Tell a cyclist to “Break an Elbow”

Pretty much everyone is familiar with the tradition in theater of wishing well to actors before a performance by stating “Break a leg.”  Well, now cyclists can have their own silly superstition.  Next time someone is heading out for a ride, yell at them “Break an elbow!”

We can thank Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles for setting us up for this.  He recently found himself involved in a right-hook incident with a taxi cab while he was riding his bike on Venice Blvd, which ultimately resulted in a broken elbow for the mayor.

As a result of this incident, the mayor has declared his desire to put together a bike summit.  According to an LA Weekly post:

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently reached out to the bicycle community via YouTube and announced — more than a week after he broke an elbow in a bike accident on Venice Boulevard — that he would help organize a summit about the future of pedal power in L.A..’We’re going to work with the bicycle safety community to put together a bike summit,” he said.

It is unfortunate that someone in a position of power has to be injured to drive the point home about the need for more understanding and protection of cyclists.  However, it is totally understandable why, as a human, the mayor would be more sensitive to cycling issues after an incident such as this.  “Have a good ride mayor!  Break an elbow!”

The time seems ripe in LA for a change in culture.  The LAPD was already making strides to improve bicycle safety.  From the LA Times blog post:

Police Chief Charlie Beck has made overtures to bicyclists, promising to make their safety a bigger priority and sending some of his officers to ride in the monthly Critical Mass bicycle ride in June. The LAPD issued a directive instructing officers that a motorist can be held responsible for causing a bicycle accident even if he or she did not make direct contact with the rider — and can be arrested for fleeing the scene, Box said.

The LAPD involvement in the critical mass ride, while reported as wildly successful by both sides, unfortunately also only arose in response to an unfortunate circumstance.  A previous ride in LA staged to protest the BP oil spill was met with what was perceived by many as unwarranted aggressive behavior towards cyclists.

I fully applaud the actions of both the mayor and LAPD, acknowledge that all folks make mistakes, and give kudos to LAPD for recognizing a poorly handled situation and taking actions to correct the damage. However, I can’t help but find it frustrating that so many times it requires a tragedy in the cycling community to bring about any real, positive change.

Be safe, keep your helmet above your saddle above your pedals, and by all means “Break an Elbow!”