Tag Archive for David Vahedi

A little this, a little that — Sadik-Khan, Street Summit, bike stats, bike art, Lance rants

First up, drop whatever you had planned, and ride, walk, bus or drive to Occidental College for tonight’s lecture by Janette Sadik-Khan, New York’s Commissioner of Transportation.

This is the woman most responsible for transforming NYC from one of the most bike-hostile places on the planet to what is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most bike-friendly metropolises, adding 200 miles of bike lanes in just three years.

And afterwards, you can ride over to nearby Disney headquarters in Burbank to protest the on-air anti-bike rant from ESPN idiot commentator Tony Kornheiser (see below).

The lecture is the kickoff event for L.A. StreetSummit 2010, which resumes this Saturday at Downtown’s LA Trade Tech College.

On Saturday, you’ll have a chance to hear speakers including Carl Anthony of Breakthrough Communications, Charlie Gandy, the Mobility Coordinator currently transforming the City of Long Beach, and Lydia Avila of the East LA Community Corporation.

In this afternoon, you can attend three sets of workshops on subjects ranging from the new bike plan, CicLAvia, LACBC’s bike count and increasing diversity in the biking community. Along with about 26 others.

And I’ll be hosting a session on bikes and politics at 1pm:

Session 1: 1pm-1:50pm
Room: tba

Presenters:

Ted Rogers, LACBC Board Member and author of BikingInLA

David Vahedi, Attorney, co-founder of the Westside Neighborhood Council and recent candidate for the 5th Council District

Aurisha Smolarski, LACBCCampaigns and Communications Director

Marcel Porras, cyclist and Transportation Director for L.A.’s 13th City Council District

Kent Strumpell, 11th District representative for L.A.’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and member of the California Bicycle Coalition’s Legislative Committee

Short Summary:

The bicycling community is the sleeping giant of local politics, with an estimated 2.7 million cyclists in Los Angeles County. This informal discussion will explore how to wake that giant to make positive changes in our state and community, and offer an insider’s perspective on how bicyclists can impact the political process to influence elected officials and elect bike-friendly candidates.

I hope to see you there.

The organizers of StreetSummit are asking that each workshop be video recorded for future use; unfortunately, I don’t have a video camera. So if anyone would like to volunteer to record the session, just let me know.

………

Exactly what L.A. cyclists have been missing.

Bikeside’s LA Bike Map provides the city’s first searchable database enabling you to submit, track and study near misses, collisions, harassment and bike theft. This will give cyclists the information we need to spot and avoid dangerous areas, and argue for much needed road improvements and police protection.

And yes, the link will soon find a permanent prominent home over there on the right.

………

A suicidal cyclist riding the wrong way evidently picked a Desperate Housewives star to run into, judging by press reports. Shawn Pyfrom, who plays Andrew Van De Kamp on the show, was driving somewhere in the San Fernando Valley when an elderly man riding against traffic made a sudden turn into the path of his vehicle.

To his credit, Pyfrom reportedly assisted the bloodied biker until help could arrive, and no one has yet been cited by police.

However, it does beg the question of why a cyclist riding the wrong way — one of just 4% of local riders who risk their lives that way, according to the LACBC’s bike count, despite what many drivers will tell you — would turn directly into the path of what had to be a clearly visible oncoming vehicle.

Then again, so far, the only reports are coming from the actor’s publicists.

Maybe that explains it.

………

A couple quick notes from the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

Over the course of the next four Saturdays, German artists Folke Koebberling and Martin Kaltwasser will dismantle an old car and turn it into two fully operational bicycles at the Bermot Station Arts Center.

And mark your calendar for the Cause for Creativity: Tour de Arts, Vol. 2 workshop, bike tour, exhibition and closing party on August 22nd.

………

A New York cyclist is knocked into a bus and killed after getting doored by a driver; as Cyclelicious points out in a well-deserved rant, at least some of the city’s press clearly doesn’t get it. One paper describes it as a freak accident and another — which evidently doesn’t know how to construct a sentence, had this to say:

Cops issued the unidentified driver of the Camry a summons, though it was not immediately clear why, police said.

Streetsblog reminds readers about the video from the Chicago Bicycle Program that explains how bikes and buses can safely share the roads; more important would be teaching drivers the dangers of opening their doors without looking.

………

BikesideLA tells the story of the Birdman, the survivor — barely — of yet another horrifying hit-and-run. Damien notes that authorities and the press blame once again blame the victim in a PCH hit-and-run; sort of like accidently shooting someone and blaming them for standing in front of your bullet. Another call on City Watch to dismantle LADOT. LACBC unveils the city’s first bike count, but doesn’t name the people who actually did it. DIY sharrows return to the streets of L.A., if not actually on the streets; the more or less true story behind the signs. Mega bike shop Perfomance Bicycle comes to Woodland Hills. A Cal State Fullerton cyclist examines fixies and their riders, and finds them lacking. The cyclist missing in Portland was found dead yesterday in the Willamette River; cause of death undetermined pending an autopsy. A great list of the top 10 rudest things a driver can do when encountering a cyclist. Bike Radar looks at why Florida is the nation’s most dangerous place for cyclists. The West Side Greenway in New York’s Battery Park City goes extremely high tech. Zeke takes an unexpected mostly pleasant, semi-frightening ride, only to discover Lance, Levi and Alberto are actually all good friends — and then he wakes up. London cyclists are asked about risk-taking behavior in an attempt to understand an unexpected spike in deaths; I’d start with the city’s truck drivers instead. Poland’s parliament considers making the country more bike friendly. Maybe this is why so many Dutch women ride.

Finally, Lance Armstrong calls ESPN radio host Tony Kornheiser a “complete f-ing idiot” for his recent remarks, including a suggestion that drivers should just run cyclists down. Consider this excerpt courtesy of Bike Radar:

“The last time I looked, the roads were made for automobiles…,” Kornheiser said. “We’re going to be dominated as if this was Beijing by hundreds of thousands of bicyclists …”

He’s no fan of cycling attire either, saying: “They all wear … my God … with the little water bottle in the back and the stupid hats and their shiny shorts. They are the same disgusting poseurs that in the middle of a snowstorm come out with cross-country skiing on your block. Run ‘em down.

“Let them use the right, I’m okay with that. I don’t take my car and ride on the sidewalk because I understand that’s not for my car… Why do these people think that these roads were built for bicycles? … They dare you to run them down.”

Lance calls the remarks “Disgusting, ignorant, foolish.” Or maybe he was referring to Kornheiser himself, who was recently suspended for making inappropriate remarks about a female co-worker’s attire.

Road.cc suggests tweeting your displeasure to @ESPNRadio980. Or maybe we should direct our anger to ESPN’s parent company, conveniently located right here in Burbank.

Update: Thanks to Todd Mumford for sending a link to the audio of Kornheiser’s rant; and yes, it’s even worse than I thought.

An earthquake and an endorsement

Nothing like a little earthquake to get your attention.

Appropriately, it struck last night just as I was reading about the LADOT’s absolutely moronic and incredibly short-sighted plan to eliminate the entire bikeways department and cut all bicycle funding in Los Angeles.

450-Vahedi-StickerNo more endlessly delayed bicycle master plan. No more non-existent sharrows. No more attempting to put off the required environmental review for the Expo bikeway.

In other words, pretty much what they’re not doing right now, but without all the meaningless excuses.

But instead of cracking the whip and telling LADOT to get off their collective asses and do something — anything — to make cycling a legitimate part of the city’s transportation plan, the city may seriously consider just cutting their losses, and politely tell every cyclist in the city to just go screw themselves.

If you’re really surprised, you haven’t been paying attention.

Oh, and did I mention that there is a vital city council election for L.A.’s 5th Council District on Tuesday?

Are you starting to get why it matters?

As cyclists, we do seem to have friends on the council, as evidenced by the adoption of the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. But it will take a lot more than just words to make this city safer for the most vulnerable road users.

It takes real resolve, support and action from our civic leaders. And as this proposal clearly shows, that seems to be sadly lacking these days.

And that is why it is so important to vote for David Vahedi tomorrow.

No offense to Paul Koretz. He has an impressive background in local and state government, and had some great responses to my recent questions about biking and transportation issues.

But David Vahedi clearly understands the importance of bicycling and the issues facing cyclists in this city.

As a lawyer, he fought to protect the rights of cyclists. And as a community activist and a member of his local homeowner’s association and co-founder of his neighborhood council — as well as a lifelong resident of the 5th District — he has worked to protect and improve the quality of life around here.

He has also proven to be exceptionally responsive — which is a breath of fresh air after 8 years of Jack Weiss.

When I first got involved in this race, I reached out to each of the six candidates in the primary election for their comments on biking and transportation issues. Much to my surprise, four of the candidates — Vahedi, Adeena Bleich, Robert Schwartz and Robyn Ritter Simon – responded; only two candidates — Paul Kortez and Ron Galperin — did not. (As the above link shows, Koretz did respond to the second set of questions I submitted for the general election, however.)

Only one of those candidates reached out to me, though.

Instead of just talking about the need for more bike lanes, Vahedi wanted to understand the issues from a rider’s perspective. So he picked up the phone and asked me. And then he did something so rare for a political candidate that I was actually stunned.

He listened. Then responded with more questions, until he truly understood what I was trying to say.

That was the first time I ever spoke with him. And the first time I seriously thought of him as someone who could make a real difference in Los Angeles.

Since then, we’ve spoken a number of times. Each time, he’s made it clear that cyclists will have a friend on the council and a genuine voice in city government if he is elected.

He’s also made it clear that he may not always agree with us. But he’s committed to always being open, honest and objective, and listening to whatever we have to say before making a decision. Then casting his vote based on what’s best for his district and for the city, rather than the special interests that currently run city hall.

And that’s all we can ask of any elected official.

I’m not the only one he’s impressed. Vahedi has been endorsed by The L.A. Times and the Daily News, as well as former Daily News editor Ran Kaye. And you can read more about both candidates in the L.A. Weekly and in this article from yesterday’s Times.

There will also be a bike ride tomorrow to help support David Vahedi in tomorrow’s election. You can see the details on Facebook, or just show up at Vehedi headquarters at 10 am on Tuesday, May 19 at 10714 Santa Monica Blvd, on the southeast corner Overland Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard.

But whatever you do tomorrow, please — get out and vote.

L.A. Council District 5 — David Vahedi

As I noted recently, I was approached by representatives for both of the candidates in the May 19 runoff election for L.A.’s 5th Council District, each of whom offered to discuss bicycling and transportation issues here. As a result, I sent each candidate a list of five questions.

Here is the response from David Vahedi, current Board Member of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners Association and a co-founder of the Westside Neighborhood Council, as well as pro-bono attorney for Friends of Animals and other rescue organizations. He is also well-versed in bicycle law, having represented cyclists in a number of important cases, and is a life-long resident of the 5th District. I’ll repost this on the CD5/SD26 page above and keep it there through the election on May 19th.

David Vahedi

vahedi-small1bicyclist was killed by an intoxicated hit-and-run driver in Echo Park recently, the latest in a string of hit-and run incidents. What can be done on the city level to reduce the rate of both drunk driving and hit-and-runs? And what can be done to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians?

Injuries and deaths caused by drunk drivers are not only senseless, but absolutely maddening. For the last 30 years, while the public has demanded tougher sanctions for drunk driving, the alcohol lobby has used campaign contributions to water down enforcement. A perfect example is the current proposal by an Assemblyman to require breathalyzer ignition locks installed on convicted drunk drivers vehicles. After more political contributions and pressure he has capitulated and the bill is now only for a pilot program in four counties.  

More germane to Los Angeles is the fact that we are the most under policed city in the nation. For the last 15 years we have talked about a 10,000 member police force, but are only finally reaching the milestone later this year if the city council shows back bone and supports the Mayor’s goal. 

While we should have 15,000 officers to be at parity with New York, Chicago, and other major cities per capita, we just lagging behind. Most frustrating to me is the fact that just a 2.2% shift in the general fund budget of LA would pay to hire an additional 1,000 officers. I cannot believe we cannot find and cut 2.2% of inefficiency to make this happen.

If you want to cut down on drunk driving and hit and runs you need the cops on the street to make it happen. More importantly, as I wrote during the primary, educated cops on the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights and enforcement of laws to protect cyclists will start us in the right direction.

Finally, I am very proud that my neighborhood council was able to raise $5,000.00 to purchase 5 police bicycles for the WLA Division. These bike officers have been seeing first hand and citing vehicle drivers for their knucklehead moves that put all cyclists at risk. 

The Los Angeles City Council recently gave approval to the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. Are you familiar with this document, and if so, do you support these rights as written? Are there any you disagree with, and why? And what would you consider the next steps to transform those rights from mere words into tangible action?  

I was lucky enough to see the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights shortly after it was drafted by the BWC and other leaders in the community in the Spring of 2008 when several friends e-mailed it to me.

I fully support the bill. I would like to strengthen the bill to include that all future road construction projects should require as part of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) an independent section on how the project would benefit and encourage safe bicycle riding so we stop squandering the opportunity to add to a safe riding experience and encourage people to get out of their cars. 

Please see my primary election responses below for how we can as city leaders stop talking about protecting cyclists and actually start doing it.

There is often a high level of tension between cyclists and drivers in Los Angeles as they compete for limited road space, as illustrated by last year’s incident in Mandeville Canyon. What can the city do to help reduce that tension, and encourage both sides to safely and courteously share the road?  

While we all have witnessed some bonehead moves by cyclists, the majority of the tension in Los Angeles lies with inattentive drivers who are wedded to an idea that they own the road and that driving a car is a right. 

As mentioned earlier, I have been promoting getting more police officers out of their cars and onto bikes. I will continue this on the city council. Bike officers are a proven method of reducing crime and promoting community policing (it is easier to stop and interact with citizens on a bike, than in a car.) 

More importantly, these officers are more likely to cite for dangerous driving that put cyclists at risk.

Also as mentioned earlier, we have failed to incorporate the biking community in dozens of road projects that for very little additional costs could have added segregated bike lanes.

What role, if any, do you see bicycles playing in city transportation policy and improving traffic flow within the city?

As mentioned earlier, all road projects, whether requiring an EIR or not, must include a real dialogue on how the project incorporates and encourages safe cycling.

Are there any other issues you want to address, or any additional comments you’d like to make to the bicycling community?

I would like to share my comments written during the primary which I have included below. As always, Please do not hesitate to contact me at home (310) 557-9677 to talk about any issue. I look forward to working with your group and other groups to make Los Angeles a world class city for cyclists.

David Vahedi’s statement from the March 3rd primary election

Thank you for the opportunity to write specifically about bicycling issues in relation to my candidacy for Los Angeles City Council, 5th District.

vahedi-small1Whether you are an avid weekend cyclist or a person who depends on a bicycle to get to work or school, the City of Los Angeles has failed miserably to create an infrastructure that encourages cycling.

As you are aware, in my life long district, the 5th, we have very few Class One Bikeways. We must build more and I am dedicated to achieving this goal even if it means I will have to tap my office holder accounts to realize this dream.

As you will see from my Website at  Votevahedi.com, Westside button, I have been a long time advocate for a continuous Class One Bikeway along the Exposition Light Rail Line from Downtown to Santa Monica. I will be a strong voice for this project on the city council.

Another problem we must tackle is the unwillingness of most motorists to appreciate the exposed nature of cyclists and that when a vehicle fails to follow the traffic laws, especially around a cyclist; the result is often severe bodily harm or death for the cyclist. LAPD must be constantly reminded to take cyclist safety as a top concern along with educating drivers. Furthermore, there are many simple things the City can do to protect riders, from highly fluorescent lines indicating a bikeway to placing concave mirrors at known dangerous crossings.

We must also create a true hotline with rapid response for both potholes and street surface issues that are not only talking away from the positive experience of cycling, but also resulting in many serious injuries to riders.

There are also two issues in the legal arena that must be addressed and changed. Many cyclists are unaware that if they are injured on any class of bikeway due to the negligence of the city, that the city is 100% immune from liability. This is the result of the courts extending immunity for trail and paths in the mountains to bike paths, including all classes of bikeways.

This extension of immunity followed after a cyclist broke his neck on Sepulveda Blvd., near Mulholland Highway, after the asphalt collapsed under his bike. The city was aware of the unsafe conditions and the cyclist sued to recover his damages. On appeal, the higher court specifically found that cities and counties have immunity even where they had “actual notice” of the danger.

As an attorney, I have litigated this immunity issue when a client was injured on the Venice Bike Path when a DWP manhole had a piece of metal protruding from it. The DWP, when originally notified of the danger, put a cone over the metal which was soon knocked off, exposing a 13  inch piece of metal 1 inch by 1/16th of an inch that could not be seen. Amazingly, the LAPD officer on the rescue scene was able to break the piece of metal off at the base just like a hangar protecting other cyclists and doing what the DWP should have done in the first place.

There is currently a culture at city hall arising from this immunity that puts the repair of bikes path at the bottom of the list. This must change. The city should adopt the public policy that it will not invoke the immunity if it is determined that they had “actual notice” of the danger and failed to act prudently.

The second area of law that needs to be addressed is that of presumption. Specifically, that if a cyclist is injured in a bike lane in a cyclist versus vehicle accident, there is a rebuttable presumption that the driver of the vehicle was negligent. This presumption will work in two ways to protect cyclists. First, recovery of damages will be less expensive and time consuming for the cyclist, and I strongly believe that insurance companies will do a much better job to educate drivers to be more prudent and aware of cyclists’ rights to share the road.

While I most likely cannot make this important legal change directly from the council, city councils historically have been very successful in influencing the legislature to make statewide changes to law.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at home (310) 557-9677 to talk about any issue. I look forward to working with your group and other groups to make Los Angeles a world class city for cyclists.

Sincerely,

David

Los Angeles CD5: Things are getting interesting

Monday night, I attended a debate between the candidates in the May 19 general election for Los Angeles 5th Council District, Paul Koretz and David Vahedi.

Afterwards, I had hoped that I might be able to talk to someone from the Koretz campaign and encourage them to finally provide their comments about bicycling and transportation issues, like four of the six candidates in the primary election did, including Vahedi. Unfortunately, they left before I had a chance to catch anyone.

Instead, I was approached by Vahedi’s campaign manager. He asked if I had any questions for Vahedi, and offered to have him write another post for this blog.

Yeah, like I’m going to turn down an offer like that.

Then the next morning I received an email from someone with the Koretz campaign, who offered to respond to my earlier request for his comments.

So I gave it a little thought, and taking my cue from Damien Newton’s survey for the city attorney candidates, I emailed both campaigns a brief list of questions this morning:

1. A bicyclist was killed by an intoxicated hit-and-run driver Saturday night, the latest in a string of hit-and run incidents. What can be done on the city level to reduce the rate of both drunk driving and hit-and-runs? And what can be done to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians?

2. The Los Angeles City Council recently gave approval to the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights. Are you familiar with this document, and if so, do you support these rights as written? Are there any you disagree with, and why? And what would you consider the next steps to transform those rights from mere words into tangible action?

3. There is often a high level of tension between cyclists and drivers in Los Angeles as they compete for limited road space, as illustrated by last year’s incident in Mandeville Canyon. What can the city do to help reduce that tension, and encourage both sides to safely and courteously share the road?

4. What role, if any, do you see bicycles playing in city transportation policy and improving traffic flow within the city?

5. Are there any other issues you want to address, or any additional comments you’d like to make to the bicycling community?

We’ll have to see if they actually follow through, and what they’ll have to say. If they do, I’ll get it online as fast as I can. And if not, that should tell us something as we prepare to cast our ballots.

Either way, things are starting to get interesting around here.


Streetsblog reports on the appearance of a new ghost bike at Flower and La Brea. Congratulations are in order, as Gary graduates to CAT 4. Stephen Box explores the homeless encampment known as the Orange Line Bike Path. Alex provides a step-by-step plan for bicycle activism. West Seattle is becoming a hub for cycling; so, evidently, is Changwon. Finally, an Irish writer asks why it’s so hard to transition to two wheels, while another hangs up her helmet for good.

Still think your vote doesn’t count?

Let’s talk about yesterday’s election for just a moment.

As you may be aware, I invited each of the candidates for L.A.’s 5th Council District to use this site to address cycling and other transportation issues. Four of the six candidates — Adeena Bleich, Robert Schwatrz, Robyn Ritter Simon and David Vahedi — chose to participate.

And one of those four, David Vahedi, received the most votes yesterday. He’ll face off with Paul Koretz — one of the two who chose not to participate — in a runoff election May 19.

Thanks in no small part to mentions by Damien Newton of L.A. Streetsblog, as well as a few local riders who emailed a link to the candidates’ statements or posted links in local biking forums, these pages received over 300 unique visits.

Now consider this. Vahedi won yesterday’s primary with a margin of just 60 votes, out of over 26,000 votes cast.

60 votes.

At the same time, Koretz finished just 1512 votes ahead of Bleich, the 3rd place finisher. That’s 1512 votes out of the roughly 100 thousand or so registered voters in the 5th District — the vast majority of whom didn’t even bother to cast a ballot.

So if you ever wondered if your vote really makes a difference, consider this: if just 20% of the people who read these statements cast their votes for Vahedi, we were responsible for his entire margin of victory. And if just 757 people had voted for Bleich instead of Koretz, she’d be in the runoff, instead.

And you can’t tell me there aren’t at least 757 cycling registered voters on the Westside.

Over the next few days, I plan to email each of the candidates who provided a statement, to thank them for participating and offer my support in the future. Because we need to support the people who support cycling.

I’ll also make one last attempt to reach Paul Koretz, and encourage him to provide a statement. I won’t vote for anyone until I know how they stand on the issues that affect us as cyclists. And I hope you won’t, either.

Although I’m more that happy to let Damien take over from here on out.

As for all the cyclists who were eligible to vote yesterday, but didn’t take the effort to cast a ballot, I have just one question.

What the hell is wrong with you?

 

Bike Portland is on her way to L.A. for this weekend’s Bike Summit; yours truly will be participating as well. As if there weren’t enough problems on area bike paths, now we have to dodge bodies. And finally, I was thinking about getting this for my next bike jersey, although this one seems pretty meaty, too.

Bike paths: Ride at your own risk.

Most experienced cyclists know that we risk our safety every time we venture into the traffic lane.

But maybe you didn’t know that you’re also at risk when you ride in a designated off-road bikeway (Class I). Except the risk there isn’t from careless or aggressive drivers.

It’s from a bottom-line obsessed bureaucracy that has little or no incentive to protect your safety, or even your life. Because they have no liability whatsoever for the condition of that bike path.

Trip on a misaligned manhole cover on the sidewalk — as my wife did a few years ago — and the company or government agency responsible for maintaining it is legally responsible. Get into an accident on the street because of a missing traffic sign or a dangerous road condition, and the city, county or state agency responsible can be held liable.

But suffer an injury because of a massive pothole or botched patch job in a bike lane, or a huge crack — or even criminal activity — on an off-road trail, and you’re on your own.

Swerving around the frequent bumps and cracks in the bike path around the Marina, I always assumed that someone would be injured there sooner or later — if they haven’t already. And that the county, which is responsible for most of the Marina del Rey area, would be sued as a result.

But I never knew that such a suit would be summarily dismissed.

It wasn’t until I read the statement from Council District 5 candidate David Vahedi that I had the slightest clue that no city, county or state government, nor any private enterprise, bears any legal responsibility for maintaining safe riding conditions on a Class I or Class II bikeway. (I’m assuming they’re still responsible for conditions on a Class III bike route, since those usually require riding in the traffic lane. But I could be wrong.)

When I asked Vahedi if her had any more information, he was kind enough to pass along the law that removed liability on off-road paths and trails, as well as the California appellate court ruling that greatly expanded it.

It’s clear that the original intent of the law was to encourage property owners to grant access to the public by removing liability for conditions they didn’t intentionally cause, and may not be aware of. For instance, DWP might not be willing to provide a trail leading to one of their reservoirs if they had to worry about being sued any time someone slipped and fell on a wet rock.

The problem came when the courts began to interpret any off-road path, trail or sidewalk — including heavily traveled Class I bikeways, such as the Marvin Broad Bikeway along the beach from Santa Monica to Palos Verdes — as being covered under the law. Or on-road bike lanes for that matter, such as the bike lane through the Sepulveda Pass, as Vehedi notes in his comments.

And even, as in his example from the Venice bike path, if they are fully aware of the problem and have done nothing to correct it.

So if you’ve wondered why things never seem to get fixed along our bikeways, that’s why. Problems get corrected when the agencies responsible face liability. If there’s no risk to them, it usually falls to the bottom of a long list of things they intend to get around to eventually, when and if their budget allows — even if that poses a greater risk for everyone else.

Yet while government and corporate lawyers have been quick to capitalize on their new-found freedom from liability, one section of the law has been universally ignored — the one that says warning signs have to be posted if there are any known health or safety hazards along a paved pathway.

So if authorities know that the lights are out along the L.A. River bikeway, they are required to post signs warning riders about it. If L.A. is aware — and they are — that the Ballona Creek trail runs through known gang territory and that riders have been subject to assaults, they have to provide a warning to anyone who might consider riding there.

And if Los Angeles and Santa Monica refuse to enforce the No Pedestrian signs on the beachfront bike path through their respective cities, they have to warn riders about the presence of pedestrians.

Otherwise, they can — and should — be held liable for any injuries that may result.

C.I.C.L.E. reposts an article tracing the early history of the bicycle. Bike craftsmen exhibit their work at the North American Handmade Bike Show. Once they clear the snow, Yellowstone opens its roads to cyclists and other non-motorized traffic for several weeks of car-free riding, starting in mid-March. A woman and her children are hit head-on by a car while riding on a popular bike path on Hawaii’s North Shore. And finally, Bike Date reposts a list of great bike safety tips from the Onion.

Council District 5 Candidate Statements: David Vahedi

For the past week, I’ve allowed candidates in the March 3 city election for the L.A. City Council District 5 to use this blog to address the bicycling community. You’ll find statements from Adeena Bleich, Robert Schwartz and Robyn Ritter Simon below. You can see the original invitation here, and all the statements received so far by clicking here.


Thank you for the opportunity to write specifically about bicycling issues in relation to my candidacy for Los Angeles City Council, 5th District.

vahedi-small1Whether you are an avid weekend cyclist or a person who depends on a bicycle to get to work or school, the City of Los Angeles has failed miserably to create an infrastructure that encourages cycling.

As you are aware, in my life long district, the 5th, we have very few Class One Bikeways. We must build more and I am dedicated to achieving this goal even if it means I will have to tap my office holder accounts to realize this dream.

As you will see from my Website at  Votevahedi.com, Westside button, I have been a long time advocate for a continuous Class One Bikeway along the Exposition Light Rail Line from Downtown to Santa Monica. I will be a strong voice for this project on the city council.

Another problem we must tackle is the unwillingness of most motorists to appreciate the exposed nature of cyclists and that when a vehicle fails to follow the traffic laws, especially around a cyclist; the result is often severe bodily harm or death for the cyclist. LAPD must be constantly reminded to take cyclist safety as a top concern along with educating drivers. Furthermore, there are many simple things the City can do to protect riders, from highly fluorescent lines indicating a bikeway to placing concave mirrors at known dangerous crossings.

We must also create a true hotline with rapid response for both potholes and street surface issues that are not only talking away from the positive experience of cycling, but also resulting in many serious injuries to riders.

There are also two issues in the legal arena that must be addressed and changed. Many cyclists are unaware that if they are injured on any class of bikeway due to the negligence of the city, that the city is 100% immune from liability. This is the result of the courts extending immunity for trail and paths in the mountains to bike paths, including all classes of bikeways.

This extension of immunity followed after a cyclist broke his neck on Sepulveda Blvd., near Mulholland Highway, after the asphalt collapsed under his bike. The city was aware of the unsafe conditions and the cyclist sued to recover his damages. On appeal, the higher court specifically found that cities and counties have immunity even where they had “actual notice” of the danger.

As an attorney, I have litigated this immunity issue when a client was injured on the Venice Bike Path when a DWP manhole had a piece of metal protruding from it. The DWP, when originally notified of the danger, put a cone over the metal which was soon knocked off, exposing a 13  inch piece of metal 1 inch by 1/16th of an inch that could not be seen. Amazingly, the LAPD officer on the rescue scene was able to break the piece of metal off at the base just like a hangar protecting other cyclists and doing what the DWP should have done in the first place.

There is currently a culture at city hall arising from this immunity that puts the repair of bikes path at the bottom of the list. This must change. The city should adopt the public policy that it will not invoke the immunity if it is determined that they had “actual notice” of the danger and failed to act prudently.

The second area of law that needs to be addressed is that of presumption. Specifically, that if a cyclist is injured in a bike lane in a cyclist versus vehicle accident, there is a rebuttable presumption that the driver of the vehicle was negligent. This presumption will work in two ways to protect cyclists. First, recovery of damages will be less expensive and time consuming for the cyclist, and I strongly believe that insurance companies will do a much better job to educate drivers to be more prudent and aware of cyclists’ rights to share the road.

While I most likely cannot make this important legal change directly from the council, city councils historically have been very successful in influencing the legislature to make statewide changes to law.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at home (310) 557-9677 to talk about any issue. I look forward to working with your group and other groups to make Los Angeles a world class city for cyclists.

Sincerely,

David

 

%d bloggers like this: