Three weeks in the city...survival depends on a radically heightened awareness of people and their machines ...congestion and movement and noise. We pedal various routes through the hilly suburbs of Burbank and Glendale during the late morning hours, after the commuters rush off to work and finish before they scurry around seeking lunch.
Cars backing out of driveways and popping out of parallel parking slots have to be our number one concern. Leaf blowers constantly throw clutter under our tires and obscure our aural sensory warning system, as we are fully tuned to the warning hums of rolling tires and moaning engines. We've had heart-stopping moments when car doors are flung open in our path or gadget fascinated drivers blow through traffic signs and signals in the same space that we felt we were entitled to.
California and many other states have new laws requiring motorists to give pedestrians and cyclists a safe cushion of space before passing, usually three feet however, drivers have no fear of tickets or reprisals if they ignore this legal courtesy....and there are always a few who resent the new law and feel adamantly that the foot powered traveler has no right to share the right of way that has been dominated for one hundred years by motorists.
We all have had those close calls when we say, "I saw my life flash in front of me." In fact, just yesterday, I sat at a traffic signal on a busy boulevard here in Burbank, patient like the Buddha, with my foot on the clutch. The green light told me to proceed, I pushed on the gas and let up on the clutch , feeling entitled to safe passage, when my wife put her hand on my wrist and gasped, I hesitated with my right foot just as a red light running Jeep Wrangler bore down from the left at 40+ mph narrowly missing my front grill.