Tag Archive for LAPD Bike Task Force

Bypassing busy traffic on 7th Street, notes from the LAPD bike task force, and Beverly Hills bike lanes redux

When is a bike lane not a bike lane?

When it’s a traffic lane allowing impatient drivers to bypass backed-up traffic for a whole block, shaving maybe a few seconds off the evening commute.

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A few notes from last week’s meeting with the LAPD’s bike liaisons.

First off, Sgt. Lazlo Sandor has taken over as bike liaison for the West Traffic Division; you’ll find his email address on the Resources page.

As part of Chief Beck’s proclamation that this will be the year of traffic enforcement, the LAPD has transferred a number of officers to work the city’s four traffic divisions. The good news is, the city is now focused on cracking down on dangerous drivers — like the one in the video above, for instance. The bad news is, bike violations are considered traffic offenses as well, so be forewarned.

One of the biggest problems in fixing traffic problems has long been that no one has been tracking bicycling and pedestrians collisions, injuries and fatalities. Which meant no one had a clue just what and where those problems might be, let alone how to solve them. Fortunately, the LAPD is now keeping track of all of the above as part of their Compstat program, requiring traffic officers to appear four times a year to discuss problems in their areas. And the department is tracking the most dangerous intersections for all road users to determine what has to be done to improve safety for everyone.

Last week’s story that Houston police officers were conducting traffic stings to improve safety for the city’s cyclists made news around the world. Which may have come as a surprise to LA officers, who have been doing the same thing for some time without public notice. In fact, LA’s West Traffic Division has conducted nine such stings since the first of the year — eight to enforce bike lane issues and one for stop sign enforcement. A total of 53 people were cited, including both cyclists and drivers; LAPD policy does not allow for selective enforcement, so they’re required to write up any violations they see during a sting, regardless of who commits it.

Finally, they stressed the importance of getting permits in advance for events that will require police participation. When the recent Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race was cancelled at the last minute, the department cancelled the officers who had been scheduled to work the event. Then when it was rescheduled at the last minute as a ride, they had to scramble to get enough officers to work the event on such short notice, and ended up paying out over $10,000 in overtime. While they understood the situation with the Marathon Crash, they ask for a minimum of 28 days advance notice to avoid any issues if you’re planning some sort of event.

On the other hand, if you break the law, they’re happy to show up with little or no notice.

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The subject of bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd through Beverly Hills is back on the council agenda this Tuesday. Except they’re not, but maybe they are. It’s a complicated subject explained well by Better Bike.

Meanwhile, a Beverly Hills homeowner’s association offers their reasons why bike lanes are a bad idea, few if any of which actually hold water.

For instance, someone should tell them that California law requires that drivers merge into bike lanes before making right turns, rather than turning across the lane as they suggest (#2). And surprisingly, blind spots exist on motor vehicles, which can hide the presence of bikes from careless drivers like themselves, whether or not bike lanes exist.

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Finally, this just in as a friend of mine reports an assault while riding home on PCH in Orange County.

I was riding on the super dark stretch of PCH between the oilfield and 10,000 miles of ocean. An empty car was stopped, no blinkers, on the shoulder. With cars coming up behind me at 60mph, the only option is to stop and wait for them to pass, or hike over the shrubs on the slope to the right of the (red) curb.

I take a picture of the car, and an angry guy kicks the driver’s side door open, emerges, and comes at me barking, “What the fuck are you doing?”

I dismount in case I have to run for it and start backing away while he repeatedly demands the camera, which he ain’t gonna get.

Long story short, he ends up throwing me, my bike & my bag (containing the Coolpix he was so interested in, plus my MacBook Air & iPad) into the ice plant.

I’m not injured, but my glasses are still out there because I gave up looking for them when the damn sprinklers came on. Also, I called Hunny PD back, and arranged them to just meet me at work for the report. The officer arrived before me AND TOLD MY COWORKER I HAD BEEN HIT BY A CAR. Boy, was she relieved when I grumped up my boss’s porch stairs with bike on shoulder & no visible injuries.

Lesson: Assume even parked cars are full of ex-convicts who will be violently angry with you for nothing.

I’m scared to check my MacBook.

Downtown L.A. cyclist encounters the worst of the LAPD — and the best — at the same time

Funny how things work sometimes.

Just hours before a group of bike advocates meet with the LAPD to discuss changes in the department’s bike liaison program — and just blocks away — we were reminded why the program is so important.

And, despite how far we’ve already come, just how far we still have to go.

A rider who goes by the nom de bike of Cyclepathic — which beats the hell out of bikinginla, if you ask me — saw the worst and best of the LAPD in a single Downtown L.A. interaction.

And posted her story on Facebook just three hours before we met at police headquarters.

LAPD cop almost ran me over after failing to knock me down with his car. Does another illegal lane change just to roll down his window & tell me that I cannot take the whole lane!

The story- I’m going down Broadway from Temple, & a car behind me passes me on the left within inches of my rear tire, it then cuts me off at such a short distance to get in front of me that he almost ran me over.

…but wait! Wait… that’s not it, he then cuts off a Channel 5 news van to get to the middle lane, rolls down his passenger’s window & says, “You can’t be riding in the middle of the road!”

-Before I knew he was a cop-

Me: “Wtf? You have to pass me at a 3-foot distance & you cut me off almost running me over!”

Cop, is now flashing his badge & in an even deeper demanding voice says: “YOU CAN’T RIDE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LANE!!” …now trying to make me aware of his badge and over assuming his position as an officer.

-After I knew he was a cop-

Me: -looking at his badge- “So, you’re still wrong! You have to give me a 3-foot distance and I have the right to take the lane if the lane isn’t wide enough to share.”

He looked behind me checking if there was a chance to pull over but before he could react, we were interrupted by the chirping sirens of an undercover squad (that was a few cars behind me) announcing from the PA:

“The person on the bike has the right of way! You almost hit her and you have to drive safer!”

Me:-looking at the cop through his rolled window- “See!”

Without a word, he rolls up his window and turns left at the next light. I had to pull over to avoid further endangering myself by cycling angry.

Before I could pull over, the undercover who put the cop in his place drove by me, tipped his head & told me to ride safe.

To KTLA Ch. 5 News, I hope you caught that.

Thanks to Alice Strong for the heads-up.

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Like Schrödinger’s Cat, your experience with the LAPD could vary.

As Cyclepathic’s experience shows, you may get a well-informed officer who understand the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists. Or you could get an officer who ignored the department’s bike training video, or forgot everything he learned the minute he turned it off.

Or both.

Fortunately, they get that, too. And they’re working on it.

Meanwhile, the LAPD now has a bike liaison in each of the four Traffic Divisions to answer your questions and help guide you through the departmental bureaucracy when you have a problem.

I’ll have more on that on LA Streetsblog Wednesday, as I continue to fill in for Damien Newton this week.

But in the meantime, here’s the contact information for each of the department’s four bike liaisons. I’d seriously suggest programming each of them into your phone.

And note that two are different from the list LADOT provided last month, and was repeated here.

  • Central Traffic Division:  Sgt. Laszlo Sandor        [email protected]  213-972-1853
  • Valley Traffic Division:    Sgt. Steve Egan               [email protected]  818-644-8146
  • West Traffic Division:      Sgt. Christopher Kunz  [email protected]  213-473-0215
  • South Traffic Division:     Sgt. Jon Aufdemberg    [email protected]  213-421-2588

 

Breaking news — LAPD officer bicycle training now available online

The LAPD’s officer bicycle training module has just been made available online.

As you may be aware, this training program was developed jointly through the efforts of the LAPD and the local bicycling community, and shows exactly how LAPD officers are trained to interpret and enforce the California Vehicle Code as it pertains to bicycling.

I’ll let Sgt. David Krumer explain from his email announcing the public release of the video:

At the Mayor’s Bike Summit, a promise was made to the cycling community that there would be greater communiation and cooperation between the various City Departments and the cycling community.  To that end the LAPD has recently posted the training that all LAPD officers were required to take to educate them on the specific rules of the road as they apply to cyclists. The training can be found on LAPDonline in the cycling awareness section and was also posted to youtube by Joe Linton (Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee).  Additionally the training may also be available soon on the Mayors website as well as LADOT.

The training was developed with input from our partners which included Aurisha Smolarski (Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition), Ted Rogers (Bikinginla/LACBC), Ron Durgin (Sustainable Streets), Enci Box (Illuminate LA), Dr. Alex Thompson (BikesideLA.org), Stephen Box (SoapBoxLA), Carlos Morales (Eastside Bike Club), and Glenn Bailey (Mayoral appointee to the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee). These activists and cycling representatives worked tirelessly to ensure your voices are heard.

Thanks to Sgt. Krumer, Cdr Villegas, Chief Beck and all the members of the LAPD who have worked so hard to improve the department’s once-troubled relationship with the cycling community.

And help make us safer and more welcome on the city’s streets.

Notes from the Bike Task Force: reporting bike theft, news on the Hummer Incident

Now that the excitement of Friday’s Critical Mass is over, let’s catch up on a few more interesting items that came up during last week’s Bike Task Force meeting with the LAPD.

First up comes news that California has an existing system to register and identify stolen items — such as bikes, for instance. All that’s necessary to have a stolen bike entered into the system is to provide the police with a serial number or other unique identifying number when you report your bike missing.

That’s why you should always record the serial number of your bike somewhere safe, as well as noting any other identifying information.

Personally, I always keep current photos of my bike, including a close-up photo of the serial number. However, since thieves will often remove a bike’s serial number, it also helps to engrave your name or ID number in a hidden location on your bike; some cyclists slide their business card inside the seat post since thieves seldom check there.

And always report a bike theft to the police as soon as you notice it missing.

That doesn’t mean the police will respond right away. Limited resources mean that they can’t always respond immediately to less urgent calls that don’t involve immediate danger. But they do take bike theft seriously, particularly since it’s one of the few types of crime that’s going up in Los Angeles. And a fast report can greatly improve your chances of getting it back.

Which also brings up the question of what number to call when you do.

According to police officials, call 911 anytime there’s an actual emergency — as they put it, if there’s blood and guts or a crime in progress. Otherwise, call the citywide 311 help number and they’ll direct your call to the appropriate agency.

Or as an alternative, call the front desk of your local precinct; if you don’t get what you think is an appropriate response, ask for the watch commander.

One final bit of news from the task force meeting. It appears that the long-delayed report on the infamous Hummer Incident in Downtown L.A. that occurred back in April 2009 has finally been approved by the Police Commission, and forwarded to the City Council’s Transportation Committee.

When or if we will get to see it is yet to be determined.

And speaking of long-delayed items, I’ve been informed that the proposed anti-harassment ordinance isn’t dead yet, despite the long lack of news. At last report, it was still working its way through the City Attorney’s office and may resurface in the hopefully not-too-distant future, though in what form is anyone’s guess.

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A bike thief is caught in the act — possibly in Long Beach — and no one seems to care. Police look for a cycling Santa Monica groping suspect. Reed Bates, the Texas cyclist repeatedly arrested for riding a bike in Ennis, TX, is back in jail yet again. A Virginia Beach bike path turns into a corridor of crime after dark. A Montpelier, VT cyclist competing in a 2700 mile cross country race is killed in a head-on collision in Colorado; first link courtesy of No Whip, who could have been there. An apparent drunk driver refuses breathalyzer and blood tests and assaults a police officer after killing a cyclist near DC. Build it and they will come, which applies to bike lanes and cyclists, as well as the thieves that follow; heads-up courtesy of Bike Blog NYC. Cyclists shouldn’t take the Black Hawk, CO bike ban sitting down; turns out, city officials may not have been entirely honest about the studies showing it isn’t safe. The incomparable Jeanie Longo wins her 9th French national time trial title at age 51, bringing her total to 57 national titles, 13 world championships and four Olympic medals. The fallout from Mark Cavendish’s crash in the Tour of Switzerland continues as pro racers Heinrich Haussler and Tom Boonen will both miss this year’s Tour de France. An international team of researchers develops a mathematical formula to explain why you don’t fall over when you ride. After her husband is killed while riding, a mother of three says more could be done to protect bicyclists. Why aren’t bikes allowed on trains in Ireland? An Aussie grandmother’s wrist and elbow are shattered in a collision with a cyclist.

Finally, when the sidewalks are closed on both sides of the street, where exactly are the people supposed to go?

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