A little this, a little that — Mionske on Kornheiser, a culture change at LADOT

It’s a Bicycling Bob Mionske Tax Day double-header.

First up, the Bike Lawyer explains how — and more importantly, where — you can legally ride side-by-side; turns out it’s only illegal in three states. And California isn’t one of them.

As an aside, the new LAPD bike training module that went online at the end of last month specifies that L.A. cyclists are allowed to ride two-abreast. So if a cop tells you otherwise, either he or she hasn’t finished the training — due to be competed by the end of this month — or wasn’t paying attention. But I wouldn’t recommend arguing the point. They have full discretion to handcuff you if they think it’s warranted or feel threatened; according to the Department, that isn’t going to change.

Next up, he takes up the recent Kornheiser dust up, in which the ESPN radio host suggested that drivers rough up riders just because, well, we deserve it. You know, because we wear Spandex and run red lights and stuff.

Yeah, that’s a good reason to assault and potentially injure or kill someone. Although I’ve never heard anyone call the countless short, fat and/or middle-aged guys in Lakers jerseys you see all over L.A. Kobe Bryant wannabes.

As usual, though, Mionske gets it right.

But what if the character’s wrath is directed at a group that has historically been the target of violence? Suppose, for example, that the character expresses his dislike of women by telling listeners to go home and beat their wives? Or to go out and find a stranger to rape? Is his act still funny? Or suppose he goes on a rant about how much he dislikes gays, and tells his listeners to go out cruising with some friends looking for gay men to bash—is it still humorous? What if the rant is urging listeners to burn down a synagogue? Or suppose the target of his wrath is African-Americans, and the radio personality is urging a lynching? Is anybody still laughing? 
Of course not (or at least I certainly hope not). Nobody would consider those to be jokes or satire or entertainment, because the subject matter of the alleged entertainment is indistinguishable from real acts of violence, historical and contemporary, threatened and actual…

Daily, cyclists have drinks lobbed at them, have doors maliciously opened by passing motorists, are run off the road, and even run down, simply because they are on a bike. Sometimes, they’re even “just tapped,” as ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser recently urged. Perhaps the most common threat of violence against cyclists is one we’re all too familiar with—the buzz, where the driver passes within inches of us at high speed. Occasionally, a driver may truly have miscalculated the distance, or just plain didn’t see the cyclist. More often, I believe, the driver is intentionally threatening the cyclist. You can be sure it’s intentional when the driver checks his rear-view mirror for your reaction. In fact, I’m convinced that some “accidents” are buzzes gone awry—the driver intended to scare the cyclist, but didn’t expect that the close pass would result in a collision. And New Zealand police say that drivers are intentionally targeting cyclists. I’m convinced that’s a problem that’s not just limited to New Zealand . It happens here too.

Personally, I think Lance let Tony off way too easy.

But as Mionske points out, unless the FCC suddenly starts taking action against out-of-control self-described comedians who incite violence — or station owners suddenly grow a pair and hold their employees accountable for what they say on the air, despite the profits they bring in — nothing is going to change.

That is, until one of their listeners actually follows through on this kind of talk. And that’s when a good lawyer — hello, Bob — will go after the misguided purveyors of this kind of crap.

And maybe then we’ll put an end to it once and for all.


The latest email from the LACBC has some important notes.

(Speaking of notes, maybe the Bike Coalition could try putting a copy of these emails on the website, so people like me can link to them.)

First, the LACBC has posted a petition online telling Mayor Villaraigosa it’s time for a culture change at LADOT — or whatever agency replaces and/or absorbs LADOT, given the current budget issues.

As the petition points out, the agency has a long history of favoring vehicular traffic at the expense of other road users. And it’s long past time for a new approach that puts the city and its people ahead of the countless cars that are destroying it.

I urge you to sign it.

You’ll find my signature right there at #71. And no, you don’t have to make a donation, despite what the petition host implies.

Next, the state Assembly Transportation Committee is scheduled to hear Assembly Bill 1951, which would toughen penalties for careless drivers who injure other people.  There’s still time to fax a letter in support of the measure today to committee chairperson Bonnie Lowenthal at 916/319-2154; click the link for a sample letter.


The driver who hit Louis “Birdman” Deliz last December and left him laying injured in the street goes on trial in Beverly Hills on the 23rd. Damien asks if street cleaning will be LADOT’s excuse to endlessly delay bike corrals. The Anonymous Cyclist offers a reminder about Good Sam’s Blessing of the Bicycles. The second annual Bike Day LA comes up on May 2nd. More on the TranspoComm’s approval of what could be the city’s first bike corral. Changing minds via the comment section in San Diego. A detailed look at why women bike, and why they don’t. Zeke encounters a jerk on his rear wheel; I’m envious of any road where you see just three cars in five miles. An Ohio congressman blames his recent anti-bike outburst on LaTourrette syndrome. A DC video shows how not to cut off a bike, while a nearby county replaces a crappy non-standard bike lane with crappy non-standard sharrows. The DC cyclist killed by an 11,000 pound National Guard truck during the recent Nuclear Summit was ruled collateral damage. A Virginia cyclist is killed after running a red light. The University of Colorado says don’t be a DIRC — Dangerous, Irresponsible Rider on Campus. After Arizona cyclists complain about a dusty detour, they get banned from the road. A Toronto mayoral candidate calls for a $20 to $30 annual registration fee for bikes. A first-hand report from a London cyclist on a deliberate attack by a road raging driver; the result was 6 months in jail and two-year ban on driving. Make your plans now for a two-month, 4,100 mile circumnavigation of the British coastline.

Finally, a writer in the Baltimore Sun says instead of a three-foot passing rule, bikes should be banned from some roadways; yeah, no point in requiring motorists to drive safely when you can blame their victims instead.

And I don’t need a mirror to know I’ve got two-plus tons of hulking, smog-belching steel behind me, thank you.

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