L.A. cyclists busted in BUI, anti-bike backlash spreads

Everyone knows it’s against the law to drink and drive.

Well, you do, right?

But here in California, it’s also illegal to bike under the influence.

A group of cyclists in Baldwin Hills learned that the hard way last night, when CHP officers were called to the scene after one struck the center divider while riding the wrong way on La Cienega Blvd. According to the Times, five of the fifteen riders were arrested after failing a field sobriety test.

While the Times suggests that riders are subject to the same 0.08 BAC that drivers are, no specific alcohol level is included in the statute, so riders could conceivably be charged at an even lower level than drivers. And while the fine is a relatively affordable $250, a conviction could affect your drivers license even though you weren’t operating a motor vehicle at the time.

Although personally, if someone is going to be on the road after imbibing, I’d much rather see ‘em on a bike than behind the wheel.

And as an aside to the Times, may I politely enquire what the hell helmet use has to do with a) riding while drunk, or b) whether the riders were able to be seen after dark?

Riding sans skid lid may or may not reflect bad judgment, depending on your perspective.

But it has absolutely nothing to do with this story.

.………

Having evidently solved all the illegal and dangerous behavior by motorists, who have far more potential to kill or injure others, police in Australia and New York City have turned their attention to scofflaw cyclists.

Don’t get me wrong.

I don’t have any problem with ticketing cyclists who break the law, any more than I do anyone else on the streets. My problem comes when cyclists are singled out for enforcement, rather than enforcing the law equally against all illegal behavior.

And if there is going to be any bias in enforcement, shouldn’t it be directed at the operators of the vehicles responsible for over 30,000 deaths each year?

Scofflaw cyclists may annoy the hell out of other people. And they may give the cycling community a black eye, and encourage the anti-bike backlash the flares up with frequent regularity throughout the country.

But to the best of my knowledge, even the worst cyclists still pose a greater risk to themselves than to anyone else.

That doesn’t stop the anti-bike comments online or in the media, though. Not to mention the ill advised knee-jerk reaction to register and license bikes, or a bill that would prohibit reckless cycling in Virginia — a law that just begs for abuse as it leaves it up to individual officers, who are often ill-informed as to bike law, rights and safety, to determine just what is reckless.

Like riding in the traffic lane, maybe.

Then there’s the attempt by an Oregon legislator to ban carrying a child on a bike or in a bike trailer — this even though 630 people were killed in the entire U.S. while riding bikes in 2009, compared to over 10 times as many motor vehicle passengers.

Maybe it would make more sense to ban carrying a child in a car or SUV.

.………

The LACBC’s new Bike Wrangler program will collect and recondition unwanted bikes, which will be distributed in low-income, high-obesity areas; Good examines the Bike Coalition’s efforts to reach out to the city’s invisible cyclists. The new L.A. River Bike Path extension is nice, but it could use a little direction; Lisa Newton points out that the historic De Anza Trail runs along its path. LADOT unveils some interesting ideas in their Call for Projects application. Todd Munson relates the ugly side of sharing the road, as well as the good. Gary gets harassed by an armored car driver and does something about it. Jessica Alba takes her daughter bike shopping in Santa Monica; it’s hard to read, but that looks like that could be a Helen’s tag. A court date is scheduled for the deaf hit-and-run driver accused of killing cyclist Patrick Szymanski in La Quinta last month.

An apparently highly-flawed study suggests that cell phone users may actually be safer drivers; problem is, it focused on a time when most people aren’t driving. A Coronado bike thief gets a well-deserved year in jail. The mayor of Del Mar calls on drivers and cyclists to sharrow the road during a bridge retrofit. A San Louis Obispo cyclist is in critical condition after inexplicably turning in front of a big rig truck. San Fran times stop lights to keep cyclists moving. A San Francisco Chronicle writer revisits his old paper route on video. Santa Cruz rejects a second claim for injuries at a single intersection, with a third cyclist’s claim waiting in the wings. A lifelong bike commuter tells her story.

While we’ve finally got more typical L.A winter weather, let’s not forget our brothers and sisters still struggling to ride in the south and east. Evidently, among the other promises Obama has kept are the ones he made about bike and pedestrian projects. The next long distance cycling route will aim to recreate the original Route 66; link courtesy of Lloyd Lemons. EcoCycle provides underground bike parking. The solution to placing bike paths in high-water areas could be floating bikeways. Bike-friendly Boulder CO gets a B-Cycle bike share program. A proposed bill would ban bike bans in Colorado cities. Bike lawyer Steve Magas reports on three upcoming criminal trials for drivers charged with killing cyclists. New York’s uber-popular Magnolia Bakery turns a bike lane into a parking lot; thanks to @BicycleFixation for the link.

Diagnosing Parkinson’s through biking ability. Strategies to avoid a bike infrastructure backlash. Don’t fight a losing battle for bike safety, sell it in terms of protecting children. London’s new bike superhighways result in a 70% increase in bike traffic. Irish courts award £10,000 to a child frightened when a bike fell in front of her in a Dublin toyshop. Lance leads the effort to fight back against Aussie flooding. Separated bikeways and handicap bike parking in Shanghai. A new bike share program kicks off in Haikou.

Finally, a cyclist survives an attack by unleashed killer dachsunds. And no matter how hardcore you think you are, you’re not a real cyclist until you pedal yourself to the hospital to give birth.

Now that takes balls. Or not.

4 comments

  1. I’m a dog lover, had a similar episode, except this was on a shared path with a road bike and the dog was a German Sheppard. The dog owner *finally* woke up and said something when dog darted right into me, I bunny hopped, and dog yelped when I didn’t *quite* clear the dog and my back wheel bounced off the dog somewhere.

    I’m pretty sure the dog was just trying to be friendly and I felt a little bad about hitting him, but sheesh.

    A a pair of little chihuahuas greet me every morning and run alongside me in the street. I think they’re cute, but I’m worried about running over one of these unsupervised pups someday.

  2. DC says:

    I ride with mace and am thinking of getting concealed weapon permit.

  3. Evan says:

    That stretch of La Cienega is like a freeway–those guys would have been a little bit crazy to ride on it even during the day, going the right way. Going the wrong way at night after drinking? They’re lucky to be alive.

  4. wes oishi says:

    Actually, La Cienaga at very late night is safer than during the day…..there is just occasional car traffic. And the way these guys travel, with all their blinky lights, a driver would have to see them. I heard one guy was showing off and he’s the one who fell. Anyway, compared to they many Lycra clad cyclists I know, these new riders (without helmets, brakes, mirrors, etc), have been relatively injury free.

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