Admittedly riding a bike in LA puts me on the defensive. If you’ve ever rode a bike in this city, or just driven a car you know the kind of shenanigans that go down on the road. Being outside of that protective cage of steel and aluminum only makes it feel more dangerous, and more fun.
So perhaps it was the fact that I had only earlier that day I watched armored truck hit a biker and the torment that followed—but I had a particularly keen sense of traffic and safety as I rode to go get fixings for dinner. Cruising down the street, at a fairly respectable clip mind you, I was passed by an old piece of shit, beige Corolla with the driver inside yelling at me, “Why the fuck don’t you ride on the side of the road?!”
Yes, I was riding in the middle of the lane lady—but I can explain. If I had any interest in getting doored, or bucked off by a rogue pot hole, or my tires caught in the massive crack that ran parallel to the lane, I would ride on the side of the road. Seeing as there aren’t bike lanes on this block and I don’t have health insurance, I’m not going to do that. I feel like it’s a fairly reasonable explanation and the smart decision to keep myself safe given the circumstance. Were we sitting face to face, I would have calmly explained this to her.
Instead “Why don’t you get fucked!” is the response that came out, simultaneously giving her the middle finger.
Well, if you know me at all you know this is totally out of character. All I can hasten it to is adrenaline and an acute sense of defense that afternoon. I peddled behind her for a while. It’s always a bit silly when someone passes just to drive the same speed in front of you, but who am I to judge. I considered my initial response. Was it too much? Maybe I over reacted. What did that look like to passers by? Is this woman going to want to fight me? Perhaps that wasn’t the best idea.
She slowed down and drifted into the left turn lane to make a turn, her blinker on. Taking this opportunity to pass her I blurted out the first thing that came to mind- “Why don’t you consider riding a bike!” She watched me roll by, understandably dumbfounded, picking at her teeth with her middle finger nail.
It was missing something, this exclamation of frustration, a sub-text or some sort of modifier. “Why don’t you consider riding a bike, bitch!” Like, “You fucking try this and then ask me ‘Why don’t you ride on the side of the road!’” Or perhaps something more along the lines of “Why don’t you consider riding a bike yourself!” As if to say “You really should give this a go, it’s great fun and you might understand why I ride in the lane where I do.” Or even “Why don’t you consider riding a bike sometime!” Because at least then this wouldn’t even be an issue.
Any of those would have worked marvelously. Alas all I could think of in the moment, and all I had time for in my defense, was this partly hollow statement. An expression of self-righteousness and don’t fuck with me I’m crazier than thou for even being out here on two wheels.
But maybe she got it. Perhaps what I feel was a lame retort to her road rage was a moment of clarity for her. Perhaps after making her left turn, she pulled over, gave her keys to the woman making squash blossom quesadillas on the side of the road and vowed never to drive a car again. Perhaps she’s in fact an urban planner who over the next 15-20 years will lead LA to be the most bike friendly in the nation, improving our air quality and making it a more beautiful and friendly city. Perhaps she even goes on to take the nation in the same direction and turn around our dependance on fossil fuels saving us from the environmental disaster ahead. Perhaps she’ll become the president and mandate the use of bicycles in urban areas everywhere, doing away entirely with cars and guns, and then she’ll make pot legal. Perhaps she’ll change the world and this stupid exchange will be the the story she tells whenever someone asks her where it all started.
But really, she probably just murmured ‘fuck off’ under her breath and kept driving.
As a small child, Christian Sorensen Hansen grew up crawling under the large tables of the world of advertising. His parents, a writer and a graphic designer are an artistic team of Seattle marketing creatives who helped raise Christian to be the visual maven he now is. After graduating from film school, Christian spent time working on a movies in Bollywood, and traveled India. Christian travels, a lot, and on these adventures can be found harmonizing palettes to match his bearings, sweating up steep and tortuous cliffs to find ideal locations, and sampling regionally fermented hops and aliments.
When it comes to his work, Christian provides a variegated and oblique kinship with story lines. He takes perplexing routes with imagery, his work is both equal parts natural and surreal, immediately drafting viewers into the visual fallacy he presents.