Like many avid cyclists, Rick Wurtz has his share of horror stories from the road.His closest call came as he pedaled along an open highway in Montana and a big rig rushed by within inches of his handlebars, passing so close that the truck's wake blew him off the road.There is little more terrifying to a cyclist than sitting astride 20 pounds of carbon fiber and aluminum when a motorist encased in 2 tons of steel makes a sudden right turn or bumps the riders.
Yet for Wurtz and other cyclists, few episodes have reinforced the dangers as powerfully as last year's crash in which a Brentwood doctor is accused of slamming on the brakes of his car in front of two bike riders, injuring both. One cyclist was propelled face-first into the rear window. The other was sent hurtling to the pavement.
For the last three weeks, the assault trial of Dr. Christopher Thompson has drawn the attention of cyclists nationwide but has especially galvanized the swelling ranks of Los Angeles' tight-knit cycling community, whose members have long felt like second-class citizens in a city in love with its cars.The case is being tried at a time when more people are turning to two wheels for commuting and recreation. Cyclists are asserting their rights as never before. In Los Angeles, advocates are pushing for more bike lanes and other road improvements, a cyclists' bill of rights and more protection from police.
As they demand more respect from motorists, many cyclists see Thompson's trial as a test of the justice system's commitment to protecting the rights of bike riders. They point to the case as an extreme example of what they see all the time: arrogant drivers who either unwittingly or deliberately push bike riders aside.
Full article http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cyclists-trial1-2009nov01,0,2835513,full.story