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Realities of those mean streets

August 20, 2007

Thank you for so thoroughly exposing the truly unpleasant realities of being a biker, runner or walker in L.A.["On the Mean Streets of L.A.," Aug. 13]. It's not just the unsafe aspect of millions of cars hurling at you, it's the outright hostility that I too have experienced.

It is, sadly, the reason I no longer bike or walk to work, despite my company's pro-green incentives.

My friends do not believe the things that have happened to me while on foot or bike: cars running stoplights at 60 mph long after they've turned red, people working on yards pointing and interrogating me as to why I'm walking, as if it was illegal, and men following in cars to get a too-close look.

My favorite has to be the man who leaned his entire upper body out of a moving car to try and grab me as he drove toward me.

I've felt safer biking in downtown Manhattan during rush hour.

Kirsten Dial

Los Angeles

When I was growing up in the 1950s, every kid with a bike attended law-enforcement sponsored safety sessions at local schools. We were tested on hand/arm signals, traffic rules and ability to maneuver in traffic. Our bikes were checked for necessary equipment, including lights and warning bells. If you flunked, you tried again until your skills were at a high enough level to be licensed.

Fast-forward to 2007, and bike riders are no longer learning the basics. The ones I see on the road can't maneuver safely around parked cars or make emergency corrections. They also appear clueless that they are required to stop at stop signs (not just traffic signals), yield the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks and signal before turns.

I'm not excusing thuggish drivers who harass or injure bike riders. But drivers of two-wheeled vehicles have a responsibility to learn the rules and develop their bicycling skills before they venture out into the "mean streets."

Bonnie Sloane

Los Angeles

I would be wealthy if I had a dollar for every time I have been cut off by hostile or distracted drivers and by those traveling at high speed who pass within inches.

There is little question that those of us who make a conscious effort to cut our carbon footprint by using bicycles are put at risk. Perhaps most galling of all are those who idle their engines by the curb as they read, eat lunch, nap or talk on cellphones.

Don Malvin

Canoga Park

Cycling could be a safe sport, even on the busiest of streets, if everyone involved was better informed. Jeannine Stein's article, had you given it more prominent placement and, perhaps, had it been a little more constructive and a little less sensational, could have served all of us well.

Josh Harris

Brentwood

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