Barbarella
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Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live. — Mark Twain

My first reaction upon seeing the girl and her bicycle on the hood of my car was shock. I stared forward in disbelief as she slid off, in action-movie slow motion. David was the one who ran to see if she was okay while I sat behind the wheel and tried to process what had happened. I put the car in park and went out to join David.

I made a quick assessment of her injuries: scraped left leg, likely to lead to bruising; sore left hand — she was cradling it. She was shaking — probably shock and adrenaline. Clearly she hadn’t expected to be colliding with a car; if she had, she probably would have been wearing a helmet. Jesus, I thought, she’s lucky she didn’t land on her head. She removed the earphones from both ears, the wire of which was attached to the iPod on the ground beside her.

“Are you okay?”

“Dude, you just went. You weren’t even looking,” she said. I bristled at this. I had looked. But that wasn’t important, not yet.

“Are you okay?” I repeated.

“My leg hurts,” she said. “Man, I ride here every day.”

“I bet it hurts,” I said. “It looks a little scraped, but no blood…that’s good.”

Channeling everything he could remember from episodes of House and Nurse Jackie, David triaged the girl, making sure she could bend her leg and wiggle her fingers until he was confident that, beyond being shaken and a bit scraped up, she was fine. Then, as if to comfort her, he said, “There don’t seem to be any scratches on your bike.”

As we tried to help her figure out what she wanted to do, the girl robo-called through her contact list. Each conversation began with her saying, “I was just hit by a car.” I bristled at this, too — my car had been hit by a cyclist.

The girl said she lived less than a mile away. I offered her a ride. When she asked how we’d carry her bike on the Mini, I said, “We live, like, a block away. David will go and change this car out for his Saab; your bike will fit in the back of that.”

After another phone call, she said, “I think I might want to go to the hospital.” It was decided that I would wait with her while David went to fetch the bigger car.

As David pulled away, I noted the dents and scratches on the hood of my Mini. I looked down and stared at the girl’s fuchsia-streaked dark hair and waited for her to get off the phone. When she was finished, I dropped my apologetic tone and said, “I just want you to know, I was stopped at this stop sign for a while. I looked to the right, and there was no one there. Then I looked to the left and played the ‘no, please, after you’ game with the car there, and when they waved me on, I had just begun to roll forward and there you were, out of nowhere. You had to be shooting off the sidewalk or else you wouldn’t have ended up on the left side of my hood when you were coming from the right. And you were riding on the wrong side of the street.”

“Oh, if you want to do this — if you want to talk about whose fault this is, I’ll call the police right now,” she said.

“That’s a good idea,” I said, and stepped away. I couldn’t help but overhear her talking to the dispatcher: “Yes, I was just hit by a car. On my bike. The lady is still here. Yes, she hit me.” I sighed and rolled my eyes.

A moment later, I winced at the wailing sirens. An ambulance approached from the right. A fire truck zoomed toward me from the left. The patrol cars — four of them — seemed to arrive from all directions. I stood on the curb, the front of my shirt drenched in sweat from an hour at the gym, in pants so Spandex it should be illegal for me to wear them in public. As uniformed officers, firefighters, and EMTs surged forth from their vehicles, I swallowed any concern I had for my appearance and snuck a glare at the girl seated on the curb a few feet away.

When David arrived with the Saab, I told him he had to return home and bring the Mini back — the cops would need to see the evidence. He furrowed his brow at the number of flashing lights and left to switch cars yet again.

Emergency personnel surrounded the girl, who by then had a heartbeat monitor on her left index finger. As they questioned her, she made another phone call. “Hello? I was just hit by a car…yeah.”

This time, it was the firefighters’ and paramedics’ turn to roll their eyes. “Miss, we’re trying to decide if you’re coming with us to the hospital. You need to hang up the phone,” said one in an exasperated tone.

The girl ended her call in a huff. Then she said that though she felt fine to walk, “I should probably go with you, you know, just to get checked out.”

David returned with the Mini as the ambulance drove away. An officer took him aside to obtain a statement. While David was being interviewed, another officer approached me. “You know this is not your fault, right?” I looked at him, puzzled. “No one told you that yet? Well, don’t worry, this is not your fault.”

Two officers convened to my left to discuss the incident report. They went over all the girl’s violations (at least three), and one of them even mentioned the word “misdemeanor.” For a moment, I felt bad for her. She probably didn’t realize all the laws she was breaking or she wouldn’t have told the cops, “I ride this way five days a week.” And she was going to be floored when she received the ambulance and emergency-room bills, possibly in addition to a citation for her violations.

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Comments

Lisahofman Feb. 2, 2011 @ 12:30 p.m.

You are awesome. Great article. I enjoy reading everything you write. hopefully the woman will buy herself a helmet.

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Ashagalindo Feb. 2, 2011 @ 1:25 p.m.

This reminded me of the time I was hit by a car on my bike when I was 15. The part that stuck out was the fact that she was wearing headphones and presumably listening to music at the time. I was too and it's precisely the reason I didn't hear or pay attention to the teenager driving his Mom's car down my usually deserted block. It was totally my fault and it's a good thing I wasn't more seriously injured than a scrape and bruise (I too wasn't wearing a helmet). I think many bike riders feel they should be treated with the same care as pedestrians, when they are NOT pedestrians. They are not quite motorists but they can only expect as much attention as they give to the vehicles around them. If they're not paying attention, or protecting themselves, or observing the rules of the road they shouldn't see a situation like this one as an 'accident'. It was sort of inevitable.

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angelp Feb. 2, 2011 @ 1:51 p.m.

Its funny I remember when i was in grade school I hit a parked car on my bike. I was reading something riding with no hands and SMACK right into the back of a parked pick up truck. Goes to show why you should never read and peddle at the same time. Good Story, hows your Mini??

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MsGrant Feb. 2, 2011 @ 4:14 p.m.

Riding a bike with earbuds is extremely stupid - no helmet is insane.

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Javajoe25 Feb. 3, 2011 @ 10:01 a.m.

Barbarella,

I think as long as the cyclist doesn't get a lawyer you will be fine.

The fact that she hit you as opposed to you hitting her may not actually be the critical factor. In order for her to hit your car, you had to be over the white line and in the crosswalk area. The stop signs are there to control auto traffic, not pedestrians or other wheelers on the sidewalks (skateboarders, skaters, etc.) Think about it: a pedestrian, or a person with a baby carriage, or a blade skater does not have to stop at a crosswalk if there are stop signs to stop the auto traffic. The signs are there to control those in cars, not the other way around.

And I don't believe there is a rule about which way traffic must be moving on the sidewalks. Unlike the road, there is no right way and wrong way on sidewalks; they go both ways.

The stop signs require motorists to stop and look all ways before proceeding. The fact that another driver at the intersection gave you the polite "you-go" does not mean you then get to ignore the rules and proceed based on the knowledge and authority of that other driver.

In fact, the little video you posted provides proof of you doing exactly that. Remember what they say about dealing with motorcycles: "Look both ways, then look again." That's because bikes can quickly come up on you after you've looked in their direction but before you begin entering the roadway. That what it sounds like happened in your case, although based on what I see in your video, I can't imagine how that lady could have been on that sidewalk, coming toward that intersection, so fast that she was not in your view when you looked in that direction, but hit your car before you traversed the cross walk. And then, to hit your car hard enough to fly over the hood and crash onto the left side, makes me think there must be some sign of impact on the right side of your car. Unless she didn't hit the right side exactly, but in fact hit your car on the right side of your front bumper.

I wouldn't worry about it; I'm sure a half decent insurance investigator will clear up that question very quickly. In fact, I wouldn't worry about any of this. The woman deserves to pay the tab simply based on her riding with buds in her ears. That is just plain dumb. Plus, she is probably just some plebe who will be sweating the ambulance and fire department bills that she's going to get.

She sounds like someone who should not be out riding in traffic like the pro's. There are people who have $500 bikes and know exactly what their are doing, and what they should be doing when riding on the streets. Then there are those who are just out to get some exercise. They wouldn't know how to use 21 gears if they had them. They really should ride on the sidewalk. It would be safer for all of us. They are more like kids. Kids are so unpredictable. You have to watch out for everything they do.

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 3, 2011 @ 11:26 a.m.

Java, I had stopped, and was following the law. Even if the cyclist was on the correct side of the road, she would have to obey the stop sign laws and wait for other who had stopped first to go. Here is a list of the California Vehicle Codes she violated:

CVC 21200 Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway or any paved shoulder has all the rights and is subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle (e.g., must stop at stop signs, red lights, yield to emergency vehicles, and etc.) CVC 21202 (A) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway CVC 21650.1 A bicycle operated on a roadway, or the shoulder of a highway, shall be operated in the same direction as vehicles are required to be driven upon the roadway. CVC 27400 No person operating any vehicle, including a bicycle shall wear any headset covering, or any earplugs in, both ears. §84.09 Bicycle Riding Restricted: (a) No person shall operate a bicycle upon any sidewalk fronting any commercial business establishment unless official signs are posted authorizing such use. (b, c, and d are of the same vein).

There is not ONE vehicle code I violated. I stopped, I looked both ways (even David didn't see her coming), I began to accelerate. Even if she gets a lawyer, girl doesn't have a chance at demonstrating she wasn't negligent here. I'm still waiting for a copy of the police report.

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david Feb. 3, 2011 @ 11:31 a.m.

Hi Joe,

David here. We had been stopped at the stop sign -- a complete dead stop -- behind the line and not in the crosswalk, for at least 8-10 full seconds as we played the "no please, after you" game with the other car. So we had definitely complied with all traffic laws.

Both Barbarella and I had been looking both ways. With a car parked near the corner, that sidewalk makes a somewhat blind intersection with the road. Anyone coming off that sidewalk into the intersection needs to be especially cautious. With the velocity that the girl hit our car it was clear that she had just zoomed off the sidewalk into the street without stopping. She could not have possibly been going as fast if she had stopped at the crosswalk. (no marks on the right side of the car).

Furthermore, if she HAD stopped, she would have seen our car sitting there, already at a complete stop, and would have known to wait for us to go.

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Javajoe25 Feb. 3, 2011 @ 12:31 p.m.

Interesting. Barb, I don't think the laws referring to bicycles on the roadways or shoulder apply here as that is not the case. She does clearly appear to be in the wrong with the earbuds and I'm actually happy about that. I don't like people wearing earbuds anytime they are in motion by any means. As for biking in front of commercial businesses, I'm not sure what that particular stretch of Park Blvd. has there, on that side.

Dave, I reviewed the video and it still appears to me that there is considerable visibility to the right, down that sidewalk. I also noticed the red curbing, probably there to prevent cars from parking where they would block a driver's view. Also, it appears that there is a white horizontal line before the crosswalk line, which if I'm interpreting these lines correctly, requires a driver to come to a stop a bit before the crosswalk. Have I got that right?

The only thing I do see is a telephone pole which could possibly block the view of someone coming up that sidewalk, but if that person was in motion, a glance of more than a second would be sufficient for them to come into view.

I don't know...I'm not wishing you guys harm on this one, it's just that based on Barb's video, the last thing she said she did was acknowledge the polite driver's go-ahead, and then accelerate, which means looking right one more time was something she didn't do. The fact that this lady crashed into your car clearly shows she was not paying attention to what was dead ahead, or going too fast to brake in time. And again, the stop signs are there to require vehicular traffic to come to a halt, to allow for pedestrians and others to safely cross. So, the question really comes down to whether or not your car was "in" the crosswalk, or stopped in front of it, behind that horizontal line.

Like I said earlier, I wouldn't worry about it. If she were the lawyering kind she would have had the cops taking photos and making a big stink about where the point of impact actually occurred. She probably was so shook up by the whole thing she wasn't thinking about the details that make or break a case like this.

No, if she wanted to make a case, the only thing she would have to go on is Barb's video, and not so much for what it shows, because that is all still there and anyone can go see for themselves. No, it's more for what she says. I think that could be a problem.

I wish you luck with it. I think the earbuds will sink her case should she even try to make one.

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 3, 2011 @ 4:51 p.m.

Just got the police report. Confirms what I suspected. Conclusion - cyclist at fault, three of the 5 vehicle codes I mentioned are cited on the report.

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XjihadX Feb. 3, 2011 @ 5:14 p.m.

I laughed at the conservative and biased assassination journalism of this article. You wrote one full page for this, how about we find the girl and let her write a one page rebuttal on how the events went down?

There are deeper issues that should have been addressed: active lifestyles of cyclists, the destructive nature of cars, and the difficulties of bike/car coexistence in high-density city areas.

When the accident happened, it's pretty clear that you were already planning your story, painting out a "stupid chick" who calls the police on herself, and being an idiot with her ipod and constant cellphone usage.

The worst of all possible people/cyclists one could encounter.

But, hey, most people wont see through your writing, and it was an interesting story none the less, so good job seuring your job as a writer...But, just remember--

--this is conservative assassination journalism against the youthful cycling community.

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 3, 2011 @ 5:40 p.m.

@XjihadX, for your hard-hitting journalistic article about cycling in San Diego, see here: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20... (it was the cover feature last month). For information on what happens to me in my entertainment memoir column called DIARY of a Diva, check back here. ;)

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Javajoe25 Feb. 3, 2011 @ 6:47 p.m.

I did look at your video again and I noticed you're driving a Mini Cooper, yes? Nice little car, but they do ride low. I would think with a car riding that low, a cyclist coming fast enough to hit hard enough to fly over your hood, and yet, your car shows nothing on the right side, the point of maximum impact--the spot that would have taken the hardest hit.

Aaagh! Who cares? The main thing is you've got the police report and what was it? Three violations? If she broke them, she broke them and that is all it takes.

I wouldn't be surprised if they checked her blood for alcohol or drugs. I assume they did the same with you just to eliminate any questions about that?

But hey, you've got your witness, your husband David, and who does this lady have?

Besides, your insurance company is working on your behalf and will determine who was at fault. She was on a bike--with no insurance I'm sure. So there's no worry about anyone trying to make a case on her behalf.

Nah, she's toast. I wouldn't give it a thought. Just out of curiosity, do any of the citations speak specifically to her entering the crosswalk in violation of the law? Because either she entered that crosswalk while your car was in it, or you entered the crosswalk when she was about to enter it. As they say in Texas: "Somebody done somebody wrong."

I drove that intersection today on my way to Henry's, and to be honest, I don't see how you could not have seen her coming up that sidewalk way before she reached it. She would have had to be moving at Lance Armstrong speed to not be in your view when you looked down that way, and yet hit your car when you proceeded through the crosswalk. I mean, she was either close enough for you to see her, or she was so far away that you didn't see her when you looked.

What I think may have happened, Barb, is that you did look down in her direction, but you didn't see her, or you did see her but she was too far down the sidewalk to represent any problem. Then you turned your attention to that other driver, the "you go" guy. But maybe it was more of "You go; no, you go; no really, it's okay, please go," which is a very polite and considerate exchange between two drivers, but one that takes a little bit of time. Maybe even enough time for that biker to have reached the corner and go full out to cross the street and in that split second of "Okay, I'll go," and that lady pumping her pedals to take advantage of the stopped car (yours) at the intersection, she just kept moving thinking she had the right of way. I mean, she didn't go through a red light; and there was no stop sign facing her. You can see how something like this could happen.

So, who is at fault? The answer to that question is as elusive as finding the legal interpretation of the word, "reasonable." A word that provides more work for lawyers than any other in the English language. Of course, that's not counting the most elusive of all: the truth.

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 3, 2011 @ 6:52 p.m.

Are you kidding me, Joe? The answer to "who is at fault," was taken care of by the many officers on the scene. One even came up to me to tell me right there, one I hadn't spoken to, nor had David, this officer had ONLY spoken to the cyclist, and after only speaking to the cyclist, he had determined she was at fault. Dude. ;)

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david Feb. 3, 2011 @ 7:10 p.m.

Joe,

I think you're really obsessing over this a bit more than necessary. It was really very clear cut. ...so just put your hands in the air and step away from the Columbo reruns. ;)

Yes, there is a red painted section of curb there -- it is about 8 feet long. If a car is parked in the first legal space, and your car is stopped at the STOP line painted on the road, then the parked car (in combination with the telephone pole and the corner of the building) will limit your visibility of a bicycle flying off the sidewalk, especially if one is sitting in a low car such as a Mini.

The intersection is a 4-way stop. The police report says that the girl said that she saw us stopped at the intersection, but that she chose to ride in front of us. She should have stopped but chose not to. Unfortunate for everyone. Fortunately, neither the girl nor her bike were particularly injured. It is, however, a drag that we now have to deal with the hassle of police reports, insurance companies, body repair shops and rental cars.

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Frederick Simson Feb. 3, 2011 @ 7:16 p.m.

Welcome to adulthood. Your baptism by bicycle was a relatively mild interaction. Rest assured she's terrorizing the roadways now; actually buying a helmet? Not a chance. Ditto even acknowledging there ARE laws that apply to bicycles, or even her. You, conservatively biased??? Now I am laughing.

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Javajoe25 Feb. 3, 2011 @ 8:14 p.m.

Whoa, Guys! Don't confuse healthy skepticism and an appetite for the truth as an obsession. Chill. We're just talking here.

Barb, just because the cops say it's so, does not necessarily make it so. That's why we have courts, lawyers and processes designed to prove as best as we can, what actually happened. As long as you've brought it up, would you care to share exactly what it was that the cop said put the women in the wrong? Because to be frank, I haven't read a word yet that states specifically what it was that the women did wrong. Granted, smashing into your car is wrong, but the question is not what happened, but why?

David, you say the woman said she saw your car stopped and chose to drive in front of it. Well, isn't that why cars are required to stop at crosswalks; To allow for pedestrians and others to cross the street? And how is it possible that she saw your car stopped at the crosswalk, but while sitting there, you did not see her? Because I now really do wonder, if she saw your car stopped at the crosswalk and decided to ride in front of your car, then your had to move your car forward to be in her path. You know, these crosswalks only work if everyone does what they are supposed to do. I mean, I admit, if it were me, I too would be more concerned about that other car in the intersection and what it is going to do, considering a car crash is a very serious event. But I still would carefully look for any other traffic, cars or people, coming from either side of me before I proceed. Four-way stops are challenging. There are laws that prevail, but sometimes another driver, with the best of intentions, screws things up with this, "No, you go!" routine. And then even if you decipher that jazz, you still have to be careful of walkers and bikers and who the hell knows what that have shown up while the brief exchange between you and the other driver was going on.

As for Columbo, I do remember that ratty rain coat he always wore. But truth be told, I liked Robert Blake in "Baretta." He had that crazy parrot or cockateil or whatever it was, that always flew off when it wasn't supposed to. And he a.lways had that cigarette that he never lit. Baretta had style. Too bad Blake turned out to be a whacked out killer

No, your situation is interesting and I just see enough wiggle room in it to have some fun, but we don't really have the cast of characters we would need to go Hollywood with it.

As for dealing with insurance, car rentals, etc., been there, done that. I had a lunatic bash my car windows because I was sleeping with his ex. Some guys have no appreciation for true (if not temporary) love.

Hope I didn't raise your blood pressure or anything, and as I said earlier, I hope this goes well for you. I actually like you guys, even if Barbarella is an uptight, slightly fascist, Gen-X retro Yuppie. I enjoy reading about your efforts to live normal lives. And David, you definitely are the Yang to her Yin. Be happy.

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Robert Hagen Feb. 3, 2011 @ 10:56 p.m.

What I see here is a little fuzzy in the sense that the specifics of the incident have not been laid out that clearly. I mean this is an intersection incident, I'm pretty sure, and that's a sequence of events scenario.

Off the bat, the bicyclist is at fault, and the worse for that.

You figure, if a bicyclist manages to get run into by a car that is just taking off, the negligence is with the bicyclist.

Thats not fatal. Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes, things get dinged. Its a learning experience.

As far as the victim of the accident, the bicyclist, its only natural that shes going to get on her cell phone and connect with people after an accident. People do that now.

As a pretty much expert on traffic, considering my 2008 published letter in the L.A. Times explaining the best way to drive out of freeway stoppage, ahem, and as a bicycle commuter in San Diego, I'm a little taken aback- okay?

Diva, you didn't describe the scene so well that I can make a forensic analysis on what happened. From what I gather, the bicyclist shot through the intersection, as you made a right turn.

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 4, 2011 @ 7:33 a.m.

@scaleman, Yeah, I get a chuckle any time I see my name that close to the word "conservative." ;)

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Robert Hagen Feb. 4, 2011 @ 11:36 a.m.

I've been reviewing the breakdown on this accident, and heres where I come down. Bicyclists, and remember, I'm an everyday bicycle commuter, I don't even own a car, again bicyclists, are responsible for themselves to get through the intersection.

You cannot enter an intersection safely based upon the expectation that the cars in the intersection have seen you. Unless you have a light and traffic speed momentum, right turners and potential right turners in an intersection preclude a bike from safely just rolling through an intersection in a crosswalk. You have to stop and look both ways before crossing the street as a pedestrian or pedestrian speed level bicycle.

Everyone should have learned that in kindergarten. I rode more miles a year on city streets than probably 90 percent of bicyclists, and as for those that clock more miles, they often do it on more open roadways at higher speed. I ride in all the most congested areas, including TJ, where I live.

The bicyclist is clearly at fault here, and its bullshit to argue an intersection love tap by a car that was at a standing stop immediately prior to the collision. This as evidenced by the lack of injury and damage. Both vehicles were travelling at a low speeds. Right? Everyone got that?

Okay, what vehicle is designed for and operated at such speeds? Bicycles.

Cars are not out to hit us. Okay?

I, personally, use anything I can to screen myself from the nose of a car. I won't just ride by a car appearing to intend a right turn without making eye contact with the driver. Its a slower process, to be sure.

Its just that, and heres the coup de grace, the right turner scenario at play here is, without a shadow of a doubt, the number one hitch in low speed intersection traversals. On a bike, and walking, if I'm on the right side of the road entering an intersection, I look behind me, to keep from getting run over from behind by a right turner.

As a bicyclist, I don't carry insurance, it wouldn't be worth it. I have to stay out of accidents, period.

On the sidewalk, I endeavour to ride behind cars that are pulling out, even though I technically have right of way to ride in front and make them wait for me. Its not courtesy, its safety.

Finally, I think San Diego Critical Mass should start to redefine itself somewhat. I ride my bicycle to make money, so I wont be homeless. The last thing I want to do is antagonize drivers, or the public at large. Maybe the Critical Mass method was good when biking was coming up, but now, its behind the times. I was born in SoCal, and learned to ride a bike here, and I dont give a f%&k what some European has to say about how to do it. Our roads are the best, most trick in the world, and we have the most cars around. Co-existing with cars should be our emphasis, and not the other way around. Bike safety really justs comes down to this- watch out for cars.

So I think I pretty much have an idea

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Robert Hagen Feb. 4, 2011 @ 11:45 a.m.

Oh, Diva, don't let me forget to mention that Julieta Venegas is in town tonight, playing 4th & B. The word is shes going to get down on her accordion. Heres a tease:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wRnvxi4KuQ&feature=related

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KoalaGoodDay Feb. 4, 2011 @ 5:21 p.m.

Barb, I would be willing to bet "Stupid Chick" rides with the Critical Mass group mentioned in the "Pedaling Diego: San Diego's Growing Bicycle Mania" story. Sorry for your experience, but at least it happened while that bike story and the many comments regarding irresponsible bicyclists that followed, are still somewhat fresh in our minds.

Stupid Chick is indeed lucky to be alive. Unfortunatly she is a representative of many of the self-righteous bicyclists who refuse to abide by the rules of the road. I take solace in knowing this woman took the bullet for her ilk and will indeed be paying for the trouble her negligence has caused. I'm hoping it's a wake-up call for other irrespoonsible bicyclists.

Glad you and David were't hurt. Sorry about the hassles you have to go through because of Stupid Chick.

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msanthropist Feb. 5, 2011 @ 1:30 p.m.

The first thing I said to my husband when I tried to read Barbarella's column this week for the first time, (it took me several attempts to get through it due to my racing heart rate and elevated blood pressure), was “why does it not surprise me that though she was in an accident involving a bicycle rider colliding with her car, she is put out and rolling her eyes and sighing, saying ‘the stupid chick’ is lucky…’” Despite the details of the accident, can there possibly be a more self-centered, self-involved, unattractive, entitled bitch than Barbarella? I often wonder what kind of man David must be to not only put up with this neurotic, spoiled princess, but to have actually married her, despite his initial reticence, until I remember her early allusions to S&M and her being a dominatrix, and I realize he’s simply gotta be a masochist. (Could you just hear my audible sigh? It was accompanied by an exaggerated eye roll…) I just really feel sorry for her poor family.

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Twister Feb. 5, 2011 @ 5:43 p.m.

It's interesting that most of the comments on your "side" were pretty well-reasoned, while those on the other "side" were a bit scary in their nuttiness. I wasn't there, so don't have any way of knowing who was at fault, or to what degree there might have been contributory negligence.

The personalities and feelings of the parties are not where the public service aspects of journalism should be. The story serves to point out principles to live by, and it, and the comments, do a reasonably good job of doing that--as far as they go.

Like most of us I ride and I drive. This morning, I pulled to a stop at Park Boulevard, eastbound on Madison, in the left-turn lane. There were vehicles stopping from all directions, and the yield to right-hand traffic rule was working fine. Just as it was my turn to move, a bicycle shot through the intersection. Luckily, I had not quite entered the intersection, but his busting the stop sign screwed up the yield pattern, a situation that introduces confusion about the right-of-way, a common cause of accidents. The bike would have been totaled and the cyclist dead, as my truck would have been like a steel block wall, and his helmet and bike togs would have done him zero good at the estimated 20-30 miles per hour at which this gentleman busted the intersection. I ride this street and have gone through this intersection every possible direction. Sight distance is short, and busting the stop sign like that would have ruined at least two lives--him dead, me in dread, for the rest of my life. I don't care who's at fault; I just don't want to be the one involved when some arrogant damned fool decides that the universe is centered upon him. But this kind of incident is so frequent that it no longer raises my blood pressure up (thanks in part to Beta-blockers and rat poison), but a weaker heart could stop when startled; in that case, the cyclist would be a murderer, not just a forty-year-old spoiled brat who places a little inconvenience to him above the risk of screwing up traffic flow or causing an accident while he rode on . . .

Bicyclists and pedestrians (and even motorcyclists) need to pay attention to the losing game they are playing, but the wags who already have spoken here are quite right—they won’t. Part of their stupidity is that their perspective is near-perfect; that of motor vehicle drivers is heavily compromised—there are obstructions to view that can cover them up, even though they can see the vehicle quite well. Common courtesy means that eye-contact should be established with any driver in view.

As for "Critical Mass," just drop the "M". One way of helping to put the City into the black again would be for the Black-and-White’s to ticket them all for every violation instead of facilitating their insanity.

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 6, 2011 @ 10:05 a.m.

@msanthropist I can see how one, not knowing me, might surmise from my column, which is about my life, from my point of view, that I am "self-centered" and "self-involved." Certainly "neurotic," and definitely, thanks to my exceptional man, "spoiled." But "unattractive?" Now you're just throwing pot-shots. ;)

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msanthropist Feb. 6, 2011 @ 11:15 a.m.

I've regretted this comment since I posted it because it was unduly harsh, and cast unwarranted aspersions on poor David. For those elements of my post, I apologize to both of you. However, to respond to your comment and to clarify, aesthetically speaking your appearance is fine, what I referred to was unattractive in the sense of "beauty is as beauty does." Similarly, by spoiled I meant you seem to be a classic example of how over-indulgence by well-intended parents in an attempt to install positive self-esteem, no matter what, can go horribly wrong. What I find particularly troublesome is your outspoken, strong dislike for children (though you tolerate your nieces and nephews in carefully measured doses), and your attitude that you are simply too bitchen, and too fabulous to be expected to honor such banal and bourgeois traditions as shared family holidays and birthdays. I see you as a classic example of what is wrong with America's emphasis on individualistic values and our addiction to instant-gratification, over collectivist values and making decisions based on what is best for humanity, now and generations into the future. The "breeders" you so vehemently despise, are necessary for the perpetuation of the species. You're welcome.

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NatePoole Feb. 7, 2011 @ 8:49 p.m.

You should more than regret your comment. You should be ashamed of yourself. Your personal attack went far beyond the scope of this article. I had to wonder what was wrong with you, but then I reached the end of your last post. I didn't wonder anymore. You are morally confused and your hostility makes you a truly frightening person.

How do you turn this into an attack on America and individualism? Individualism is the philosophy that has made this nation the greatest in history--a nation of truly free individuals made so by individual rights coupled with individual responsibilities. Individualism has no connection with "addiction to instant gratification." I submit collectivist ideals have done more to advance that social flaw than individualism ever could; entitlement is the key word.

Members of a collective have no individual rights or responsibilities, they have only entitlements and obligations. Members of a collective are reduced to the status of farm animals, well-fed slaves of the greater good. I suggest you read anything by Aldous Huxley or George Orwell or Ayn Rand.

As long as I and the many many others like me are around to fight for our own freedom, America will never fully succumb to the disease of collectivism. If you are committed to living as a true collectivist, I suggest you move to a new country. You might try Venezuela or Iran or Cuba. Those are some shining examples of collectivism in practice.

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 6, 2011 @ 11:48 a.m.

What? Sigh. Msanthropist, I am not vehemently opposed to people having children, as evidenced by my friends and family, whom I continue to love and admire. I AM opposed to parents who don't properly discipline their children, who don't teach their children good manners, and who feel that because they have children they are somehow given a free pass to inflict their children upon me in any social situation.

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TheJeep Feb. 6, 2011 @ 12:34 p.m.

Wasn't going to comment anymore, but this is unique.

First off, glad that apparently no one one was seriously injured.

Second, I question the wisdom of publishing this piece, the reason being that just because a police report appears to absolve a person of responsibility, it doesn't mean it will hold up in court.

I have seen attorneys rip a police report to shreds in court.

No one wants to feel like they accidentally caused injury to another person - the natural thing is to say "It's not my fault".

Most collisions are usually a mixture of responsibility - say 80/20 or 50/50. Rarely is it 100/0. I would bet that is the case here, but the only way to know for sure is if the thing goes to court.

That's what insurance investigators are paid to determine. And despite what the police report says, it's still an open question.

Third - I find the use of the term "Stupid chick" incredibly condescending, elitist, and generally just a really lousy way to refer to this person.

Using that term just implies that Barb is very angry that this person had the unbelievably bad manners to collide with Barb's car.

Accidents happen. It how we deal with them that gives people clues to who we really are.

I'm not sure using a weekly column to berate someone else that was involved with you in an accident is the wisest use of your voice.

But as we all know, and as you keep reminding us, it is "YOUR" voice.

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 6, 2011 @ 12:57 p.m.

I still maintain that anyone who rides a bicycle in the city, without a helmet, going the wrong way, with music blasting into both ears, is STUPID.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 6, 2011 @ 3:30 p.m.

I still maintain that anyone who rides a bicycle in the city, without a helmet, going the wrong way, with music blasting into both ears, is STUPID.

===

I plead the 5th.....

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Founder Feb. 6, 2011 @ 10:41 p.m.

Good thing I don't listen to music when I ride....

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 6, 2011 @ 11:20 p.m.

LOL...I ride without a helmet and break traffic laws like a crazy, but I do not listen to music!

You need sight and hearing for maximum safety.

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MsGrant Feb. 6, 2011 @ 1:16 p.m.

I wasn't going to drop into this hornet's nest, but these comments are REALLY mean-spirited. I get the feeling that if this piece had been written by a guy, and not a self-professed diva (it's Diary of Diva, not Diary of a Diaper-bag), people would be much more supportive. I smell schadenfreude. No one likes a success story.

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TheJeep Feb. 6, 2011 @ 6 p.m.

Here's a thought.

The woman may be riding a bike because she cannot afford a car. And she may not be able to afford a helmet (Forty bucks at Dick's sporting goods.)

Barb,for some people,$40 bucks is a week's worth of groceries.

I know that is had to fathom for some people, especially if they spend that much on a bottle of wine, but it is true.

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MsGrant Feb. 6, 2011 @ 6:12 p.m.

TheJeep - three bucks at a yard sale or Goodwill. I still buy replacement carafes for my coffee pot at Goodwill. You would be shocked at the mundane, life-saving things folks donate. Here's a thought - work harder. The finer things in life don't just present themselves. There is an old saying - "Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas Edison said this. He eschewed bitterness.

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 6, 2011 @ 7:42 p.m.

Thank you, MsGrant. Couldn't have said it better. Side note, it costs nothing to FOLLOW the TRAFFIC LAWS, as cyclists are expected to.

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Founder Feb. 6, 2011 @ 10:40 p.m.

Barbarella Something that came to mind after reading the your story and the comments:

It was a good thing you & David did not give her a ride home, because then the Police would have not been called and she could have claimed anything or worse yet, imagine if David was alone and gave her a ride home...

BTW: I've seen folks wander around parking lots, especially at supermarkets, that tend to step behind vehicles that are backing up, one after another! I now realize that it is a great way for them to make some quick money, as most folks would rather pay some "hush" money than to report the incident... I bet your insurance company will check to see if the bicyclist has been involved in any other "accidents" for just that reason...

As for your poor Mini, if you want the name of a truly great repair shop, email me, as I don't want to be accused of advertising by some of your readers!

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David Dodd Feb. 6, 2011 @ 11:48 p.m.

I'll tell you what: Anyone that doesn't wear a helmet riding a bike is taking their lives into their own hands. Even if they ride on the correct side of the road and obey traffic laws. When 9/11 happened, after my six-hour wait to cross the border the day after, I bought an inexpensive bike in the U.S. AND A HELMET. I began biking to work to avoid the line (this worked for about a year, until the Federal Government put an end to riding in traffic lanes). At the time, the place where I worked, the President and owner of the company commended me for wearing a damned helmet. He should know. Can't say currently, but he was a triathlete that competed in Iron Man for many years.

I'm not even going to get into the ipod stuff, there were very few people I ever supervised that I permitted to wear headphones. They had to be entirely stationary and free from any danger that would require a verbal warning, otherwise, radios were good with me. I'm not getting the negative comments about this column either.

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TheJeep Feb. 7, 2011 @ 7 a.m.

Um, all I am saying is that this whole column is an ill-advised attempt at self-justification, and here is why.

There was an injury accident between a car and a bike that occurred. A police report was taken. Even though all laws appear to have been followed regarding reporting the accident, and the police report appears to offer exoneration, anyone who has ever involved in an insurance settlement will tell you that does not matter.

What does matter is that the column is now a matter of public record. While it doesn't carry anywhere near the official weight of a deposition, it's still pretty significant.

Any reasonable person can tell that there was no intent to injure. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, because life is not fair.

But calling the other person involved in the accident "Stupid" in print, even though you didn't identify her by name, falls under the heading of "What goes around, comes around" in my book.

All I'm saying is that if I had been your editor (assuming you have one), I would have asked you "Are you sure you really want to run this column?" And then I would have laid out a few scenarios for you illustrating why running this piece as written here is maybe not such a good idea.

And I would have reminded you that once it is posted and run, you can't take it back.

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david Feb. 7, 2011 @ 7:44 a.m.

If the kid could afford an iPod, a cellphone, and a fancy mountain bike, she probably could have scored a helmet if she wanted.

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 7, 2011 @ 7:56 a.m.

Jeep, I'm fine standing by my claim of the other party's stupidity in a court of law. Given the facts, any right-minded judge would agree with me. ;)

I was being honest in relaying exactly what I thought in the heat of the moment, which was, "Stupid chick's lucky she didn't kill herself." I truly hope she trades in her iPod for a helmet, for her own sake. I have two friends who sustained brain injuries in bike accidents, and they were wearing helmets. They'd be dead if they had not been wearing them.

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 7, 2011 @ 11:31 a.m.

Given the facts, any right-minded judge would agree with me.

Don't EVER assume you will get (or the average) a judge that is "right minded".

Court decisions almost always seem to follow the ideology lines of the judge.

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TheJeep Feb. 7, 2011 @ 12:23 p.m.

Well said, Surfpup

Both Barb and David appear to have acted honorably during the whole incident. And the woman may have broken every cycling law in the book.

And I'm saying that all that won't matter one whit if lawyers and insurance companies get their hooks into it.

THAT'S why, as an editor, I wouldn't have run the column.

The reason would have been to protect a reporter/columnist who is probably a little too close to the story.

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jenihana3 Feb. 7, 2011 @ 1:41 p.m.

I wasn’t going to add a comment until I read the comments made by misanthropist. Very dramatic, you should really see a doctor if an article like this (very engaging and well written by the way) can make your heart race and your blood pressure go up.

Next time you have the urge to write a comment you should read the article in its entirety, and try to understand that it was written as an account of an incident from the writer’s point of view. Witch in all honesty seems pretty accurate, you have a girl not following rules that runs into a car. Stop trying to over complicate it.

And to thejeep, the chick was stupid. Good on Barbarella for telling it like it is.

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TheJeep Feb. 7, 2011 @ 2:19 p.m.

I looked at the video a few times. From what I can tell, and by Barb's own admission, she never looked back to the right after the other driver had signaled to her to proceed, and before she entered the intersection/crosswalk. She says this not once, but twice in the video.

Specifically , at :06 in the video, in describing the intersection she employs the phrase “Kinda blind” acknowledging that she perceives there are problems identifying cross traffic (for both cyclists and cars.)

At 0:16 she states “They waved me forward, I began to go.” Nowhere does she indicate she looked back to the right one last time to check for traffic, pedestrians, or cyclists.

At 0:39 she states “We waved to them and then we went.” Again, at no time does she indicate she looked back to the right one last time to check for traffic, pedestrians, or cyclists.

They don't even have to ask her about this at the deposition. All they have to do is subpoena the video, which she herself shot, wrote, and posted with the article.

Again, if I were her editor,I would have advised against running this column.

But it is too late now.

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MsGrant Feb. 7, 2011 @ 2:42 p.m.

TheJeep, you sound like you have a personal axe to grind with the author of this column. You have only posted negative comments on the Reader in response to "Diary of a Diva", and never on anyone elses column. Let me refresh your memory:

16."Actually Trapin, I have taken your advice and I have stopped reading her column.

In the words of Gertrude Stein (now THERE was a woman who could write):

'There is no there there.'"

This was from December 29, 2010. Seems to me that not only have you not stopped reading her column, you have devoted a considerable amount of energy to crafting vaguely threatening comments to this story in particular. Why don't you come clean and say what is really bothering you? I am curious, as I tend to be when I encounter this particular brand of behavior.

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TheJeep Feb. 7, 2011 @ 2:55 p.m.

Ms Grant- You ignored my first post on this thread.

And I realize you are an apologist for all things Barbarella.

There is no threat here.

All I am saying is that Barb should have had some other feedback before she posted this column, specifically from an editor.

You can blindly defend this piece all you want, but the the column (and the video) is what it is.

I mean,, she could have chosen to write about ANYTHING else , buy she picked this.

So who is really responsible?

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jenihana3 Feb. 7, 2011 @ 3:05 p.m.

Thejeep, you’re not her editor (thank God because you would have deprived everyone of a good article) and you are not a detective. This is not a case of “who done it” there is nothing to decipher, the chick was breaking the law and hit a car. The police report states that. What are you going to claim now? To know something the police don’t? You really need to let this one go.

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TheJeep Feb. 7, 2011 @ 4:03 p.m.

All I can say is "See you in court!!"

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david Feb. 7, 2011 @ 3:05 p.m.

Yes Jeep, the video and the column are EXACTLY what they are -- they are both entertainment pieces. Neither is meant to be a definitive, legal description of the events. That's what the police report is for.

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TheJeep Feb. 7, 2011 @ 3:49 p.m.

But they are potentially legal documents, in spite of what they were "meant" to be.

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MsGrant Feb. 7, 2011 @ 3:06 p.m.

I neither apologized or defended - I am just curious why you feel the need to devote so much energy into establishing responsibility for something that has absolutely nothing to do with you. It is a story, and one that was clearly fine with the editor of this publication. I do not wish to engage in a battle of wills with you. I just find it disconcerting that you choose to only comment on this column and to do so with a seriously nasty slant at that.

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TheJeep Feb. 7, 2011 @ 3:21 p.m.

Actually, police reports are not admissible as evidence. The cops still have to come to court to verify what was testified to in the field.

And with that, I will bow out.

But I will be curious as to if there is a follow up to this.

I doubt it.

Welcome to 2000+ journalism.

Again, I think her editor failed her,

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SurfPuppy619 Feb. 7, 2011 @ 8:24 p.m.

Actually, police reports are not admissible as evidence. The cops still have to come to court to verify what was testified to in the field.

==========

Only in criminal cases-in a civil case it is a business record.

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Founder Feb. 7, 2011 @ 6:58 p.m.

Just another thought to ponder:

When we cannot express ourselves honestly then we as a Country and a people are truly doomed to a live of servitude and KYA!

Watch the movie "Brazil" and then perhaps you will understand!

BTW: Even that movie got two ending, in the End...!

http://movies.netflix.com/Search?v1=Brazil&oq=brazil&ac_posn=1

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NatePoole Feb. 7, 2011 @ 7:51 p.m.

Barbarella, You are my new hero. Thanks for your great write up. Notwithstanding the utterly baffling comments critical of you, and of your motives, and of your looks, and your of man, etc., I actually found your response to this ridiculous situation to be quite gracious. The fact that you expressed any concern for this moron's well-being was above and beyond the call. If I'd written the article I would have titled it Stupid Chick's Stupid.

To the rest of you morons bent on turning Stupid Chick into the victim, STOP IT! Calling a stupid person stupid doesn't make you self-centered, self-involved, unattractive, or entitled. It makes you honest.

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Grandpuba Feb. 7, 2011 @ 7:56 p.m.

I only have one problem with some bike riders. If you are on the road you should obey the rules of the road all the time. You don't get to jump back and forth from being considered a vehicle to a pedestrian whenever the situation suits you. You can't just expect a driver to just know when you are going to decide to just run the stop sign or jump in the crosswalk as a rolling pedestrian in order to skip a stop light or make a left turn. Also not wearing a helmet and listening to your ipod while riding on the sidewalk in the opposite direction of traffic is Stupid. There is no better word to describe it.

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seussical Feb. 7, 2011 @ 8:21 p.m.

Hey, Barb. Thanks for sharing and bringing to light the unfortunate fact that some cyclists (and some motorists) do not follow the law. And just like there can be serious repercussions for texting while driving, the same goes for breaking the law while on two wheels. I for one, appreciate the fact that you are a cautious driver; however, most cyclists I know ride legally and carefully, in order to avoid a potential collision with a motorist or pedestrian (distracted or not). I am very sorry for your car, but please don't hold it against all cyclists based upon the poor decisions that one woman made.

As many readers pointed out, she was breaking many laws, including: riding on the sidewalk, with earbuds in both ears, not stopping, etc. As an avid (and defensive) cyclist, I always come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights, follow the rules of the road and would never be caught without my helmet - this is not just because cyclists can and often are ticketed for moving violations, but also for my own safety because I could do everything right, and still be clipped. And for all the considerate drivers out there, like you, there are some that don't see us (or do see us, but choose to ignore that fact - I am not even going to broach that topic here).

Hey, nobody is perfect, but please don't write all of us off. Unfortunately, we are often negatively grouped together by the wreckless actions of a few, and that is sad. I know that you could become jaded by this experience, but please remember that riding a bike is great exercise, is environmentally sustainable, is a great way to get around town and as an added bonus, there is always plenty of parking wherever you go! I also want to apologize retroactively on behalf of all my law-challenged two-wheeled friends.

Thanks,

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Twister Feb. 7, 2011 @ 9:01 p.m.

Any head protection is better than none, but a used helmet, particularly one that has been bounced off the pavement before purchase, may not provide the level of protection as a new one. One should always buy a well-fitted helmet first, then the bicycle.

Women trolling for guys are often less likely to wear a helmet--long hair streaming behind is quite an alluring lure. Some guys think wearing a helmet is for sissy-boys. (Like Lance Armstrong?)

Good used or new gloves are a very good idea too.

One should always go where one is looking. One should not take direction from other drivers when driving, and should always look again before pulling out, especially to look for stupid people doing stupid things.

Calling someone stupid is a waste of breath; if it's true, it won't help. Divas in particular, are bound by the code, "Noblesse oblige." That is, those who are better off, in brains or wealth, or by inadvertence, are obliged to look out for their less-endowed sisteren and bretheren.

Stupidity is refusal to learn or change, not mere error. Who among us has not screwed up? The glass house looms!

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FlyingOwl13 Feb. 23, 2011 @ 1:21 p.m.

There are some intelligent and aware bicyclists out there on the roads. This was clearly not one of them. I wish that all bicyclists would try to protect their own lives and not act ignorantly with disregard to the law. Recently, an idiot bicyclist ran into the truck of an acquaintance and she decided to sue the driver of the truck, despite that she was riding at night while wearing dark clothing and without a bike light or helmet. The same thing happened years ago to a friend and I was thankful that she didn't get away with it. She was caught for lying to the court about fake injuries and hopefully she learned from her experience and became a better bicyclist. I also hope that these bicyclists didn't hit the vehicles on purpose in order to try to make money from a lawsuit.

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Barbarella Fokos March 22, 2011 @ 3:33 p.m.

Stupid Chick Update: Stupid Chick, with the help of a local ambulance chaser, is attempting to milk my insurance company for money for her "soft tissue" injuries. Read: the bruises she sustained from falling off her bike when she broke the law and collided, gently, with the hood of my car. Irritating as this is (I knew she was riding in the ambulance in hope of a payday, as did the paramedics who rolled their eyes at her), it doesn't seem like my insurance rates will go up. Everyone involved knows what's up. I can't wait to vote for a good measure on tort reform. That's what I get for having extensive insurance: System Leeches.

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SurfPuppy619 March 22, 2011 @ 4:38 p.m.

I can't wait to vote for a good measure on tort reform.

Be careful of what you wish for.

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