Tag Archive for Public Safety Committee

Morning Links: Scooter no more — Bird and Lime get the boot from LA, and weigh in on the future of LA County

It was nice while it lasted.

LA’s scooter boom appears to be coming to an end, at least for the foreseeable future, as neo-luddite members of the city council force their removal from the streets in most areas.

Even though the council’s Public Safety Committee voted unanimously against an e-scooter ban proposed by self-proclaimed environmentalist Paul Koretz.

Instead, LADOT will be sending out cease-and-desist letters to Bird and Lime demanding that they immediately remove their scooters everywhere in the city, except for a handful of approved pilot areas.

Not that we’ve been told where those might be.

However, Streetsblog’s Joe Linton suggests we might still see scooters in the districts of some of the more supportive councilmembers, such as Joe Buscaino, Mike Bonin and José Huizar.

On the other hand, you can expect every single scooter to be pulled from districts represented by Koretz, Mitch Englander, David Ryu and Mitch O’Farrell. (Correction: Linton says in a comment below that Ryu has been supportive of scooters and bikeshare, so there may be hope for his district.)

In fact, here’s what O’Farrell said in committee yesterday.

…Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell weighed in today in very clear opposition to scooters, saying that e-scooters are “endangering the public” and that he expected them to cause a “terrible tragedy” to happen at “any moment.” O’Farrell called for rules much stricter than apply to cars: “immediate impound” of e-scooters blocking rights-of-way, with “no limits on confiscation.”

Maybe someone should point out the terrible tragedies caused by motor vehicles in his district on a daily basis. And his own opposition to the planned Complete Streets makeover of Temple Street.

The current scooter ban is based on a motion quietly approved in March in response to dockless bikeshare, but which Linton says is broad enough to cover scooters — and virtually any other form of transportation.

In her August 16 L.A. Times article L.A. officials moved to ban rental scooters in March. So why are they everywhere? Laura Nelson broke the news that the L.A. City Council, in a discussion on dockless bike-share, approved an an amended motion (council file 17-1125) banning “dockless transportation programs.” The motion, approved in March, reads in part:

“IMPOSE a moratorium, with the exception of existing pilot projects initiated either through Council motion or with the Councilmember of the district’s support, on dockless transportation programs until a regulatory system that protects Los Angeles communities can be established.”

As the Times reports, the language was intended as a ban on new dockless bike-share, but that “the language was broad enough to apply to… Bird and Lime scooters.” The language may arguably even be broad enough to ban cars, buses, airplanes, skateboards, privately-owned bicycles, and maybe even shoes, escalators, stairs… but the issue before the council is e-scooters.

That means you can expect the extremely popular Lime Bikes to disappear from the CSUN campus, as well.

Linton reports that the scooters, and possibly dockless bikeshare, could be back on a more limited basis — most likely after the first of the year, following a 120-day waiting period once new regulations are approved by the full council.

But it’s yet another example of some LA councilmembers failing to support alternative transportation in any form, as well as anything that inconveniences drivers in the slightest.

And more hypocrisy from elected officials who claim to be concerned about climate change and the environment, but seem to go out of their way to keep Angelenos in their cars.

As Santa Monica and Long Beach have shown, it’s possible to work with scooter and bikeshare providers to develop effective regulations while keeping them on the streets, and in the hands of devoted users.

And keeping those users out of their cars, Ubers and Lyfts.

But that makes too much sense for our city council to even try.


As long as we’re talking scooters, let’s keep going.

Students at San Diego State University are quickly adopting to e-scooters and dockless bikeshare, while racking up tickets for violating the rules governing their use.

A Portland-area paper lists the city’s five most aggrieved complaints about scooters.

A Houston columnist says the alternative to automobiles is here, and its name is Bird. Which is probably why LA is banning it.

New York city councilmembers are drafting legislation to bring scooters to the streets of the city before a key subway line shuts down early next year.


Here’s your chance to weigh in on the future of LA County.

Metro is working with a program called Our Next LA to gauge what matters to area residents on a neighborhood level.

First up is a very brief explanation of the program, with a simple one question survey asking what you’d like to see in the near future.

Like maybe safer streets and an actual bikeway network crossing the city and county.

That’s followed by a more detailed, 10-minute questionnaire aimed at capturing the needs of specific neighborhoods while ranking priorities on spending and urgency.

Thanks to Mike Kaiser for the heads-up.



The LACBC is asking for your suggestions on improvements needed for the My Figueroa project before it officially opens next week; they point out a number of problem areas, including confusing signals and cars parking in the non-protected sections of the bike lane.

This is who we share the roads with. Hip hop DJ Big Boy had to be held back after he was the victim of a pants dropping, falling-down drunk driver in Calabasas Tuesday afternoon. To top it off, the driver — who took a swig of vodka from the driver’s seat right afterwards — is a prosecutor with the DA’s office, who is currently on leave for reasons that would seem to be painfully obvious.



Caught on video: The CHP busted a woman for riding her bicycle in the traffic lanes of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge during rush hour traffic; she was taken to a mental health facility for evaluation.

Nice long read from Bike Magazine says Mammoth’s two-wheeled history of firsts is propelling it to a fat tire future.



Bike Snob offers four tips to become a mindful bike rider.

The rich get richer. Portland is repurposing 210 underutilized parking spaces as space for new bike lanes as part of a $3.27 million road repurposing project. Oops. As James points out below, this is from the other Portland, the one in Maine. But it’s still probably more bike friendly than most of SoCal, where parking is sacred.

Good read from a Boise, Idaho writer who describes what it’s like to have your bike stolen, after someone snatched his unlocked Surly. And how he got it back thanks to Bike Index, his local bike shop and an observant cop. Do I really need to remind you yet again to register your bike before it gets stolen?

After a homeless Arkansas man’s bicycle was damaged in a crash, a kindhearted woman gave him her own bike, while a cop at the scene bought him a meal at a drive-in.

Wisconsin planners say bike paths are good for businesses and neighborhoods, noting that a nearby bike trail increased property values by 9%.

No bias here. Chicago police refuse to ticket a bus driver who hit a bike-riding tiki bar bartender in a left cross because “both vehicles had the green” — even though the bus driver clearly failed to yield the right-of-way.

A Pittsburgh paper marks the 25th anniversary of the city’s bike festival by remembering the bad old days, and saying drivers should thank bicyclists, not curse them.

You’ve got to be kidding. A postal carrier parked in a New York bike lane called the police because a bicyclist was blocking her path. And when the police showed up, they told the rider that mail carriers a legal right to use the bike lane. Hint: they don’t.

Good question. The recently revived Gothamist asks why ebikes are okay for New York’s bikeshare system, but not for the city’s delivery riders.

Virginia bicyclists fear plans to expand Arlington National Cemetery could make the area more dangerous for people on bikes, unless it also includes a bi-directional bike lane.

Florida added a new segment of the 250-mile Coast to Coast Connector bike trail, which is 80% finished.



A design website says Quebec City’s competition for new bike rack designs resulted in seven over-designed racks at an eye-popping $23,500 each.

The former Raleigh headquarters has been listed as Britain’s 400,000th historic building; the company was the world’s largest bikemaker when the building opened in 1931.

Caught on video too: A well-organized burglary crew stole over $65,000 worth of bicycles from a family-owned English bike shop in less than three minutes.

Bicyclists are coming from all over the world to honor former British bikemaker Jack Taylor.

Traffic police in Chandigarh, India have formed a bicycle patrol to encourage bike riders to use the city’s 124 miles of mostly unused cycle tracks. If people don’t use your bikeways, it’s a pretty good indication that they are a) unsafe, b) in the wrong place, or c) all of the above.

The next time someone rants that bicyclists should be required to have a license and registration, tell ’em to move to Abu Dhabi.

What passes for a journalist in New Zealand says bikes should be banned because she doesn’t want to be inconvenienced. And bicyclists can go ride in a nonexistent velodrome, even though the rider who pissed her off was clearly riding for transportation.

A Singaporean soldier driving in his daughter to school is credited with saving the life of an 81-year old bike rider after he was seriously injured in crash with a motorcyclist.


Competitive Cycling

The winner of last weekend’s Paracycling World Cup relates how handcycling brought him back from the brink after losing a leg in a car crash.

Irish cyclist Nicolas Roche has struggled this year as he’s dealt with the emotional fallout of his brother’s leukemia relapse.

An Aussie cycling club has created a racing scholarship for young women riders who can’t get a sponsor.

A writer for Cycling Tips says don’t bother trying to take pictures, or you’ll miss all the excitement of bike racing.



Forget scooters, we could be dodging rolling delivery robots. Be careful what you wish for — a new backpack would let you send messages to the drivers behind you.

And if a press release says your X-ray equipment is going to be used to check for motor doping at the Tour de France, try putting it out before the Tour de France.

Just a suggestion.


Update: Anti-harassment ordinance clears Public Safety Committee

Just a quick update on this morning’s Public Safety Committee meeting.

After a surprisingly brief and mostly supportive discussion  — including comments from Ross Hirsch, the attorney for hit-and-run victim Ed Magos, along with BAC chair Glenn Bailey and Alexis Lantz of the LACBC — the committee members voted unanimously to endorse the proposal previously put forward by the Transportation Committee.

With one member missing from the meeting this morning, that means 9 of the 15 council members have now voted to support the measure, without a single vote against it.

Now my understanding is that it will go before the full City Council for approval before being sent back to the City Attorney’s office to actually draft the ordinance.

An open letter to the L.A. City Council Public Safety Committee

Monday morning, I intend to make the following remarks to the members of the Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee when it considers the proposed bicycle anti-harassment ordinance.

The Chairman of this committee was recently quoted in the L.A. Times suggesting that cyclists make up just 2% of the city’s population, compared to the 98% who drive cars.

Yet the city’s own 2010 bike plan suggests that over 5% of Los Angeles residents ride a bike on a weekly basis — and up to half ride at least occasionally. And many would ride more if they felt safer on the streets of this city.

One reason they don’t is a lack of infrastructure and roads designed with the safety of all road users in mind, like the recently improved Wilbur Avenue. But another reason is the harassment we face on a daily basis.

The Dr. Christopher Thompson case was just the tip of the iceberg.

I challenge you to talk to any local cyclist. Virtually all have been forced off the road or had objects thrown at them, sworn at, honked at, short-stopped, passed in a threatening manner or told to get off the road.

All of which has happened to me in recent months. And any of which can cause cyclists to lose control of their bikes, resulting in possible injury. Or worse.

In just the last week, I’ve been deliberately crowded off the road by one driver, and intentionally cut off by another — even though I was riding in a designated bike lane with the right-or-way.

These people feel safe harassing cyclists because they know the odds of being caught are virtually nil. It seldom occurs when a police officer is around, which means that in most cases, the only options we’ve had to defend ourselves are our own words and gestures.

And no word can defend against an angry driver in a 2,000 pound car.

This proposed ordinance would be the first step in allowing cyclists to defend themselves, in a civil, rather than criminal, court — which means that a police officer would not have to witness the incident.

The chances of winning any given case might be small. But the deterrent effect would be huge, as drivers realize for the first time that they could be held accountable for their actions. And virtually overnight, L.A. would change from a bicycling backwater to a world leader in protecting the rights of the city’s most vulnerable road users.

But it has to has teeth to be effective. It must provide a minimum $1,000 fine for violations, and a provision for lawyers fees so we can have someone fighting in our corner.

This isn’t about Ridazz or racers, wrong-way cyclists or sidewalk riders. It isn’t even about whether you like or respect cyclists. It’s about protecting the rights and safety of a sizable percentage of this city’s citizens — your constituents.

And make no mistake. It will protect the public safety and it will save lives.

And isn’t that the purpose of this committee?


Help the very active South Bay Bicycle Coalition conduct vital a bike count to prepare for the upcoming South Bay Bike Master Plan on Thursday, November 4th from 3 pm to 6 pm, and again on Saturday the 6th from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm; volunteers are still neededThanks to Steve Montalto for the heads-up.


Maybe Long Beach isn’t so bike friendly after all.

“The group known as Critical Mass travels from city to city and as a matter of practice engages in dangerous conduct, violating every rule of the road and endangering the public.” said Police Chief Jim McDonnell. “We take bicycle safety seriously in Long Beach and will not stand by idly while any person or group acts with blatant disregard for safety of the residents of our community.”


A look at L.A.’s first bike corral, temporary though it may be. Bike cops are back on the streets of Escondido. A board member of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition says yes, there are bad cyclists, but they’re far from the majority. Colorful mystery bikes appear in Muskegon MI. A teenage cyclist is killed by an off-duty Connecticut cop. Bicyclists aren’t always the good guys. A month later, a cyclist lingers in a coma, and South Carolina police still haven’t explained how a driver could fail to see 20 cyclists on the side of the road directly in front of him. The nation’s deadliest state for bicyclists claims yet another victim. Opera singer Andrea Bocelli doesn’t let a lack of sight stop him from riding a bike. A Japanese man traveling the world on a bamboo bicycle is hit by a car and injured in Illinois. A famed cycling photographer appears to label three-time TdF champ Greg LeMond a fool. After the original 2012 Olympic Road route is deemed not tough enough, local London residents want their race back. The 2012 Tour de France will lay siege to Liège. By 2014, you could find bike lanes on the Champs-Elysées in the City of Lights. Bike cops on the beat in Amsterdam. A survey says safety concerns ware what keep Indian cyclists off the road.

Finally, officials may name a public bike trail through the Folsom Prison grounds made famous by country singer Johnny Cash in his honor.

I hear those bikes a comin’, they’re comin’ round the bend. I ain’t seen the sunshine, since I don’t know when. I’m stuck in Folsom Prison…

Your Halloween linkapalooza — PSC meeting Monday; free contest and screening of 127 Hours

Rise and shine early on Monday morning.

The City Council’s Public Safety Committee will be meeting at 9:30 am at Downtown’s City Hall to discuss the proposed bicycle anti-harassment ordinance, among other matters.

Attendance is mandatory. Or just this side of it, since the proposal previously got an unfriendly reading before the same committee.

Of course, that was before the City Attorney’s office came up with the first-in-the-nation solution of making the harassment of cyclists a civil violation.

So maybe it will be different this time. Maybe the members of the committee will recognize the danger we face on the streets, and finally give us a way to defend ourselves. Although that doesn’t seem likely, based on recent comments from committee chair Greig Smith.

But our chances will be a lot better if we can fill the room with bike riders.


Maybe you recall the amazing story of Aron Ralston, the hiker who was pinned by a boulder in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park until he took drastic action to escape and save his own life.

Now his story has been made into the movie 127 Hours by the director of 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire. I’m told there’s some amazing singletrack riding in the film. But I wouldn’t count on any Bollywood numbers this time.

Or zombies for that matter.

127 HOURS is the new film from Danny Boyle, the Academy Award winning director of last year’s Best Picture, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. 127 HOURS is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston’s (James Franco) remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah.  Over the next five days Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary, scale a 65 foot wall and hike over eight miles before he is finally rescued.  Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers (Clemence Poesy), family, and the two hikers (Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara) he met before his accident.  Will they be the last two people he ever had the chance to meet?  A visceral thrilling story that will take an audience on a never before experienced journey and prove what we can do when we choose life.

You’re invited to attend a free screening on Thursday, November 4th; just click here and enter the code ROCKR661. You can see a trailer on the film’s website.

You’re also invited to describe your own life changing moment for a contest sponsored by Outside Magazine in conjunction with the movie, called 127 Defining Moments. 126 winners will be selected, with Ralston’s story marking the final defining moment. Ten grand prize winners will be chosen, and all 126 finalists will receive prizes provided by Eddie Bauer First Ascent, Sierra Designs, Larabar and CamelBak.

Hey, it’s gotta be good. The publicist for the film is a fellow cyclist who attended Tour de Fat last weekend.

It’s like we’re all bonded now, right?


A very busy calendar for this week:

Bike Talk airs Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Explore the effects of bicycles on art and culture at Re:Cycle — Bike Culture in Southern California, at U.C. Riverside’s newly relocated Sweeney Art Gallery at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts3834 Main Street in downtown Riverside, exhibition continues through December 31st.

Sunday, October 31, celebrate Halloween in one of Southern California’s scariest cities for cyclists as Better Bike BH meets to discuss ways to improve bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills at 2 pm at Peets Coffee, 258 S. Beverly Drive.

The next public hearing for L.A.’s proposed bicycle anti-harassment ordinance takes place at the City Council Public Safety Committee at 9:30 am on Monday, November 1st in room 1010 of Downtown’s City Hall.

Tuesday, November 2nd is Election Day. So drop whatever you’re doing and go vote, because yes, it does matter.

Also on Tuesday — after you’ve voted, of course — Bicycle John’s in Agoura Hills invites you to ride with cycling legend Andy Hampsten. Just show up by 2 pm with your bike and proper riding attire at the intersection of Kanan Road and East Thousand Oaks Blvd. Or leave your bike at home and arrive by 1 pm to get fitted for a demo bike and try out the new Campy Revolution 11.

Tuesday evening, cyclists are encouraged to attend the Burbank City Council meeting to support the Verdugo Avenue road diet, currently under fire from disgruntled motorists angry that they now have to drive within the speed limit. The meeting takes place at 6 pm at the City Council Chambers, 275 East Olive Avenue in Burbank; the perfect way to celebrate after casting your ballot. You did vote, right?

At noon on November 3rd, the LACBC hosts the 2nd Ed Magos Ride for Justice, inviting cyclists to ride from the Bicycle Kitchen to Downtown’s LA County Superior Courthouse for the sentencing of the woman who ran Ed Magos down and left him lying in pain on the street. Remember, it was pressure from cyclists that got the police and City Attorney’s office to reconsider their original decision not to file charges.

Find out what’s happening with bike and pedestrian projects in Northern California, when Bike Long Beach hosts Jeremy Nelson of Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates Thursday, November 4th at 12 noon at Studio 111, 111 West Ocean Blvd, 20th Floor, in downtown Long Beach. RSVP at balmer63@yahoo.com by 5 pm Wednesday, November 3rd.

Help the very active South Bay Bicycle Coalition conduct vital a bike count to help prepare for the upcoming South Bay Bike Master Plan on Thursday, November 4th from 3 pm to 6 pm, and again on Saturday the 6th from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm; volunteers are still neededThanks to Steve Montalto for the heads-up.

Also on November 4th, the LACBC hosts a meeting to discuss the 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard Campaign at 7 pm at Halal Tandoori Restaurant, 401 S. Vermont Ave.

See the Events page for more upcoming events.


Gary Kavanagh has long offered one of the area’s most intelligent and insightful looks at cycling on his blog Gary Rides Bikes. However, the area’s transportation issues go far beyond bicycling alone, so he’s started a new blog called Bay City Urbanist to cover the full spectrum of local transportation. But don’t worry, he promises he’ll keep writing about bikes on the old blog, too. Follow him on Twitter @BayCityUrbanist.


Stephen Box offers a great examination of how local cities are breaking bike laws; must reading for local cyclists. Brayj says the new draft bike plan is the best looking pile of horse shit he’s seen. Streetsblog offers a voter’s guide for Tuesday’s election. Bikeside reports on the first court appearance for Shawn Fields, the alleged drunk hit-and-run driver who killed Danny Marin. Work begins to improve bike signal detection on 4th Street, a first step in creating the long-awaited 4th Street Bike Boulevard. LADOT unveils a new map of recent bike racks. Riding in search of fall color in the mountains of Southern California. KPCC looks at the Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative and the LACBC’s Alexis Lantz. A woman rides from Chicago to Santa Monica to fight breast cancer. Sophia Vergara rides a bike on the set of Modern Family — complete with elbow and knee pads. Long Beach’s biking expats offer a new 2011 Path Less Pedaled Calendar featuring Russ Roca’s typically breathtaking photography.

Bob Mionske writes about the improvement in Portland cycling following the deaths of two cyclists three years ago. Famed framebuilder Dave Moulton reviews the new book The Custom Road Bike. Turn your bike into a paintbrush. Bicycling’s Bill Strickland asks if we should always wear our helmets? Separated cycle tracks reduce the among of smog cyclists are exposed to, which evidently is a very good thing. Advice on riding around buses, from a bike-riding bus driver. Tausha Borland, the Oklahoma driver who plowed down three cyclists — killing two — in a drunken collision was sentenced to 24 years in prison. A Minneapolis cyclist is killed riding the bike he had just stolen. Advice from Chicago on how to ride in the wind, something that may come in handy here judging by the forecast. New York declares war on salmon cyclists. After her daughter is killed in an NYC dooring incident, a grieving mother calls for bike-safety training for motorists; and yes, even in New York, dooring is against the law. A writer from NYU says it’s just disgruntled motorists and old people who oppose bike lanes in the city. A New York photographer focuses on a backside view of cyclists; I’d probably get arrested for that.

Drug testing at next year’s Tour de France could get a lot more intrusive — that’s if the agencies responsible can stop fighting with each other. Saxo Bank promises to back Alberto Contador even if he’s banned for eating tainted meat doping. A London police officer won’t face charges for killing a teenage cyclist while on an emergency call. A Cambridge bike lane is marked with signs prohibiting cycling. Copenhagen says you’re safer on a bike than on a sofa. Reminiscing about biking along the Berlin Wall. A race proves the fastest way to commute in Warsaw is by bike. A Delhi bike rider barely survives a collision with a Blueline bus, renewing calls for the buses to be put out of business. In Africa, a bike can change a life, or save it.

Finally, I’d like to see an NFL team try to pull off an end zone celebration like this. And in case you missed it, a New York judge rules that a four year old can be sued by the estate of an 87-year old woman who was fatally injured by the child riding her training-wheeled bike on the sidewalk; thanks to everyone who sent this one to me.

Transportation Committee moves forward with anti-harassment ordinance

I’m buried with work today.

And I’m damned if I’m going to let an 84 degree sunny SoCal day pass without at least a quick spin down the coast.

But I don’t want to let this morning pass without catching up on yesterday’s news from the City Council Transportation Committee. Because it marked one of those vital quantum leap moments — a seemingly small shift that could result in a dramatic change down the road.

I’ll try to fill you in with more details later, but here’s the key point. After eloquent comments by Ross Hirsch — the attorney for hit-and-run victim Ed Magos — and BAC chair Glenn Bailey, the Transportation Committee voted unanimously to move forward with drafting a first-of-its-kind ordinance to ban harassment of cyclists.

While other cities and states have passed anti-harassment laws, this ordinance would be the first to allow cyclists to file suit themselves for violent or aggressive actions directed towards them, whether it’s committed by drivers, bystanders or even other riders.

As the representative from the City Attorney’s office stressed, it would not prohibit anything that is not already against the law, and it would not prevent criminal prosecution for any incident where there’s sufficient evidence to prosecute.

It would simply, finally, give cyclists the opportunity to protect themselves on the streets of L.A. And possibly prevent the kind of harassment that we’ve all experienced at one time or another.

And mark L.A.’s growth from a bicycling backwater to a world leader in protecting the rights of cyclists.

Yes, it really is that big.

The next test comes on Monday when the proposal will be taken up by the Council’s Public Safety Committee, which has been significantly less friendly to cyclists in the past.

The more riders we can get in that room, the better our chances to keep it moving forward.

Herding cyclists, and L.A.’s proposed first-of-its kind anti-harassment ordinance

Evidently, at least one driver took lessons from a Corgi.

I knew I’d seen that technique before.

But it took me awhile to put my finger on just where I’d seen it until it finally dawned on me.

When I lived in Denver a few decades back, I shared a house with a good friend of mine, who showed up one day with a Welsh Corgi he’d just adopted from the pound. And it didn’t take long to realize that it was his herding instincts were fully intact.

The dog, not my friend.

First he tried to herd my roommate’s cats, with limited success.

But we came to appreciate his skills when my friend hosted a party for his co-workers. When we let the dog outside to play with the dozen or so children in the backyard, he stood for a moment watching them scatter throughout the yard. Then he quickly set out to bring order to the chaos.

He started by running rapidly around the yard, drawing ever smaller circles around the kids. We watched in amazement as he guided them into a group; if any child tried to stray from his impromptu herd, he nosed in front and gently guided them back into the pack.

And that, in effect, is exactly what a driver tried to do to me on Saturday as I rode home from Tour de Fat.

I’d taken my place firmly in the center of the lane on a busy Koreatown street, where a line of parked cars made it too narrow to safely share. And I was riding at the same speed as the cars ahead of me, which meant that I could legally ride anywhere I wanted on the road.

But clearly, the law — and common sense — just isn’t good enough for some people.

The woman behind me evidently decided that I didn’t belong there. Or maybe, just didn’t belong in front of her.

So she pulled into the left lane as if she was going to pass, even though the backed-up traffic meant there wasn’t anywhere to go.

Then she slowly started nosing her humongous older Lincoln over into the exact space I was occupying. Just like that Corgi did in forcing the children to go where he wanted, she deliberately angled her car to move me out of the way, until she finally left me with no choice but to surrender my place on the road by braking and dropping behind her, or get hit.

I chose the latter.

She didn’t seem to acting in anger. In fact, she never once looked my way during the entire process. She just seemed to think that she belonged in there, and I didn’t.

I probably should have taken her license number and reported it. Or better yet, pulled out my cell phone and snapped a quick photo of it.

But I was too stunned to think that quickly.

In three decades of riding, I’ve pissed off more than a few drivers by taking the lane. I’ve been yelled and honked at, passed too close and had things thrown at me. But I never once encountered a driver who simply wouldn’t allow me to ride in the lane, and was willing to use her car as a wedge to force me out of it.

Until now.

Of course, even if I had reported her, there’s nothing the police could have done except take a report.

Without any physical evidence — like my blood on her car — an officer would have had to actually see her do it to take any action. Otherwise, it’s my word against hers.

But that may change soon.

This afternoon, the L.A. City Council’s Transportation Committee will take up a proposed bicycle anti-harassment ordinance that goes far beyond any similar law anywhere in the country.

Instead of making harassment of cyclists a crime, it would make it a civil offense. Which means you’d be able to file a case yourself, rather than rely on the actions of the police and the DA or City Attorney. And because it would be heard in civil court, where the burden of proof is much lower, it would only require the agreement of a majority of jurors, rather than the unanimous verdict required in a criminal case.

You also wouldn’t need physical evidence or an officer to witness the infraction to file charges. Video of the incident or statements from people who witnessed it could be enough to win your case.

And it would include a provision for lawyers fees if you win your case, so it would be easier to get an attorney to represent you in a matter that might not otherwise be worth their time and expertise.

More importantly, though, it would finally give cyclist the ability to defend ourselves on the streets. And take action on our own against dangerous, threatening and aggressive drivers, without resorting to a U-lock or risking a violent confrontation.

Even just the existence of the law could be enough to change driver’s behavior on the streets, once they realize that they could finally be held accountable for their actions.

It wouldn’t have helped me in my encounter with the woman who tried to herd me off the road. I was riding alone, with no potential witnesses and no way to document the event as it happened. And  I escaped with no injuries or damage to my bike.

Then again, if she knew she could face a civil case, she might not have tried it to begin with.

The hearing takes place today at 2pm in room 1010 of Downtown’s City Hall. I know it’s short notice, but every voice that can be there to support this measure will help. If you can’t make it, you should be able to listen to the session live on the city’s website, or download it later.

And there will be another — and potentially more important — hearing on Monday in front of the far less bike-friendly Public Safety Committee, at a session that still hasn’t made the city’s calendar even though it’s just five days away.

Maybe they just don’t want to give us any advance notice.


With eight mountain stages and three time trials, next year’s Giro looks near-impossible. Italian cyclist Peitrio Cucchioli will challenge the UCI biological passport that got him banned. Lance says there will be no riding in Aspen today.


Streetsblog looks at this Friday’s Critical Mass. LACBC sponsors its second Ed Magos Ride for Justice to attend the sentencing of the driver who fled the scene after hitting him and left him lying in the street; more cyclists in the courtroom could effect the sentence the judge imposes. C.I.C.L.E. invites cyclists to a Bike Parking Party on Saturday to support the installation of the city’s first bike corral. The Daily News finally discovers the tragic death of Danny Marin, reporting on a nighttime ride in his honor. The Examined Spoke looks at the state of bicycling after 40 years of Vehicular Cycling, while the Daily Trojan says L.A.’s bike co-ops show the city’s cycling scene has finally hit adolescence. San Francisco may be challenging Portland for bike-friendliness.

In light of the recent stolen bike alert on here, 10 things you can do to get your bike back. An $8 million settlement for a cyclist paralyzed when his tire got caught on bridge gates. Motorists and cyclists “will obey traffic rules when they have no other choice and ignore them when they can.” Living in the Bike Lane looks at belt-drive bikes. A look at the debate between vehicular and segregated cyclists. New Colorado road signs instruct cyclists to ride single file on curves so motorists can pass, even though passing on curves isn’t safe or legal, while OKC cyclists get new signs saying they can — and should — use the full lane. Mad City cyclists are told to get off the sidewalk. A Louisiana consultant recommends a Mississippi levee bikeway from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Can bikes and buses co-exist? Specialized will give a kid a free bike for every 1,000 “likes” on their Facebook page; nothing like a little manipulative marketing for a good cause.

A bike-hating Canadian website wants to get rid of bike lanes, but doesn’t want cyclists on the sidewalk, either — and equates cycling with aggressive panhandling. Stay in the right London hotel, and you, too, can ride a Boris Bike. In L.A., biking has it’s challenges, but at least it’s legal; in Iran, it’s not for women. Shanghai’s Forever bike brand attempts to spark a rebirth of the city’s bike culture.

Finally, why pump air into your tires when you can steal it from parked cars? Or maybe get it from the ones who harass you when they’re stopped at red lights if you’re fast. And brave.

From the high of the TranspoComm, to the low of the Public Safety Committee

Last month, cyclists stormed the bike-only Transportation Committee meeting. And left feeling we like were finally getting somewhere.

That was then.

Today, the Public Safety Committee took up the proposed anti-harassment ordinance, and it couldn’t have been more different.

These bikes, and the riders on them, were nowhere to be seen at yesterday's committee meeting.

It started out in front, where the line of bikes that had been chained to the City Hall railings last month were noticeably missing. And continued into the lobby, where the guard at the front desk noted that I was only the 4th visitor to arrive for the meeting.

Aside from LADOT Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery, there were only three people there to speak in support of the measure — Aurisha Smolarski and Allison Mannos from the LACBC, and myself.

As it turned out, we were vastly outnumbered by the four council members. Jan Perry and Tony Cardenas seemed open-minded, although Cardenas commented that it’s so dangerous to bike in L.A. that he won’t let his children ride on the streets.

What does it say about this city when even members of our own government say it’s too dangerous to conduct such a benign and legal activity as riding a bicycle?

However, Cardenas offered to work with us and use his contacts in the state legislature to address some matters on the state level, such as increasing the amount of bike-related content in the state driver’s handbook.

After talking with Aurisha and Allison afterwards, we have every intention of taking him up on his offer. Although, as usual, I intend to push my luck and try to get more bike-related questions on the drivers test, as well.

Dennis Zine, a former police officer, and committee chair Greig Smith were a different matter. Despite their assertions to the contrary, if either of them support cycling, they did a damn good job of hiding it.

When Perry brought up the increasing popularity of late night group rides, Zine shot back “And they break every law in the book.” Which, of course, had nothing to do with the topic of conversation.

Smith also questioned whether there was anything the city could do about banning harassment, since many of these things are already against the law and most traffic laws are regulated by the state. And Zine stressed that no enforcement of such an ordinance would be possible unless a police officer actually saw the infraction.

Sort of like the situation right now, in other words.

As Zach Behrens noted on LAist, Zine made the point that L.A. is now, and probably always will be, a city dominated by car traffic at the expense of other modes of transportation.

To which Aurisha boldy shot back, despite Smith’s repeated attempts to cut her off, that we can’t continue to follow the same old car-centric model. And that this is an opportunity for much needed change.

The end result, though, was that the matter was referred to the City Attorney’s office for a report on what was possible — rather than simply coming back with a recommendation for an ordinance. Or as Damien Newton put it on Streetsblog, adding an unnecessary third step to a simple two-step process.

And blowing an easy chance to support the riding community.

Below is the text of my statement to the committee, taken from my notes:

Good morning. I’m Ted Rogers, and I write the blog Biking In LA.

In 30 years as an adult cyclist in cities across the U.S., Los Angeles is by far the most dangerous city I’ve ever ridden in, due to a lack of adequate infrastructure and a minority of dangerous drivers.

In the short time I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve heard from hundreds of cyclists who’ve been harassed and intimidated by drivers. This includes passing too close; lurching towards cyclists; honking to startle or intimidate; throwing objects; touching, pushing or hitting cyclists; and yelling things such as “get off the road.”

These are most likely to happen to less experienced — and therefore, more vulnerable — riders who lack the skills and confidence to assertively take the lane, as well women who may not feel safe on riding less populated side streets alone, and so prefer to ride on busier main streets.

However, it can happen to anyone. Ask any cyclist, and they will have a story to tell about being harassed on the roads; I myself have been a victim of a road rage assault.

At a minimum, this ordinance should ban all forms of harassment; establish a minimum three-foot passing distance; give cyclists unquestioned right-of-way in bike lanes, just as pedestrians enjoy in crosswalks; ban short-stopping, lurching towards or deliberately cutting in front of a cyclist; and require LADOT to educate drivers about the rights of cyclists.

Finally, in conclusion, I would like to read an email that was received by a friend of mine following the Thompson sentencing on Friday.

“I live in L.A. and it really irritates me to see you people riding all over the right hand lane in traffic. I often imagine running you over and speeding away. I think if I ever have the chance to hit one of you on Sepulevda Blvd; you know, that long stretch of road near Skirball Center where it sometimes gets lonely? If I ever have the chance to hit one of you and get away with it — I’m gonna do it.”

KABC Channel 7’s Gene Gleason reported on the committee meeting, including a brief comment from yours truly at the end. And that friend who received the threat was the much-respected Will Campbell.

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