Letters to the Editor: Cyclists aren't safe near drivers. I just learned that the hard way

Los Angeles, CA - December 12: A man drives in the bike lane on the busy intersection of Edgemont and Fountain Ave on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023 in Los Angeles, CA. (Michael Blackshire / Los Angeles Times)
A cyclist rides in the bike lane on Fountain Avenue in Los Angeles on Dec. 12. (Michael Blackshire / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The title of Paul Thornton's opinion piece, "Biking in L.A. is fun. Now let’s make it safe," screamed out to me.

Last Saturday, I was enjoying the sunshine before the rains to come, riding through Griffith Park on Zoo Drive. Next thing I remember was the paramedics loading me into an ambulance. Hours later I was released from a hospital emergency room with multiple cuts, abrasions and bruises, but miraculously no serious injuries.

I have no memory of the impact, but I was told by the park ranger on scene that witnesses had watched a car with two young men inside intentionally swerve into the bike lane and ram me from behind, throwing me over the handlebars into the street, and then laughing as they sped away.

The bike is more badly damaged than I am, thank God. I had no altercation or exchange of words with anyone before this happened. For some malevolent reason, these drivers tried to take out a 72-year-old man on a bike, in L.A.'s largest and most famous park — a place where, at least there, you would think cyclists could feel safe.

Norwood Paukert, Los Angeles


To the editor: I write this letter while riding a Culver City bus to transfer in Westwood to a Metro bus for a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Getty Center on the hills of the Sepulveda Pass. I will arrive relaxed and not sweaty.

With decades of experience bike riding in L.A., I know that making this trip on a bike entails climbing many hills, facing strong winds, fighting vehicle traffic and arriving a sweaty and nervous person.

Sprawling Los Angeles' traffic and air pollution cannot be fought through bicycles, but by greater ridership of buses and trains.

Matthew L. Hetz, Los Angeles


To the editor: L.A.'s safety for biking is egregious.

I am in the fourth month of recovery from my fall last November on the L.A. River bike path near the zoo. There were tree roots that had broken through the pavement but were hidden by leaves. These hazardous eruptions are not even marked by the city, though some fellow bikers have graciously painted caution markings around many.

The result for me was three days in the L.A. General Medical Center trauma unit, four broken ribs and a broken pelvis. I am fortunate because I will recover and bike again — but please, make biking safe.

Anne Shapiro, Los Angeles


To the editor: Here in Eagle Rock, our main thoroughfare, Colorado Boulevard, has dedicated bike lanes. So, maybe a bike enthusiast can explain the following to me.

I was coming from a residential street, needing to turn left onto Colorado. I stopped at the limit line, checked for pedestrians, then crept forward until I could view the oncoming traffic.

When there was a large gap, I checked again for pedestrians, and started to move forward. Out of nowhere, here comes a bike rider, on the sidewalk, coming from my right against the traffic flow. I came within millimeters of knocking him down.

I have seen many cyclists use the bike lanes correctly, but I have also seen them riding in groups so that they overflow the bike lanes into traffic. I've seen them at night with no reflective gear on.

As we educate drivers regarding driving safely around bicycles, we need to educate the riders themselves.

Anne Beaty, Eagle Rock

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.