Hollywood Bus Driver Attacks Cyclist, LAPD Handcuff Cyclist (and Wife!)

A cyclist westbound on Hollywood Boulevard hears a loud horn behind him as he rides in the right side of the #2 lane, alongside a row of parked cars and dangerously close to the door zone.

Published September 24, 2007 by The LAist
By Stephen Box

A cyclist westbound on Hollywood Boulevard hears a loud horn behind him as he rides in the right side of the #2 lane, alongside a row of parked cars and dangerously close to the door zone.

The motorist with the heavy horn hand turns out to be Metro Bus Driver #XXXXX and she passes the cyclist so closely that his left hand touches the side of the bus as it speeds past him. The number #1 lane is empty and nothing serves to prevent the bus driver from changing lanes to pass the cyclist except for a failure on her part to acknowledge the cyclist’s right to ride the streets of Los Angeles without having his life threatened.

The bus proceeds down Hollywood Boulevard to a bus stop at Wilton and stops. The cyclist pulls up on the driver’s side of the bus and addresses the bus driver informing her that honking at a cyclist with no room to spare will only serve to startle the cyclist and cause a dangerous situation and that as a professional driver she should know that if the lane is too narrow to share, she should change lanes in order to pass without endangering the safety of the cyclist.

The driver screams “You were in my way. You need to get off the road!” She slams the window shut.

The cyclist, who would have accepted a “Sorry, my bad!” and called it a day, pulled in front of the bus and informed the driver that he was calling the police to report the driver for Assault with a Deadly Weapon, the bus. She screams, points at her watch, tells the cyclist to move and puts the bus in gear.

The cyclist stands his ground, all the while hearing “…all operators are busy, please continue to hold…” on the phone. The cyclist calls his wife and tells her to send the police to Hollywood & Wilton. He continues to call the local police station.

The bus driver pushes the cyclist with her bus. A witness on the south side of Hollywood screams at the bus driver. “I’m watching you! Stop it!”

The cyclist stands his ground, now with a passenger who steps out and screams at the cyclist to get out the way and then lets loose with a stream of expletives. The passenger gets back on the bus.

The bus driver backs up, turns the bus into the boulevard and comes back at the cyclist who is now standing behind his bike. She comes a bit faster and pushes the bus against the cyclist until the bike is now wedged under the right front bumper of the bus. She throws up her hands and wails at the bus drivers who drive past in the #1 lane. They yell at her to sit tight and just call the supervisor. All the while the witness on the street keeps yelling at the bus driver “He’s right! You’re wrong!”

Inside the bus, the angry passenger is stirring up the other three or four passengers for their “Let’s roll!” moment. He jumps off the bus with an elderly man backing him up, pulls the bike from under the bus, flings it up onto the sidewalk and then assumes a Karate Kid pose that causes all time to stop and all motion to be suspended as the absurdity of the moment is absorbed by the cyclist. The old man has already disappeared and the passenger jumps back onto the bus.

With the bus blocking the #2 lane of Hollywood Boulevard, traffic is now backed up for several blocks. The bus driver takes the time to explain to each motorist as they pull alongside her that the traffic congestion is due to the cyclist. “Can you believe this?” she asks.

The bus driver talks to somebody on her bus phone, gets out witness cards and proceeds to have the passengers fill them out. She collects the cards.

The Karate Kid jumps off the bus, spits on the cyclist, yells at the witness across the street and proceeds down Hollywood Boulevard.

Eventually an LAPD patrol car pulls up and two cops jump out. The cyclist naively expects to hear “What’s going on here?” but is instead greeted by “Hands behind your back!” The cyclist’s wife who is just arriving on the scene yells at the cops, “Hey, he’s the one who called you!” which apparently sounded like “Hey, put me in handcuffs too!” because Officer Hayhurst promptly placed her in handcuffs and placed her face against the wall.

Officer Swan held the cyclist, face against the wall, while he struggled with the definition of impeding traffic. The cyclist countered that he wanted to file charges against the driver for assault with a deadly weapon and battery charges against the Karate Kid.

Officer Swan gave the cyclist the first of the many lectures that are apparently free on holidays to those wearing handcuffs, this one entitled “The Metro provides a public service and you are not to interfere with it.” The cyclist responds that riding a bike in the street could hardly be construed as “interfering” with the Metro and that cyclists are guaranteed by law their place on the street and that it is his duty to protect and serve everybody, not just those in poor command of tons of steel.

The waste of time exchange continued as Sgt. Jerrett arrived on the scene and consulted with Swan and Hayhurst, Metro Deputy Sheriff Parrott, Metro Supervisor Mike Dunn and the Metro driver. Sgt. Jerrett lumbers over to the cyclist and proceeds to ask questions such as “Do you think it’s appropriate to stand in the street?” and “Do you think that yelling through the windshield is the best way to communicate with the driver?”

The cyclist responds that he was attempting to detain the driver while he waited for the LAPD to answer the phone so that he could have her arrested for threatening his life with her irresponsible and dangerous driving and, as it turns out, her stated contempt for his right to ride in the street. The cyclist again asks the police to arrest the driver for assault with a deadly weapon, pointing out that if a motorist were to move a vehicle toward a police officer in the same manner, they would not be so conflicted as to action, that they would respond quickly and effectively and there would be little debate as to any definition of assault with a deadly weapon. Jerrett listens, stares and walks away.

After much discussion, Sgt. Jarrett decides that Sheriff’s Deputy Parrott will be taking over the “incident” and that the LAPD will be moving on. Deputy Parrott gets in the cyclist’s face to state clearly that there would be no Private Persons Arrest, there would be no arrest period. There will be an investigation and there will be a citation for an infraction and it might be the cyclist!

He then allowed the Metro driver to leave the scene with the bus.

As the cyclist stood giving his report to Deputy Parrott and Metro Supervisor Dunn, the cyclist pointed out that the witness cards had just left with the Metro drive.

Deputy Parrott and Supervisor Dunn looked at each other with a synchronized “WTF” look on their humbled faces and for a moment the only sound that could be heard was the thundering roar of systemic incompetence resounding down the boulevard.

Two and a half hours after the beginning of this incident, Supervisor Mike Dunn stands on the sidewalk explaining in his most earnest manner, “But you have to understand, that’s how they are trained to drive. They are told to honk at road hazards!”

This is fuel on the fire for the cyclist who argues “Cyclists aren’t road hazards!” The cyclist’s wife calmly records Supervisor Dunn’s explanation and the cyclist wearily takes his claim form for the bent wheel and walks home.

The next day the cyclist calls the Metro and reports the incident. Within hours he receives an email from an official at the Metro contradicting Supervisor Mike Dunn and with Bus Drive Instructions in the subject line. “Bus operators are not told to honk at cyclists. As a matter of fact, the policy states that cyclists have the same rights on the road as motorists and that operators are to follow at a safe distance or pass with 3-4 l/2 feet of right side clearance.”

Unfortunately, the Metro official neglected to copy Supervisor Mike Dunn or Driver #XXXXX on that email which means that she’s still out there, sideswiping and screaming “You need to get off the road!”

As for this cyclist (yes, that's me in those pictures!), “See you on the streets!”

Originally posted at LAist