Tag Archive for AirTalk

The Cyclists’ Bill of Rights

My first exposure to the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights came in an online forum.

Someone had posted a comment about it, complaining that cyclists expected drivers to treat them like porcelain dolls.

I had to agree with him. Because that’s exactly the point — if you hit a bicyclist with your car, he or she will break, just like a glass doll. Except the clean-up will be a lot longer, more complicated and more painful for everyone involved.

The Cyclists’ Bill of Rights doesn’t create any new rights. All it does is gather rights that cyclists — and human beings, for that matter — already enjoy in various forms, under various statutes, and codifies them in a single document.

Created by the Bike Writers Collective — I may have mistakenly said Coalition on today’s AirTalk program — it’s been endorsed by a long line of individuals and elected officials, neighborhood councils and organizations, just a few of whom are shown here. And countless cyclists have requested that it be officially adopted as part of the new L.A. bike plan.

I’m including the full text below, for anyone who heard me mention it on the show.

I’m also including a link to something I wrote earlier, explaining why cyclists do some of the things we do — and one driver’s exceptional response to it. Along with a link to the single best explanation of how to share the road, from a cyclist’s perspective, that I’ve ever seen.

Because really, we all want the same things out on the road.

We want to get where we’re going. And we want to get home safely.

And that shouldn’t be too much to ask.

CYCLISTS’ BILL OF RIGHTS

WHEREAS, cyclists have the right to ride the streets of our communities and this right is formally articulated in the California Vehicle Code; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are considered to be the “indicator species” of a healthy community; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are both environmental and traffic congestion solutions; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are, first and foremost, people – with all of the rights and privileges that come from being members of this great society; and

NOW, THEREFORE, WE THE CYCLING COMMUNITY, do hereby claim the following rights:

1) Cyclists have the right to travel safely and free of fear.

2) Cyclists have the right to equal access to our public streets and to sufficient and significant road space.

3) Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement.

4) Cyclists have the right to the full support of our judicial system and the right to expect that those who endanger, injure or kill cyclists be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

5) Cyclists have the right to routine accommodations in all roadway projects and improvements.

6) Cyclists have the right to urban and roadway planning, development and design that enable and support safe cycling.

7) Cyclists have the right to traffic signals, signage and maintenance standards that enable and support safe cycling.

8 ) Cyclists have the right to be actively engaged as a constituent group in the organization and administration of our communities.

9) Cyclists have the right to full access for themselves and their bicycles on all mass transit with no limitations.

10) Cyclists have the right to end-of-trip amenities that include safe and secure opportunities to park their bicycles.

11) Cyclists have the right to be secure in their persons and property, and be free from unreasonable search and seizure, as guaranteed by the 4th Amendment.

12) Cyclists have the right to peaceably assemble in the public space, as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment.

And further, we claim and assert these rights by taking to the streets and riding our bicycles, all in an expression of our inalienable right to ride!

Today’s post, in which I prepare to talk bikes on KPCC

The closest I’ve ever come to being on the radio was when I was a kid, and talked the local late-night DJ into playing Pink Floyd’s classic Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict.

Which I’m sure had nothing to do with the suspension he received the next day.

That’s about to change.

Wednesday morning, I’m going to be on the AirTalk program, along with LADOT Senior Bikeways Coordinator Michelle Mowery, on Pasadena public radio station KPCC.

It’s a sequel to last week’s lively discussion about the Good Doctor’s trial and well-deserved conviction. I’m hoping to correct a number of misconceptions from the original show and the online comments that followed, such as the idea that it’s illegal to ride two-abreast and that it’s safer to ride on the sidewalk — or illegal to ride on the sidewalk.

Wrong on all counts.

No, really.

Here’s how they describe the upcoming program:

Topic: PAVEMENT WARS – PART 2: Last week we talked about the assault, battery and mayhem convictions of Dr. Christopher Thompson, who attacked a group of cyclists on Mandeville Canyon Road by swerving his car in front of them and jamming on the brakes, seriously injuring two of them. Response to the segment was overwhelming. However, many KPCC listeners raised questions about the laws that govern cyclists. Are cyclists required to yield for passing cars? Are bikes permitted on sidewalks? What are the rights and responsibilities of California cyclists? And what is being done to improve conditions for bikes?

You can tune in from 10:20 to 11 am Wednesday, November 11 at 89.3 FM. If you’re stuck at work or outside their broadcast range, you can connect to the live streaming broadcast on their website at www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk. Or come back later in the day to download a podcast of the program.

It should be a very interesting discussion.

And I promise not to make Larry Mantle do anything that will get him suspended.

………

Stephen Box offers a powerful reminder that the Good Doctor’s conviction is just one case out of many that never get that far. Will Campbell explains why he’ll just go for a bike ride during next year’s Stadium to the Sea L.A. Marathon. LACBC offers their comments on the new bike plan, while Long Beach is on a mission to become the most bike-friendly community in America. L.A. used to have a state-of-the-art elevated bikeway. Seriously. More great shots from Russ and Laura’s West coast bike tour. Seattle has a new cycling mayor. D.C.’s cycling mayor clogs traffic; or maybe it’s the media trucks who follow looking for a story. Finally, New York added 200 miles of bikeways over the last three years; now bike commuting is up 66% in just two years. Coincidence?

Evil on Trial: So why do we care?

Wednesday morning, I found myself in a recording studio at NPR West.

Accompanied by the esteemed Dr. Alex — aka, the other Dr. Thompson — we were there to offer whatever insights we could on the Mandeville Canyon case, as well as the current state of cyclist-driver relations on the streets of L.A.

It was an interesting conversation.

Alex offered the perspective of a passionate two-wheel activist, as one of the principal authors of the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights and a founding member of the Bike Writers Collective. Meanwhile, I provided the views of a semi-curmudgeonly, long-term roadie, and the newest member of the BWC’s Dirty Dozen.

Needless to say, we disagreed on a few things.

But we agreed on a lot more — like the need for cyclists to always ride safely, because too often, drivers just aren’t looking out for us. And aren’t always willing to share the road even when they do.

Not all drivers, of course. Not even most.

But enough to make riding a far riskier proposition than it needs to be.

Of course, how much of that will make into the final story will be determined in the editing bays of NPR. After all, there’s a reason I’m a writer rather than a speaker.

Besides, they’ve also spoken with a number of other riders, including Roadblock, Stephen Box and our own DJwheels, so they won’t be lacking for cyclists’ point of view.

On the other hand, they’ve had a hard time finding drivers willing to go on the record. So if you spend too much of your time on four wheels cursing cyclists from the hermetically sealed comfort of your gas-guzzling behemoth — and you’re willing to discuss it on the air — let me know.

There may still be time to get you on tape, or silicon, or whatever they’re using in this digital age.

There was one question that I found particularly interesting, though, when she asked us what it was about this case that captured the attention of cyclists around the world.

I mean, it’s not like confrontations with drivers don’t take place on a daily basis in cities around the world — and sometimes with far worse results. Or that many, if not most, riders haven’t experienced some form of road rage in all its vile, life-and-limb threatening glory.

So we could easily put ourselves in Peterson’s and Stoehr’s place.

Then there’s the fact that the Good Doctor actually admitted to the police that his actions were intentional — before backtracking under oath. Which pretty much meant that if we didn’t see a conviction in this case, we probably never would.

But from my perspective, the real key was that the Christopher Thompson had used his car as a weapon. It was no different than if he had pulled out a gun and shot the riders after they’d flipped him off.

Same crime. Same intent. Same result. Different weapon.

Some people still don’t get that.

It wasn’t an accident. It was an assault. And that’s something that is never justified, under any circumstances. No matter how much you hate cyclists — or drivers. How dangerous you think their actions are. Or how rude or offensive they may be.

That’s what the police are for. And why every cyclist should carry a cell phone on every ride.

I was going to conclude with something about how easy it is to get along on the roads if we all just follow the rules and remember that we’re not the only ones trying to get from here to there.

And how in over 30 years as a licensed driver, I have never encountered a cyclist I could not pass, safely, with just a little patience and consideration. Even on narrow, winding mountain roads that make Mandeville Canyon look like the Champs-Élysées.

But last Tuesday, there was an interesting discussion of this case, and the state of cycling on the streets of greater L.A., on KPCC’s excellent AirTalk program (you can hear the podcast on the link above).

The host, Larry Mantle, offered his own take on the situation. And among the comments, I found something from one of my favorite bike writers, which he reposted in more detail on his blog.

So if you’ll allow me, I’ll let JHaygood take it from here:

One problem here is that many car drivers see a bike rider acting dickishly and then make the leap to ‘all bike riders are dicks’. That’s not true, by a mile. Clearly from the Mandeville case we see that poor behavior is not limited to bike riders, and when you get a jerk behind the wheel of a car, it’s no longer an annoyance, it can be deadly. My feeling is that the guy who rides his bike like a jerk is probably a jerk when he gets in a car, too. So it’s not the mode of transport, it’s the jerk.

Cars are awarded the overwhelming majority of infrastructure dollars compared to bikes – it’s not even close. You spend much time out there on a bike and you are quickly made to realize that you are second class. You piss people off if you use the sidewalk, and you piss them off if you use the street. (You piss SOME off – most car drivers are really respectful – in my experience) You are forced to go rogue out there – you’re really left to fend for yourself. So the fact that bike riders improvise, for convenience or for safety, is to be expected. The roads aren’t made for us, the laws aren’t based on our impact or our threat to others. So we improvise. Car drivers may see it as lawlessness, but they should try it sometime, you learn to make do however you can…

It’s a good read. And it’s definitely worth clicking on the link to finish what he has to say. And on a related subject, Freakonomics takes a look at why driving, like the internet, brings out the worst in people.

Speaking of AirTalk, yesterday I accepted an invitation appear on their show next Wednesday, along with LADOT Bikeways Coordinator Michelle Mowery, to talk about bike safety and our right to the roads.

It should be, once again, a very interesting conversation.

………

It’s happened yet again. A Yucca Valley cyclist was killed when his bike was rear-ended by a truck, and an Orange County rider critically injured in a near-fatal hit-and-run. Meanwhile, TV’s Terminator star faces charges for his D.U.I. encounter with a 17 year old cyclist. C.I.C.L.E joins the call for a better bike plan. RIDE-Arc returns this Friday with a bike tour of Santa Monica architecture. The Times reports on efforts to create the city’s first ciclovia — or cicLAvoia, in this case. Also in the Times, the recent articles about cycling evidently touched a nerve. Mr. Bicycle Fixation takes a look at the state of cycling in L.A. and some of the people who are working to make it better. Cycle Chic reports she was beaten to the punch in organizing L.A.’s first Tweed Ride. Huntsville, Alabama cyclists have rights too, and the city is willing to pay to get the word out. London’s bicycling mayor rides to the rescue to stop an assault. Finally, a meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday at Echo Park Cycles to address the rapidly rising rate of bike thefts. And evidently, rapper 50 Cent is still broken up about having his stolen.

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