Wednesday night I attended the vigil for Milton Olin, a cyclist who was run down and killed by a distracted Sheriff’s Deputy. The next morning, I decided to do something I haven’t done in a long time: go for a purely recreational ride.
As I get older, and my number of close-calls gets larger, the more I worry that my luck’s about to run out and my death will be the next headline. But the vigil made me more determined than ever that cyclists should not cower. We must be allowed to ride in safety and peace.
I live in downtown, so I decided to take the safest ride I know of: the bike path along the L.A. River. But getting there is still undeniably precarious. I threaded the needle as best I could, navigated around a city vehicle parked in the bike lane on Main Street, cut back over to Alameda near Union Station, and continued towards Chinatown on my journey to the start of the path in Egret Park.
But as I passed the intersection of Spring and Bruno, just past the Homeboy Cafe, a tan SUV blew through the stop sign. I shouted “Oiy!” as loudly as I could and he stopped before hitting me, yelling out the window, “I saw you!”
I answered, “The stop sign is back there!” as I rode past him.
So no f-bombs, no cursing, nothing rude, just a criticism for blowing the stop sign.
He gunned his engine, overtook me, and threw a bottle at me.
The bottle hit me in the buttocks and bounced off. It must have been mostly empty, and plastic, so no damage done. But that’s an assault—anybody throwing a bottle at a cyclist is aware of the potential consequences.
I took off after the guy and easily got back in visual range of his license plate. In retrospect, I’m not sure what I was going to do with the number. But then I noticed something to my left.
An L.A. Sheriff’s car, parked on the other side of the street, with two deputies standing nearby.
“Officer! I need help! Help!” I shouted as loudly as I could. Read more…