Rosendahl to Council: Car culture ends today

Just two weeks ago, L.A. City Council Member Dennis Zine said he didn’t know if L.A.’s car culture was ever going to change.

Today, Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl begged to differ.

In a powerful statement before the full council, Rosendahl said “The culture of the car is going to end now!” He reminded his fellow council members about the harassment cyclists face on the road, as well as the lack of support riders have received from the LAPD in the past. “We’re going to give cyclists the support they should have been getting.”

“This is my pledge to the cycling community.”

L.A. City Hall in January.

The subject at hand, which drew similar support from many of the council members in attendance, was a motion requesting the City Attorney to draft an ordinance prohibiting the harassment of bicyclists.

It didn’t take long to realize that this wasn’t going to be business as usual.

The first sign came when Council President Eric Garcetti noted that this matter had already been heard by both the Transportation and Public Safety Committees, which would normally mean no more public comments. But as Damien Newton had predicted, he quickly deferred to Rosendahl’s request to allow the handful of cyclists in the room to speak.

But first, Rosendahl and Public Safety Committee Chair Greig Smith agreed to what Damien called the three-step process, in which LADOT and the City Attorney will work with local cyclists to determine what the ordinance can and should contain, without conflicting with existing state traffic regulations. Then they will report back to both committees before drafting the actual ordinance, which will be subject to final council approval.

Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl addresses the council.

I argued against the extra step, since the City Attorney would, by necessity, determine what can legally be included in the ordinance during the process of drafting it.

But Rosendahl had already made it clear that he wouldn’t allow the process to drag on. He agreed with Smith to hold a joint session of the two committees to consider the recommendations. And pledged to have an ordinance drafted and ready for approval by the end of March.

That’s March of this year, in case you were wondering.

He also reminded the audience about a planned Transportation Committee session scheduled for February 24, in which cyclists will have a chance to speak with new LAPD Chief Beck. This is a chance to change, not just car culture, but that of the LAPD as well, he said, stating that future graduates from the police academy will receive training in bicycle law — including a copy of the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights.

In remarks a little later, Council Member Ed Reyes, co-sponsor of the motion, added that indifference has usually been the best a cyclist could hope for from the LAPD after being harassed or assaulted.

Fellow Transportation Committee member Paul Kortez suggested that it wasn’t enough to defer to the state to address the problem, saying the city needs to find a way to address harassment in its own laws and do whatever it can to put a stop to it. “We need to send a clear message,” he said.

When the floor was opened to comments, a brief parade of cyclists spoke about the problems they’ve faced on the road.

The LACBC's Aurisha Smolarsky offers her comments.

David talked about being harassed on the streets, while Iain told the council about an incident in which he was injured after being harassed by a driver — only to be told that by a police officer that it was his fault because he was riding with traffic.

Siku spoke of an incident in which she was buzzed by a driver, who yelled “Do you want to die?” at the next red light. And Michael, who described himself as a businessman, homeowner and taxpayer, cast it as a civil rights issue, saying he had been harassed by both drivers and the police.

In fact, every cyclist who spoke — including Aurisha of the LACBC, as well as myself — told of being harassed by drivers on the streets of L.A.

Rosendahl concluded the discussion by listing what he believes should constitute harassment under the proposed ordinance, including:

1. Knowingly throwing a projectile or discharge at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle;

2. Threatening any person riding a bicycle verbally or by use of his/her vehicle for the purpose of injuring, frightening or disturbing the person riding the bicycle;

3. Knowingly placing his/her vehicle within 3’ of a bicyclist while passing or following;

4. Making physical contact with a bicyclist from a moving vehicle or the roadway either by physical person or use of an implement;

5. Knowingly placing a person riding a bicycle in concern of immediate physical injury;

6. Knowingly engaging in conduct that creates a risk of physical injury or death to the person riding a bicycle.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Evidently, the council members agreed, voting 13 to 0 to approve the measure.

Afterwards, Eric Garcetti came up to me and offered his personal assurance that he will stay on top of this measure, and use his position as Council President to keep it moving forward.

And we can’t ask for much more than that.

Read more, including a wrap up on the Council’s discussion of the bike sharing proposal, on LA Streetsblog; LAist sums up the bike sharing discussion, as well.

……..

The Trickster offers an update on New Zealand’s cyber-bully Hummer Driver, who offers a half-hearted apology for threatening to kill cyclists — but only after the police get involved.

……..

Six cities that could go car free, including one right here in California, courtesy of Curbed LA. Designing better cities for bikes. Mixed results on Portland’s bike boxes. Boston Biker loses it after getting doored by a passenger bailing out in traffic. Virginia is the latest state to consider a three-foot passing law. New York cyclists are ticketed for delivering fried dumplings on the sidewalk. The great Hasidim v. hipsters debate goes on, and on — literally, this time. If bike lanes can tame New Dehli’s traffic, just imagine what they could do here. A UK driver is convicted of killing a rider competing in a time trial; as usual, she claims she never saw him. Brits petition the Royal Mail to let posties keep their Pashleys. Disgraced former Spanish cycling boss threatens to dope and tell. An Edinburgh cyclist hits a white van at 20 mph; maybe the driver thought he was a pothole. Finally, a great examination of how to fight biased — or just uninformed — police enforcement. And perhaps the best last line of any bike quote, ever.

5 comments

  1. [...] counting comments that followed the brief story on the Times website about the proposed bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance. The overwhelming majority of which were of the standard “I’ll respect bikes when they (choose [...]

  2. [...] have a new tool to defend themselves from harassment and assault.  An anti-harassment motion, originally introduced by Council Member Bill Rosendahl, has been released today with prior approval of the City Council.  Bicyclists can now bring civil [...]

  3. [...] significant hurdles to jump before this becomes law, though. While the drafting of the ordinance enjoyed unanimous support from the council, we haven’t heard from the motoring public, who may not yet be aware this law is [...]

  4. [...] Ordinance.  The draft of the ordinance, released last month to great fanfare, was the result of a motion introduced by Council Member Bill Rosendahl.  The hearing yesterday at the Transportation Committee was the first hurdle on the draft [...]

  5. [...] be here today if it weren’t for CD 11 Council Member Bill Rosendahl.  It was CM Rosendahl who introduced the council motion directing the City Attorney to craft the anti-harassment legislation, and it was CM Rosendahl who [...]

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