Saturday, July 19, 2008

"You are Being Detained for Reckless Driving**"

I love short training rides. What's great about a 60-70 mile training ride is that you leave at 7:00 a.m. and you get back before noon, liberating the whole second part of your day for whatever it is you want to do. Unless of course you have a run in with the law....

The headline of this post was the penultimate moment of this particular training ride; a ride that took us through the valley, out to Topanga Canyon, Down PCH Over Sepulveda and then back to Griffith Park. A ride that should have only taken 4 hours but instead took 8. Fortunately for me and the 5 other cyclists in our group it wasn't a statement that was directed at any of us. Despite that, we did witness it's utterance, and were involved in the transaction that led up to it having to be said. Here's what went down:

As we were descending Topanga Canyon on the beach side past Fernwood Canyon and with PCH in view Matt, Christian and I were breezed a bit close for comfort by an aggressive driver in a cream colored Mini Cooper. Both Matt and Christian were in front of me and as I looked up I could see that Matt had slammed on his brakes, and Christians trajectory was extreme and taking him off the road... thankfully into the parking lot of the furniture store on the right. The Mini Cooper was making an aggressive move across the inside left turn lane, right turn lane and into the parking lot, all without using his turn signal. To me it looked as though he was trying to get around Matt and Christian to make a right hand turn, had bumped Christian as he was veering right without his signal causing Christian's trajectory to be what I had described earlier. The guy skid stopped into the parking lot, rolled down his window yelling and cussing about something like "he hit my car" and promptly started to call the police. Ironically, the police were already there...kind of. After some yelling, and making his sense of entitlement, and lack of humanity or compassion really, really obvious the driver started yelling at Matt, who had been nearly pushed into the ditch on the side of the road. This is when Matt, a retired Glendale Police officer, said the greatest thing I've ever heard on a ride. "Sir... I want you to understand that you are being detained for Reckless Endangerment".

Oh!!! I nearly peed my pants with excitement when I heard him say that. I don't know if you've noticed this or not, but this blog is about cyclist's rights on the road; and well, this was just awesomeness to the 10th degree to me. Now, it's not like Matt whipped out some cuffs and wrestled the guy to the ground and sat on him while we waited for the CHP to show up...Nay, this moron thought he seriously had a case so he gladly waited for the CHP and he kept insisting that Christian "Assaulted him" and "Vandalized his car" and that he was being "Mobbed and Threatened" by us. Have you seen a group of cyclists before? Is there anything threatening about men in tights? As much as I might want there to be, there's not. I did see some damage on the guys car, but it was conducive to what would happen if a car hit you as it was merging across lanes and your foot was in the upstroke of your pedal stroke and your shoe made contact. I didn't see any contact but I would assume this is what happened by Christian's Trajectory.

What was appalling to me was that this guy kept insisting that he hadn't done anything wrong. He never apologized to Matt or Christian for nearly running them off the road and potentially doing serious bodily harm, he simply kept whining about his car and the 150 dollars worth of damage that would have to be buffed out. He kept saying he didn't see us, despite our brightly colored jerseys and position on the road and that he didn't do anything wrong, but out of the blue he was assaulted by Christian for no reason.

From talking to Matt, Tim and Juno after we had regrouped it became clear that this driver had breezed Tim and Juno farther up the road, and was accelerating when he got to Matt. From what I saw, and from what everyone described, it seems like this guy was trying to turn right and whipped around Matt and Christian, accelerating to make it between them and the cars that were in lanes ahead of us to make turns, and in so much nearly pushed the two of them off the road as he had to move quickly to the right to make his turn.

When the CHP got to the scene the guy gave his side, we all gave ours. Now, I'm no genius but I would assume that a law officer is going to listen when another law officer, retired or not, says "Here's what happened". And I'm glad if he did. Matt is a stand up guy, a straight shooter who seems to align himself with Honest Abe. When it came time to give my side of the story it really seemed to me like the CHP officer understood that what we had here was a case of an aggressive, reckless driver who was trying to push us off the road so he could get to his really important... whatever it was... probably hair appointment. This might not seem like that big of a deal, but what he did isn't just reckless endangerment, it's assault with a deadly weapon and if this guy really wants to take Christian to court over his paint, well, good luck with that gentle sir. I'm sure the jury will totally buy your story that a cyclist, all 180 pounds of man and bike, was totally threatening to you in your 3000 pound car that you used in an aggressive and combative manner with total disregard for human life.

I did get to talk with the lady who owns the furniture store, and she was extremely nice. Her wonderful and kind personality totally reminded me of my friend Stacey. When she said "I see people driving aggressively here all the time, It's scary. Just the other day there were 3 cyclists here, with a car and the police...everyone just needs to calm down and have some patience and compassion" I couldn't have agreed more.

My question to aggressive drivers is this: Are you saving lives? If your driving a Mini Cooper, or 100% of the other cars on the road that don't have sirens then the answer is a resounding NO. If the answer is no, then slow down and be patient. Despite what your over-inflated engine driven ego may tell you, your car, driveway, dinner, or hair appointment is not more important than a human life.

Here's the map of the ride. If you come across any cream colored Mini Coopers watch out, I'm willing to bet that guy's got a pretty big chip on his shoulder now since he "Didn't do anything wrong", and probably feels like he is being punished unfairly.

1 comment:

PAA said...

He was detained for "Reckless Driving" in violation of VC 23103(a) --- a misdemeanor. Full definition is: "A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving."

If he had INTENTIONALLY tried to hit us (but missed) he would have been detained for a violation of PC 664 / 245(a)(1) (a felony --- PC 664 is an attempted crime) which reads: "Any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm or by any means of force likely to produce great bodily injury shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment."