Tag Archive for L.A. anti-harassment ordinance

LA-style cyclist anti-harassment laws continue to spread, but there’s a catch; plus your Morning Links

Oakland is the latest city to consider an LA-style bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance.

However, there’s a hidden problem with these kind of ordinances, as LA bike lawyer Josh Cohen recently pointed out.

LA’s law, and most, if not all, of the similar ordinances that have followed throughout California, allow the court to award lawyer’s fees if you win your case, as an inducement for attorneys to take cases that might not otherwise be worth their time.

The problem is, lawyers usually collect their fees from insurance companies when they win a case. But insurers don’t pay for intentional acts. And the whole point of the anti-harassment ordinance is to punish drivers for their intentional actions in harassing riders.

Which, by definition, lets the driver’s insurance company off the hook for any damages, including attorney’s fees.

So unless the driver who harasses you has a major bank account or significant assets that can be converted into cash, it may be difficult to find an attorney to take your case. Which is no knock on lawyers; while some may take a case pro bono when they can, they still need to pay the bills like anyone else.

And that means lower income drivers could have carte blanche to threaten you on your bike with little fear of any consequences.

The short term solution is to act as your own attorney in small claims court; Cohen says he’s working on an online tool kit that that will teach riders how to build a case and guide them through the legal process.

A longer term solution is to pass a statewide version of the anti-harassment ordinance, so enforcement no longer depends on invisible city limit lines. An offense that occurs in Santa Monica or San Gabriel is just as offensive as one that takes place in Los Angeles, and the offender should face the same consequences.

And while we’re at it, let’s change the law to require insurance companies to pay for all adverse traffic acts, intentional or not.

Maybe when they face the costs for the threatening actions of the drivers they insure, they’ll actually do something about it.

And maybe get some of these jerks off the road once and for all.

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Streetsblog’s Damien Newton takes an in-depth look at the proposal to increase the sales tax to fix LA’s streets and some, but not all, sidewalks.

While virtually everyone benefits from better streets — bike riders not the least — there needs to be a firm commitment to build out the bike plan as streets are repaved and striped, rather than the vague promises we’ve been offered so far.

And since everyone walks, there should be at least as much commitment to fix every broken sidewalk as there is to repave failed streets.

The question is whether Angelenos will swallow yet another sales tax increase that places the burden of street repair on everyone, whether or not they use them.

Or whether they contribute to the disrepair of our streets by rolling massively oversized multi-ton and highly destructive vehicles over them.

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LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin hosts a free Fireside Chat on Transportation: The 405, Traffic, Transit, Biking & More on Friday, April 11th. That’s one I’d like to attend.

LADOT and City Planning are hosting a webinar on Year Two of the bike plan rollout (pdf) on Thursday, April 17th from 7 to 8 pm

Frequent contributor Erik Griswold looks at the city that bans play; yes, that would be our very own LA.

Flying Pigeon says the bike infrastructure infection is spreading. Meanwhile, those new green bike lanes in Santa Monica may be nice, but they’re not what cyclists were promised, and there’s still more work to do. Not the least of which is figuring out what to do with the city’s airport, which may be best done by bike.

Now this sounds like fun, as a planned May ride will visit the murals of Northeast Los Angeles.

LA students call for fixing San Fernando Road, including bike lanes and better sidewalks.

How Sweet Ride USA’s Steve Isaacs went from musician to creating a unique mash-up of bikes and deserts.

Mark your calendar for California Bike Advocacy Day on May 21st.

A Riverside hit-and-run driver gets nine months for leaving a seriously injured bike rider to bleed in the street. More than a slap on the wrist, but hardly what the crime deserves.

This is why you always carry ID when you ride. Oakland police were trying to identify a man who was critically injured in a solo fall when he went over the handlebars; fortunately, the 80-year old rider was eventually identified. Your loved ones deserve to know where you are and what happened if you’re too injured to speak for yourself, and you deserve to have them by your side.

Can protected bike lanes push bicycling into the mainstream? If they can’t, maybe the rise of the combination bike shop/bar can.

A new team-based East Coast track cycling league is set to roll out next year.

My hometown is nominated as one of the nation’s top 10 bicycling cities; needless to say, Los Angeles isn’t, and neither are leading local candidates Long Beach and Santa Monica. Wait, what the hell is Malibu doing on the list?

Fargo cyclists may be afraid to use a new bike lane because motorists certainly aren’t.

Eighty-two-year old Omaha driver opts to kill the person on two wheels rather than collide with the vehicle stopped ahead of her.

Nothing stops Minneapolis bicyclists from riding, even in the dead of winter. Same with most LA riders, as long as it’s at least 70 degrees out.

More proof that hit-and-run isn’t just an LA problem, as a Pennsylvania Amish buggy driver hit an SUV twice before trotting sedately from the scene.

He still doesn’t get it. The Aussie cab passenger who doored a cyclist refuses responsibility, but does admit to acting like a jerk afterwards. And Melbourne’s top bike cop says the city’s patchwork bike lanes give riders a false sense of security.

Finally, chances are, you’ve already seen this one by now. But if not, you definitely need to, as a cyclist is hit by a mattress carried by a passing truck — which miraculously flips under him and cushions his fall, saving him from serious injury. Thanks to Michael Eisenberg for the heads-up.

And it’s been over a century. So where’s my flying bicycle, already?

Breaking news — bike rider physically assaulted by motorist in West LA

I’ve received an eye witness report of a bike rider being physically attacked by a motorist this afternoon.

According the report, forwarded to me by attorney David Huntsman, a woman was driving north on Westwood Blvd when she saw another driver get out of his car and attack the rider on the southeast corner of Westwood and Olympic just after noon today. As she described it, the driver came at the rider flailing his arms, while the cyclist yelled at his attacker.

The woman said other people appeared to be calling 911 to report the attack.

Let’s be very clear.

No matter what took place between the two parties to cause the conflict, the motorist committed a crime by striking the rider — as one cop explained to me in a similar case, the driver was at fault as soon as he left his vehicle. He can, and should, be prosecuted if he and his victim can be identified.

This is also would appear to be a perfect case for LA’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, which allows bicyclists to sue motorists or others who threaten or attack them while riding. The ordinance allows victims to collect three times actual damages or $1000, whichever is higher; it also allows for the payment of full legal fees to encourage lawyers to take a case that might not otherwise be worth their time.

The problem with the ordinance has always been that it can be difficult to gather the witnesses or other evidence necessary to prove the case. But in this case, it took place in front of multiple witnesses, at least one of whom has already come forward.

If anyone has more information — or if you were the rider involved — contact me; you can find me email address on the About page.

And let’s not forget that this is exactly where an innovative floating bike lane was proposed to reduce or eliminate conflicts between cyclists and drivers — without the loss of a single traffic lane or parking spot.

Yet the lane was vetoed by Westside City Councilmember Paul Koretz at the urging of wealthy homeowners, even though it would have zero negative impact on the Boulevard and the surrounding area.

And would move cyclists out of the way of impatient, and too often, angry drivers, helping to avoid incidents like this.

Zen and the art of road rage

For the second time in the last 10 days, I found myself dealing with a road raging driver Thursday.

I was making a left from Main Street in Venice, after enjoying the relative luxury of the newly installed bike lanes, onto the sharrowed pavement of Abbot Kinney.

For once, I found myself all alone in the turn lane. But after the light turned green, a car came up behind me as I waited for the oncoming traffic to clear so I could make my left.

As I waited, I allowed my bike to drift slowly forward to avoid clipping out of my pedals and putting my foot down. And once the last car passed, I made my turn.

Unfortunately, my forward drift had put me at the far side of the intersection, so my turn ended up on the far side of the roadway, just this side of the right curb. And giving the jerk behind me just enough space to make his turn at the same time, blowing past about a foot from my elbow.

Startled by such a dangerous, jackass move, I yelled out “Hey!”

I was just as startled by his instantaneous anger. “Fuck you!” he yelled. “Get off the road.”

And there it was.

A clear violation of the new anti-harassment ordinance — a threatening action with his car, followed by the verbal implied threat telling me to get off the road. And a dangerous jerk who needed to be taught that we have every bit as much right to the road as angry, auto-centric idiots like him.

All I needed was a license number and witnesses, which wouldn’t have been hard to find on such a busy intersection.

By the time I’d collected myself and regained full control of my bike, he was already 100 yards down the road. But what he didn’t count on was that a very pissed-off cyclist can easily outrun a car on a crowded city street.

So I stood on my pedals, kicked up my cadence and knocked it up a couple gears, and soon found myself steadily gaining on him; within a few blocks I was less than 20 feet off his back bumper as he watched me approach in his rear view mirror.

But just as I was readying my camera to snap a photo of his license plate, he gunned his engine and quickly cut onto the wrong side of the road to bypass the traffic ahead of him, before zipping left down the next side street and rounding left at the next corner.

And like that, he was gone.

I may have shouted a reference to his apparent lack of cajones as, like Monty Python’s Sir Robin, he bravely ran away.

At least I could take comfort in scaring the crap out of a cowardly jerk who’d rather run away after threatening someone than face up to what he’d done.

It was clear that any further attempt to chase him down would be a wasted effort in the tangled warren of narrow streets behind Abbot Kinney. So I rode on, mad as hell, replaying the events in an endless loop in my mind.

And letting that jerk ruin my ride on a perfectly sunny SoCal day.

And that’s when I heard it.

That little voice inside my head, asking “Why are you still carrying him?”

It was a barely remembered story, from a time in my life when I was a steady student of eastern philosophy; these days, I’m less of a student as it has become, simply, a part of me.

When I slow down long enough to remember, that is.

As the story goes, two monks were traveling together when they came to a roaring river, and found a young woman who asked if they could carry her across. Without hesitation, one of the monks lifted her up and carried her across the stream, setting her down on the other side before continuing on their way.

As they walked, though, his partner was troubled, and asked why the other man had carried the woman when their training forbade physical contact with the opposite sex.

“Brother,” the other man replied, “I set her down back at the river. Why are you still carrying her?”

Why indeed.

If I could have done something to fight back against his threatening actions, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it. But by then, there was nothing I could do.

He’d threatened me. And gotten away with it.

And there’s just not enough room on my bike to carry another man and the car he rode in on.

So in that moment, I chose to leave it behind and get on with my ride. And my life.

If I see him again, I may make another attempt to bring him to justice. But it was a beautiful day, and I had another 30 miles to go.

And life is too short to carry that anger with me.

Three years for Swarzman killer, help shape L.A. cycling policy & the L.A. Weekly continues its anti-bike crusade

And just like that, it’s over.

Joseph Ricardo Fernandez was sentenced to three years in state prison today for the hit-and-run death of Encino ultra-distance cyclist Jim Swarzman last April.

As you may recall, Swarzman was riding along Highway 101 in the Leucadia neighborhood of Encinitas with his fiancé and another man when he was hit by a truck driven by Fernandez.

Actually, hit is a mild term; his fiancé, Nicole Honda described the collision as an explosion as she watched Swarzman fly past her through the air, while the driver continued down the highway without even slowing down.

Fernandez turned himself in a day later, reportedly telling police investigators he thought he might have hit something over the weekend.

Though how you manage to hit someone with that much force without knowing it will forever be beyond me.

After Fernandez waived his right to a jury trial, he was convicted of felony hit-and-run causing death in a two-day bench trial conducted by Vista Judge K. Michael Kirkman, facing a possible four years in prison.

Instead, he got three.

Three years for plowing down another human being and leaving him in the street to die.

Oh wait.

Although I suppose we should be grateful the Fernandez got any time at all. I’m glad he was sentenced for his crime, even if he did get less than the maximum sentence.

But this is one time when the time does not fit the crime. Maybe now that the trial is over, we can finally find out why Fernandez only faced charges for hit-and-run, rather than being charged with actually causing Swarzman’s death.

And if the rumors are true about the judge blaming Jim Swarzman for improper lane positioning, in what would seem to be a basic misunderstanding of bike law.

Update: San Diego’s 10News reports that Fernandez was sentenced to just two years in prison, rather than three. No explanation yet on the discrepancy.

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If you’re not doing anything tonight, drop by the Pitfire Pizza at 108 W. 2nd Street in Downtown Los Angeles at 7pm. And help set the agenda for cycling in the City of Angels.

Because, as of this month, I’m taking over for Stephen Villavaso as Chair of the LACBC’s Planning Committee.

Don’t get me wrong.

Stephen’s done a great job in chairing the committee. Quite frankly, I would be just as happy, if not happier, if he’d been able to continue in the role. And I want to thank him for all the hard work he’s done as Chair, and hope he’ll continue to offer his invaluable insights as a member of the Planning Committee.

However, any change in leadership provides an ideal opportunity to rethink the role of the committee, as well as the projects and policies we want to pursue.

As a result, the primary topic of this month’s meeting will be a discussion of exactly what the Planning Committee is, and what you’d like to see come under its heading. I hope to conclude the meeting with a clear agreement on the role and future direction of this committee.

In addition, I’d like to begin a discussion of the programs and policies we want to support on a state and local level. This doesn’t have to be limited to anything that is currently under discussion within the LACBC or anywhere else. Use your imagination to come up with solutions that could make bicycling better, safer and/or more enjoyable for bike riders in California, L.A. County, or in your own neighborhood and the areas you ride.

I have my own ideas. But I really want to hear your thoughts as we shape an agenda for the months to come.

I’d like to personally invite everyone to attend. You don’t have to be a member of the Planning committee, or even a member of the LACBC. If you ride a bike in Southern California, or care about those who do, we want to hear from you.

Because the more voices we hear from, the better our work will reflect the attitudes and desires of the local riding community.

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Note to Dennis Romero of the L.A. Weekly:

You didn’t encounter a shitstorm of criticism because you expressed your opinion about L.A.’s bicyclist anti-harassment ordinance. You were deservedly taken to task because you blatantly misrepresented the new law.

And continue to do so.

Attorney Bill Blum may or may not make some valid points in his Op-Ed in the L.A. Daily News — though you’d think any lawyer worth his salt would know that neither drivers or cyclists are a protected class under the Equal Protection Clause.

Let alone that the laws regarding cyclists and drivers are not, and were never intended to be, symmetrical in their application to each. The courts have long accepted that drivers can be required to have a license —which can be taken away — because of the threat their vehicles pose to everyone else on the streets. On the other hand, cyclists don’t require a license precisely because we pose so little risk to those around us.

So much for the courts requiring that both be treated equally.

Yes, we may piss you off.

But the biggest risk most drivers face from cyclists is that we may get a little blood on your paint when you run us over.

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I’m facing a busy work load this week — the first time in months I’ve had as much, if not more, paying work on my plate as I can handle. So let me offer my apologies in advance if I don’t manage to post as much or as often as usual.

Besides, I’ve got a committee to chair.

On the other hand, that makes it a perfect opportunity to submit a guest post of your own. So if you have anything you’d like to say on any subject directly or indirectly related to bicycling, just drop me a line at bikinginla at hotmail dot com. Whether you agree with me or not.

And yes, that includes Mr. Romero.

LBFD’s John Hines guilty, 3feet2pass passes and L.A. Weekly goes off the deep end

You can now remove “alleged” from any reference to John Hines.

The Long Beach Fire Captain, scion of one of the city’s leading fire fighting families, changed his plea to guilty in Orange County Superior Court on Tuesday.

He was convicted on three felony counts — driving under the influence, driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of .08, and hit-and-run, as well as sentencing enhancements for having a BAC over .20 and causing great bodily injury.

Hines will serve a 90-day diagnostic evaluation in state prison to determine whether he is suitable to serve a sentence in the state penitentiary. After his release, he will be sentenced on December 2nd at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana; potential penalties range from probation to up to six years and eight months behind bars.

Hines reportedly spent the morning of April 1st drinking at the Schooner or Later bar in Long Beach before getting behind the wheel of his truck. Around 1:20 pm, he swerved into the bike lane on Westminster Ave in Seal Beach and plowed into the bike ridden by 47-year old Jeffrey Gordon.

Gordon was thrown over 70 feet, suffering critical injuries including severe lacerations, spinal injuries and head trauma; according to the Orange County Register, he was hospitalized for two weeks, and continues to suffer from limited physical mobility, as well as speech and memory loss.

Meanwhile, Hines fled the scene without slowing down; witnesses followed him to his home where he was arrested with a BAC of 0.24.

I have no idea why he needs to be evaluated for suitability for state prison; most inmates are simply sentenced without any say in the matter.

But we can only hope the judge imposes the maximum sentence.

Anyone who is trained to save lives, yet is so drunk and heartless as to leave a man laying broken and bleeding in the street does not deserve to walk free.

Or ever drive again.

Thanks to Rex Reese, Jim Lyle and an anonymous source for the heads-up.

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California cyclists may now enjoy a little cushion from passing vehicles, as the State Assembly passed SB 910, the 3feet2pass bill, by a margin of 41-20.

Do I really need to point out that 16 of the no votes came from the Republican side of the aisle, as the California GOP has swung so far to the right they feel a kneejerk need to oppose virtually everything?

However, six Republicans retained sufficient common sense to vote for the bill, while four Democrats felt California drivers still deserve the right to buzz cyclists as long as they don’t actually make contact.

What still remains to be determined is whether the dangerous exception allowing drivers to pass at less than three feet, as long as they slow to 15 miles above the speed of the ride, remained in the bill or was removed in amendments as we have been repeatedly promised.

In other words, if you were riding at 20 mph, a driver moving at up to 35 mph could pass you as close as they wanted as long at they didn’t actually hit you; yeah, good luck with that. And yes, that exception would be every bit as confusing and unenforceable as it sounds, forcing both drivers and police to guess how fast you’re riding.

And yes, it was still in the most recent draft of the law posted online on August 30th.

Let’s hope it really was removed.

Or this will be nothing but feel-good legislation that could actually make it more dangerous for California riders.

Update: Eric B and billsd wrote to correct my reading of the most recent draft of SB 910. The law has in fact been revised to remove the 15 mph passing exemption; it now allows drivers to pass at less than three feet only at speeds of 15 mph or less. Thanks to both for the correction.

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I’ve heard from a number of cyclists who are concerned about a rumor in the case of Joseph Fernandez, the driver convicted of killing Encino endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman.

They’re worried that judge K. Michael Kirkman may have found that Swarzman contributed to his own death though improper lane positioning by failing to ride far enough to the right. As the comment linked to above points out, that would suggest a basic misunderstanding of both state law and commonly taught safe riding practices.

As a result, I reached out to cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels, who looked into the question for me.

According to Wheels, it’s unlikely that the judge would have made a ruling like that, since it’s unrelated to the charges against Fernandez. He’s been found guilty of hit-and-run causing serious injury or death, rather than the death itself.

In other words, Fernandez was convicted of leaving the scene, not killing Swarzman — which makes where Swarzman was positioned  in the lane, and whether he contributed to his own death, irrelevant to this case.

As Wheels points out, that may be a matter that will be addressed in the civil case.

However, if anyone who was actually in the courtroom when Fernandez was found guilty has other information, please let me know.

Fernandez is scheduled to be sentenced on September 12th in San Diego Superior Court in Vista; he faces up to four years in prison, case #CN290834.

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Finally, did the L.A. Weekly deliberately lie about L.A.’s new cyclist anti-harassment ordinance? Or was it a case of journalistic incompetence and failure to fact check?

A blog post by Dennis Romero suggests that the new law will clog the courts with cyclists retaliating for the slightest insult.

Really. The law goes into effect today. (Ed. Actually, it was Monday, but who’s counting?) We can just imagine the court testimony:

Bicyclist: He called me an asshole.

Driver: Your honor, I would like to submit that he is an asshole, and that free speech is protected, especially when one speaks the truth.

And he concludes with a reminder abut First Amendment rights:

Added: Interestingly, we recall that court rulings over the years have held that even swearing at police is protected speech. Guess the bicycle gets more respect than the badge at L.A. City Hall.

Of course, as virtually every commenter on the story has pointed out, he is completely and totally wrong. (I particularly enjoyed the comment from local bikewear manufacturer swrve.)

Mere insults aren’t addressed by this law. In fact, as LAPD Sgt. Krumer pointed out, you can call a cyclist any damn thing you want and be perfectly within your rights. Although at this point, calling someone an L.A. Weekly reader could be particularly hurtful.

What you can’t do is threaten the life or safety of a cyclist, either through words or actions.

That’s it.

Don’t say “I’m going to kill you,” or attempt to run a rider off the road — or imply you intend to — and this law will never apply to you.

And for his suggestion in the comments that most cyclists will never read the law, so they’ll file countless worthless cases anyway, no lawyer is going to take a case unless he or she thinks they have a reasonable chance of winning.

Which means there has to be evidence and/or witnesses to support it. And even if a lawyer did take such a case, the courts wouldn’t hesitate to throw it out.

Which takes us back to the Weekly’s false and inflammatory story, which can only put cyclists at greater risk of actual harassment from angry drivers who might believe their load of crap.

So I demand — yes, demand — a complete and full retraction from the Weekly, as well as a public apology from the author.

And I hope you’ll join me in doing the same.

Thanks to Evan G. for the tip.

Daily News fans the flames of anti-bike bias with misinformed — or maybe dishonest — editorial

In an exceptionally misguided editorial, the L.A. Daily News attacks L.A.’s newly passed bicyclist ant-harassment ordinance as a missed opportunity to create more harmony on the roads.

It would be nice, however, if they had bothered to read the bill — instead of the knee-jerk auto-centric online comments against it — before going off half-cocked in opposing something they clearly don’t understand.

Or worse, trying to stir up controversy by blatantly misrepresenting the new ordinance.

Under the new law, sponsored by Councilman Bill Rosendahl, any car driver who “harasses” or deliberately distracts a bike rider is committing a crime for which the bike rider can sue for and receive monetary damages. What counts as distracting a bike rider – A honk? A wink? A barking dog? We can be sure the lawyers will explore that one in ludicrous detail.

As they should already know — or would, if they had bothered to get the facts first —  no one would be subject to this law simply because a driver winked at a cyclist or honked a horn — unless that honk could be clearly interpreted as a threat to the life and safety of the cyclist.

To quote LAPD bike liaison Sgt. David Krumer,

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.

Maybe the Daily News was on a deadline and didn’t have time to pick up the phone and talk to Sgt. Krumer. Or anyone else who might know what they hell they’re talking about.

Though you’d think they might have corrected it before the same editorial was picked up by partner paper the Daily Breeze, spreading their ludicrously inaccurate interpretation of the ordinance even further.

Then there was this from the editorial:

Now, this is not to condone hostility, verbal abuse or threats by anyone against anyone else. But there are plenty of laws currently on the books protecting a person from inflicting harm on another person, whether it be by car, by hate speech, by meat cleaver or by Chihuahua.

Of course, if they had bothered to send a reporter to the council session to listen the debate leading up to the passage of this ordinance, they might have understood that the things addressed by it are in fact already illegal, since it was discussed repeatedly during the debate.

The problem is, harassment and threats against cyclists are almost impossible to enforce because the violations usually have to be observed by the police before they can take action against a threatening motorist. And not many people are stupid enough to threaten a cyclist when a police officer is watching.

Simply put, this law is necessary because, despite their best efforts, the police aren’t capable of protecting cyclists from motorists 24/7 throughout the vast expanse of this city. So the City Council wisely saw fit to empower cyclists to protect ourselves.

The editorial writers for the Daily News should have known that. But they either didn’t do the most basic due diligence required of their profession, or weren’t willing to let the truth get in the way of stirring up controversy.

Instead, they chose to fan the flames of the conflict on our streets, while simultaneously, and hypocritically, decrying it.

And quite frankly, I find it morally repugnant that anyone could equate a cyclist “blowing a stop sign” with a motorist deliberately threatening the life and safety of another human being.

But hey, that’s just me.

Meanwhile, Carter Rubin does a great job of responding to — and eviscerating — the Daily News stance for Streetsblog.

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The L.A. Times asks if a new grassroots awareness campaign that thanks drivers for seeing cyclists will help adjust attitudes. If so, I’d suggest sending a few cases to the Daily News.

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Ride With!, an online photo project presents “awesome” cyclists from around the world, and asks “Who do you ride with?”

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Yesterday’s story about the Oroville driver’s failed attempt at humor by confessing to an assault with a deadly weapon — her car — against a group of cyclists in a local newspaper column has lead to some passionate and on-target responses, some from names you may recognize.

Now the question is, will it lead to an investigation from local authorities — let alone from the editor who erred in allowing something like this to be published?

I wouldn’t hold your breath.

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Forget the article, this is one of the coolest bike photos I’ve ever seen. Bikerowave volunteers lend a hand at A Place Called Home. Great advice on riding skills and bike etiquette for beginning cyclists. High salaries for Beverly Hills officials don’t result in improvements for cyclists; Rick Risemberg says more bike parking for South Beverly Drive could solve their parking problems. Summer racing at the Encino Velodrome. Arnold celebrates his birthday by riding bikes with the guys in Santa Monica; thanks to George Wolfberg for the heads-up. Long Beach’s biking expats look back on their first month of touring the Northwest by Brompton. The preliminary hearing has been postponed until September for John Hines, the Long Beach fire captain accused of seriously injuring a cyclist in a drunken hit-and-run.

A former Alhambra city councilman goes car light. A cyclist suffers serious injuries after being rear-ended by a car in Montbello Friday evening, while an 18-year old cyclist was critically injured in Norco on Saturday. Bike Newport Beach says they need sharrows now; you really have to wonder just what the city’s official Bike Safety Committee is so afraid of. San Diego cyclists reflect following the hit-and-run death of a local cyclist last week. San Francisco repaints a green bike lane accused of causing collisions.

Bob Mionske offers advice on how to fight bike licensing proposals. A car writer says fight distracted driving collisions by making accident avoidance systems mandatory. How bike shops can encourage cycling in low income areas. Oregon Live says Portland has moved past the sort of driver vs cyclist conflicts that lead to L.A.’s new anti-harassment ordinance; I’m sure many cyclists would disagree. A Boulder CO dump truck driver who killed a 73-year old cyclist in June was ticketed for a previous road rage incident with a cyclist in 2009, as well as brawling with cyclists after running them off the road in 2003. Boulder riders can now enjoy a state-of-the-art bike park, where they can presumably be safe from road raging truck drivers. The Witch on a Bicycle is back, and rightfully complaining that drivers who kill a human being should face a greater penalty than for littering. No shit. Springfield Cyclist rides into an episode of COPS. A writer for the Boston Globe asks can’t cyclists and motorists just get along? A Richmond VA writer offers the 10 things that frustrate him in the conflict between cars and bikes.

Philippe Gilbert continues his amazing year with yet another classics victory. Why is UCI, bike racing’s governing body, reviled instead of respected? Town Mouse wisely says what unites us as cyclists is bigger than what divides us.

Finally, the maker of Brooks saddles causes a panic when they announce they’ll be shutting down after 140 years.

For the next two weeks, that is.

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I hope you’ll join me in offering best wishes to Joe Linton, one of L.A.’s leading bike and eco advocates, on the loss of his mother. And L.A. endurance cyclist and vegan registered dietician Matthew Ruscigno on the death of his great uncle.

Best wishes to my Muslim readers for a blessed Ramadan.

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

Breaking news: L.A.’s groundbreaking bike anti-harassment ordinance passes full City Council

L.A.’s first-of-it’s-kind ordinance to protect cyclists from harassment by motorists by making it a civil violation has passed the full City Council by a unanimous vote. Now the measure goes to the Mayor’s office for his signature, which is expected. You can download the full ordinance here; no word on when it will go into effect.

There is no overstating just how important this innovative new law is. For once, L.A. is leading the way in protecting the rights of cyclists with an ordinance that is likely to be copied by cities around the world

The hearing for the ordinance lasted just 40 minutes, with moving comments from a number of cyclists and council members, including District 11th District Council Member Bill Rosendahl, who has shepherded the measure from its inception — and who learned to ride a bike again just two weeks ago after a break of over 40 years.

But Council President Eric Garcetti may have said it best when he suggested that this ordinance may be what it takes to move L.A. from Carmegeddon to Cycletopia.

Unfortunately, any urge to celebrate this important win is tempered by news of last night’s fatal bike collision Downtown — sources at City Hall tell me police have ruled out road rage as the cause — as well as news of two other SoCal cycling fatalities, and confirmation of the previously reported fatality in Santa Maria earlier this week.

I’ll try to catch up will all the news as quickly as I can.

Meanwhile, come out and join the LACBC Board of Directors at our annual public meeting at the Encino Velodrome to celebrate the victory and discuss what we can do to prevent more tragedies.

BAC Chair Emeritus Alex Baum and Councilmember Bill Rosendahl take questions surrounded by cyclists after the unanimous vote.

Today’s post, in which I play the race card in support of L.A.’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance

When I moved to the deep south over three decades ago, I found myself, perhaps not surprisingly, in a town deeply divided by race.

After all, it was just over a decade after the civil rights era, and far less than that since the city’s last violent demonstrations over school busing.

It didn’t take long notice an unfortunate pattern. Every day, thousands of people, both black and white, would come into the city’s business district where I worked; every night, they would go back home to their separate parts of town.

And most people seemed okay with that.

The attitude was expressed to me many times by people of both races. “We may not like you,” they said, “but we all have to get along if this city is going to survive.”

And so they did, working side-by-side by day, then going their own separate ways, to their own separate parts of town.

So when some of my coworkers invited me to go out bar hopping on their side of the tracks, I jumped at the chance.

I’d been raving about a band I’d heard the night before, in a bar where I rarely saw a face much darker than mine. And they said if I really wanted to have a good time, I was hanging out on the wrong side of town.

A few days later, I found myself in a car with a small groups of friends and co-workers, making our way down streets familiar to them, yet which I had never travelled before.

Evidently, not many like me had; the owner of one bar we visited bought me a drink because he said mine was the first white face that had ever entered his club unaccompanied by a license or a badge.

At first, my presence was met by skepticism; once I explained, in response to the inevitable questions, that I was just there to have some fun with my friends, the reactions from other patrons ranged from indifference to warmly welcoming, like a long lost friend they’d never met.

With one notable exception.

A very angry man came up at one of the clubs and went nose to nose with me, hissing “We don’t need your kind in here.”

The next thing I knew, one of my friends was standing directly between us and facing down my challenger, who stood a good head taller and outweighed her by at least a margin of 2-1. She wasted no time in telling him that I was with her, and if he didn’t like it, he could get the hell out.

And he did.

Later, as we discussed it on the way home, she asked if I’d enjoyed myself. I replied that I’d had a great time, but learned the hard way that it only takes one jerk to ruin things for everyone.

“Now,” she said, “You know how we feel.”

That’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten. And one that often comes back to me as I ride these mean streets we call home.

The overwhelming majority of drivers I encounter on the streets as I ride my bike treat me with anything from courtesy to indifference.

But every now and then, I run into someone who doesn’t think our kind — the two wheeled kind — belongs on their streets.

Sometimes it takes the form of honking aggressively or passing too close, maybe escalating into thrown objects, insults or getting run off the road.

Or maybe it turns into a violent assault, with a driver using her car as a weapon, like the woman who deliberately ran me down on a Westwood street.

It only takes one jerk to ruin things.

And there’s usually no one there to step in between and save the day. Even if there is a cop nearby, or they happen to take your 911 call seriously and send out a patrol car, he or she is just as likely to take the driver’s side and say it was just an accident, or defend the attackers against their victim. In my experience, anyway.

That’s why L.A.’s proposed Bicyclist Anti-Harassment Ordinance is so important.

For the first time, we’ll be able to defend ourselves against driveway vigilantes who attempt to enforce their own, usually made up, version of the law.

Not with words or gestures. Or even U-locks.

But with lawyers and subpoenas.

It won’t work miracles. We’ll still have to gather enough evidence to make it worth taking a case to court, which isn’t always easy to do from the saddle of a bike — let alone laying on the road after a driver has knocked you on your ass.

And we’ll still have to prove our case before a judge and jury, even if it only requires the simple majority of a civil case, rather than the unanimous agreement required for a criminal conviction.

But we’ll finally have a chance to defend ourselves against those handful of jerks who think we don’t belong. And it will only take a few verdicts on our favor before they get the message loud and clear.

We have a right to the road.

And the law — this law — will be on our side.

……..

L.A.’s groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind anywhere Bicyclist Anti-Harassment Ordinance comes before the full City Council for final approval at 10 am Wednesday at Downtown City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street. It’s number #19 on the agenda, but could be moved up if the council wants to address it sooner to accommodate the anticipated crowd of cyclists in the room.

And yes, I’ll be there.

Paramount Grand Prix, Eat Real, LA Anti-Harassment Ordinance and LACBC at Encino Velodrome

Bike Talk airs every Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

It’s the Carmageddon grudge match of the century as L.A.’s own Wolfpack Hustle takes on Jet Blue on Saturday, July 16th. Follow along online as five cyclists race passengers Joe Anthony and Erza Horne on a Jet Blue flight from Burbank to Long Beach to see who can arrive at the Light House in Shoreline Aquatic Park first. The action starts at 10:50 am near Cahuenga and Chandler in North Hollywood, and is expected to conclude between 1:15 and 1:30 pm. Follow along on the Twitter hashtag #FlightVsBike, or a live tracking GPS courtesy of L.A. Streetsblog; rumor has it there may be a party afterwards.

The LACBC invites you to join them in a free guided ride to the Eat Real Festival in Culver City this Saturday, July 16th and Sunday, July 17th. The ride meets at 10:30 am both days at the corner of Western Ave and Wilshire Blvd, and commences promptly at 11. The Festival will take place from 10:30 am to 9 pm both days at the historic Helms Bakery District, 8800 Venice Blvd. A bike valet will be available courtesy of the Bikerowave and the Culver City Bicycle Coalition from 10 am to 6 pm Saturday, and 10 am to 5 pm Sunday.

The Paramount Grand Prix takes place this Sunday, July 17th, with the first race starting at 7:30 am and the last race starting at 3:40 pm; registration takes place at the intersection of S. Broadwick and Paulhan Streets in Rancho Dominguez.

L.A.’s groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind Bicyclist Anti-Harassment Ordinance comes up for a final vote before the full City Council on Wednesday, July 20th, at L.A. City Hall, 200 North Main Street. The session starts at 10 am, item #19 on the agenda. Cyclists are encouraged to attend and show their support.

Later that same day, Wednesday, July 20th, the LACBC Board of Directors will hold their monthly meeting at the Encino Velodrome, 17301 Oxnard Street in Encino, beginning at 6:30 pm. The meeting is open to the public; your opportunity to meet the board members, learn what the LACBC is doing and express your interests and concerns about bicycling throughout Los Angeles County. And yes, I’ll be there.

Also on Wednesday the 20th, Global Green and the Santa Monica Transportation Department are co-hosting a community forum on bringing bike share to Santa Monica. The meeting takes place from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Santa Monica Civic Center, 1855 Main Street.

Flying Pigeon hosts their monthly Get Sum Dim Sum Ride on Sunday, July 17th at 10 am; the ride meets at Flying Pigeon Bike Shop, 3714 North Figueroa Street in Highland Park.

West L.A.’s annual Brentwood Grand Prix will take place on Sunday, August 7th on San Vicente Blvd in Brentwood; races start at 7 am and run through 4 pm.

Tuesday, August 30th, Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse will host a benefit night for Streetsblog LA; 5% of all food and drink purchases will benefit Streetsblog; 2911 Main Street.

Mark your calendar for L.A.’s Ultimate Bike Weekend, as the 2011 L.A. edition of the Tour de Fat comes to town on Saturday, October 8th, followed by the next CicLAvia on Sunday, October 9th, offering an expanded route taking participants another 2.5 miles into Boyle Heights.

Finally, the LACBC’s City of Lights Program will host their 2nd Annual City of Lights Awards/Fundraising Dinner on Thursday, October 27th from 6 to 11 pm at CARECEN HQ, 2845 W 7th Street. Tickets will be available for $45 later this year.

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