Call it biking while brown in LA County.
The Los Angeles Times released a major investigative story Thursday on the harassment Latinos face riding a bicycle Los Angeles County.
Something we’ve been warning about for over a decade now.
Both Los Angeles police and LA County sheriff’s deputies have long used the simplest pretexts to stop and search bike riders of color, often handcuffing the riders or placing them in the back of a patrol car while rifling through their belongings for what amounts to minor traffic infractions or fix-it tickets, such as riding without lights after dark.
In fact, that was one of the primary reasons the LA city council canceled the city’s mandatory bike licensing program over a decade ago.
But while the problem continues for both Black and Brown riders in the City of Angels, it’s apparently much worse outside the city where the sheriff’s department has jurisdiction.
Especially for Latino men.
A Los Angeles Times investigation found deputies search 85% of bike riders they stop even though they often have no reason to suspect they’ll find something illegal. Most bicyclists were held in the backseat of patrol cars while deputies rummaged through their belongings or checked for arrest warrants.
The Times’ analysis of more than 44,000 bike stops logged by the Sheriff’s Department since 2017 found that 7 of every 10 stops involve Latino cyclists, and bike riders in poorer communities with large nonwhite populations are stopped and searched far more often than those in more affluent, whiter parts of the county.
For all the stops and searches, deputies rarely catch criminals. During searches, they find illegal items just 8% of the time, The Times’ analysis shows. Weapons were seized just 164 times — less than half a percent of all searches.
And the stops can go far beyond embarrassment or inconvenience.
Some cyclists shrugged off the encounters as an inconvenience that comes with living in high-crime neighborhoods. Others felt deeply harassed, targeted because they fit the vague description of a crime suspect deputies claimed to be searching for, usually because they were the same race.
Being stopped was even more disruptive for some riders interviewed. One white bicyclist in Norwalk said he lost his job because he was two hours late to work after he was held in the backseat of a patrol car while deputies searched his belongings and questioned him about who in the neighborhood was dealing drugs and carrying guns. A Latino rider in East L.A. said deputies took him to jail after they found a pipe in a bag of recyclables he planned to redeem for cash. A Black rider said a deputy confronted him at gunpoint and ordered him to stop while he was riding home from Lueders Park in Compton and doesn’t understand why.
Sometimes the confrontations can turn deadly, as it did for Black bicyclist Dijon Kizzee in South LA last year, when he was fatally shot by deputies in what began as a traffic stop for riding salmon, a common practice in the area.
Seriously, take a few minutes to read the entire thing.
Because everyone deserves the right to feel safe on the streets, whether the risk comes from drivers or sheriff’s deputies.
And we’ll never get people out of the cars if a large segment of the population has to worry about getting stopped by cops just for who they are, or where they ride.
Meanwhile, the paper offers a behind-the-scenes look at how they uncovered the facts and reported the story.
Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.
In a truly bizarre City Watch screed, a self-described Eastside community activist purports to speak for the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce in accusing Metro, two current and former LA councilmembers, a county supervisor and the former mayor of Glendale of conspiring with bike advocates to destroy businesses on Colorado Blvd, in order to claim business owner’s real estate development rights.
Someplace along the line it became clear that there is a small coalition of players who are ramming the ‘road diet’ version of the Colorado Blvd piece of the Glendale to Pasadena BRT route. Politically, it’s the combination of Jose Huizar (until he was busted), Hilda Solis from the County Board of Supervisors, and now the Councilmember for CD 14 (and Candidate for Mayor) Kevin De Leon. The Mayor of Glendale was also involved until he ceased to be Mayor.
To be direct, I don’t think any of them give a rats ass about the local businesses that are going to get wiped out during the construction process. I guess they are more interested in the land use opportunities for developers than actual businesses which have been around for years, providing the backbone of Eagle Rock.
The ex Mayor of Glendale got what he wanted; he owns property in the construction area, and senses opportunity. I guess Hilda Solis got what she wanted. According to folks in the know she left Congress so she could come to LA County, become a Supervisor, and retire after she termed out. Nice pensions. Her machinations at the Metro Board would be consistent with this analysis.
But wait, there’s more.
Two other groups also personally benefit by this plan. TERA,The Eagle Rock Association, has a leader who is a rabid bicycle advocate, and has choreographed the bike movement ‘take no hostages’ road diet vision to get rid of all those nasty cars that people use to get around in. Then there is another ‘leader’ on the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council who personally gained an architectural contract with Metro concerning the BRT, and has also shut down any gainsayers.
You know, to get to work and and even buy things at the local businesses.
Personally, I find them loud, inflexible, and nasty. Nasty like attacking anyone who does not agree with them. And I have to wonder exactly how many of the bicycle crowd actually live in Eagle Rock, as opposed to all of the residents and others who use their cars to shop with the local businesses.
He goes on to accuse supporters of bus rapid transit and a Complete Streets makeover on Colorado Blvd of bullying and threatening opponents.
And he says he has the receipts to prove it.
More objective observers have reported the exact opposite, with advocates being shouted down in meetings and confronted outside, and both threatened and doxed on social media.
But as proof of the bad behavior on the part of bike and transit advocates, he points to a Google Drive where he has saved hundreds of tweets from those supposed bullies.
Admittedly, I haven’t had time to read all of them, which would literally take hours. But all the ones I’ve seen have been pretty damn innocuous.
Like this, under the heading of Alissa Walker Bullying.
Full disclosure, I know Alissa Walker, she’s one of the least threatening people I know.
Then there’s this, under the heading Bullying Boulevard Sentinel, a local Eastside newspaper that has often opposed bike lanes and Complete Streets.
It would seem to be extremely paranoid to consider any of that threatening or bullying in any way.
Granted, there may be something more egregious somewhere in that vast collection of archived tweets.
But I sure as hell haven’t seen it yet.
It’s truly heartbreaking how hard some of our elected officials have worked to keep our streets dangerous.
In this case, CD1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo teamed with CD13’s Mitch O’Farrell to cancel a shovel-ready road diet on one of the city’s most dangerous corridors.
With predictable results.
They get it.
The SF Gate asks why Gov. Newsom vetoed a bill that would have allowed people on bicycles to treat stop signs as yields.
And why a practice most bike riders — and drivers, for that matter — do on a daily basis remains illegal.
This Bay Area rider sums it up pretty well.
“They’re getting in the way of making it legal to be safe,” said Alex Lantsberg, a San Francisco cyclist.
Lantsberg said stopping at stop signs is in fact more dangerous for cyclists, who become “sitting ducks” in the face of “a 4,000-pound death machine.”
“You don’t want to lose the momentum of moving through a stop sign. It’ll turn people off from cycling,” he said. “I also think it’s safer for cyclists to maintain momentum and get away from cars.”
“A flesh and blood human on a 20-pound rolling triangle is much more at risk than a person in a steel-encased La-Z-Boy,” he added.
It’s hard for me to ask others to give when I’m not in a position to do it myself.
But if you’ve got a few extra bucks lying around, donate some of it to L39ion of Los Angeles to help put more bikes in schools.
The crowdfunding campaign has been stuck around $12,000 for several days. And it’s hard to imagine a gift that could do more long-lasting good.
Sometimes, it’s the people on two wheels behaving badly.
Police in Honolulu are looking for a bike-riding hit-and-run suspect who allegedly fled the scene after darting out in front of a motorcyclist, leaving the man lying injured in the street. Although a description of 100 to 200 pounds doesn’t exactly narrow the suspect list.
Another writer for City Watch asks if anyone at LA City Hall got the memo from the COP26 climate conference. Probably not. And if they did, they’re not likely to actually do anything about it.
Happy birthday to LA’s Griffith Park, which turns 125 this year.
Bakersfield bike riders are about to get a shiny new seven-mile bike lane, the missing link in a continuous 30 mile trail from Lake Ming to Buena Vista Lake.
Berkeley is facing the usual fight over preserving parking spaces, or improving safety for everyone on the road by installing bike lanes.
A New Hampshire couple calls biking across the Golden Gate Bridge the highlight of their visit to San Francisco.
A Sausalito driver faces multiple DUI, drug and weapons charges after allegedly running down not one, but two people riding their bikes Halloween evening; a search of his car revealed fentanyl and an illegal weapon, as well as a wooden billy club.
Bicycling offers a look at how a man recovered his life after a painful mountain biking crash led to a dependence on painkillers. As usual, read it on Yahoo if the magazine blocks you.
Bicycling also warns against seven technologies and standards to avoid when buying a used bike. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t seem to be available on Yahoo, so you’re SOL if you don’t subscribe to the magazine.
A writer for Reader’s Digest — which apparently still exists — swaps her car for an ebike for a week, and finds she doesn’t need it after all. Although the story comes off more as a long-form ad for the ebike she used than anything remotely objective.
Portland considers establishing e-cargo bike micro delivery hubs to help reduce truck and van traffic.
A Denver weekly talks with elite-level cyclist Andrew “Bernie” Bernstein, after the hit-and-run driver who nearly killed him was sentenced to just two years behind bars.
The Massachusetts man killed by a speeding driver on a cross-country ride with five other bicyclists foretold his death by noting Texas had the worst drivers they’d encountered so far; one of the two women injured in the crash was his fiancé.
Tragic news from New York, where a man started riding a bike to work over fears of using transit during the pandemic, only to lose his life at the hands of an unlicensed truck driver.
Philly residents describe just how dangerous it is to ride a bicycle in the City of Brotherly Love.
Tragic news from St. Petersburg, Florida, where authorities are trying to identify an elderly woman who suffered life-threatening injuries when she crashed her bike with an e-scooter rider; she arrived at the hospital without ID, and no identifying features. Yet another reminder to always carry identification with you when you ride. And preferably something that won’t get stolen if you’re incapacitated.
At last, a new indoor trainer that allows you to lean into turns.
Halloween is over, so it’s time for the holiday gift guides. Bike Rumor is off to an early start with their gift-giving guide for people on two wheels. Meanwhile, Pink Bike recommends 21 new bike tools for the coming year.
The Department of DIY strikes in the UK, as a local councilor fumes when “ignorant” vandals repainted their own bike lane, after their first attempt had been removed. So instead of removing it again, maybe they should just make it permanent.
A Dublin man and his backpack-riding Westie won’t be riding anytime soon, after thieves stole his racing bike, then took the ebike he borrowed the next day.
Canadian Cycling Magazine goes riding at rush hour in newly bike-friendly Paris, and calls it a dream.
Bike riders in Cyprus could soon be required to wear a bike helmet if a draft bill in the legislature passes. Similar measures elsewhere have been found to be counterproductive, while depressing ridership.
Wellington, New Zealand is considering a plan to cut crosstown traffic by dividing the city into cells, which would allow drivers to get in and out, but not move freely from one to another.
A university lecturer in New Zealand says it’s parking that kills businesses, not bikes or buses.
Florida ultracyclist Amanda Coker didn’t just set a new 24-hour record by breaking the 500-mile barrier, she also set 10 other Guinness World Records in the attempt.
Meanwhile, British pro Alex Dowsett came up short on his effort to reclaim the hour record, saying the biggest failure would have been to never try.
Now you, too, can own your very own vowel-free, no-frills e-cruiser bike for about a grand. If you can’t trust your bike-riding neighborhood drug dealer, who can you trust?
And how drunk do you have to be to ride a bike home from a night out, only to discover the next morning it wasn’t yours.
Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.