The law is very clear.
Yet somehow, the LA County Sheriff’s Department doesn’t get it. Or maybe they just don’t care.
Cycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson reports that sheriff’s deputies have been ticketing cycling groups for failing to ride to the right in violation of CVC 21202 — despite the fact that the law doesn’t apply on lanes that are too narrow to share with a motor vehicle. Like the right hand lane on PCH.
And despite the fact that they already know the law doesn’t apply, having previously agreed in a meeting with bike advocates to stop the practice.
Despite personal assurances given by Captain Patrick Devoren, assurances made in the presence of me, Gary Cziko, and Eric Bruins of the LA County Bicycle Coalition, the department has stepped up its illegal ticketing and harassment campaign against cyclists. Even worse, the captain and his deputies have targeted the Big Orange cycling club in a brazen attempt to use force, threats, and fines to frighten cyclists out of the roadway…
After being promised by Captain Devoren at a meeting in January that we would no longer be cited by deputies for obeying the law, the same abusive deputy — Deputy Duvall — pulled over David Kramer on June 29, 2014 while he was legally riding two abreast in the far right lane on PCH.
David was part of a 20-person contingent, and Deputy Duvall cited him for violating VC 21202, which requires a cyclist to stay as far to the right of the lane as practicable unless the lane is of substandard width or unless the lane cannot safely be shared by both motorist and bicycle. If these either of these conditions apply — and both did — cyclists are not required to ride “FTR” (as far to the right as practicable), and they are allowed to use the full lane pursuant to the section of the Vehicle Code that gives bicycles the same travel rights on roadways as motor vehicles.
Davidson goes on to cite additional instances in which riders were ticketed in clear violation of the law. And apparently, with the full knowledge on the deputies part that the law did not support their actions.
In one case, a rider even received a ticket for simply riding in the roadway instead of on the shoulder. Even though anything to the right of the limit line is not legally considered part of the roadway.
While cyclists may ride on the shoulder if they choose, they are not required to, and no law enforcement agency has the right to force any bike rider to do so.
And they know that.
As an attorney, Davidson has agreed to represent the cyclists on a pro bono basis. And asks for your help in defending their right — and yours — to ride in a safe and legal manner.
- Click here and select the “subscribe” (to Cycling in the South Bay) link in the upper right-hand corner. Your monthly $2.99 donation will be used to defray the legal expenses of defending David and Scott and to promote activities that oppose harassment by the LA Sheriffs Department.
- Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are willing to actively oppose this illegal harassment of law abiding cyclists. Activities will include letter-writing, phone calls, organized full-lane rides on PCH, and mass meetings of cyclists with the sheriffs department to demand that they stop their illegal harassment.
- Notify me if you or someone you know has been cited for a VC 21202 violation so that I can try to arrange pro bono representation in defending their citation.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition has taken the fight directly to the top, with an open letter to acting Sheriff John Scott.
It’s also worth noting that Long Beach police chief Jim McDonnell, the leading candidate to replace Scott as LA Sheriff, has already agreed to many of the LACBC’s requests in responding to the Coalition’s candidate survey.
All of which serves as a reminder that the LACBC is LA’s only countywide bicycle advocacy organization, fighting for the rights and safety of all riders on a daily basis. No matter how or where you ride.
Because as this case clearly shows, your right to the road is only as good as the people fighting to protect it.