As a cyclist in Los Angeles, I encounter any number of hazards. Poorly maintained streets – I have skirted around potholes big enough to swallow both Artemis and I! Rude, crazy, and sometimes-just-plain-stupid drivers. Self-absorbed pedestrians who are not watching where they are going. Large debris like mattresses, old televisions, and even abandoned toilets. Yes, I have had to swerve to avoid running over a toilet… more than once.
One of the scariest hazards, however, are the rude, crazy, and just-plain-stupid drivers that come up behind you. When you’re coming towards me, I can see you, and I can adjust my cycling to accommodate your stupidity. But when you are behind me… well, that is a different horror movie. As much as I try to bike defensively, I don’t always register what is happening on my tail. And I have been scared into a ditch more than once by some *&%^ taking place back there.
Last night was a new one though.
Last night, I almost got run over by a cop.
Now, I know the word “cop” is a dirty one right now, and there is a lot of tension and heightened feelings towards law enforcement these days.
And I plan to join the fray.
I was bloody angry, I tell you. Here I am, biking along the right side of the street’s right lane, and I had just passed a small sedan of some sort, when out of nowhere, a cop car goes zooming past said sedan on the right… uh huh, where I was biking. He skimmed past me – and was so close, I felt my elbows brush against his windows – and continued flying down the street. No lights. No sirens. No indication he was in any kind of emergency situation at all.
Pardon the abruptness, but just another douche cop who didn’t want to sit in LA traffic.
Now, let me follow up this rather brusque statement with some anecdotal evidence. It is a very common practice for LAPD to zip around traffic, and for these guys to not even pretend they are responding to an emergency call. I have lost count of how many times I have sat at a red light and watched a police car turn on their lights long enough to run the light… then turn the lights off on the other side of the intersection! A few weeks back, I watched a cop pull out of the left lane of traffic, and shoot down the street on the wrong side of the road through the intersection, and then swerve back over to the right on the other side, cutting off two cars in the process. Again, no lights, no sirens. Nothing. Just a cop who was about 15 cars back from the intersection and didn’t want to wait.
Then, of course, there are the cops who park in the red zones outside Starbucks.
Anyway, I was angry. I was bloody angry, as I mentioned. Of anyone on the road, cops should be the best drivers. They should be the standard to which we strive to attain.
Which is doubly sad since cops should be the ones out there protecting cyclists. Right? Serve and protect? As part of that lovely motto, I would think that cops would be advocating for, and striving to maintain road safety.
Guess the joke’s on me.
I’ve nearly been run over too many times to remember since I started cycling, but that was the 2nd closest encounter I have ever had (see My First Bicycle Accident for the closest).
And this will sound horrible, but the thought crossed my mind last night: if I had been hit by that cop, and I had been injured or (stars forbid!) killed, would there have been protests?