Tag Archive for California Senate District 26

Senate District 26: Rabbi Shifren says yes

As I noted in my last post, I emailed the candidates for California’s 26th Senate District this morning to ask them just two questions:

1. Would you support legislation revising California Government Code Section 831.4 to return some liability to government agencies for known hazards on off-road (Class 1) trails?

2. Would you support — or be willing to introduce — legislation to update the California Vehicle Code to improve to clarify the laws regarding bicycling and improve bicycle safety?

Within just a few hours, I received the following response from Rabbi Nachum Shifren:

Dear Ted

As I mentioned to you, I am a physical fitness devotee, and totally relate to the plight of bikers. WE ABSOLUTELY NEED TO MAKE BIKING NOT ONLY MORE SAFE, BUT MORE EFFICIENT AND USER FRIENDLY.

My answer to both questions: a resounding YES.

Yours for freedom on the road,

Rabbi Shifren

An open letter to the candidates for California Senate District 26

As you may recall, prior to the March 24 special primary election for the sate’s 26th Senate District, I asked all the candidates for their comments on bicycling and transportation issues, just as I did in the election for Los Angeles’ 5th Council District.

Three of the eight candidates responded; two of those — current Assembly Member Curren Price and Rabbi Nachum Shifren — qualified for the May 19th General election, along with Cindy Varela Henderson. You can see their responses by clicking on the link titled CD5/SD26 Candidate Statements at the top of this page.

This morning, I sent each of them the following email (slightly different for Henderson, since she didn’t respond before). Assuming they respond, I’ll post their answers as they come in.

Dear (Candidate)…,

Thank you for contributing your comments on bicycling and transportation for my website, BikingInLA.com; several bicyclists have said that these statements helped influence their votes the March 24 primary election.

I’d like to follow-up with two more questions, and will post your answers online in the weeks leading up to the May 19 runoff election.

First, would you support legislation revising California Government Code Section 831.4 to return some liability to government agencies for known hazards on off-road (Class 1) trails? As you may be aware, recent court rulings have absolved all public and private agencies of any responsibility to maintain Class1 trails in a safe manner, jeopardizing the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians; you can learn more by clicking here.

Second, would you support — or be willing to introduce — legislation to update the California Vehicle Code to improve to clarify the laws regarding bicycling and improve bicycle safety?

Several states, including Indiana, Massachusetts and Colorado, have already passed a Bike Safety Bill or are in the process of doing so; revising California’s laws could encourage greater participation in cycling, and as a result, help reduce traffic, while improving air quality and the health of the state’s citizens.

Possible revisions to the law include:

• Mandate a minimum distance of three feet when passing a cyclist, and clarify that drivers are allowed to briefly leave their lane in order to pass a bicycle safely;

• Ban harassment of cyclists, and require that such incidents be investigated as criminal acts;

• Extend to cyclists riding legally in a Class 2 bike lane the same level of protection afforded pedestrians in a crosswalk;

• Prohibit turning into or across the path of a moving cyclist;

• Prevent drivers from using “I just didn’t see him” as an excuse, as they are required to be alert and aware of all traffic and road conditions.

You can learn more about these issues, and other possible changes, by clicking here.

Your response can be as long or short as you like. As before, I will publish whatever you send — unedited and without comment — in the order that it’s received. All I ask is that you send your statement in the body of your email or as a Word attachment.

Thank you in advance for your response, and good luck in the upcoming election.

This time, bikers don’t make a difference

With all the excitement over last week’s Hollywood C.R.A.N.K. MOB fiasco, you might have missed the fact that we had an election this week.

I mention that because most people evidently had no idea. According to Zach at LAist, only 24,039 people voted, in a district of over 390,000 registered voters.

That’s a turnout of just 6.16%. Which means only one out of every 16 people bothered to vote, in district that includes much of the Westside.

One out of 16.

Of course, local elections have a historically low turnout, but a large part of the blame has to fall on the short lead time. Many voters, myself included, only found out about this election when we received our sample ballots less than three weeks ago, making us scramble to learn who was running — let alone where they stood on the issues.

As in the recent election for L.A.’s 5th Council District, I asked each of the candidates to tell us where they stood on bicycling and transportation issues. Of the 8 candidates, only three responded.

We’ll ascribe that to the short lead time, rather than assuming they just didn’t give a damn.

We can also blame that for the relatively small number of people who read those statements. Yet despite the fact that the first of these statements only went up five days before the election, they still resulted in one of the busiest weekends, and the two days that followed, since I started this site — thanks in large part to mentions by Zach, as well as Damien at LA Streetsblog.

So, despite the recent comment by Ubrayj, there’s no reason to believe that cyclists played a significant role in deciding this election, unlike that council race.

Yet two of the three candidates who did respond, Curren Price and Nachum Shifren, are moving on to the general election, along with Cindy Varela Henderson.

Since they both offered to address specific issues, I’ll be contacting them again with questions about liability reforms for Class 1 bikeways, and updating California’s outdated biking regulations. So if you have any issues you’d like them to address, send ‘em my way via the comment section below.

And maybe this time, we’ll have enough time to actually make a difference.

But let me leave you with one thought.

Just imagine the impact we could have if those 800+ C.R.A.N.K. Mobbers had been riding to the polls to cast their votes, instead.


In case you missed it: After reports of cyclists being intentionally doored, hit by police cars and pulled to the ground from moving vehicles last Saturday, I was reminded of this 2008 incident during a popular training ride in Tucson. On a related note, I stumbled on a blog by another, less famous cycling lawyer. The Anonymous Cyclist continues his excellent Monday Mechanic series, this time focusing on bike repair costs, and hinting that a quaffable bribe may make a difference. Celebrity cycling injuries strike Lance and Matt. My favorite footwear drops in price. A New York cyclist complains about bike-bomb sniffing dogs on the Staten Island Ferry, while a blogging Brit notes that bike culture has spread to London — in part due to a “grinding campaign” to recognize cyclists “as proper human beings made of fragile tissue and bone.”

Senate District 26 Candidate Statements: Saundra Davis

Here is the third response submitted by one of the eight candidates for the March 24th primary for California Senate District 26, from Saundra Davis. Since she requested comments, you can click on the link her name to visit her website, then click the “contact” tab for her email address.

Saundra Davis

Mrs. Davis is very supportive of bike riders’ issues.  She often addresses issues regarding the environment, air quality and road conditions. Now that you apply those concerns to your group, it is even more vivid. Of course if there are specific issues you would like to address or if there are suggestions that you wish to apprise Mrs. Davis of, it would be helpful to hear from you. Mrs. Davis would love to know what those concerns are and what ideas you have that would address the issues. It is her desire to listen and become more informed about specific issues by you the experts.

Senate District 26 Candidate Statements: Curren Price

As I indicated yesterday, I’ve offered each of the eight candidates in the primary for California Senate District 26 an opportunity to address the cycling community through this blog. So far, only two candidates has accepted my offer. This statement is from Curren Price; you can see the first statement, from Nachum Shifren below.

Curren Price

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you my views related to cycling and, among other things, the role that it plays in improving air quality, health, traffic congestion and the overall environmental quality of life in the 26th Senate District.

cp-photo-webAs you likely know, the 26th Senate District is one of the most ethnically, economically and environmentally diverse districts in the state of California. Stretching from Culver City to Koreatown, Silverlake to Larchmont, Cheviot Hills to South Los Angeles, the 26th District is home to many of the environmental treasures in the County of Los Angeles including the Baldwin Hills Conservancy/Parklands and Griffith Park.  While these parks provide a refuge for many Angelenos with their bike paths and walking trails they are also surrounded by some of the most congested freeways and roads in the LA County basin. As a result the 26th District faces tremendous environmental challenges related to air quality and the resulting health impacts from air pollution.

Air pollution doesn’t discriminate and the air quality of the 26th District is impacted by LAX, the ports and equally detrimental the District’s proximity to the 10, 405, 110 and 105 freeways. The harmful effects are felt throughout the district from Culver City to South LA. A lack of investment in mass transit, infrastructure and Class One BikeWays, coupled with the “love affair” that Angelenos have with their cars and a jobs housing imbalance which has residents commuting on average between 15-20 miles roundtrip each day has contributed to the district’s inability to realize higher air quality standards. These reasons, among others, is why transit, transportation and air quality are at the top of my environmental agenda, why I have earned the endorsement of the California League of Conservation Voters and why I will continue to support increased investment in mass transit as well as alternatives such as cycling, full enforcement of the Clean Air Act, incentives for cleaner technologies and penalties for gross polluters.  

These issues are more than “niche” issues. Having represented largely urban areas throughout my tenure in public service both on the Inglewood City Council and in the state legislature, I view these as environmental justice issues which impact everything from healthcare to education and our workforce. Young people who can’t cycle or exercise outdoors are not only likely to have higher rates of asthma and obesity but to underperform in school.  Cost-prohibitive gas prices, 40 mile trips to and from work and lack of mass transit options limit working and middle class employment options. And, to resolve these challenges we must identify ways to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by investing more resources in transit, creating live/work spaces to increase the jobs/housing balances, reducing fixed-route services and moving to door-to-door services by the MTA and encouraging employers (public and private) to incentivize their workforce towards carpooling, cycling, telecommuting and using mass transit.

However, this is only half of the battle. Whether one cycles for business, for pleasure or for the environment, cyclists and, more correctly, support for cyclists plays a crucial role in creating a more livable 26th Senate District. Improvements and expansion of Class One Bikeways via increased public/private partnership funding and incentives for those who build bike-friendly developments supported by ancillary City street improvements are among the priorities I would have in developing a cycling/environmental agenda. A continuous Class One Bikeway along the Exposition Light Rail Line which extends through the 26th District is another.  And, cyclist-safety is the last component which we must prioritize to protect cyclists and underscore the viability of cycling en masse as a means to reducing air pollution and improving our environment.

I grew up riding my bike in the 26th District in South LA, Leimert Park and the Crenshaw District. I did it for pleasure. As state Senator, I would like to support a climate which allows cyclists to choose their own reason and create an environment which makes it possible. If you have ideas on how this can be achieved, please email me at info@currenpricejr.com or visit my website at www.currenpricejr.com for more information.

Thank you.

Curren Price

Assemblymember 51st District  

Senate District 26 Candidate Statements: Nachum Shifren

Here is the first response from one the candidates for the March 24th primary for California Senate District 26, submitted by Rabbi Nachum Shifren. 

I promised each candidate that I would post their comments without comment or edits, however, I feel compelled to make one correction:  In his comments, Rabbi Shifren thanks me for my endorsement; I have not, and will not, endorse any of the candidates in this election, in order to provide a fair and unbiased forum for all the candidates to state their views.

Also, Rabbi Shifren has asked if it would be possible to meet with cyclists prior to the election to discuss his views. If anyone is planning a meeting or event and would like to hear from the candidates, I will be happy to invite him and the other candidates on your behalf.

Nachum Shifren

Dear Ted

Let me say at the outset that I am a 3-time triathlon participant, 3-time marathon runner, innumerable 10-k’s, have been a surfer and lifeguard since 1962.
Let me speak frankly: I am angry at the abuse and peril thrown at cyclists, some of our best citizens. We need to make more cycling  accessible , not limit or obstruct it! The traffic has become unbearable. Not one of the politicians supports augmenting bike lanes or developing new ones. I will, to the best of my ability upon election, commit to this endeavor.
I will never capitulate to the automobile! I have traveled and lived all over the world, and never have I seen a society so indolent or addicted to the automobile, even at the price of our health and our economic development!
Ted, you and all cyclists will have a friend in Sacramento who cares about raising the consciousness of physical fitness of our youth, attacking the congestion on our roads through greater biking alternatives, and removing the stranglehold of the autos in our communities and workplaces.
I am grateful for your endorsement and hope we can meet in the future to implement some of the ideas I’ve expressed.
Call me anytime if I can be of  help.
Here’s to clear skies above and a an inspirational road ahead!
Rabbi Shifren

Senate District 26 Update: Maybe they just don’t want our votes

As I wrote last week, I emailed each of the eight candidates in the primary for California Senate District 26 to ask for their comments about bicycling and transportation issues, just as I did for the recent city council election.

You’d think that a group of relatively unknown candidates would jump at the chance to reach local voters — especially when they can do it for free. And as we’ve seen, it doesn’t take much to influence a local race with so many candidates.

Yet as of today, I haven’t received a single response.

As a result, I’ve emailed each of them again today; you can read the full text of the email below. But it does raise an interesting question:

If they won’t respond to us now when they need our votes, just how responsive will they be once one of them gets into office?


Dear (Candidate),

You may recall that I contacted you last week to offer you an opportunity to discuss bicycling and transportation issues with voters in the 26th District.

As you may be aware, there are nearly 379,000 registered voters in this district. Of these, statistics suggest that at least 46,996 — and possibly as many as 144,000 — ride bikes.

Many of these cyclists are very concerned about current state laws and regulations that put the safety of riders at risk and needlessly inhibit riding levels. These riders are highly motivated to vote in the upcoming election — and they are looking for a reason to vote for you.

As I indicated before, I write a popular blog about bicycling in Los Angeles, and I am offering you, as well as the other candidates in the race, an opportunity to address these voters directly — at no cost to your campaign — by turning this forum over to your campaign for one day.

You can discuss anything you want, from reforming state law to mandate a minimum safe passing distance, or revising California Government Code Section 831.4 to protect cyclists and pedestrians from known hazards on off-road (Class 1) trails. Or you could discuss the role bicycles can play in reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and reducing the high level of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, or any other subject you think will be of interest to the cycling community.

I will publish whatever you send — unedited and without comment — in the order that it’s received. All I ask is that you send a statement in the body of your email or as a Word attachment. You may also submit a small photo or campaign logo to appear along with your comments.

It may only be seen by a few hundred voters; yet in a race with eight candidates and an expected low turnout, that alone could be enough to determine the outcome. More likely, however, your statement will be linked to by other sites and forwarded to countless readers, with the potential to be seen by thousands of local voters.

Of course, nothing says you have to participate; as cyclists, we’re used to be ignored by politicians and our elected officials. But we care about this election, and most of us are still uncommitted, even though this election is less than one week away.

All I’m asking is that you give us a reason to vote for you.


Here we go again — An open letter to the candidates in California Senate District 26

Even though we just finished one election last week, we have another one coming up in two weeks to fill the state Senate seat recently held by Mark Ridley-Thomas — a district that covers most of Los Angeles and Culver City.

As I’ve said before, we need to become more involved in the political process if we want things to get any better for cyclists in this city or this state. So today I emailed each of the candidates in the March 24 primary election, based on the list provided by the League of Women Voters, to offer them each an opportunity to use this blog to speak directly to the biking community.

Just as I did for the recent 5th Council District election, I will post their statements in the order I receive them, without edits or comments. It will be interesting to see which, if any, of the candidates respond — especially considering that we may have provided David Vahedi’s margin of victory in the council primary.


Dear Mr. or (Ms.) …

As you are aware, the election for California Senate District 26 is less than two weeks away, Yet many voters have only recently become aware of this election — let alone the candidates or their positions.

That gives you a unique opportunity to reach countless uncommitted voters; however, the concerns of one highly motivated voting group have largely been ignored up to this point.

Thousands, of not tens of thousands, of registered voters in this district also ride bikes. Some, such as myself, ride for recreation and fitness. Others ride for social or environmental reasons, while for still others, cycling is their primary means of transportation.

Whatever their reason, virtually all are concerned with such vital issues as safe streets and improved infrastructure, clean air and fair, unbiased enforcement of traffic laws, along with meaningful reform of state laws to encourage greater participation in cycling and ensure our safety.

I am offering you, as well as the other candidates in the race, an opportunity to address a highly motivated, yet largely ignored, voter group — at no cost to your campaign.

As an active voter in this district, I also operate a popular blog about bicycling in Los Angeles. I will turn this forum over to your campaign for one day, in order to speak directly to the cycling community.

You are free to discuss anything you want, from the role bicycles can play in reducing traffic congestion, to seemingly unrelated issues such as crime rates or responsiveness to your future constituents. If you are an active cyclist, tell us. Or if you want to confront cyclists in some way, feel free. I will publish whatever you send — unedited and without comment — in the order that it’s received.

All I ask is that you send your statement to me in the body of your email or as a Word attachment, with a maximum of 1,000 words (although less is usually better online). You may also submit a small photo or campaign logo to appear along with your comments.

Of course, you’re under no obligation to participate; however, if some of the other campaigns submit a statement and you don’t, it could speak volumes to the biking community.

Besides, it’s free. So what do you have to lose?

PS — I recently made the same offer to the candidates in March 3rd primary for Los Angeles 5th City Council district; four of the six candidates, and two of the top three finishers, participated, including David Vahedi, who won by a margin of just 60 votes.


Gary points out that cycling is neither a Democratic or Republican issue; try telling that to Rush Limbaugh, who appears to have a different take on the matter. And even people who support cycling may not support cycling everywhere. Now Nevada is taking up a bicycle safety bill. Will points out that when bikeways are closed for construction, we should take the promised re-opening date with a grain — or possibly, a bag — of salt. Thanks to Streetsblog’s Ben Fried for tipping us to a great cartoon addressing the issue of cars stopping in the bikelane, while Damien asks if we’ll really see the city’s Bike Master Plan next month. And finally, Anonymous Cyclist offers a great explanation of what to do if you’re in a cycling accident.

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