Funny how things work sometimes.
Just hours before a group of bike advocates meet with the LAPD to discuss changes in the department’s bike liaison program — and just blocks away — we were reminded why the program is so important.
And, despite how far we’ve already come, just how far we still have to go.
A rider who goes by the nom de bike of Cyclepathic — which beats the hell out of bikinginla, if you ask me — saw the worst and best of the LAPD in a single Downtown L.A. interaction.
And posted her story on Facebook just three hours before we met at police headquarters.
LAPD cop almost ran me over after failing to knock me down with his car. Does another illegal lane change just to roll down his window & tell me that I cannot take the whole lane!
The story- I’m going down Broadway from Temple, & a car behind me passes me on the left within inches of my rear tire, it then cuts me off at such a short distance to get in front of me that he almost ran me over.
…but wait! Wait… that’s not it, he then cuts off a Channel 5 news van to get to the middle lane, rolls down his passenger’s window & says, “You can’t be riding in the middle of the road!”
-Before I knew he was a cop-
Me: “Wtf? You have to pass me at a 3-foot distance & you cut me off almost running me over!”
Cop, is now flashing his badge & in an even deeper demanding voice says: “YOU CAN’T RIDE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LANE!!” …now trying to make me aware of his badge and over assuming his position as an officer.
-After I knew he was a cop-
Me: -looking at his badge- “So, you’re still wrong! You have to give me a 3-foot distance and I have the right to take the lane if the lane isn’t wide enough to share.”
He looked behind me checking if there was a chance to pull over but before he could react, we were interrupted by the chirping sirens of an undercover squad (that was a few cars behind me) announcing from the PA:
“The person on the bike has the right of way! You almost hit her and you have to drive safer!”
Me:-looking at the cop through his rolled window- “See!”
Without a word, he rolls up his window and turns left at the next light. I had to pull over to avoid further endangering myself by cycling angry.
Before I could pull over, the undercover who put the cop in his place drove by me, tipped his head & told me to ride safe.
To KTLA Ch. 5 News, I hope you caught that.
Thanks to Alice Strong for the heads-up.
Like Schrödinger’s Cat, your experience with the LAPD could vary.
As Cyclepathic’s experience shows, you may get a well-informed officer who understand the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists. Or you could get an officer who ignored the department’s bike training video, or forgot everything he learned the minute he turned it off.
Fortunately, they get that, too. And they’re working on it.
Meanwhile, the LAPD now has a bike liaison in each of the four Traffic Divisions to answer your questions and help guide you through the departmental bureaucracy when you have a problem.
I’ll have more on that on LA Streetsblog Wednesday, as I continue to fill in for Damien Newton this week.
But in the meantime, here’s the contact information for each of the department’s four bike liaisons. I’d seriously suggest programming each of them into your phone.
- Central Traffic Division: Sgt. Laszlo Sandor firstname.lastname@example.org 213-972-1853
- Valley Traffic Division: Sgt. Steve Egan email@example.com 818-644-8146
- West Traffic Division: Sgt. Christopher Kunz firstname.lastname@example.org 213-473-0215
- South Traffic Division: Sgt. Jon Aufdemberg email@example.com 213-421-2588