More Critical Mass fallout: the mayor speaks out, LAPD steps up

Sometimes it only takes a videotape of an assault under color of authority to get a little attention.

Just a few days after the LACBC called on L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa to step up and unequivocally voice his support for cycling in the City of Angeles following the now infamous Critical Mass Takedown, he did.

Sort of.

The next business day after the letter was hand-delivered to his office, he offered his response to the LACBC.

Bicyclists have every right to use our City streets and to be treated with courtesy and respect—both by drivers and law enforcement.

I fully support LAPD Chief Charlie Beck’s efforts to improve the relationship between cyclists and police officers, and I was very   disappointed  to hear about the confrontation in Hollywood on May 28.

The video from that night is disturbing. The LAPD is conducting a full investigation of this incident, and I have complete confidence in Chief Beck’s commitment to making the City’s streets safe for everyone.

—Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

It’s a great message, as far as it goes. Which isn’t nearly far enough.

As Damien Newton points out, it’s a baby step, but one that goes far beyond anything we’ve heard from the mayor before.

But baby steps aren’t good enough. Not anymore.

Mayor Villaraigosa needs to take this opportunity to make it clear to all city departments and employees that bikes have a vital role to play in L.A.’s transportation future, and that cyclists deserve the same respect and consideration given to any other users of the city’s streets. And that the bureaucratic obstructionism that’s prevented implementation of the 1996 bike plan needs to end.

Now.

It’s also long past time for the mayor to meet with cyclists.

The Transportation Committee has done it. The full City Council has heard us. Even the new Chief and Asst. Chief of the LAPD sat down with cyclists — and made real changes as a result.

Now the mayor needs to come forward to meet with cyclists to share his thoughts, answer our questions and really listen to the concerns of the cycling community.

Anything less would be a failure of leadership. And yet another failure to communicate.

………

On the other hand, the LAPD seems to have gotten the message.

In response to the bungled Critical Mass response — which is far from the first time the LAPD has used force against cyclists — Commander Jorge Villegas, the Assistant Director of Operations, has ordered the Training Division to develop new tactics that would allow all officers to safely and effectively deal with riders on an individual and group basis, including:

  • stopping a single moving bicyclist
  • stopping bicyclists riding in a group
  • managing large bicycle rides and events
  • developing a pursuit policy for bicyclists who refuse to yield
  • any other bicycle-related tactical issues that may arise

That doesn’t mean things are going to change overnight. Or that the next time a police officer feels overwhelmed by cyclists, he won’t resort to the sort of use of force that would never be employed against a motorist under similar circumstances.

But it does mean that the department has gotten the message.

And that they are committed to finding a better way to deal with us.

A special thanks to Sgt. David Krumer of the LAPD’s Office of Operations, the department’s point man on biking issues, who has gone out of his way to address the concerns of bicyclists and improve communications between the department and the cycling community.

………

Alex Trujillo is scheduled to go on trial Wednesday for felony murder in the drunk driving death of Catherine Busse in Seal Beach two years ago. According to the Orange County Register, Trujillo was on multiple prescription drugs and had a blood alcohol level of 0.11 when he swerved onto the sidewalk and hit Busse at a speed of 45 mph. Trujillo had also been convicted of DUI in 2002.

………

Attack of the killer cyclists: The suspect in the vicious hit-and-run attacks that targeted four cyclists in San Francisco is described as an “avid cyclist,” while a bike-riding Wisconsin driver gets 30 months in jail for killing a cyclist while driving drunk.

………

Travelin’ Local ask why LA isn’t more bike friendly than NYC; two words: Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan. Or is that three? San Francisco takes space from the traffic lane to reduce the door zone. The mayor of Aspen, CO is seriously injured in a solo bike accident; that’s why you don’t wrap anything around your handles bars. A group of Critical Mass riders are captured on film actually stopping for a red light. Floyd “Seriously, I’m Telling the Truth Now, Even Though I was Lying Before” Landis lawyers up with LeMond’s attorneys; probably a damn good idea. NBA star Caron Butler teams with Denmark’s crown prince and a couple of Congressmen to promote cycling. The bamboo bike makers visit the Bay Area. Bad things can happen when you pass on the right; then again, the left isn’t always so great, either. Actually, there is a safe way for delivery trucks to double park without blocking the bike lane. Chicago gets artistic new bike racks. A bike wedding in Tucson. Tips on how to ride in a group without becoming roadkill. My idea of heaven: fly fishing by bike. What’s your carbon footprint when you ride? Manchester UK recruits cyclists for a new bicycle ballet. A BBC broadcaster would rather travel by bike than limo. Britain considers lowering the blood alcohol limit for drivers from .08 to .05. A British program doubles the percentage of children who bike to school. Courtesy of Witch on a Bicycle comes word of an intentional road-rage assault in the UK.

Finally, after a bus hits a cyclist on Denver’s 16th Mall, the driver gets a ticket; yet instead of improving driver training, Denver transportation officials consider banning bikes entirely in response. And just west of Denver, the small town of Blackhawk bans bikes entirely from most streets; you know, for our own safety.

God forbid they should actually focus on the big, dangerous vehicles that can kill people.

6 comments

  1. Opus the Poet says:

    I suspect that the hit-and-run assault suspect was “vicious” rather than “viscous”. Spell check doesn’t help when you spell the wrong word correctly, it just checks to see if the word is spelled right not that it’s the right word.

    Thanks for the link to my blog.

  2. Oh my goodness. Some one buy me a ticket to Manchester, UK. I’m a ballerina and a cyclist. I’ve just found my dream job!

    And I second your thanks to Srgt. Krumer for all his efforts.

    • bikinginla says:

      I have a much better idea. Why don’t you contact them, and put on a performance of the ballet here? I’ll back you all the way.

  3. I’ve griped about Denver’s 16th street so-called “pedestrian mall” for years now, especially the belligerently aggressive mall shuttle drivers who communicate very clearly that the road on this “pedestrian friendly” byway belong only to them, and where the pedestrians are required to yield to mall shuttles, even on the crosswalks.

    • Nigel says:

      The mall shuttle is specifically built to get people up and down large distances of the mall quickly. Walking in front of a bus is stupid, and those people that attempt it find out rather quickly just how stupid it is.

      The 16th street mall is a pedestrian mall with transportation options for those that would like to travel larger distances on it quickly. Having the right to walk in front of a moving vehicle where people riding in it are often standing or have no seatbelts is dangerous and insensitive. Having the right to do something doesn’t mean that it isn’t incredibly stupid to do.

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