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'Carmageddon' should inspire cyclists and drivers to get along

The Los Angeles Times: 'Carmageddon' should inspire cyclists and drivers to get along

July 15, 2011 | 1:16 pm

One upshot from this weekend's "Carmageddon" fiasco is that it might inspire people to buy a scooter or ride a bike, two modes of transportation that are better for commuters, roads conditions and the environment. Editorial writer Dan Turner recently made a convincing case for scooters -- ride one and save the world, he wrote -- but a campaign to get more people on bikes may prove trickier.

Between aggressive and distracted motorists and a palpable contempt for cyclists from Long Beach (where security guards didn't protect a cyclist from a thief) to Culver City (where an officer placed blame on cyclists and not the drunk driver who hit them), riding a bike in the city seems like a really dangerous idea.

Whenever we broach this topic, there are always readers who chime in that it's the cyclists who're to blame for unsafe road conditions. And they have a point: There are punk-rock cyclists out there blowing red lights, weaving in and out of cars or taking up an entire lane. But there are also frustrated motorists who drive like swerving, impatient maniacs when they have to share the road with someone on a bike and, God forbid, slow down. Both parties, acting like a red flag to a bull, are wrong. And, though I'm inclined to side with cyclists who aren't protected by the armor of machinery, it was all I could do the other day not to chase down a guy who was riding his bike against traffic, almost causing three consecutive collisions.

Daredevil cyclists are jerks; they're also the exception to the rule. As Hector Tobar recently wrote, Los Angeles needs an attitude adjustment regarding bicyclists. And we can all start by brushing up on the law. From the DMV's California Driver Handbook:

--Drivers: How to share the road with slower moving vehicles.

--Bicyclists: How to operate a bicycle on a roadway.