one crash in a city that sees examples of "car v cyclist" or "car v pedestrian" crashes nearly every day; it was about sending a message that Los Angeles' roads are dangerous enough without drivers taking their idea of vigilante justice into their own hands"
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:09 PM on January 8, 2010


Not long enough.

You know, I know that people hate assholes and that we all love to lock people up and throw away the key but here's the thing: California actually does do that most of the time. And it's fucking bankrupting the state. Being a super hard-ass on crime is really fucking expensive to the extent that they're firing teachers and cutting benefits for the disabled because sentencing guidelines are so harsh and the prison population is so huge.

So, while this guy is a total asshole, I'd rather have the 5 teachers back at my daughter's school and keep this guy locked up forever.
posted by GuyZero at 1:10 PM on January 8, 2010 [33 favorites]


Good thing he wasn't stopping for a child or dog that had run out in front of him.

If he was driving sensibly, he would have never been right in front of them. He would have been far in front of them because he would have been driving faster.

Also I'm sure we had a thread about this when he was convicted, but I can't find it.
posted by delmoi at 1:10 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


>: Not long enough.

Well, my gut reaction is to break the guy's knees and throw him into a volcano. When some dudes with buzzcuts ran me off the road down an embankment with their Semper Fi-laden Dodge Ram (I was on the shoulder) I would have pushed a button if it would have killed them dead right there. Part of me feels that there is no place in the world for such assholes.

But another part of me tells me that revenge isn't going to necessarily fix things. . That's why the death penalty horrifies me. That's why I don't buy this horsecrap about locking people up in jail and throwing away the key. That's why I don't believe in hitting Bad Guys with Bigger Sticks.
It's not justice.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:10 PM on January 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


So road rage = not cool (I agree); while Relationship Violence = ah, not so bad.

Yes, but Chris Brown recorded that song that those people used for that wedding video and we all liked that video so ...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:11 PM on January 8, 2010


er, I'd rather have teachers than etc, not and. I hate that.
posted by GuyZero at 1:11 PM on January 8, 2010


Sure he was being a dick, but it takes two to tango. When I am on my bike, being cut off, and basically run off the road just for existing I make space between me and the a*hole. These cyclists may not have had time to make space. If however it were car on car, the driver in the rear would have probably been cited for failure to keep a safe distance.
posted by Gungho at 1:13 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also I always had this idea that cyclists in these areas should put cameras on their bikes and record bad behavior by drivers, and try to get them tickets.
posted by delmoi at 1:13 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Punishment in this country isn't nearly creative enough.

Five years in the joint? He's a doctor. Sentence him to five years of providing free low-risk "open up and say 'ahh'" medical care for the homeless. Or at least his fellow prisoners.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:14 PM on January 8, 2010 [62 favorites]


If however it were car on car, the driver in the rear would have probably been cited for failure to keep a safe distance.

Not if the guy cut them off and then slammed on their breaks, and then acted all belligerent and told the cops he did it on purpose.
posted by delmoi at 1:14 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pretty much any cyclist who's spent enough time riding on roads in the U.S. has heard obscenities hurled at them, taunts, threats, intimidating driving (swerving into rather than away from the cyclists, or gunning the car while approaching, or blowing the horn while approaching), death threats, hurled objects, and so on. And, yeah, it all comes down to drivers believing there's a right to drive without impediments. Tractor drivers and deliverymen would be putting their lives in their hands just as much if their vehicles were smaller.

One friend was snagged in a truck bumper and dragged fifty feet. Another was stopped at a stop sign at the bottom of a hill, hit by a car, and the courts ruled my friend had endangered the driver by riding backwards into his grille. Some dipshit swerving into me, narrowly missing, and did a 360 in the middle of the roadway for another try. And, man, this is so far from unusual that if you think otherwise, you're deluded.

It's endemic. Go ahead and ask around. You'll get some great stories.

Putting away one jackass isn't enough, but it's a start. In most of the country you're lucky enough to get the police's attention if it happened while they watched. And even if you have witnesses, license plate numbers, and witnesses, good luck, man.
posted by ardgedee at 1:16 PM on January 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


Being a super hard-ass on crime is really fucking expensive to the extent that they're firing teachers and cutting benefits for the disabled because sentencing guidelines are so harsh and the prison population is so huge.

I wonder how many harsh sentences are handed out for non-violent offenses. Five years is not a harsh sentence, not for attempted murder.

He needed to be made an example of and judge pretty much gave him a pass. Thompson will be out in a few years with good behavior, if not sooner, and back to threatening lives.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:17 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sure he was being a dick, but it takes two to tango. When I am on my bike, being cut off, and basically run off the road just for existing I make space between me and the a*hole. These cyclists may not have had time to make space. If however it were car on car, the driver in the rear would have probably been cited for failure to keep a safe distance.

This reminds me of the time I was driving in L.A., was shot at, and cited for not having bulletproof windows. And reckless tango-ing.
posted by mikepop at 1:18 PM on January 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'd've thought as an ER surgeon Dr. Thompson would have seen a number of automobile related injuries and would have had a healthy respect for the serious trauma cars can deal to the human body.
That and the whole 'do no harm' thing.
My buddy got stopped for a road rage incident. It was pretty mutual. The funny thing is he's just some schmo and he had the restraint not to use his car as a weapon, being that it could be, y'know, lethal. As did the other guy. Although they both apparently had hand weapons (my buddy had a baton, the other guy had a bat I guess).
In fact he was doing yard work and had picked up a machete and had it in his back seat. The police asked him why he had the baton and he said 'Because I don't want to hit someone with a frikkin machete.'
I suppose a 58 year old doctor has less physical confidence than my buddy does. But it's odd how wildly people's conception of reality in confrontation differs. I mean I've had my moments where I'm pissed in the car. Not many. And I'm especially controlled now that I've got a kiddie seat.
But stop in front of someone, especially someone on a bike? He really is lucky he didn't kill them.
(It's a similar situation with motorcyclists. Maybe not as bad, but I've thought of getting the mad max sawed off double barrel shot gun or at least a hand crossbow. But my wife won't let me shave into a mohawk and dye my hair orange.)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:19 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Stone played Thompson’s 911 call, from after the July 4 incident, once again for the jurors. Jurors heard Thompson tell the operator, “They said fuck you; I slammed on my brakes.”
On the tape the operator asked Thompson if the injuries were serious, and he said, “They’ll tell you they are, but they’re not.”

“What a callous statement is that?” Stone asked. “He had no right to make that statement.”
Stone reminded the jury how the first police officer to arrive testified that Thompson told him: “I wanted to teach (the cyclists) a lesson,” and “I’m tired of them.”

Swarth portrayed the cyclists as at fault; they “endangered (Thompson) by not allowing him to pass,” he said.


According to GPS data, the cyclists were doing the speed limit, 30mph. So to this guy, trying to kill them was an appropriate response to them temporarily preventing him from speeding.

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:19 PM on January 8, 2010 [11 favorites]


wait, this is the same state that gave Chris Brown community service for beating the crap out of Rhianna?
So road rage = not cool (I agree); while Relationship Violence = ah, not so bad.


Yeah, because all courts in all the jurisdictions are all exactly the same in California, and it's all the same prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and jurors hearing cases.

I'm glad this case went to trial, and that Thompson got convicted.
posted by rtha at 1:20 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's a medical doctor, so presumably smart enough to understand basic laws of physics. A car, particularly one equipped with four disc brakes, can skid four wheels and still stop in a much shorter distance than a cyclist can. A cyclist, who is using both brakes, begins to rotate around the front hub axis and will go over the bars if too much front brake is applied. He jams on his brakes, they go through his back window. A premeditated act. He lives on a road that is a popular place for riding, probably because it's not super heavily traveled and twisty/windy/hilly enough to make it interesting. He thinks it's his road (hey, I think my street is my street, but c'mon). He's had negative encounters with cyclists before. It's not really tragedy all around, and it's far from an accident. It's a premeditated act designed to injure another. I think the sentence is too short.

I hope this thread goes better than previous bike/car threads here. We'll have achieved something in America when the sight of an adult riding a bike no longer drives other adults into a rage. Some of it is seeing cyclists as 'the other' due to spandex kits, helmets, and glasses. This kind of stuff doesn't really seem to exist in Europe, home of plain clothes cyclists.

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race."

- H.G. Wells
posted by fixedgear at 1:22 PM on January 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


Anyone else befuddled by the Chewbaccaesque Trader Joe/granola/grandma summation?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:23 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


wait, this is the same state that gave Chris Brown community service for beating the crap out of Rhianna?
So road rage = not cool (I agree); while Relationship Violence = ah, not so bad.


Yes, I know this is a gross oversimplification, but I'd like to remind folks that the Justice System is not some Omni-present God-Being who is all places at once, nor some hive-mind that decrees justice from the same point of view. Who proceeds over the trial makes a lot of difference (though how an act is classified, and the sentencing options for acts might be skewed, I don't know).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:29 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This kind of stuff doesn't really seem to exist in Europe, home of plain clothes cyclists.

I dunno. Europe wasn't built for the car. Much of the U.S. - and certainly Los Angeles - was.
posted by rtha at 1:29 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually here is someone homebrew camera mount, and this video was shot with a bike cam. It's pretty simple technology. And little cameras like this are pretty cheap these days.

People should really do it. Record what happens on your bike rides so that you'll have proof. If more people got busted for outrageous behavior towards cyclists it probably would happen a lot less.

Make the surveillance society work for you.
posted by delmoi at 1:29 PM on January 8, 2010


I've witnessed my fair share of idiot drivers (and also had my share of scrapes when cycling on busy roads).

That said, I've also witnessed an equal share of idiot cyclists who believe the rules of the road don't apply to them in any way shape or form.
posted by panboi at 1:29 PM on January 8, 2010 [4 favorites]



Punishment in this country isn't nearly creative enough.

Five years in the joint? He's a doctor. Sentence him to five years of providing free low-risk "open up and say 'ahh'" medical care for the homeless. Or at least his fellow prisoners.


While that would be great, I would also settle for forcing him to bike to work for five years.
posted by Hutch at 1:29 PM on January 8, 2010 [16 favorites]


Prick. Should have been 50.
posted by Artw at 1:29 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]



You know, I know that people hate assholes and that we all love to lock people up and throw away the key but here's the thing: California actually does do that most of the time. And it's fucking bankrupting the state. Being a super hard-ass on crime is really fucking expensive to the extent that they're firing teachers and cutting benefits for the disabled because sentencing guidelines are so harsh and the prison population is so huge.

So, while this guy is a total asshole, I'd rather have the 5 teachers back at my daughter's school and keep this guy locked up forever.


Yeah. How about some creative sentencing? One year in prison. The other four, he is not allowed to drive, but has to bike on the roads 10 hours per week, verifiable by GPS ankle bracelet (or else go back to jail.) Seems a little light, sure, but then he knows better than anyone the kinds of assholes you have to live in fear of...
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 1:30 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


He behaved atrociously and deserved to be punished (five years seems extreme given how much less time much worse offenses often get, but whatever). However, I seriously doubt (especially given the tensions between cyclists and motorists along that road) that the cyclists were completely innocent and not antagonistic at all. Very rarely are there extreme situations like these where one party is the total villain and another party was just minding their own business doing nothing.
posted by Kimberly at 1:31 PM on January 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Smedleyman: she was looking at the jury when she came up with it. Probably ticking off mental checkboxes and saying "yep, it's the TJ's/granola/grandma story for this bunch".

I've never driven that road, but judging by google street view, there isn't a usable shoulder on it, and plenty of obstacles that would keep you from being able to ride to the side. Best practice (and the law, in most places I'm familiar with) for bicycles is that if there's no bike lane and no maintained shoulder broad enough to separate you from traffic, you should use the whole lane.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:32 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


That said, I've also witnessed an equal share of idiot cyclists who believe the rules of the road don't apply to them in any way shape or form.

Yeah, but cyclists are not going to kill a lot of people with their reckless behavior. 1.2 million people died in car accidents in the world in 2004, and 43 thousand died in the U.S in 2008.

What's the per mile or per hour death rate for bicycles?
posted by delmoi at 1:33 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


If however it were car on car, the driver in the rear would have probably been cited for failure to keep a safe distance

I should have made it clear that in most cases the driver behind is at fault regardless. This statement is not intended to imply that the cyclists were at fault, just the lame ass rules about cars.
posted by Gungho at 1:34 PM on January 8, 2010


Yeah. How about some creative sentencing? One year in prison. The other four, he is not allowed to drive

Oh, I'm sure he'll have his license barred. This asshole might find himself on a bike when he gets out of jail. (well, he'll probably just sit on his ass at home and let his family drive him around)
posted by delmoi at 1:34 PM on January 8, 2010


He's a doctor. Sentence him to five years of providing free low-risk "open up and say 'ahh'" medical care for the homeless. Or at least his fellow prisoners.

He was an emergency room doc for twenty years at Beverly Hospital in Montebello.
posted by smackfu at 1:35 PM on January 8, 2010


With an asshole like that he'd probably see not being able to drive anymore as equivelent to a death sentence. Which is exactly why he should have his liscense taken away forever.
posted by Artw at 1:36 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


> This asshole might find himself on a bike when he gets out of jail. (well, he'll probably just sit on his ass at home and let his family drive him around)

Or he'll drive without a license.
posted by ardgedee at 1:38 PM on January 8, 2010


What possible good reason is there to post this to Metafilter? I mean, other than the obvious inevitability.

Apologies if this topic has gotten too passé for you, but I find discussing these sorts of things still very relevant. As a cyclist, this news has a profound effect for me and others on what will/will not happen in the near future with the automobile vs cycle/pedestrian problem. Just because it has been discussed here before does not mean the conversation is over.
posted by PBR at 1:39 PM on January 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Pretty much any cyclist who's spent enough time riding on roads in the U.S. has heard obscenities hurled at them

Cyclist, hell. Back in Texas, people used to shout obscenities at us when we were walking the dog on the sidewalk pretty regularly. And even more people would generously if misguidedly stop to offer us a lift.

And I'm especially controlled now that I've got a kiddie seat.

Now I have the image of this grizzled dude, ex fuck-you-up military kung-fu badass with enemy veins still in his teeth and a hard thousand-yard-stare, driving around town perched on a kiddie seat. Probably using a steering wheel taken from a Fisher-Price toy.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:39 PM on January 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't know what happened in this case. Somewhere along the way, someone was being a jerk I'm sure. Either way, no one deserved to get hurt. But I don't understand why most people always side with the guy on the bike. People in cars do need to be more careful when approaching and passing a bike. But, there are many jerk cyclists out there too who make trouble for themselves. I'm sure the cyclist who rode up behind me and took out my shoulder with his handlebars while I was walking down the sidewalk and kept going was one of those jerks.

With that, I think Thompson probably deserves his conviction and his sentence.
posted by little miss s at 1:41 PM on January 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


NPR covered the story last month; from the sound of it there's a lot of car-vs-bike hostility in that canyon.

Actually, there's a lot of hostility period in that canyon. It spills over into the neighboring canyon and the trail/road networks that connect them. The cyclists accuse the car drivers of aggressive tactics; the horse riders accuse the cyclists of aggressive tactics; the hikers and cyclists and riders complain about loose dogs; the residents resent the outsiders coming in their neighborhoods; neighbors file grievances against each other with the homeowners' board. And so on.

(I got the hell out of there.)
posted by grounded at 1:42 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


However, I seriously doubt (especially given the tensions between cyclists and motorists along that road) that the cyclists were completely innocent and not antagonistic at all.

Is there any evidence for this? I mean, any whatsoever?

Every time a cyclist is a victim of attempted murder, someone always says that cyclists deserve it — just a little bit.

I really cannot understand this mindset.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:43 PM on January 8, 2010 [29 favorites]


I'd say the five year maximum sentence for felony assault sounds about correct, as does the judge's awarding that sentence based largely upon lack of remorse immediately after the assault.

A more productive way to reduce aggressive driving would be taking away people's licenses for infractions that indicated road rage and/or causing even minor collisions with smaller vehicles.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:45 PM on January 8, 2010


Yes, but Chris Brown recorded that song that those people used for that wedding video and we all liked that video so ...

Unrelated to to this post, but your comment reminded me: Those people from the wedding video are now directing people who visit the YouTube page to set up a website where you can donate to the Sheila Wellstone Institute, to support of violence prevention.
posted by anastasiav at 1:47 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Before my knee injury, I rode 250 miles/week in Southern California. I've had someone pull in front of me and slam on their brakes in a 45 mph zone, doing close to that speed (going downhill, too, I might add). I had to cross over bots dots and am lucky I didn't spill it. There's only so much you can do to react, and anyone who would do this at that speed is absolutely trying to do major harm. 30 mph is fast. When you only have a helmet and shorts to protect you, it is really fast.

Let me play devil's advocate. I think part of the problem is asshole bicyclists. I live in NorCal now, and I drive in a heavy bicycling area. There are no stop signs, apparently, for bicyclists. Also, riding the wrong way on the sidewalk, and then using the crosswalks is considered normal. We have Critical Mass, where the confrontation turns to escalation quite often...these bicyclists were victims of this ongoing issue, to be sure, but would either of them claim to be innocent of doing things themselves that cause some drivers to lose their shit? Probably not. It ain't right, but as a former bicyclist, I think the judge's ruling on this has lessons for both the riders and the drivers.

Good that he got sent to jail. Hopefully, the bicyclists will be able to get back on the bikes, and not have some asshole trying to run them off the road...and maybe there is a better solution that doesn't involve so much confrontation. The issue with bicyclists is that it is easy for us to lose our shit with blind drivers, or discourteous assholes...but confrontation leads to escalation. Damn right, it does... the car society we live in is a strange one.
posted by Chuffy at 1:47 PM on January 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


(from the third link)

In Stone’s rebuttal, she laid out an allegory of sorts, re-telling the three Mandeville Canyon incidents the prosecution presented during the trial.

First, she goes to a Trader Joe’s. Goes to the aisle where they have granola she wants. Someone is in the way, preventing her from getting her granola, so she swings a bat at the person, but doesn’t hit him. With that, Stone held up a baseball bat, swinging in an abrupt arc.
...
A few more weeks go by and she’s back at Trader Joe’s. Someone, she said, “is in my aisle, blocking me from my granola. So I blast his nose with my bat.”

“But of course, I get arrested.”

Then, donning a white doctor’s coat, she said, “But I shroud myself in this because I want to deflect what I did.”


Can you really do this in a US courtroom? Really??
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 1:47 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Come to think of it, I’m not sure this thread is going to serve any purpose. I’m going to flag it because we’ve hashed these arguments a million times
posted by Think_Long at 1:48 PM on January 8, 2010


I'm glad that guy is getting spanked, but I also hope he has the capacity to learn some patience and compassion, for his own sake.

I made one of these as an illustration of the OP.
posted by e.e. coli at 1:49 PM on January 8, 2010


>: But I don't understand why most people always side with the guy on the bike.

Because what we see again and again and again is car drivers getting pissed off at cyclists and purposefully endangering them. The fact that a bicyclist clipped your shoulder (or mine, repeatedly) has no bearing on how bicyclists regularly get treated by drivers.

That's why most people always side with the guy on the bike.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:50 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a bike commuter (in relatively bike-friendly Berkeley), I always take some relief in violence against cyclists being treated as a crime instead of a hobby.

I found one reference from a story from when it occurred to his medical license having been suspended. I don't see any mention of it in the current stories -- does anyone know its status?
posted by Zed at 1:51 PM on January 8, 2010


In other vehicular assault news, Michael Bryant still hasn't gone to trial. There have been two deferments so far, and more are expected.
posted by anthill at 1:55 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, while this guy is a total asshole, I'd rather have the 5 teachers back at my daughter's school and keep this guy locked up forever.

Don't kid yourself, GuyZero. Those teachers prefer unemployment to working at the same school as your dumb, ugly kids.
posted by Caduceus at 1:55 PM on January 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


My kids are in separate school now, so it's just one dumb, ugly kid.

YOU ARE SO WRONG AND I PROVED IT.
posted by GuyZero at 1:56 PM on January 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


In other vehicular assault news, Michael Bryant still hasn't gone to trial. There have been two deferments so far, and more are expected.

That sucks. I don't think the case is that complicated. That really has to go to court.
posted by GuyZero at 1:57 PM on January 8, 2010


But I don't understand why most people always side with the guy on the bike.

The reason that most people always side with the (person) on the bike is that even if the person on the bike is a complete and total dick and runs a stop sign and slams into the side of your car, s/he is the one who is likely to get hurt. None of this is to excuse bad cyclist behavior, and I think sidewalk cyclists should be punished. But in every car/bike interaction, the cyclist is gonna come out on the losing end. It takes some time to come to this realization, and I had my epiphany while lying on the ground. OK?
posted by fixedgear at 1:58 PM on January 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


"Good thing he wasn't stopping for a child or dog that had run out in front of him."
"Sure he was being a dick, but it takes two to tango."
"That said, I've also witnessed an equal share of idiot cyclists..."
"Very rarely are there extreme situations like these where one party is the total villain..."
"But, there are many jerk cyclists out there too who make trouble for themselves"
"I think part of the problem is asshole bicyclists."

The level of victim-blaming in this thread is absolutely baffling and frankly offensive given that this guy tried to commit multiple homicides. Cutting in front of a cycling group and immediately slamming your brakes at 30 mph is basically equivalent to ramming in to them at ~25 mph.

Do you people pop in to discussions about seniors plowing in to farmer's markets and say "Well, I've seen a lot of corn farmers do some pretty jerky stuff" or "I'm sure at least one of the guys buying arugula was taunting him" ?
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:58 PM on January 8, 2010 [43 favorites]


Car : Cyclist :: Cop : Civilian?
posted by Artw at 1:59 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Two ideal legal changes might be :

(1) A judge may revoke your license for an extended period or impose a 2000lb weight limit upon your license if you cause even any collision with a vehicle that weighs less than half what your vehicle weighs. (see also)

(2) A judge may impose yearly psychological evaluations and relicensing over the next 1-5 years if you are caught recklessly or aggressively driving in traffic.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:00 PM on January 8, 2010


If the speed limit is 30mph and the vehicle in front of you is doing 25, they are not abridging some inalienable right of yours to go 30mph.

In many states, you're required to do at least 10mph under the speed limit. This is part of what drives cars so nuts about bicyclists who insist on taking a lane unnecessarily, since they'll rarely be able to go that fast. There are times when that's clearly necessary, like when you're making a left turn, but doing it when you don't need to is absolutely, insanely maddening. Further, since you're a vehicle like any other, and required to adhere to the same rules as everyone else, this is actively illegal in many (most?) parts of the country.

I can't think of any sensible driver who would be uptight about a bicyclist taking a lane sometimes, but I've seen people argue, right here on Metafilter, that because they feel their safety is increased very slightly by refusing to ride on the shoulder, it's okay to massively inconvenience cars, no matter how many there are.

I hadn't even realized that this was a movement, per se, as the cyclists I've seen have always been very polite, but I hope that any of you explicitly inconveniencing people in this way get your asses arrested.
posted by Malor at 2:03 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


“Back in Texas, people used to shout obscenities at us when we were walking the dog on the sidewalk pretty regularly.”
SCRUBBERS!
“Probably using a steering wheel taken from a Fisher-Price toy.”
…got a problem with that? meepbeep

“But I don't understand why most people always side with the guy on the bike.”

Y’know, I think it’s an inherent sort of understanding of the responsibility of the greater to the lesser. By that I mean, if I (an adult, despite my driving proclivities) am in a roomful of kids, I’m ‘in charge.’
By the same token – if I’m driving a larger more dangerous vehicle on the road, I’m the one who should be more careful not to hurt anyone. Guys who drive 18 wheelers and truck, etc. have to have special licenses and they’re more regulated than passenger cars, for example.
So I think it’s that kind of understanding. Versus a sort of “well of course you don’t mess with a car if you’re on a bike.”
And for practical, individual purposes, that’s true. But that end of the argument doesn’t take into consideration a similar situation with, say, an 18 wheeler and a car.
Of course you don’t mess with the truck.
But if there’s an accident between the two, people are going to tend to fault the truck driver more than the car driver. Trucks’ bigger. It should be more careful.
So on a broad scale, practically, it’s better to demand care and consideration from the larger vehicle. They’re more likely to kill us – no matter what is, or who is at fault in, the interpersonal situation.
Actual rules of the road, etc, notwithstanding. Just seems to be many people's gut take on it.
Guy that hurt your shoulder was a dick certainly. But I suspect you’re glad he wasn’t driving a Caddy or an 18 wheeler.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:07 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


because they feel their safety is increased very slightly by refusing to ride on the shoulder

This is such a complete strawman that it's scaring away crows in adjacent threads. No one in this thread has said anything remotely close to this.
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:07 PM on January 8, 2010 [24 favorites]


Cycling in the US is not as popular as it is elsewhere. Does that account for greater injuries to cyclists? (See chart.) It seems, with the advent of bikesharing programs, that the US could see plenty more cyclists on the road soon in many major cities. Are we all ready for that? Is your city already bike friendly or does it need a Bicycle Policy Audit? There are plenty of groups that can teach you more about cycling. And there are plenty of blogs to read about it. But maybe you just want pretty pictures of cyclists, or one man's own observations about cycling in the 80s. Either way: please be safe and always wear your helmet.
posted by greekphilosophy at 2:11 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I am driving I have to obey the rules of the road. I've seen so many cyclists blithely ignore even the most basic rules like, as noted above STOPPING AT STOP SIGNS, signaling turns, threading in between cars at intersections, dressed in black riding at night with no reflectors... the list goes on and on.

Do I wish them ill? No, a little rspect for the rules of the road will get a little respect from drivers sharing it.

Yeah, but cyclists are not going to kill a lot of people with their reckless behavior.

No they're just going to gt themselves killed.
posted by Max Power at 2:11 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Malor, the roads are for cars. Right?
posted by fixedgear at 2:12 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've seen so many cyclists blithely ignore even the most basic rules

We also wear tight shorts and "were begging for it".
posted by GuyZero at 2:13 PM on January 8, 2010 [13 favorites]


It certainly does take two to tango, and in this case, I can see why it took three, since one of the parties was two tons of steel. Personally, I think the courts should have cut the driver some slack, since he clearly isn't as manouverable as the cyclists with all that metal weighing him down. I think I speak for most of metafilter when I say I know how much it sucks to be the fat kid at the school dance.
posted by [citation needed] at 2:15 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Come to think of it, I’m not sure this thread is going to serve any purpose. I’m going to flag it because we’ve hashed these arguments a million times
posted by Think_Long at 4:48 PM on January 8 [+] [!]


It served the purpose of telling me about the incident, and that was a good purpose. Flag away but I have yet to see Matt kill a bike thread.

The broader issue is not just this one malevolent man but the whole lack of respect for cyclists, and to some extent also the cyclists lack of respect for motorists. I have been with cyclists who fail to pull into a single line to let cars pass, holding them up for almost a mile at a leisurely pace of 16 to 18 mph on a country road. Everyone things they own the road.
posted by caddis at 2:16 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Malor, the roads are for cars. Right?

I got the impression that they're only for Malor.
posted by peeedro at 2:19 PM on January 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Every time a cyclist is a victim of attempted murder, someone always says that cyclists deserve it — just a little bit.

I wouldn't go so far, but as someone who falls lower on the transportation chain in San Francisco, as a pedestrian who has had too many close calls with bicyclists owning sidewalks and crosswalks and, in one case, a supermarket entrance, and as someone who has attempted to bike in SF and has been chided by other cyclists for taking the radical step of stopping at STOP signs, I'm not really surprised. Not to generalize, of course, but my impression is that for all the injustice cyclists claim at the hands of drivers, their seeming blindness to their own treatment of pedestrians must indicate that they view us as just drivers on the way to our cars.
posted by troybob at 2:19 PM on January 8, 2010 [11 favorites]


In many states, you're required to do at least 10mph under the speed limit. This is part of what drives cars so nuts about bicyclists who insist on taking a lane unnecessarily, since they'll rarely be able to go that fast.

10mph on a bike is entirely doable. I'd be surprised if there are many cyclists riding much slower than that.

Further, since you're a vehicle like any other, and required to adhere to the same rules as everyone else, this is actively illegal in many (most?) parts of the country.


I would like to see a cite of the laws that allow bikes to take a lane but require them to go at least 10 mph.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:20 PM on January 8, 2010


We also wear tight shorts and "were begging for it".

Weird, my cousin, who was just hit by a car on his bike, wasn't in tight clothes, but he did blow through an intersection without stopping.

So, yeah, I guess he was begging for it.
posted by Max Power at 2:21 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone please explain: What does the fact that you've sometimes seen cyclists breaking the rules of the road have to do with this guy using his car as a weapon of assault? What set of traffic infractions by other people who share your mode of transport justifies someone being hit with a car?
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:21 PM on January 8, 2010 [21 favorites]


He got the sentence he deserved.

I've driven Mandeville and it is indeed a narrow canyon - as are many in and around the canyons near the coast. There is little room for both bikes and cars. But since I am a cyclist myself I give them the right of way on the downhill and wait to pass them on the uphill when there is plenty of room and no blind curves.

Unfortunately, there are some drivers who don't use such common sense. And due to this there is a hostility that grows, which leads to some drivers and some cyclists courting danger. I hate to see it.

On a slightly different note - I have, in fact, seen hostilities in Berkeley and Santa Monica when Critical Mass comes out and purposely blocks car traffic. I never understand why they take an aggressive stance against cars. It's a political message that is too aggressive and only serves to anger drives. They have to know that there is one nut ready to flip out. There is no reason there should be an 'us vs them' mentality between cyclists and cars.

I should note I bike to work every day and rarely encounter problems with cars. Most drivers are courteous and want to avoid accidents or confrontation.
posted by Rashomon at 2:22 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh man, so we're having THAT conversation again.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:23 PM on January 8, 2010


Can you really do this in a US courtroom? Really??

Only during the opening and closing argument phases. I remember once the prosecutor resorted to a Wheel-Of-Fortune-style letter reveal to illustrate the concept of "beyond a reasonable doubt."
posted by infinitewindow at 2:24 PM on January 8, 2010


Tangentally related, there is a facebook group entitled There's a perfectly good path right next to the road you stupid cyclist that advocates dooring bikers as they go by. The scary bit is that it has nearly thirty three thousand fans (although some number of them may be cyclists who wanted to be able to rebut the anti-bicycle posts).
posted by autopilot at 2:26 PM on January 8, 2010


The shark may very well (or may not) be an asshole, but if you are a mackerel, the shark will still win.
posted by Danf at 2:30 PM on January 8, 2010


Dr. Thompson is obviously a bleeding, bloated asshole.

If the speed limit is 30mph and the vehicle in front of you is doing 25, they are not abridging some inalienable right of yours to go 30mph. This applies whether the vehicle in front of you is a bicycle, a car or a farm tractor.

Laws vary from state to state, but many cyclists in Minnesota have expressed ignorance of the law here. I hasten to add, this type of rider is the exception, rather than the rule, and most riders are just attempting to get from point A to point B safely and courteously, to a much larger degree than most auto drivers. Some few seem to have a weird view of reality, though, and are belligerent about what they see as their rights. In one extreme instance, a rider swerved in front of my car as was passing to the rider's left, flipping me the bird and screaming at me that he had the right of way. However, the law reads (emphasis added):

Subd. 4.Riding on roadway or shoulder.

(a) Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

(1) when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;

(2) when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;

(3) when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including fixed or moving objects, vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or narrow width lanes, that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge.

(b) If a bicycle is traveling on a shoulder of a roadway, the bicycle shall travel in the same direction as adjacent vehicular traffic.

(c) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway or shoulder shall not ride more than two abreast and shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane.

posted by Mental Wimp at 2:31 PM on January 8, 2010


This is part of what drives cars so nuts about bicyclists who insist on taking a lane unnecessarily, since they'll rarely be able to go that fast[. . .] because they feel their safety is increased very slightly by refusing to ride on the shoulder, it's okay to massively inconvenience cars, no matter how many there are.


Unnecessarily? The shoulder frequently contains debris, storm drains, interruptions in the pavement, mailboxes, parked cars, and other things that make it _damn_ dangerous for a bicycle moving at any speed. Plus, auto drivers don't have any expectation that anybody will be in the shoulder, so they frequently assume that they don't have to check to make sure it's clear before pulling into it. And they for SURE don't expect to have a bicycle coming OUT of the shoulder to avoid one of the aforementioned hazards.

Cyclists are at their greatest danger when they are entering, leaving, or crossing traffic streams made up of people who refuse to look out for them. It's not a "very slight increase" in safety to pick a spot where you're easy to see, it's critical. My husband rides over a hundred miles a week as a commuting cyclist, mostly on the roads along with traffic; his two most serious accidents, one very serious indeed, both happened when he was on bike paths.
posted by KathrynT at 2:31 PM on January 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


I got rid of my car nearly 20 years ago and try to walk everywhere I need to or at worst take public transportation. In all these years I've nearly been hit by cars on several occasions and nudged a couple of times. Always the fault of the driver -- each time they look right through me without seeing me standing there. I've also been nearly pegged by bicyclists on two occasions when they were running a light or stop sign. That said I've seen numerous pedestrians step out into the middle of streets, seemingly without checking traffic and just expecting everyone to stop or slow down.

Everyone who drives a car? Assholes, the lot of 'em. Everyone who rides a bicycle? Every last one of 'em, assholes. Pedestrians? Never seen bigger assholes than them (except me, of course, I'm an awesome pedestrian!)

The solution? It's simple folks, matter transportation devices ala Star Trek. Then no need for cars, bikes, or walking shoes. See? Star Trek does have all the answers to all of our problems! Unless someone has some kind of hippie love hug solution perhaps we should leave it at that.

P.S. I'm actually OK with bicyclists on sidewalks as long as they're polite (and the ones I deal with almost always are). My city, Atlanta, is not at all bike friendly and sharing the sidewalk with cyclists is fine with me since the alternative carries way too much risk for them.
posted by bfootdav at 2:32 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I quite like this idea that judges could impose a 2000lb vehicle weight limit during traffic court proceedings, very well might save quite a few lives.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:47 PM on January 8, 2010


10mph on a bike is entirely doable. I'd be surprised if there are many cyclists riding much slower than that.

That's not what was being said. What was being said was that you must travel at no less than 10 mph of the prevailing speed limit. in other words, if the speed limit is 40, you must maintain a speed between 30 and 40.

That said, I doubt this is the letter of the law. More like, "you must not create a unreasonable nuisance on the roads," and the type of nuisance goes relatively undefined.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:51 PM on January 8, 2010


This is a horrible story and I'm glad this guy was convicted and received a fairly aggressive sentence.

That said, as both a bicyclist and a guy who drives a car, I wish bicyclists would follow the rules of the road better, if for no reason other than their own safety.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:53 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't think of any sensible driver who would be uptight about a bicyclist taking a lane sometimes, but I've seen people argue, right here on Metafilter, that because they feel their safety is increased very slightly by refusing to ride on the shoulder, it's okay to massively inconvenience cars, no matter how many there are.

It seems you don't ride your bike on streets much or you wouldn't sound so effing clueless.

Here's a fun experiment! Grab a bike and try riding in the ways you describe above. Make sure you try this on a. roads with no shoulder b. a street with cars parked a long in so that you can experience the joy of riding in the door zone. The fun part is when you have a inconvenienced jackass who drives as close as possible to you while passing. Did I mention that if you haven't claimed your lane this means you'll also be a. pushed off the road or b. pushed closer to the parked cars/curb?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:53 PM on January 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


What set of traffic infractions by other people who share your mode of transport justifies someone being hit with a car?

* Display of Bush/Cheney election bumper stickers.
* Display of those magnetic Jesus fish eating the Darwin lizard.
* Display of those cutesy stick-figure drawings representing all the members of the family, including the dog and cat.

I could go on ... ?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:54 PM on January 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


i'm a cyclist in nyc and nothing annoys me more than cyclists who complain about other cyclists being assholes but do nothing about. unlike people in automobiles, we can actually talk to other cyclists and say, "hey you're being an asshole...behave more responsibly."

like assholes behind the wheel, there will always be assholes behind handlebars. social pressure by other cyclists can reduce that number, though.
posted by hellx at 3:01 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Being a super hard-ass on crime is really fucking expensive

Bullets are cheap. Just sayin'.
posted by coolguymichael at 3:02 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not cool with what the Dr did to the two cyclists. I'm a defensive driver and I make a point to know what's in front of me as well as what's behind me. I make room for cyclists/horses/runners et cetera. I will wait to pass a cyclist until there's plenty of room for me to do so. That said, I've seen loads of cyclists who were very rude and inconsiderate to anyone who's not on a bike. None of them 'deserved punishment' but being carbon neutral doesn't give anyone the right to be rude to everyone else on the road.

Oh yeah, I also ride a bike and I've seen plenty of drivers who are oblivious to anything smaller than a car.

Best option is not anger, confrontation, or us versus them; it's talking to the city council to get bike lanes where they're needed.
posted by JV at 3:07 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think anybody here is saying any cyclist, particularly the two in this criminal act, deserved any sort of injury. I think they somehow feel that this is the right forum to express that, sometimes, people on bikes can be complete assholes.

It's kind of like if this was a thread about a two-year-old dying from e. coli after eating a tainted burger, and then bringing up how you think two-year-olds are so stupid because they often put things in their mouths that they shouldn't. And then other people are saying "what? because two-year-olds often eat stuff left under the couch they deserve to get e. coli from a hamburger???"
posted by jabberjaw at 3:08 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


With that, Stone held up a baseball bat, swinging in an abrupt arc.

Can you really do this in a US courtroom? Really??


Only if you have balls.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:08 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Prosecutors said Thompson had a history of run-ins with bike riders, including a similar episode four months before the crash when two cyclists told police that the doctor tried to run them off the road and braked suddenly in front of them."

Fuck him. Macho man surrounded by a steel cage. Fuck him.
posted by ericb at 3:17 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I used to bike to work in Minneapolis, I got hit three times. I did stop at stop signs. I did obey traffic laws. It was always a blind-side from an idiot who wasn't looking for a bike. I never got seriously hurt.

However, I got angry, really angry. I started carrying gravel. I'd throw gravel at windows of people who did terrible dangerous, aggressive things to me. I'd spit in open windows. I'd kick or key cars. I know I cracked a window or two. Good.

Finally, after being chased by a "raised" 4WD truck the wrong way down a street after flipping him off for him driving up behind me and honking, then swerving toward me as he passed, I realized I couldn't win and I was just being angry. It wasn't healthy for me, though I don't mind admitting how aggressive I was, nor do I feel bad about my actions. Truthfully, it had become likely to lead to my death or serious injury. Not worth it to me.

I started taking public transit, and now I drive most of the time. Not in Minneapolis (good riddance, least favorite residence & rape capitol of the country) but in Portland. I'm safer and less angry. I'm polite to cyclists. Too bad though, I miss the exercise and I regret the cost both monetary and environmental.

I sincerely hope that Portland outlaws all private transportation in the city some day. I'd happily go back to cycling or take the excellent mass transit options. If it can happen anywhere, it can happen here. A man can dream.
posted by Invoke at 3:17 PM on January 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Fuck him. Macho man surrounded by a steel cage. Fuck him.

His victims were wearing provocative, tight bike shorts, though. Maybe they deserved the attempts on their lives — just a bit.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:23 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


That joke is still struggling up the hill earlier in this thread. All the other comments have long since passed it.
posted by found missing at 3:26 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't mock my hill climbing abilities. Let's see how fast you make it up Old La Honda.
posted by GuyZero at 3:28 PM on January 8, 2010


Seems like that town needs to invest in a serious bike lane system. Jebus.

When I commuted on bike for a couple of years I got run off the road once and hit by cars a couple of times. The worst were bus drivers. Jesus H. I swear those fuckers tried to kill you. But I also saw lots of cyclists kick cars and spit on windshields.

The real problem was the lack of adequate bike lanes in heavy traffic areas. It was a recipe for frustration and hostility.

I personally have only experienced road rage in a vehicle once. And that was years ago when two dudes in a Porsche flashed a gun at me at 2am. I honestly thought they were gonna kill me and I went totally and completely animal brain homicidal/suicidal. It was like Bond film car chase for a couple minutes there. Me in my poor old VW bug doing Rockford File turns and parking-brake 180's and shit. I freaked out. So I understand the inclination, though I don't condone it. However. Not sure I get this guys freakout with bikes... it's not like they could really do anything to him.
posted by tkchrist at 3:30 PM on January 8, 2010


Magic bike lanes, love them. That one micron thickness of paint is like a forcefield that protects me from all harm.
posted by fixedgear at 3:43 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I personally have only experienced road rage in a vehicle once. And that was years ago when two dudes in a Porsche flashed a gun at me at 2am. I honestly thought they were gonna kill me and I went totally and completely animal brain homicidal/suicidal. It was like Bond film car chase for a couple minutes there. Me in my poor old VW bug doing Rockford File turns and parking-brake 180's and shit.

Wait, who was chasing whom? Either way, crazy story.
posted by bxyldy at 3:45 PM on January 8, 2010


it's talking to the city council to get bike lanes where they're needed.

Bike lanes are a start, but they won't change much about the situation when people refuse to acknowledge that cyclists have as much of a right to the road as drivers.

As a data point, I suffered a broken knee from getting doored — while in a bike lane. I was doored by someone getting out of the passenger side. The driver of the car did not signal that he was stopping, did not pull over, and his passenger did not bother to look at her mirror to see I was coming. It was a clear day, the roads were not wet, the city traffic was 20-30 mph.

I have no patience for the drivers in this thread who argue that cyclists are oppressing them by their very existence. I cannot understand why people make up a lie about cyclists being violent as a rule, as some kind of bizarro-world justification for what this animal did.

I wouldn't wish you to suffer broken limbs, physical therapy, and permanent disabilities up to death. But I wonder if those of you who think this doctor's behavior was somehow okay on some level because of imaginary cyclists who offend your personal sensibilities would be more sympathetic if you had ever suffered any injuries of your own. What threshold of people getting hit by angry drivers will it take for some of you to wake up?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:52 PM on January 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


Why should the cyclists get to slow down guys like Dr. Thomson? He went to a great fucking school and probably makes twice as money as all those cyclists put together, even in his retirement.

You can be damn sure he didn't just buy a red infiniti to drive fucking 30 behind some loser. Get off his road.
posted by lonelid at 3:53 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This guy might be a complete asshole, he definitely did a rash, stupid thing, but five years in jail for this?
That seems incredibly harsh. If he had inflicted these injuries with his fists he wouldn't go to jail at all.
posted by Flashman at 3:53 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


10mph on a bike is entirely doable. I'd be surprised if there are many cyclists riding much slower than that.

No, that means if the speed limit is 40, you're required to do at least 30.
posted by Malor at 3:54 PM on January 8, 2010


Good. I can only hope there's no parole in California.
posted by smoothvirus at 3:56 PM on January 8, 2010


"According to GPS data, the cyclists were doing the speed limit, 30mph. So to this guy, trying to kill them was an appropriate response to them temporarily preventing him from speeding."

In my experience, a lot (or perhaps even most) drivers don't see a cyclist's speed because they unthinkingly assume cyclists are always slow regardless of the actual speed of the cyclist they are looking directly at.

While this is obvious to cyclists by how many people cut you off accidentally, thinking they have plenty of time to pull in front of you when they clearly and obviously have insufficient time, it started to actually get funny on a hill I cycle down - the downslope means I easily exceed the speed limit, yet drivers behind me still mentally assume I'm going 15mph under the limit and unthinkingly overtake as if that were true - then find themselves careening down the slope at a crazy speed.

So now, I tend to "take the lane" on that slope - on the grounds that I'm speeding and you'd be crazy - and dangerous - to try to overtake a speeding vehicle on that bit of road. But while me taking the lane enhances the safety of those driving behind me, and those around me, by preventing dangerous driving, this is largely preventing a danger to those around me, not actually to me - overtaking cars are aware of me and give me distance, even as they endanger others.
In which case, the maneuver might put me in slightly MORE danger, even as it lowers the overall danger to everyone else.
I'm not sure how I feel about that. Civic duty, or protect thine ass?
posted by -harlequin- at 3:57 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


If he had inflicted these injuries with his fists he wouldn't go to jail at all.

He could not have inflicted those injuries with his bare hands given 20 years. He used a weapon in an unprovoked assault.
posted by GuyZero at 3:59 PM on January 8, 2010


Blazecock, no one has said it was "somehow okay" he got what he deserved.

Most of us, I would like to think, are just venting about ofttimes oblivious cyclists.

The rules of the road apply to everyone, and they include rules for drivers in situations with cyclists. As well as vice versa.
posted by Max Power at 4:00 PM on January 8, 2010


Civic duty, or protect thine ass?

To thine own ass be true.

Damn Two Gentlemen of Lebowski has me thinking of Shakespeare constantly today.
posted by ODiV at 4:07 PM on January 8, 2010


Maybe things have changed in Western Europe in the years since I left, but I don't remember seeing the culture of car vs. bike hatred that I see here in the USA.

I credit education. Over there, kids are taught -- over and over and over again -- that bikes must follow the rules of the road. They are taught never to ride line abreast. They are taught to signal turns and obey all traffic signs. So, when those kids grow up to be car drivers, they know what to expect. They know that bikers are following the rules.

Meanwhile, in the USA, the biker culture is basically an outlaw culture. Blowing through stop signs and red lights, riding two abreast, riding on the sidewalk, wrong-way riding: they're all just "doing what it takes to survive" and utterly normative in the biker culture.

The human brain is hard-wired to detect and hate "cheaters." And for the average American driver, the average American biker looks like nothing more than a huge unrepentant rule-breaking "cheater." Much hate ensues.
posted by Wufpak at 4:07 PM on January 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


Max Power: It gets a little tiring reading that in every thread though. Especially relating to serious instances where people are hurt through malice.

Surely you can see that a conversation about violence towards a certain type of person is better off without introducing tangents relating to aspects of those people you find distasteful.
posted by ODiV at 4:10 PM on January 8, 2010


I have to say that in the last five months of biking in AZ I have had over ten incidents of people (always young males) pulling along side me and yelling. Not yelling any words. Just yelling as loudly as they can, I guess in the hope to startle me and see me fall. I've had them do this while passing me, and yelling at me at stop lights.

I have no idea why some drivers hate cyclists so much, but it's very strange how often I feel the impact (Thank God I don't have serious discrimination issues to complain about).
posted by cyphill at 4:11 PM on January 8, 2010


The human brain is hard-wired to detect and hate "cheaters." And for the average American driver, the average American biker looks like nothing more than a huge unrepentant rule-breaking "cheater." Much hate ensues.

I don't know where you have been driving (and honestly, maybe they're better at following the rules there), but drivers don't seem to follow the rules of the road that well either.
posted by ODiV at 4:13 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I credit education. Over there, kids are taught -- over and over and over again -- that bikes must follow the rules of the road. They are taught never to ride line abreast. They are taught to signal turns and obey all traffic signs. So, when those kids grow up to be car drivers, they know what to expect. They know that bikers are following the rules.

Also important is that the reason the kids are taught these things is that so many use their bikes in traffic to commute to school. So when they're old enough to drive a car, they're also a cyclist. So instead of "them-vs-us", it's closer to just "us".
In the USA, or most of the areas I've lived in, kids are taken to school in cars and buses until they're old enough to drive themselves to school. They didn't grow up routinely cycling in traffic to get themselves from A to B. They aren't cyclists. They never were cyclists. So cyclists are a "them", not an "us".
posted by -harlequin- at 4:14 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


If he had inflicted these injuries with his fists he wouldn't go to jail at all.

He didn't do it with his fists, which would have been simple assault (and also a felony). He did it with 2 tons of steel, which makes it assault with a deadly weapon. From looking at the cyclist's injuries, he was a few inches away from a manslaughter conviction. HE TOOK THE MAN'S NOSE HALF OFF, AND HE DID IT ON PURPOSE.

Seems like 5 years (2 with good behavior) is pretty much appropriate.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:14 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, who was chasing whom? Either way, crazy story.

They started out chasing me. It was crazy. on Sandpoint Way in Seattle.

Then I snapped and began chasing them with the full intention of ramming them at full VW-Bug speed and killing us all in blazing fiery ball of death. Maniacally laughing the entire time. Made perfect sense at the time.

But. You know. They had a Porsche 911. My homicidal rage kind of petered out in a very unsatisfying way. I was left putting along at blazing top speed of thirty since I couldn't get the 1974 Bug out of second gear. That was after jumping a median in a shower of sparks to get behind them. But whatever. They did realize, holy shit this guy is nuts, and split like lightening. Leaving me to just kind of limp along with my jaw muscles twitching and overheating engine screaming at 200 decibels.

So yes. I have confronted my inner kamikaze. And I must mention you learn a lot more about stunt driving from watching 1970's TV that you think. All it takes is commitment and an unflinching lack of concern for your transmission and parking brake.
posted by tkchrist at 4:15 PM on January 8, 2010 [14 favorites]


Five years in the joint? He's a doctor. Sentence him to five years of providing free low-risk "open up and say 'ahh'" medical care for the homeless.

We could call it something snappy like "slavery".

I mean, I understand the intent, but it would take about an hour and a half before this sort of thing started getting abused.
posted by Justinian at 4:15 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]




Not to minimize what the doctor did, he deserves a harsh sentence [1], he should be banned from driving for a decade at least, and frankly he should be banned from biking. For I guarantee you an asshole driver like that will be the numero uno biker that we pedestrians complain about. An asshole in a different means of transport is still an asshole. It is walking or the bus for him!

their seeming blindness to their own treatment of pedestrians must indicate that they view us as just drivers on the way to our cars.

Wish I could favorite it ten times. Here in New York we pedestrians call bicyclists Two-wheeled SUVs, as in "Jeez, did you see that Two-wheeled SUV almost crash into that old lady? WTF?"

[1] I am conflicted on whether five years is appropriate considering, that I belive in most jurisdictions, if he, say got into an argument at a bar and beat the crap out of the other guy, he wouldn't get five years. Maybe the barroom brawler should get five, maybe he should get 1. I just think that sentences should be similar in those cases,
posted by xetere at 4:16 PM on January 8, 2010


The Myth of the Scofflaw Cyclist.
posted by god hates math at 4:19 PM on January 8, 2010 [15 favorites]


That seems incredibly harsh. If he had inflicted these injuries with his fists he wouldn't go to jail at all.

Have you not heard of assault or battery, or aggravated battery? IOW, what the hell are you talking about? Why be an apologist for this asshole?
posted by fixedgear at 4:20 PM on January 8, 2010


In many states, you're required to do at least 10mph under the speed limit.

Not in California. "not impeding traffic" is the only rule that might apply to minimums. There's a Drive 55 campaign that along with the "drive the speedlimit day" put on by the local paper & CHP has me driving 60-65 MPH in the right lane of the interstate sometimes.

Another thing is that the shoulder (right of the white line) is not part of the "road" or "roadway." I forget which term applies- they have different definitions in CA & riding as far right as practicable means as far to the right on the roadway, not on a hard shoulder.

Here's a video of two League of American Bicyclists instructors riding down Mandeville. That is one scary fucking road. Besides having nearly no shoulder and narrow lanes so dealing with passing traffic is a nightmare, there are blind driveways!

I think substandard-width lanes in CA (which these look like) change some rules so SMVs (tractors) and bikes *don't* have to get out of the way until there's a turnout. Some of the rules were written when a larger portion of the population of the state was family farmers.
posted by morganw at 4:23 PM on January 8, 2010


In my experience, a lot (or perhaps even most) drivers don't see a cyclist's speed because they unthinkingly assume cyclists are always slow regardless of the actual speed of the cyclist they are looking directly at.

Oh definitely, I see that a lot. The "oh shit" look on drivers' faces as they voom into gaps that prove not to be there.

Apropos the bad behaviour of cyclists: we are all shitty thoughtless pedestrians/cyclists/motorcyclists/drivers sometimes. These days I interpret outrage at pedestrians/cyclists/motorcyclists/drivers as a sort of declaration of tribal affiliation rather than an accurate depiction of reality. But anyway, even if someone is an arsehole, I don't think being smashed up in an accident is really a case of the punishment fitting the crime. Otherwise we'd have to approve of violent injury to arseholes in all situations, not just on the road.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:23 PM on January 8, 2010


The level of victim-blaming in this thread is absolutely baffling and frankly offensive given that this guy tried to commit multiple homicides.

The level of victim blaming is actually pretty low and so far I don't see anybody who actually defended what Thompson did as reasonable. The nearest thing I've seen (and apparently the comment this was in response to) someone pointing out that in situations like this, there's often escalation before someone does whatever horrible thing that causes it to end tragically. That's true often enough it's a perfectly reasonable comment to make.

It's ok to posit the bikers escalated. That isn't a justification for what Thompson did. It's even ok to point out to people that sometimes it's not a good idea to escalate, even mildly, by, say, yelling "fuck you!" when someone passes. Observing that people sometimes do horrible things in response to even mild escalations isn't the same thing as excusing the action. Don't join the ranks of people who can't tell the difference.
posted by namespan at 4:24 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Five years in the joint? He's a doctor. Sentence him to five years of providing free low-risk "open up and say 'ahh'" medical care for the homeless.

We could call it something snappy like "slavery".


I assume that how it normally works is that prisoners have the choice of their usual prison routine, or being able to do some work, for which they earn only pennies an hour, but it counts as good behavior and gets some time knocked off their sentence. And here, instead of stamping license plates, you're diagnosing people.

Of course, it annoys people who are able to do the work and who are not in prison, because it's hard to compete with someone who has nothing to lose by earning pennies an hour. But presumably you have your prison doctors only see people who have no money, and would otherwise would just end up going to the ER and not paying the bill.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:25 PM on January 8, 2010


Dr. Thompson sounds like he's an average Angelino. I used to get honked at for a) stopping at a stop sign b) letting someone cut in front of me c) stopping for a pedestrian to cross the street IN THE CROSSWALK.

My reaction was the same in every case, I stopped where I was, and asked the driver who honked what the trouble was. I never got an answer, though, because they were always cowering below the dashboard.

I was appalled by the idea of random shootings on the freeway when I got to LA, but I was perfectly cool with the idea by the time I left.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 4:26 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


@Jimmy Havok
The funny thing to me is that drivers are always so scared when they are at a stop after being an ass. They're only big powerful macho men/women when they are moving with their giant weapon. If they are stopped they cower at a little confrontation. Maybe that's because the cyclist is fit and probably could kick their ass?

On my last accident, I was *lying on the guy's hood*, and he started yelling about how I'd dented his car (with my body). Had his fists all balled up, really working up a rage that I should dare to get blind-sided by him while I was riding on the street down a hill. He stopped right away when I looked at him with murder in my eye and told him to get out so I could beat the hell out of him. Rolled up the window and shut the hell up.

Good.
posted by Invoke at 4:38 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


WRT laws about how bicycles can use the public roads, you have to check with the local government... i did some Critical Mass rides in Bowling Green, OH -- where is is legal to ride two abreast and cyclists can use the car lanes within Wood County. The BG campus cops stopped us and we showed them a copy of the law, and they let us on our way. in some places it's illegal for a car to pass a bicycle unless it's a multilane road!

It's the same story as what the motorcycle guys always advocate -- people in cars do not own the road. It's for public use, and not just for them. I always make it a point to pay attention to motorcyclists and people on bikes, as should everyone... even if they are riding like lunatics (like the rice burners on the interstate).... because i know i could kill them without even trying if i wasn't paying attention.

btw, i'm also a firm believer that bicycles and scooters should NOT be allowed on sidewalks... if a locality wants to encourage greener transportation, they should put in rail trails or wide roadside paths with painted lanes for walkers and bikes.

this shmuck deserves his sentence.
posted by teletype1 at 4:45 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I cannot understand why people make up a lie about cyclists being violent as a rule, as some kind of bizarro-world justification for what this animal did.

I don't view it as a deliberate decision to be aggressive. I think there's a minority of cyclists who, like the similar minority of drivers, just have a mindset that somehow makes them oblivious to the other people sharing the world around them.

While the argument upthread that a driver is going to do more damage in a car is a sound one, that doesn't let off cyclists who need to pulled up when they run lights or go down one-way streets. Worse, these people know full well that they're unlikely to be held to account which I suspect just encourages them to carry on behaving like idiots.

The guy in this story got everything he deserved though.
posted by panboi at 4:53 PM on January 8, 2010


> No, that means if the speed limit is 40, you're required to do at least 30.

Horseshit.

Limited access highways have posted minimum speeds. (Michigan, for example, posts a minimum speed limit of 55 MPH on divided limited-access highways.) They also have posted prohibitions against pedestrians, cyclists, and horse-drawn vehicles, so they're not a part of this discussion.

In many states (and definitely in Michigan, since I checked; American Mefites can see their own state's speed laws using this handy reference page) maximum and minimum speeds on surface roads are regulated locally in accordance with state recommendations, but there is no globally defined speed bracket that drivers must observe. Michigan has none, and I doubt whether a majority of states do, if any.

Since surface roads are full of traffic speeding up and slowing down due to traffic lights, driveways, splits, and mixed vehicle types (such as Amish buggies, tractors and bicyclists) defining and enforcing minimum speeds is a game I've never heard of anyone playing.
posted by ardgedee at 5:02 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I lived in LA I was in two serious accidents, both caused by cars: That isn't including getting a glass bottle chucked at me on the way to a midnight riddazz ride from a Dodge truck.
posted by wcfields at 5:05 PM on January 8, 2010


Let's see...
People using their singular experiances as an inditment of every person on the other side of the argument ....check
People hearing other people's opinions and taking them personal attack ...check
Both sides using ridiculous hyperbole and setting up straw men attacks ....check

Must be a Metafilter bike thread
posted by trojanhorse at 5:16 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Must be a Metafilter bike thread

no mention of fixies, I'm disoriented
posted by found missing at 5:25 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Flashman: "That seems incredibly harsh. If he had inflicted these injuries with his fists he wouldn't go to jail at all."

Uh, maybe in Somalia. No, in California he's going to jail for that, and that's before the civil suit takes him to the cleaners. I bet those bikers are up to their ears in pro bono offers for their case.
posted by mullingitover at 5:38 PM on January 8, 2010


@trojanhorse
Your cynicism is so refreshing.

BTW, checking your posting history, I see that this comment has the most sentences you've ever posted in a comment. Good job!

See, I can do cynical too.
posted by Invoke at 5:41 PM on January 8, 2010


Fuck this guy. 5 years = not long enough.

When I am driving I have to obey the rules of the road. I've seen so many cyclists blithely ignore even the most basic rules like, as noted above STOPPING AT STOP SIGNS, signaling turns, threading in between cars at intersections, dressed in black riding at night with no reflectors... the list goes on and on.

What you're saying is: cyclists don't have to obey traffic laws. Reality is: we do! I know in British Columbia we are specifically mentioned in the Motor Vehicle act, which means the laws apply to cyclists, and I can only assume that whatever part of the world you're in is similar. Maybe some cyclists you've met don't always stop at every stop sign, but I've got as much anecdotal evidence that shows that many motorists are insane assholes who only interrupt their cellphone conversations to try and run me over.

And I never blithely ignore any laws. When I ignore the law, I do it belligerently.
posted by monkeymike at 5:56 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


See also: Monkeymike's Law: any post on Metafilter involving bicycles will contain at least one comment threatening to kill cyclists, regardless of topic.
posted by monkeymike at 5:58 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since it hasn't happened here yet, and since it is a law: I WILL KILL CYCLISTS!

with love
posted by found missing at 6:03 PM on January 8, 2010


with love

THAT DOESNT COUNT.
posted by monkeymike at 6:06 PM on January 8, 2010


Bike lanes are a start, but they won't change much about the situation when people refuse to acknowledge that cyclists have as much of a right to the road as drivers.
Is that really true, though?

For some roads, sure, of course it's true. But as a blanket statement, though? Bikes don't have as much of a right to Interstate 90 as cars do, do they? Is it offensive of me to suggest that they do not?

Obviously that's an extreme; I've never seen a bike on an interstate. I have, however, seen bikes on roads where I'm pretty confident that they don't belong. There's a road near where I live, for example, that is long and flat and straight and scenic and which therefore, when the weather is nice and the sun is out, draws many bikers. I'm not talking a biker here and a biker there; I mean many distinct packs each containing many bikers, and pretty much guaranteed to be many such packs every single time you go down the road.

In addition to being long and flat and straight and scenic, though, this road also has one lane in each direction, with only a small shoulder in those places where it has any shoulder at all, with extremely infrequent turnoffs, and a speed limit of forty miles per hour.

I always stay a safe distance behind them, doing twenty MPH along with them, until it's obviously safe to pass them (which, incidentally, sometimes takes quite some time, because to pass them means to go into the oncoming lane, and the oncoming lane is sure to have packs of bikers in it). I'm certainly not going to be aggressively pushing them or cutting them off or whatever. But I would be lying if I were to suggest that I didn't think these people were inconsiderate jackasses who are risking their own lives and are willing to ruin the lives of others who might have to live with having accidentally killed them.

Is it beyond the bounds of decency for me to suggest that bikes do not belong on this road, despite the fact that the bikers get a pretty view on a long, flat, straight ride? That's the impression I get, reading this thread: that I am a monster for thinking that bikers should stay off of this particular road that they seem to love so much.

I am in no way condoning the action of this man.
posted by Flunkie at 6:17 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Flunkie, I have to say, I think you're wrong here. I see no reason why there shouldn't be cyclists on a road like the one you describe. Are they more disruptive to your drive than any other slow vehicle would be, like a street sweeper or a tractor? If sharing the road with cyclists is that unpleasant, is there another road you could take? Because unless they're specifically violating road-usage laws, like the ones that exist for I-90, I don't see anything inconsiderate about what they're doing at all.
posted by KathrynT at 6:33 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Flunkie, I'm sorry to hear you feel that way. Risk of hurting someone and feeling bad is the price for being in a position of power, I guess. I'm sure your local road cycling club would appreciate your signature on a petition to widen that road.
posted by anthill at 6:34 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Flunkie, I have to say, I think you're wrong here. I see no reason why there shouldn't be cyclists on a road like the one you describe. Are they more disruptive to your drive than any other slow vehicle would be, like a street sweeper or a tractor?
Yes. First, they're doing it constantly, whereas I do not remember the last time I was behind a street sweeper or a tractor.

Second, and more importantly, on that road I am always worried -- justifiably, I might add -- that I might possibly kill one of them, coming around a bend or misjudging my distance to them or whatever. I would not be particularly worried about accidentally killing the driver of a street sweeper.

I don't understand why it's reasonable to operate a vehicle that offers no protection to the user on a road whose speed limit is twice or more the speed that that vehicle will be moving. It seems flatly unreasonable to me.
posted by Flunkie at 6:40 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Flunkie, how would you feel if the riders were using bicycles for transportation rather than recreation, and on the road for the same reason you were, to get where they needed to go? Would you still feel they weren't entitled to use it?

I know more and more people every year who don't have cars, more than I ever have since college. And I suspect a car-less way of life is going to start going mainstream in places it hasn't been before.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:43 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there a speed minimum on that road? Would you argue that a tractor has no right to be on the road?

If you're worried that you're going to hurt people, then perhaps you should slow down. If you're traveling too quickly to respond to conditions, the problem is yours, not that of other people using the road.

As for why it's reasonable; why on earth is it unreasonable? You don't have the absolute right to unimpeded travel at the maximum posted speed, but they *do* have the right to use the road.
posted by KathrynT at 6:45 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Flunkie, how would you feel if the riders were using bicycles for transportation rather than recreation, and on the road for the same reason you were, to get where they needed to go? Would you still feel they weren't entitled to use it?
I would like to think I would be less annoyed at them, though they still would make me very uncomfortable, especially if they were to continue operating in the same manner - i.e. packs and packs, riding abreast.

This is most definitely a hypothetical situation that you are proposing, though. And it kind of ignores the point: My post was responding to someone who was talking up "right to the road" instead of bike lanes.

I think bike lanes would be great on this road.

Without them, I don't think that bikes should be on it in the first place.
posted by Flunkie at 6:46 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've seen some mention bike lanes as an idea. However, with regards to Mandeville Canyon, it is not wide enough to have bike lanes. It's just wide enough to have tight two way traffic. The video in an earlier comment shows that clearly.

In order for their to be a bike lane you'd have to start carving into people's property - there are no sidewalks.
posted by Rashomon at 6:46 PM on January 8, 2010


The core problem: why do motorists think that slower vehicles legally using the road are "inconsiderate jackasses?"
posted by prambutan at 6:47 PM on January 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


KathrynT, you're being flagrantly disingenuous. Perhaps I should slow down? Did you miss the part where I described that I travel safely behind them at their speed until it's clear that it's safe to pass them? Where I said that I don't aggressively push them? Where I said that I don't cut them off?

Christ.
posted by Flunkie at 6:48 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, I'm not being disingenuous. You were the one who stated that you were going too fast:

on that road I am always worried -- justifiably, I might add -- that I might possibly kill one of them, coming around a bend or misjudging my distance to them or whatever.

If you're traveling fast enough that you wouldn't be able to respond to an obstacle in the road, you are going too fast for conditions. Particularly if you know that this particular road's conditions often include slow traffic.
posted by KathrynT at 6:52 PM on January 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


I hope this thread goes better than previous bike/car threads here. We'll have achieved something in America when the sight of an adult riding a bike no longer drives other adults into a rage. Some of it is seeing cyclists as 'the other' due to spandex kits, helmets, and glasses. This kind of stuff doesn't really seem to exist in Europe, home of plain clothes cyclists.

Remember that "cyclists" may mean different things to different people. To you it might mean people who use bicycles for urban commuting, but to me it usually means arrogant rich fucks who spent more on spandex Lance Armstrong jerseys and a bike made out of fucking Yttrium or some shit than I spend on food in a year, and who ride 20MPH up highway entrance ramps (not like an interstate, in Austin we have "highways" that are twisty and have stop lights, but the speed limit is 65, and the rich-fuck type of cyclists love to be road hazards on them). The fact that you're on a bike doesn't mean you're not a dick.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:52 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe, prambutan, it's because the users of slower vehicles legally using the road jump straight to imputing all blame directly on motorists simply for thinking that they are inconsiderate jackasses by rhetorically stating that the question at the heart of the problem is why motorists think they're inconsiderate jackasses, despite the fact that the motorist already attempted to describe the reasoning behind such thoughts. I don't know, though.
posted by Flunkie at 6:54 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, good lord, KathrynT, yes you are being disingenuous. People make mistakes, and it is not unreasonable to be concerned that you might make a mistake despite trying not to, especially in conditions when making a mistake could result in killing a person.

Never mind; you're right. I'm a monster. Good night.
posted by Flunkie at 6:56 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Monster is your word, not mine. I just said you were driving too fast. And I maintain that stance. It's your responsibility to operate your vehicle safely, not other people's responsibility to ensure that you can drive however you want to without having your day ruined by killing someone.
posted by KathrynT at 6:59 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ugh, I said good night, but I can't help myself:
Monster is your word, not mine. I just said you were driving too fast. And I maintain that stance.
Really. At what speed do you suggest that I drive? Despite the fact that I have already stated multiple times that I attempt to travel at a safe speed and distance behind them until it is clear that it is safe to pass them.
It's your responsibility to operate your vehicle safely, not other people's responsibility to ensure that you can drive however you want to without having your day ruined by killing someone.
Exactly why do you believe that I do not understand that that is my responsibility? And apparently believe that I do not follow it as my responsibility?
posted by Flunkie at 7:03 PM on January 8, 2010


confrontation leads to an escalation of hostilities

I keep reading this, and trying to understand it. Is Thompson trying to say that putting those bicyclists in the hospital was confrontational, and that it's natural that hostilities would then escalate into his being charged for assault? If so, then it seems he's learned his lesson.

If he means something else, then he needs a bit longer sentence, so he can think about it more.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 7:05 PM on January 8, 2010


Flunkie, I don't doubt your sincerity. You are not a monster for thinking that they don't belong there. They do have a legal right to be there. Not that you are doing it, but there is this thing of my car errand is important, and groups of recreational cyclists are just jerkoffs. See DecemberBoy's comment.

BTW, I use the word cyclist to describe anyone riding a bike. A Mexican dishwasher on a Wal-Mart Huffy (Bicycling magazine called them the invisible cyclists, but they meant invisible to other 'real' cyclists), club cyclists, commuters, tourists, racers, they are all cyclists. Are there laws against riding two abreast in your state? It's all easily searchable, and if you sincerely feel that it's a hazard, lobby your local sheriff or law enforcement. My group ride was pulled over to be told that we were violating the two abreast rule. No problem, the cop was mistaken, but life went on.

Every motorist would have you believe that they are a heart surgeon on their way to a transplant when they get stuck behind a cyclist or group of cyclists, when they are really on their way to WaWa for ice cream.
posted by fixedgear at 7:10 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's a simple solution to this and practically every other problem that our society is facing. Raise the price of fuel until everyone is on bikes.

"But what," I hear you ask, "about the old and infirm who can't ride bikes?" There's an answer to that, too. Introduce wolves and cougars into the cities.

"Oh really," you reply, "you think you and your 70s-era Schwinn Varsity can avoid a wolf pack too?"

"I don't need to," crow I, "until we start running short on the old and infirm. Low-hanging fruit, it's called."

"What," comes your inevitable response, "the fuck are you talking about? People aren't fruit. They're not even in the vegetable kingdom!"

"Fuck", comes my witty rejoinder, "you."
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:11 PM on January 8, 2010 [15 favorites]


Every motorist, huh?
posted by Flunkie at 7:11 PM on January 8, 2010


Really. At what speed do you suggest that I drive? Despite the fact that I have already stated multiple times that I attempt to travel at a safe speed and distance behind them until it is clear that it is safe to pass them.

I suggest that you drive at a speed such that, if you come around a bend and encounter a pack of cyclists, you can slow down in time to avoid hitting them. You're clearly doing the right thing when you already know they're there, but honestly, there could be all KINDS of hazards around that bend -- a stalled car, a fallen tree, a deer. It's irresponsible to drive so fast that you wouldn't be able to avoid something in the road.

Exactly why do you believe that I do not understand that that is my responsibility?

Because you've said you want THEM to go away so that YOU can quit worrying about killing them.
posted by KathrynT at 7:11 PM on January 8, 2010


KathrynT, you're right. I don't understand that it's my responsibility to operate my vehicle safely. And clearly, when I go around bends, I do so at unreasonable and unsafe speeds - I only attempt to be safe in the exact situations where I said that I attempt to be safe, that much is obvious. And, of course, attempting to be safe is the same thing as being safe. You're quite correct on all of this.
posted by Flunkie at 7:15 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, and slight derail, but it's quite legal to ride bikes on some Interstate highways, mostly in Western states.
posted by fixedgear at 7:15 PM on January 8, 2010


In fact, when I go around bends, I close my eyes. It's fun.
posted by Flunkie at 7:17 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


KathrynT, you're right. I don't understand that it's my responsibility to operate my vehicle safely. And clearly, when I go around bends, I do so at unreasonable and unsafe speeds - I only attempt to be safe in the exact situations where I said that I attempt to be safe, that much is obvious. And, of course, attempting to be safe is the same thing as being safe. You're quite correct on all of this.

Now who's being disingenuous?

Look, if you're driving at safe speeds, why are you worried about hitting a cyclist? Just don't drive into them. If you ARE worried about hitting a cyclist, slow down until you're not worried about it any more! I don't understand what the disconnect is, here, and I see absolutely no reason why your desire to not deal with cyclists on this road trumps their right to be there.
posted by KathrynT at 7:19 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


You are. Thanks for asking.
posted by Flunkie at 7:21 PM on January 8, 2010


We've had motorists engage us in conversation at food/bathroom stops. We often ride in horse farm/turf farm country. "Why do you ride in groups?" "It's fun, we enjoy each others company, there is some benefit in drafting." "Yes, but you go below the posted speed limit and it can be difficult to pass." "It can be difficult to pass a slow moving tractor, too." "Yeah, but they are working."

I don't want to get into the whole I'm Joe Taxpayer deal, but yeah, gas taxes are peanuts. The real bucks come from the general fund, state income taxes, and we're road users. That's it.
posted by fixedgear at 7:23 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Flunkie, I wasn't blaming you. If the law says that bikes are allowed on your road, why do you think they're being jerks for using it? If a group of old ladies prevents me from walking quickly on a sidewalk, I may be annoyed - but I don't think they shouldn't be there.
posted by prambutan at 7:30 PM on January 8, 2010


I haven't read the comments and I'm sure when I do I'll see lots of folks saying that cyclists should be on the sidewalk but as someone who rides 120-200 miles a week I believe 5 years in jail isn't long enough. The judge needed to sentence this jerk to the max and make an example out of him. I hope his license is revoked for life. I hope the cyclists sue him and bankrupt his ass.

Bottom line: just because he disagreed that the cyclists should not be in the road does not give him the right to attempt to kill them.
posted by photoslob at 7:40 PM on January 8, 2010


I was so relieved to hear this result. I remember reading the arguments and thinking there was surely no way for this guy to get off, but being prepared to be let down by the legal process yet again.
posted by chinston at 7:49 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like the metaphor of a somewhat awkward, shortsighted football linebacker, walking down a sidewalk crowded with kindergarten students and senior citizens. What is the right thing to do?

Any new york city pedestrian knows that people getting in your way are annoying. But when there's a power asymmetry there's a responsibility asymmetry.
posted by anthill at 7:56 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmm. If it were a car that rear ended him, almost certainly it'd be the car's fault. In fact, I thought a rear ender was almost universally the fault of the vehicle doing the hitting.

The bicyclists did have the option to begin slowing down as the car was passing so that they maintained proper separation which is, in my opinion, their responsibility.

Sorry.
posted by bz at 8:28 PM on January 8, 2010


In summary: lots of things in daily life are BOTH annoying AND "belong there." Flunkie's feelings of annoyance are reasonable, cyclists legally using the road is reasonable. These things are not mutually inconsistent.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:30 PM on January 8, 2010


Flunkie, I wasn't blaming you. If the law says that bikes are allowed on your road, why do you think they're being jerks for using it?
Perhaps I was unclear. I think that they're being jerks for using this particular road because I think that it's fundamentally unsafe for them to do so, in essentially the same manner as it would be fundamentally unsafe for a pedestrian to walk down the middle of a 40 MPH one lane per direction road with no shoulder. Whether it is legal for them to do so (which I am not actually sure of one way or the other, nor are you) does not change that, nor do trite and absurd suggestions like KathrynT's "just don't drive into them".

I'm pretty sure I mean it this time: Good night.
posted by Flunkie at 8:44 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think that it's fundamentally unsafe for them to do so, in essentially the same manner as it would be fundamentally unsafe for a pedestrian to walk down the middle of a 40 MPH one lane per direction road with no shoulder

Unfortunately, the roads laws in your area probably disagree. They are allowed and yes, it is possible. Just as there is no moral imperative for bikes to be there, there's no reason for cars to be there either. Swap bikes and cars in your argument and it makes the same amount of sense.
posted by GuyZero at 9:09 PM on January 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's horrible. If this was a thread about a rape, and people were coming in talking about how sometimes some girls really *were* asking for it - not this case, of course, but sometimes - , and how once they went out and this girl was all over them and was then like, "no, no", the outrage would without parallel. Likewise if it was about asians, african-americans, or gays (see recent huge kerfuffle). But cyclists don't seem to qualify for some reason. Really horrible.
posted by smoke at 9:37 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's horrible. If this was a thread about a rape, and people were coming in talking about how sometimes some girls really *were* asking for it

This is not a thread about rape. Can we not do this here?
posted by jessamyn at 9:49 PM on January 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


And sorry, to explain. I'm not totally psyched about having another ZOMG cars vs. cyclists thread and it would be super if it didn't turn into a huge fight. Whatever needs to happen to make that happen would be appreciated. Sorry smoke, didn't mean to single you out in any way.
posted by jessamyn at 9:52 PM on January 8, 2010


I really don't like this whole conflating of cyclists with rape victims. It's not at all the same situation and I find it offensive. The majority of griping about cyclists here seems to be that sometimes they demand the privileges of motor vehicles while not wanting to be subject to the associated laws. It can be irritating to be told by a cyclist that they have just as much right to the road as a car when some cyclists see stop signs as optional and sidewalks as alternate routes. Cyclists aren't "asking for it"; they're committing traffic violations. I know that the cyclists in this particular case weren't committing any violations, and I totally agree that many car drivers behave like arrogant, entitled assholes on the road, but it would be nice if we didn't stoop to calling drivers rapists. There should be way more bike lanes, cars and bicycles should fully respect each other's right to exist, everyone should follow the rules of the road, and we should all just try to get along. And hugs. We should all give (and get) more hugs.
posted by Go Banana at 10:02 PM on January 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


The bicyclists did have the option to begin slowing down as the car was passing so that they maintained proper separation which is, in my opinion, their responsibility.

You are an ass.
posted by caddis at 10:06 PM on January 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not at all Jessamyn, I apologise: the analogy was not sensitive in light of context, and is unlikely to help illustrate the doublespeak in a non-combative way. Please do feel free to delete. :)
posted by smoke at 10:13 PM on January 8, 2010


Go Banana, you did kind of miss the point there. No one was calling a driver a rapist; I'm not conflating the act - I'm conflating the reaction.

Talking about what *other* cyclists may or may not do at other times is completely irrelevant in the discussion, and it both trivialises and marginalises what happened to *these* cyclists, and why.

The only purpose of bringing it up is to imply that these kind of actions are *sometimes* deserved, or - god help us - even desired, & thus the victim is in fact responsible for the illegal behaviour of others.
posted by smoke at 10:21 PM on January 8, 2010


Flunkie:

I have, however, seen bikes on roads where I'm pretty confident that they don't belong.

Regulations about where cyclists can bike can actually be pretty non-intuitive. Even as someone who routinely bikes around town instead of driving, I was totally shocked to discover biking is permitted on one particular major road where I live (there's a confusing sign that seems to indicate that it's not, but it's actually referring to the sidewalk).

In any case, it's worth checking directly from the source. Here's, for instance, part of the FAQ from the New Jersey DMV about biking, which was completely different from what I would have expected:

Q. May I ride on major roadways?
A. In New Jersey, relatively few roads are closed to bicycle traffic. However, toll roads and some freeways, including interstates are closed to bicyclists. Some of these roads are accessible if you obtain a permit from the NJDOT.

The complete (!) list of roads where biking is prohibited is here. And even on interstates it appears that it is possible to get a permit to cycle along parts of them (I'm guessing this would be an option if required for your livelihood).

Obviously, I don't know what state you're in -- but my point is more that the law often permits bikes to be used in places that seem surprising.

Also, I'm glad you have the best interests of cyclists at heart, but I have to say that the example you're describing actually sounds like a relatively safe place for people to bike, especially in the daytime - if it's long and flat and straight then probably it's also easy for cars and bikes to see one another, which already goes a long way towards averting accidents. Riding in packs further improves visibility, and having few turn-offs means that there are fewer opportunities to be cut off. Plus, you seem to be doing all the right things, like maintaining a safe following distance until you can pass, etc.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:39 PM on January 8, 2010


The bicyclists did have the option to begin slowing down as the car was passing so that they maintained proper separation which is, in my opinion, their responsibility.

Hey, yeah, sure, that makes perfect sense -- if you totally ignore the driver's depraved intention to swerve in front of the cyclists and cut them off. Sorry to inform you that defensive driving, for cyclists as for drivers, will not provide some kind of magical protection against other humans who are trying to hurt you with a two-ton piece of metal and plastic. WTF.
posted by chinston at 10:44 PM on January 8, 2010


Bike lanes are a start, but they won't change much about the situation when people refuse to acknowledge that cyclists have as much of a right to the road as drivers.

That is the fundamental problem. Too many drivers, and mefites, refuse to acknowledge that cyclists actually have a right to the road. Cyclists are not mere guests on the road. They have equal rights, and responsibilities, to the cars.

This guy might be a complete asshole, he definitely did a rash, stupid thing, but five years in jail for this? That seems incredibly harsh. If he had inflicted these injuries with his fists he wouldn't go to jail at all.

Lack of remorse will max out your sentence every time. It is probably the most important sentencing factor of all.

In many states, you're required to do at least 10mph under the speed limit.

I don't think that is correct, but please correct me with citations.
posted by caddis at 10:46 PM on January 8, 2010


They should wall-to-wall speedbump the shit out of all the roads and make you all miserable...and safe.
posted by atomicmedia at 7:34 AM on January 9, 2010


They should wall-to-wall speedbump the shit out of all the roads and make you all miserable...and safe.
posted by atomicmedia at 10:34 AM


And suspensionless, with a sore butt.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 8:40 AM on January 9, 2010


Nah, I think I'd be OK. Le pneu Michelin boit l'obstacle.
posted by fixedgear at 8:49 AM on January 9, 2010


caddis: you can pretend that bicyclists have no responsibility to protect themselves but I am not buying it no matter what you call me.
posted by bz at 9:26 AM on January 9, 2010


bz: No offense - but did you read the article? In case you did, here are some other links: Dr. Thompson cut five feet in front of the two cyclists and then slammed on his brakes, coming to a complete stop. One of his victims is actually a biking coach. There was no way that his victims had a chance to slow down in time.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:53 AM on January 9, 2010


In fact it's a shame it wasn't pursued as attempted murder, as that's essentially what it was.
posted by Artw at 9:56 AM on January 9, 2010


Ah... en forme de poire, I had not read that. I apologize for ... well ... being an ass, then.

I had some experience with (what we still think was) an insurance scam where two vehicles boxed us in with the one in front cutting in suddenly and slamming on the brakes. Guess what? The driver of the car I was riding in got cited for "failure to maintain proper distance" or something like that and his insurance had to pay for the car we hit.
posted by bz at 10:58 AM on January 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


bz, thanks for owning up to that.
posted by chinston at 11:47 AM on January 9, 2010


Interestingly, Dr. Thompson may actually be guilty of attempted murder like Artw suggests.

If either bicycalist died, then Dr. Thompson would clearly be guilty of either third degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. It seems the only relevant mitigating circumstance that might reduce the charge from third degree murder to voluntary manslaughter is "provocation by an event which would cause a reasonable person to lose self-control," which obviously isn't the case here, and thus Dr. Thompson would be guilty of third degree murder.

If the same rules distinguishing murder from manslaughter differentiate their attempted variants, then he in-fact appears guilty of attempted murder, and his sentence could surely be lengthened. I'm imagine the prosecutors pursued only the assault charges mostly just because those were the easiest to prove thought.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:51 PM on January 9, 2010


yes, bz is cool. I wish everyone was like that.
posted by caddis at 5:20 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


oh, and not an ass. That was uncalled for anyway, and now proven wrong.
posted by caddis at 5:22 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


> They should wall-to-wall speedbump the shit out of all the roads and make you all miserable...and safe.

Nah. A cyclist can stand up on the pedals when going over speedbumps and take them at speed. Only time it's really an issue is if the speed bumps are so abrupt they need a curbhop, or if the bike's loaded with cargo.

There are a couple steep, short drives and roads here in town with speed bumps at the top, middle and bottom to slow down reckless driving. The cyclists can outpace the cars on them.
posted by ardgedee at 7:11 PM on January 9, 2010


OH BOY THIS AGAIN DID EVERYBODY REMEMBER TO BRING THEIR FAVORITE STRAW MAN
posted by tehloki at 11:48 PM on January 9, 2010


Best practice (and the law, in most places I'm familiar with) for bicycles is that if there's no bike lane and no maintained shoulder broad enough to separate you from traffic, you should use the whole lane.

Yes. Alas, it also induces utter rage in motorists when you do. Lose-lose.
posted by liketitanic at 12:01 AM on January 10, 2010



I wouldn't go so far, but as someone who falls lower on the transportation chain in San Francisco, as a pedestrian who has had too many close calls with bicyclists owning sidewalks and crosswalks and, in one case, a supermarket entrance, and as someone who has attempted to bike in SF and has been chided by other cyclists for taking the radical step of stopping at STOP signs, I'm not really surprised. Not to generalize, of course, but my impression is that for all the injustice cyclists claim at the hands of drivers, their seeming blindness to their own treatment of pedestrians must indicate that they view us as just drivers on the way to our cars.


This is interesting to me, troybob. You're right that cyclists here tend to be really aggressive and there isn't much excuse for it.

I do want to suggest something about being safe as a pedestrian--given the way cyclists behave. Usually someone on a bike has enough control to not hit you if your behavior is predictable. If you're walking, keep walking. If you're not, don't suddenly start. Let the bike move around you. I say that not to imply that it's your fault in any way--just that cyclists who are aggressive are also often very skilled, and thinking about it this way could help you be a more defensive pedestrian.

Also, y'all know Idaho has a rolling stop law that folks at the SF Bicycle Coalition would like to adopt here?
posted by liketitanic at 12:10 AM on January 10, 2010


ugh that was supposed to be a link to a rolling stop law thing.
posted by liketitanic at 12:10 AM on January 10, 2010


I dunno. Europe wasn't built for the car. Much of the U.S. - and certainly Los Angeles - was.


Tiny point on this - although most of the recent work on Los Angeles has certainly been with vehicular traffic in mind, LA wasn't built for the car - the Pacific Electric urban railroad played a key role in both developing sub- and exurban land and providing transport links to it. There isn't an immutable rule that LA has to be a car city, although it has been made more and more difficult for it not to be a car city over time. If oil scarcity goes as expected, every city will be looking at ways to provide for non-driving citizens, and LA will probably need to think about it as well. The Red Car at least provides some hints.

It's hard to say exactly what Europe was built for, because there's a lot of Europe, it's wildly heterogeneous in some ways and quite a bit of it was flattened in the middle of the 20th century. The culture of the "city bike" - stately, vertical single-gear cycles - works well in smallish, flat cities like Amsterdam and central Paris. In London the roads are in most places too narrow for the weight of rush-hour traffic, so bikes are a great choice for covering the relatively short distances most people have to cover in a working day - unfortunately, the overstrain on the rail infrastructure means that non-folding bicycles are forbidden on rush-hour trains, and even folding bicycles are often a source of profound resentment. Once in the city either by rail or pedal, cyclists are subject to considerable aggression, or just dangerous neglect, from motorists accustomed to fighting for every foot of progress. Which in turn makes cyclists cycle exclusively on or swerve unexpectedly onto narrow pavements, ride (not roll) through red lights when people are crossing and generally push problems down onto pedestrians.

But the problem here is not that there are too many cyclists, but that there aren't enough - private cars are a really stupid way of getting around London in most situations, and certainly at the time when most people are trying to get to work, when (Citroen-funded, so I don't know if there's an angle there) research calculated the average speed of a car as 7mph.

On topic - if this took place as reported, and as the doctor originally described it to police, I can't see any way that this man wasn't trying at the very least to terrorise the two cyclists with his car. If you are menacing someone with a gun, and in the course of pointing it at them and pulling the trigger almost all the way back you cause them to be shot, is that assault with a deadly weapon or attempted murder?
posted by DNye at 5:35 AM on January 10, 2010


LA wasn't built for the car

I have biked, bussed, driven and motorcycled in LA, 1987-88. The bus system was adequate for most purposes, although I did end up walking well over a mile once to get to a destination in Culver City...but then, that's Culver City for you. It did get extremely crowded on some of the routes, but the managers seemed to be good about putting the cool-headed drivers on those routes, and they did a good job of keeping the mood up.

When I was biking, I found that many of my shorter trips (under about five miles) were actually faster than driving, because I wasn't mired in the traffic, could take advantage of routes that weren't available to cars, and didn't have to worry about parking.

Driving drove me crazy. The level of assholism among LA drivers was incredible. I can recall being stuck in the center lane of a city street while my gas gauge crept down, unable to get over to the right lane to get into a gas station, because NO ONE would let me over. I went probably ten blocks in gridlock conditions until I finally was at the head of a line at a stop light, and then I had to drag race the car next to me to get over. Every single time I drove somewhere, I saw some sort of stupid or obnoxious driver behavior.

When I finally got a motorcycle, my stress level went way down. I swear that town is designed for motorcycles. You can slide through traffic, you don't have to worry about parking, distances that are inconvenient fora bicycle (especially during the summer, when the heat and air are toxic, and get worse the further from the coast you go) are easy. You have to watch out for cars, but they're really too slow to be a significant threat, as long as you are careful to regard them as hostile agents. If I ever was forced to move to LA, the first thing I'd do is get a motorcycle. I wouldn't waste my time or money on a car...if I needed one, there are rentals available.

The biggest problem with driving in LA is the sense of entitlement that seems so rampant there. For example, drivers seem to think they have a right to roll through stop signs, and will curse you if you make them stop. They seem to regard pedestrians as interlopers into the streets that they own, and the police take the same position. In order to reduce pedestrian accidents, they ran a crackdown on jaywalkers while I was there. Drivers hit pedestrians, and since the drivers are the privileged class, the pedestrians are given tickets. The crazy thing about that is that there were many streets where there are only crosswalks at every other intersection, so in order to cross legally, you might have to walk two blocks. But of course, the answer to that is, "Why are you walking? Why didn't you drive to the parking lot of your destination?" The more expensive the car, the greater the sense of entitlement, so I wasn't surprised to see that Thompson was driving an Infiniti. When I was there, the "get the fuck out of my way" car was the BMW.

His problem with the bicyclists boils down to that sense of entitlement. He didn't think they had a right to be in his way, and therefore he was going to make them suffer for it. It was a pervasive attitude when I was there, and I suspect it still is.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:46 PM on January 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


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