Tag Archive for Massachusetts Bicyclist Safety Bill

At the BAC, good things come to those who wait

Eighty percent of success is just showing up.

— Woody Allen

Sometimes, it seems like the other 20% involves just sticking around long enough. At least, that’s how it seemed last night, at the meeting of the city’s Bike Advisory Committee.

Other than the council members themselves, there was only a small turnout — most of whom were there to discuss the many failings of the Bicycle Master Plan. And most of whom left — some in anger and frustration — once the committee turned to more mundane matters.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have anything to say on that subject. But after hearing all the other comments on the subject — and the DOT’s representative swearing she didn’t know anything about it — I didn’t think they really needed my two cents.

Besides, considering the state of the economy these days, that may be my retirement fund.

I was actually more interested in one of the last items on the agenda — a motion from the council that had been submitted in the aftermath of the recent Hummer incident, and eventually signed by six of the 18 council members:

Numerous incidents have been reported relative to bicycle and vehicle collisions and aggressive motorists (sic) attitudes to law-abiding people riding bicycles. Complaints have also been raised regarding the treatment of bicyclists by the Los Angeles Police Department. It is critical that the City respond to these situations and respond appropriately.

I THEREFORE MOVE that the City Council direct the Los Angeles Police Department to report on recent bicycle incidents and conflicts between bicyclists and motorists, as well as efforts to increase police officer training related to bicycling activities and applicable regulations and laws.

It was the last part in particular that interested me. Especially since LAPD had already found itself blameless in the Hummer incident.

When the time came, I spoke in support of the resolution, pointing out that it wasn’t just a problem here in L.A. Cyclists nationwide have complained about police officers who are unfamiliar with the laws regarding bicycling and the rights of cyclists, as well as institutional bias against cyclists — or in favor of motorists, depending on your perspective.

Then I pointed out that Massachusetts recently became the first state to require that police officers receive specialized training in bike law, as part of their new Bike Safety Law. And asked why that curriculum couldn’t be adapted for use in training officers at our own police academy.

Evidently, the committee members agreed. They voted unanimously to endorse the resolution, and to put the MassBike program on the agenda for the next committee meeting in July.

Afterwards, I emailed a link to the MassBike site to 4th Council District representative Larry Hoffman, who forwarded it to the rest of the BAC, as well as the mayor.

So, a small victory. But a victory none the less.

And one worth sticking around for.

 

If you’re missing a bike on the Westside, the police may have found it in a Venice Garage. Alex Thompson joins the chorus condemning Santa Monica’s bronze award from the League of American Bicyclists. Matt joins in on the other chorus, complaining about the failure of the new Bike Master Plan. Stephen Box questions why LADOT’s redundant bike map business stimulates the economies of Portland and Seattle, while Timur examines the maps that currently exist — and there are more than you might think (good to see you back!). Bike Girl wonders where you keep your bike(s). A writer for the Times rides the L.A. River bike path, evidently holding his nose the whole way. Even Iowa cyclists get sharrows; maybe LADOT can ask them what kind of paint they use so we can get some here. Bicycling’s biking lawyer examines whether cycling is a privilege or a right. And finally, just wait until Rush Limbaugh hears about this — Bike Portland outs the new SCOTUS nominee as a closet cyclist.

Massachusetts Bicyclist Safety Bill vs. Dr. Doom and his Disciples of Death

The last few days, I’ve been reading, with increasing degrees of stomach-churning disgust, the comments that followed the Times’ article about the good doctor’s not guilty plea on their L.A. Now blog

Stomach churning, because many of our fellow citizens seem to believe they are justified in using their car as a deadly weapon, should any cyclist have the audacity to annoy or inconvenience them — and that the good doctor did nothing wrong, despite intentionally injuring two fellow human beings.

Stomach churning, in that many of the comments said that the cyclists were to blame, accusing them of tailgating the good doctor — despite the fact that he admitted intentionally cutting in front of the riders, then slamming on his brakes to teach them a lesson. Or at the very least, that their obnoxious behavior somehow justified sending both to the emergency room.

And stomach churning, in the appalling lack of knowledge of regarding the rights of cyclists under California law — and the belief that roads were made exclusively for motorized vehicles.

While I recognize that some — but by no means most — cyclists may ride in a dangerously aggressive manner, it is disingenuous at best to blame all riders for the actions of a relative few. As I was discussing with an employee at a local bike shop over the weekend, many drivers remember the single rider they saw blow through a red light, but never notice the others who waited patiently for it to change.

Then there are those who don’t believe we even belong on bikeways that were designed and built for our safety.

So despite the progress made in L.A. with the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights, it’s clear that we still have a very long way to go.

Contrast that with the new bill that was recently signed into law in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Bicyclist Safety Bill applies common sense solutions to many of the problems we face everyday, on every ride.

Like making it clear that signals are not required when they would interfere with safe operation of the bike, such as when both hands are needed for braking or steering. Banning dooring, as well as cutting riders off after passing or when making a turn — something I’ve addressed previously.

And requiring that all police recruits receive training on “bicycle-related laws, bicyclist injuries, dangerous behavior by bicyclists, motorists actions that cause bicycle crashes, and motorists intentionally endangering bicyclists.” In-service training on the same subjects is optional for more experienced officers.

Imagine a police force that is actually knowledgeable, familiar with the rights and responsibilities of cyclists, and how motorists can cause cycling accidents — intentionally or otherwise.

I’ve been struggling lately with the question of what comes next, now that the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights is well on it’s way to becoming law.

As indicated above, I’ve made some suggestions for ways the California Vehicle Code could be changed to better protect riders and encourage cycling. (Scroll down to “Change the law. Change the world.”, then back up to see the individual suggestions.)

Another step would be to take the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights to the state level and make it part of the Vehicle Code. And require that drivers be tested on the full range of state cycling laws when they apply for their licenses.

As indicated in my previous post, Brayj had an excellent suggestion yesterday, when he said that the MTA could be sued to force funding of bicycle-related projects. And Ingrid Peterson of Rearview Rider added to his concept by suggesting that it’s time for a local coalition of cyclists and lawyers to protect our collective interests.

But we could do a lot worse than taking the full text of the Mass. law directly to our state representatives, and insisting that they use it as a platform for reforming our cycling laws.

Once they get off their collective asses and do something about the damn budget mess, that is.

 

Australian riders blame helmet laws for keeping cycling commuters off the road. Evidently, New York Police ignore hit-and-run accidents involving cyclists — as well as requests for more information. And cyclists fight back against bike thieves with exploding locks.

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