September 17, 2012, 11pm
This is the article I was about to write last Friday morning, the 14th of September, before the cycling world turned upside down here in Newport Beach. Before two cyclists’ lives were horribly ended by motorists who “didn’t see” one on the other side of town and drove over another in this road’s bike lane a mile south.
My article was going to be about something so much simpler than that. Just a little gripe about motorists who won’t extend the simple courtesy of stopping at the limit line of crosswalks on red lights. Just one of those things that really pisses off a father as he is escorting his 4th grader to school on a Friday morning.
You see the Lexus firmly parked in the yellow (meaning “school zone”) crosswalk at the intersection of southbound Newport Coast Drive and San Joaquin Hills Road (adjacent to my son’s school). Then you count almost 30 seconds pass while the driver, who was looking right at us, continued her encroachment in the crosswalk – even as a father and a 4th grader approached. Then you see that there is no car behind her…and no reason she could not have backed up to let us pass. You can’t see the detail because of the glare, but I can only describe for you that vacuous look you have seen in other drivers who do this.
Like a deer staring at headlights, she looked at us while pretending not to see us and pretending we didn’t see her. And forced a 4th grader to leave the crosswalk to get to school.
There’s no better way to describe it than that. She knew we would pass; her embarrassment would be over once the light turned green and she floored it to 60MPH, escaping the pressure of human contact and rejoining that ethereal state some people enter when they are cocooned in their cars. Just for grounding, confirming that we were not in fact invisible (as the driver of the Lexus would have you believe), even her young child in the front seat was waving back at me, probably interpreting my gestures – polite ones urging her to vacate our crosswalk – as friendly ‘hellos’. Kids are guileless…
But I was interrupted from writing this article on Friday, and the weekend went by in a blur of violence visited upon other cyclists so horrific I completely forget my petty complaint.
Until today, when I finally clicked out of a dozen or so windows on my computer and found this unfinished article on the desktop.
And now, looking back on the last three days, maybe my complaint from Friday morning isn’t so petty.
Because the selfishness and thoughtlessness of a motorist who would block a crosswalk for a 4th grader may not seem like much, but it is the root of the problem that caused the deaths of two cyclists in 24 hours this weekend.