Note to a Sidewalk Salmon

28 Jun

I gave you the raised chin, silent “I know you/ ‘sup / keep moving” acknowledgment when we passed each other this morning, but it wasn’t to telegraph the fact that I have less than zero desire to speak to you (although on general principle you may safely continue to assume that’s the case). Truth be told, I would have dearly welcomed the opportunity to tell you what was on my mind this morning as you approached, but I didn’t really believe it was you until you were literally right in front of me.

I noticed the Hawaiian shirt from ~2-3 blocks away. It looked just like the one you wore every weekend for 10+ years, but surely it wasn’t YOU on that bike…

You weren’t that chubby.

Your hair wasn’t that long, or that grey.

You wouldn’t even be showing your hair because clearly you would be wearing a helmet because you KNOW, in a way more visceral than most, how vitally important a helmet is!

and for sure

You would not be riding salmon on the sidewalk because you are knowledgable about bike and traffic safety issues thanks to your long-standing involvement in LACBC advocacy efforts and neighborhood planning programs and your role in getting a dedicated bike lane installed on Ohio Ave.

Therefore, the helmet-less idiot who was pedaling west, directly at me, on the sidewalk of east-bound Santa Monica Blvd. clearly was NOT you even though he was wearing your trademark weekend wear.

It was only when you got ~6-feet in front of me and I saw the red “just gave blood” bandage on your arm that I realized that it actually was you (I’m glad you still continue to donate and that you haven’t become a completely selfish prick). You took me by surprise and all I could do was give you the ‘sup nod. If I had been able to put 2-and-2 together earlier, however, I would’ve blocked your path, put a hand on your bars, and delivered the lecture I’ve longed to give to many a sidewalk salmon.

It seems inappropriate to unleash my anti-sidewalk salmon lecture on strangers. You, on the other hand, are far from a stranger. I may not actually understand who you really are these days, but after 16+ years of sharing a bed with you, there’s certainly enough residual intimacy to allow me to set you straight. I don’t know if you read this blog anymore, or if the woman who blew up our relationship still stalks me here and continues to allow you into her life, but in case either of those things are true, here is what I would have told you when I saw you this morning:

I “get” that you are leery of riding on Santa Monica Blvd. It’s busy and congested and generally not safe for bikes (yet), but there’s a bike lane on Ohio now, remember? Use that, instead — NOT the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Motorists do not look for bicyclists on the sidewalk, especially those riding against traffic. If you want to get hit by a car, the best way to do so is to cross a driveway or intersection in a way that takes a driver by surprise, which is absolutely going to be the case when you salmon up a sidewalk.

When you ride salmon on a sidewalk, you give drivers an unfortunate license to correctly use the “I didn’t see him!” excuse when they hit you. You scare the shit out of drivers who do manage to see you and leave them with residual antipathy toward ALL cyclists. They generalize your asinine behavior to cyclists who understand laws and social norms. The toxic “F*cking cyclists!” ideology that’s espoused by the vast majority of L.A.-area drivers stems directly from the exceptional stupidity you presently exhibit.

Actually, I probably wouldn’t have said all of that to you.

I’d keep it as minimal as possible so that I could get on with life, safely, and without any concern for you. So, here’s the 4-point redux recap:

  1. Get off the sidewalk.
  2. Use a bike lane.
  3. Ride in the same direction as traffic.
  4. Wear a goddamned helmet! Do you not remember how much brain injuries suck?

If you want to get hit by a car and end up with a brain injury, too, knock yourself out, but please refrain from riding your bike in a manner that is likely to incite anger and angst in drivers who later will encounter law-abiding, common-sense using, non-selfish riders like me and my friends.

Have a nice life.




One Response to “Note to a Sidewalk Salmon”


  1. Weekend Links: Environmental hypocrisy rears its ugly head in Westwood; CICLE gets a new director | BikinginLA - June 29, 2014

    […] A local writer tells cyclists to get off the sidewalk and stop riding salmon. […]

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