Turns out, this really is illegal after all. Photo of Venice Blvd bike lane courtesy of Todd Munford.
It took awhile.
But we’ve finally got an answer on whether blocking bike lanes with anything other that a parked motor vehicle is legal.
And it turns out, it’s not.
The other day, along a handful of other local cycling activists, I got an advance look at the new officer training materials currently being prepared by the LAPD. It’s still a work in progress, but promises to be a huge step forward in repairing relations between the city’s police and cyclists.
And ensuring that our rights — and yes, responsibilities — will be respected and enforced.
One thing stood out, though, especially in light of the above photo. So I turned to the LAPD Commander next to me to ask for a little clarification.
A bike lane, he explained, is a lane of traffic. And it is against the law to block any traffic lane without a permit.
Which means that those trash cans and recycling bins blocking the bike lane in the picture up above are violating the law. As are the countless tree limbs, advertising signs, double-parked cars and other assorted hazards we frequently find blocking our way on the few strips of asphalt dedicated to our exclusive use.
Of course, it’s one thing to confirm it’s illegal. It’s another entirely to get someone to enforce it.
As Stephen Box has pointed out, LADOT’s Parking Enforcement Division hasn’t been in a hurry to write tickets for bike lane violations. And while the police can write tickets, it’s not exactly their highest priority, for obvious reasons.
So the next time you find a bike lane blocked, call and complain.
Call LADOT. Call the police (but don’t call 911 — a blocked lane may be a pain in the ass, but it’s not an emergency). Call your local councilmember.
And keep calling until someone actually does something.
Because it turns out, it really is illegal.
Meanwhile, Cyclelicious broke the news last week that big changes are taking place on the state level.
On March 9th, Caltrans Director Randell Iwasaki announced the state’s new Complete Streets Implementation Action Plan that’s intended, along with other measures, “to meet the needs of all users.”
Iwasaki instructs state transportation agency employees to “view all transportation improvements as opportunities to improve safety, access, and mobility for all travelers in California and recognizes bicycle, pedestrian, and transit modes as integral elements of the transportation system.”
In other words, bikes and pedestrians will now — in theory, at least — be taken in account in all future state roadway work.
Which won’t mean immediate changes. But it has the potential to eventually transform every city and county throughout the entire state.
On the other hand, the new 2010 California Drivers Handbook could have a more immediate effect, clearly stating that cyclists have the same right to the road as any other road users:
Bicyclists on public streets have the same rights and responsibilities as automobile and motorcycle drivers. Respect the right-of-way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with other drivers. Here are some critical points for drivers and bicyclists to remember:
Motor vehicle drivers must:
• Pass a bicyclist as they would a slow moving-vehicle. Pass with caution, and only when safe.
• Look carefully for bicyclists before opening doors next to moving traffic or before turning.
• Safely merge toward the curb or into the bike lane.
• Not overtake a bicyclist just before making a turn. Merge first, then turn.
• Be careful when approaching or passing a bicyclist on a freeway.
As Cyclelicious shows, it goes on to clearly spell out the responsibilities of cyclists to obey all traffic signals and stop signs, to ride with the flow of traffic — including riding on the left on one-way streets — and to “signal their intentions to motorists and bicyclists near them,” among other points.
It’s not perfect.
But if drivers — and cyclists — actually pay attention to what it says, our streets could start getting a lot safer.
In yet another case of a UK cyclist dying in a collision with a large truck, emerging British musician and fashion designer Shivon Watson — who recorded under the name Shiv Lizzy — was struck and killed in the London borough of Hackney on Wednesday. Closer to home, no cause of death has been determined for L.A. resident Kevin Brent Cohn, whose body was discovered in the bike path in Ballona Creek on Saturday.
Santa Monica-area cyclists may want to make plans to attend an important Monday night meeting on street improvements to 20th Street and Cloverfield Blvd. L.A.’s second Tweed Ride rolls on Saturday the 27th. Over four thousand cyclists take part in Saturday’s Solvang Century. The Redland’s Classic bike race kicks off on the 25th. Long Beach’s biking expats roll through West Texas on their way to Austin. Why are hipster fixie riders the most pretentious jerks in San Francisco? Also in the Bay Area, you can have your bike stolen — and get it back 30 minutes later. If you’re visiting New York City, you might want to bring your bike with you — or maybe you’d prefer pedaling through Transylvania. A popular Ohio cyclist and bike store owner is found dead on the side of the road; authorities suspect natural causes. More highlights from last week’s National Bike Summit. This year’s Paris – Nice race goes to the same guy who won last year’s Le Tour, for the second time. An Ottawa paper visits America’s most bike-friendly brewery. Calgary has to do more to support cyclists, including getting non-cyclists to pay more attention on bike paths; yeah, that would be nice here, too. Toronto’s leading candidate for mayor says let’s put the bike plan on hold. The 50 best bikes, from a Brit perspective. A South African writer mistakenly believes he’s being clever when he says bicycles are for children and circus bears, and describes cyclists as “pointy headed people wearing disturbingly tight Lycra and gay shoes; evidently, he didn’t read about the three cyclists killed there earlier this week.
Finally, a retired L.A. police officer paralyzed by a robber’s bullet is training to ride in this year’s Race Across America to raise money and awareness for Operation Awareness, an LAPD-based program that has sent 35 young people from gang-infested neighborhoods to college over the last 10 years.