Council District 5 Candidate Statements: David Vahedi

For the past week, I’ve allowed candidates in the March 3 city election for the L.A. City Council District 5 to use this blog to address the bicycling community. You’ll find statements from Adeena Bleich, Robert Schwartz and Robyn Ritter Simon below. You can see the original invitation here, and all the statements received so far by clicking here.


Thank you for the opportunity to write specifically about bicycling issues in relation to my candidacy for Los Angeles City Council, 5th District.

vahedi-small1Whether you are an avid weekend cyclist or a person who depends on a bicycle to get to work or school, the City of Los Angeles has failed miserably to create an infrastructure that encourages cycling.

As you are aware, in my life long district, the 5th, we have very few Class One Bikeways. We must build more and I am dedicated to achieving this goal even if it means I will have to tap my office holder accounts to realize this dream.

As you will see from my Website at  Votevahedi.com, Westside button, I have been a long time advocate for a continuous Class One Bikeway along the Exposition Light Rail Line from Downtown to Santa Monica. I will be a strong voice for this project on the city council.

Another problem we must tackle is the unwillingness of most motorists to appreciate the exposed nature of cyclists and that when a vehicle fails to follow the traffic laws, especially around a cyclist; the result is often severe bodily harm or death for the cyclist. LAPD must be constantly reminded to take cyclist safety as a top concern along with educating drivers. Furthermore, there are many simple things the City can do to protect riders, from highly fluorescent lines indicating a bikeway to placing concave mirrors at known dangerous crossings.

We must also create a true hotline with rapid response for both potholes and street surface issues that are not only talking away from the positive experience of cycling, but also resulting in many serious injuries to riders.

There are also two issues in the legal arena that must be addressed and changed. Many cyclists are unaware that if they are injured on any class of bikeway due to the negligence of the city, that the city is 100% immune from liability. This is the result of the courts extending immunity for trail and paths in the mountains to bike paths, including all classes of bikeways.

This extension of immunity followed after a cyclist broke his neck on Sepulveda Blvd., near Mulholland Highway, after the asphalt collapsed under his bike. The city was aware of the unsafe conditions and the cyclist sued to recover his damages. On appeal, the higher court specifically found that cities and counties have immunity even where they had “actual notice” of the danger.

As an attorney, I have litigated this immunity issue when a client was injured on the Venice Bike Path when a DWP manhole had a piece of metal protruding from it. The DWP, when originally notified of the danger, put a cone over the metal which was soon knocked off, exposing a 13  inch piece of metal 1 inch by 1/16th of an inch that could not be seen. Amazingly, the LAPD officer on the rescue scene was able to break the piece of metal off at the base just like a hangar protecting other cyclists and doing what the DWP should have done in the first place.

There is currently a culture at city hall arising from this immunity that puts the repair of bikes path at the bottom of the list. This must change. The city should adopt the public policy that it will not invoke the immunity if it is determined that they had “actual notice” of the danger and failed to act prudently.

The second area of law that needs to be addressed is that of presumption. Specifically, that if a cyclist is injured in a bike lane in a cyclist versus vehicle accident, there is a rebuttable presumption that the driver of the vehicle was negligent. This presumption will work in two ways to protect cyclists. First, recovery of damages will be less expensive and time consuming for the cyclist, and I strongly believe that insurance companies will do a much better job to educate drivers to be more prudent and aware of cyclists’ rights to share the road.

While I most likely cannot make this important legal change directly from the council, city councils historically have been very successful in influencing the legislature to make statewide changes to law.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at home (310) 557-9677 to talk about any issue. I look forward to working with your group and other groups to make Los Angeles a world class city for cyclists.

Sincerely,

David

 

3 comments

  1. [...] City Council Candidate David Vahedi Talks Bikes (BikingInLA) [...]

  2. ubrayj02 says:

    Wow, a bicycle lawyer on city council? That could be a good thing!

    I’ve been reading through the L.A. City budget to figure out how much money goes to bike projects, and let me give you a few tips:

    “Local Transportation Fund” is a special fund set up for bicycle and pedestrian projects. It is funded annually to the tune of ~$4 million.

    There are other sources of money that can easily (within the law that authorizes the funding) be turned to bicycle projects.

    For example, the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reductions Trust Fund (~$5 million) funds things like “alternative fuel vehicles” for the city and pays city employees $50/month for not driving to work. $600,000+ from that fund goes to the Environmental Affairs Dept. and another $600,000+ goes to the Personnel Dept.

    Snag some of that Mobile Source Air Pollution money away form flyer campains and use it to start a few bicycle boulevards in you district. It would actually reduce air pollution, for starters, and if done right you can use those projects to buy you happy voters in areas plagued by speeding cut-through traffic.

    There is a tiny pot of money generated from Bicycle License sales (~$62,000 annually) that gets allocated to God knows what.

    In fact, why not try and add pedestrian and bicycle categories to the Cities’ functional budget breakdown – as subcategories of the “Transportation” category?

  3. jhaygood says:

    Seems like a solid supporter, and he seems informed beyond common platitudes.

    I like it.

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