Giving credit for L.A.’s anti-harassment ordinance, the backlash begins & fighting blocked bike lanes

Catching up from last week, it seems the successful passage of L.A.’s anti-harassment ordinance is making waves, though not necessarily the way we might have hoped.

Despite a number of council and committee hearings as it glacially made its way through the development process leading up to unanimous approval by the city council, many motorists seemed to be blindsided by the new ordinance.

Which is what tends to happen when you don’t pay any attention to your own government.

One thing that seems to have been forgotten in the cycling community’s celebration over the passage of the anti-harassment ordinance is the role the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition played in seeing this law through from the very beginning.

It’s true that Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and his aide Paul Backstrom deserve the lion’s share of credit, along with Judith Reel — who had the stroke of genius to make this a civil, rather than criminal, law — and LADOT’s Michele Mowery. No one can understate the important roll attorneys Ross Hirsch and Daniel Jimenez played in vetting the wording, or the vital support of Bicycle Advisory Committee President Jay Slater and other members of the BAC in getting it passed.

And let’s not forget the work of LADOT Bike Blog’s Chris Kidd in explaining and carrying the torch for this bill.

But I remember committee meetings where the only cyclists present were myself and representatives from the LACBC.

I don’t mention this because I’m on the board of the coalition.

But because it was the hard work of Aurisha Smolarsky, Dorothy Le, Jen Klausner and Allison Mannos in fighting for this bill that convinced me to join the LACBC and become a board member in the first place. As well as Alexis Lantz, who later took over for Aurisha in fighting behind the scenes to make this law as strong as it could be and help ensure its passage.

Without their hard work, this law might not exist today. And it certainly wouldn’t be as strong as it turned out to be.

……..

Road.cc looks at L.A.’s bicycle anti-harassment ordinance, while KPCC says L.A. cyclists get the toughest protections in the U.S.; personally, I might question that since this is a civil, rather than criminal, law. The C-Blog offers a well-written and thoughtful response to KABC radio in defense of the ordinance. Writing for Orange 20, Rick Risemberg says common decency now has some teeth, while a conservative writer calls it a terrible law that will lead to legal motorist shakedowns. And our neighbors to the south don’t seem too interested in following our lead.

The L.A. Times calls it a smart law; unfortunately, some of their readers don’t get it, despite intercession by Sgt. Krumer to explain what the law does and doesn’t do.

Sgt. David Krumer at 12:34 AM July 22, 2011

Hello motorist,

It appears that some folks are not exactly sure what harassment means within the context of the ordinance.  You can still yell at a cyclist who engages in bad behavior.  You can not however threaten a cyclist with physical harm or make comments like “I am going to run you over.”  You also can not engage in conduct that is likely to put a cyclist in harms way such as:

1) Revving your engine multiple times as it is an implied threat that they may get run over if they don’t move out of the way.

2) Tailgating a cyclist

3) Passing a cyclist at too high a speed or to close a distance so as to scare or intimidate them off the road.

4) Riding up at a high rate of speed and honking at a cyclist (this has caused cyclists to get scared and fall of their bikes).

Hope this sheds light on what “harassment” means.  In short it is an ordinance that prohibits threats (explicit and implied) as well as behavior likely to cause injury.

Meanwhile, one reader suggests, in what we can only hope is a failed attempt at humor, that drivers should eliminate anyone who might be able to testify against them:

edwardskizer at 3:50 PM July 23, 2011

Drivers frustrated by this law have to remember just one rule: leave no witnesses.

Yes, very funny indeed. And that Dr. Thompson thing in Mandeville Canyon was a real knee-slapper, too.

Or if you want to waste an hour of your life and churn your stomach after realizing the sort of people we have to share the streets with, read the comments to this Times story.

Then again, L.A. isn’t the only place that needs a law like this.

……..

After years of effort from countless cyclists — myself included — Flying Pigeon finally tracks down the people who are responsible for doing something about blocked bike lanes, including all those damn trash cans.

And AAA responds to Will Campbell’s complaint about opposing California’s proposed three-foot passing law; not surprisingly, they don’t apologize or change their minds.

Which makes me think it may be time for cyclists to consider an auto club that doesn’t support a driver’s right to pass dangerously close.

……..

Congratulations to Cadel Evans for an unexpected victory in the Tour de France, and the first ever victory for the land down under, as his countrymen rejoice but don’t get a day off. He now tops the UCI rankings, as well.

The Schleck brothers finish second and third, while Mark Cavendish takes the points prize, noting that it didn’t come easy. Andy Schleck, or possibly his brother Frank, appeared to have the race won until they cracked and Cadel crashed through to victory.

Michael from Claremont Cyclist offers some great final thoughts. The Wall Street Journal looks at the Jackie Robinson of cycling. Thomas Voeckler fought the good fight to hold the yellow jersey longer than anyone thought he could.

Unfortunately, the North American contingent didn’t exactly impress.

……..

Will offers suggestions to improve that scary tunnel at the top of Sepulveda Blvd. A local cyclist had his bike confiscated after riding on the 405 during Carmegeddon, and asks you to buy a t-shirt to help get it back. With little luck and effort, Bicycle Priority Zones could soon spread across the county. Better Bike complains about politicians low-balling bikes at the last Westside COG meeting. The Times looks at the tweet that lead to a $7000 donation to the LACBC; in a final note to the story, the guy who sold his own car to make that donation had his bike stolen over the weekend. Working to make Beverly Hills more bike friendly; who knew they actually have bike racks? Gary Kavanagh writes about the lessons learned from the recent Carmageddon. Local Linus bikes are featured in a new fashion video. Six SoCal firefighters ride cross-country to honor 9/11 victims.

Long Beach starts a new bike safety campaign to remind cyclists to stay off the sidewalk. Complaints that cyclists don’t stop for a Newport Beach stop sign lead to the observation that hardly anyone does. Joe Linton rides the bike path along San Diego County’s San Luis Rey River. A Redding writer says he doesn’t see how a 3-foor passing law could make a lick of difference. The fight over San Francisco bike lanes moves to crosstown streets.

Levis unveils their new Commuter Jeans, complete with a U-lock loop. Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club wants more women riders on the road. After winning a new Trek Madone, Springfield Cyclist puts his old bike up for sale, and will donate the sale price — plus an additional $100 — to support victims of the devastating Joplin tornado earlier this year. A pair of blind riders take on RAGBRAI. Advice on how to deal with riding to work on a hot day. New York drivers turn a sidewalk and bike path into a DIY shortcut. The bike wars go on in Virginia Beach VA, where cyclists were recently treated to tacks on a popular riding route. The Tallahassee Democrat says cyclists have rights on the road, too.

Mexico considers investing the equivalent of $120 million in bikes and infrastructure. Do wobbly cyclists calm traffic? A UK man and woman are sentenced for severely beating a cyclist for no apparent reason. The 10 worst gyratories in London; and yes, I had to look it up myself. Fifty-four percent of English children want to ride their bikes more. A driver says he’d rather kill a cyclist and possibly himself than hit a family in a car; good response from bike writer Carlton Reid. Great bike illustrations from a Dublin artist. Town Mouse visits France and falls in love with a local bike. An Aussie cyclist is critically injured in a collision with possible U.S. Navy personnel.

Finally, while the UK is taking posties off their Pashleys, the USPS is putting bikes on their stamps. And a Florida judge ignores the law to blame the victim of a road rage assault for riding too far from the curb; let’s hope L.A. jurists are more enlightened when the first cases under the new anti-harassment ordinance come to court.

Come back later tonight when I’ll post a harrowing first-person account of the collision that left cyclist Adam Rybicki fighting for his life, and a call for justice from the riders who barely avoided serious injury along with him

5 comments

  1. maggie says:

    RE: AAA responds to Will Campbell’s complaint

    I received the same letter and back up material from AAA.
    Any readers here a member of Better World Club? Reviews please.

  2. John L. says:

    The comments of many motorists regarding the anti-harassment law are the best evidence of the need for such a law.

    • Louie says:

      Yeah. “Leave no witnesses.”

      Then you’d better come back and remove the camera on my helmet and the one on my seatpost facing rearward.

      You’d be suprised at how well license plates and faces show up in 1080p HD video.

  3. Judge bigot dismissing the case is business as usual for the sunshine state. I read a report on the most dangerous places to be a pedestrian last week. Florida had the top four in the country. Followed by the Riverside/San Bernardino Ca area at #5.
    I lived in Florida 17 yeas. I believe if a motorist intentionally ran down someone on a bicycle and backed over them and it was on video the Florida courts would somehow find the bicyclist at fault.

  4. marshall perkins says:

    The true Jackie Robinson of cycling(modern sorts for that matter) was Marshall “Major Motion” Taylor – check this American hero out. The hatred directed toward some defenseless guys and gals in lycra baffles me.

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