…I feel more and more that the leading edge of bike activism is in law enforcement issues, not urban planning
You see, in the 10 months since I started this blog, I’ve become more and more focused on the politics of cycling — the need to elect candidates who actually support bicycling and will work to change the laws to help encourage riding, and keep cyclists safe and alive.
But Alex has a damn good point, especially in light of the LAPD’s apparent failure to enforce the laws prohibiting vehicular assault this past weekend — let alone protect riders from threats of gun and gang violence.
Unfortunately, it’s nothing new.
My own experience with police bias dates back to a road rage incident I’ve mentioned before, when a driver intentionally knocked me off my bike while I was stopped at a stop sign.
Once the police finally got there, the driver insisted that she never hit me or my bike, and in fact, had no idea why I was upset or why I was blaming her. According to her version, she was just minding her own business, driving patiently behind me, when I blew through the stop sign without even slowing down, and simply fell over when making a right turn.
The officer in charge listened to her, then came over to me, and — without bothering to get my version of the events, either from me or the officer I’d given my statement to — said he believed her, “because none of you bike riders ever obey stops signs.”
I realized then that nothing I said was going to influence how he wrote his report.
Of course, I tried.
I pointed out the injuries on my left side, to show that I had fallen to my left. Which meant her version would make me the first cyclist in history to fall to the left while making a fast right turn. But his blank stare confirmed my suspicions that beginning physics isn’t a required course at the police academy these days.
Then I pointed to the long arc of deep gashes on my right calf, and showed how they lined up perfectly with the teeth on my large cog. And explained how that proved my foot was planted firmly on the ground when her car struck me, since my leg wouldn’t have hit it like that if I’d been clipped in.
Finally, I pointed out that the damage to my bike, while minor, was consistent with my version of the events, and could not have occurred the way she described it. Yet when I got a copy of the accident report, he’d written that there was no damage to my bike.
And that’s exactly what her insurance company cited as justification for denying my claim.
In the end, she left without even a warning, while I was threatened with arrest for filing a false police report. And it was then that I realized that cyclists can’t count on the LAPD for protection or support.
And nothing that has occurred in the years since to change that opinion.
Of course, not all officers are like that. And as Zach Behrens pointed out on LAist, there are two sides any story.
But it’s up to the police to protect the rights and safety of all citizens, without bias. Not protect the right of those on four wheels to attack and intimidate those of us on two.
L.A.’s Channel 2 covers last weekend’s Ghost Bike installation. An Ohio paper offers nine good tips for safe riding. Stephen Box reports on the “not my job” jurisdictional failure of the Orange Line Bike Path. The Weekly profiles Flying Pigeon’s Brayj-Ali brothers among their LA People 2009. Colorado’s common-sense bike safety bill awaits the governor’s signature, while Wisconsin passes an anti-dooring bill. Great Briton considers a Pounds for Pedals plan to encourage people to trade in their old bikes. Finally, a cyclist injured in a Santa Rosa collision is suspected of BRWI (that’s bike riding while intoxicated).