Yesterday, on my ride home, I got into a bit of a scary situation.
I was coming up to a red light, slowing down, as people generally do when approaching red lights, when a gentleman in a BMW decided it was only right to honk and then pass within a foot of me at a stupidly high speed to get to this red light as quickly as possible.
Interestingly enough, I also made it to the red light and pulled up alongside the very eager man in the BMW. I leaned down, looked at him through the window, and shrugged. This is when things got interesting.
The gentleman got out of his car and, with as many expletives as possible, asked me if I "wanted to go" and told me to stay out of the road. I explained that legally I could ride in the road. His response? The law wouldn't matter when I was under his tires. When I mentioned the fact that the police would most likely agree with me in any such matter, he decided to put it another way:
"F*@k the cops, I'm f*@king rich!"
He then got back into his car. The minute the light turned green, he sped away, cutting off two other cars in the process.
(Not actually his car, but what I imagine it will look like when he gets his plates)
Maybe the guy was having a bad day. Maybe, as I suspect, his wife wasn't putting out. Maybe the man in the big-engined BMW was compensating for a much smaller, yet far more significant, problem.
Whatever the reason, his getting out of his car didn't really scare me. He didn't actually punch me. He didn't want to. And if he had, I would have gotten a rather sweet payday.
What does scare me is that some people actually think that bikes don't belong on the road. And more importantly, that some people are actually targeting bikes. Especially when it's a BMW with paper plates that would be nearly impossible to track down.
So what can we do? What option do we have? Sometimes it seems there's not much we can do beyond putting up with country folks like the gentleman in the BMW and doing our best to keep safe, even when there are drivers verbally threatening to leave us under their tires.
I'm not sure there's a whole lot to learn from this except be careful and be aware. There are drivers out there who make mistakes, who aren't looking for bikes, who hit bikes by accident. That is horrible enough. But there are also drivers aiming for us, looking for us, who would love to hit us, knock us over, leave us under their tires.
As bikers, I don't think we should be forced to get off the roads, but we do have to be safe. It's important to be aware that there are people like this gentleman out there, waiting for their opportunity to prove some unfounded point. And it's important to know, as a cyclist, how to be as safe as possible. For a little refresher, check out our video below:
So, if you're in LA and you see a guy in a BMW with paper plates who kind of looks like Steven Spielberg with Botox, be safe…and kick his ass for me, would you?