part 2, really. i drove into campus yesterday with a friend, as i have yet to learn how to get myself to campus in time to teach my 8 am lab section. i’m not thrilled about the prospect, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about driving on empty streets and pulling into an empty parking lot.
but this comes back to cycling.
i drove home with my friend last night in traffic. in all, it took me almost seventy minutes to make the drive from westwood back to koreatown; small irony in the fact that i drove almost exactly the route that i ride, and some measure of satisfaction in thinking that i can actually bike home in less than it takes me to drive in rush hour traffic. it was wyton to wilshire to carmelita to canon to santa monica to beverly near all the way through to wilton. taking my friend down to her place near 5th and wilton, we crossed 4th on van ness. i pointed out one block west where i’d nearly been hit last week and rolled my through the stop sign.
it was only some time later when i realized what i’d done had been almost exactly like that white BMW had done last week to me. i’d like to think i stopped long enough to really look both ways, but it was probably a pretty good california roll that took me through that intersection. and though i was looking, i wasn’t really looking. sixty minutes of rush hour traffic will do that to you, lull you into an easy expectation of cars and nothing else. i’d seen bikes on beverly – most without lights, without helmets – and had taken some measure of satisfaction in seeing them. see, i thought, look how conscious of people i am.
except i wasn’t really. i was conscious of cars because i had to be; i was conscious of cyclists because i had the luxury of looking. when i rolled that stop sign at van ness and 4th, i had the luxury of looking, but i didn’t feel the need to really look. of course, this cuts both ways: riding down that hill on 4th, i have a responsibility as a cyclist to make myself visible and to ride defensively, expecting that a car is going to do exactly as i did.
maybe just end with this: as easy as it is for me to gnash my teeth at a stupid driver, i can just as easily be that stupid driver.