If you’re coming here looking for my take on yesterday’s election results, you won’t find it.
Oh, and Mr. Garcetti? If you’re looking for someone to help out with bike issues, I’m available.
If you’re coming here looking for my take on yesterday’s election results, you won’t find it.
Oh, and Mr. Garcetti? If you’re looking for someone to help out with bike issues, I’m available.
This is huge.
For the first time I’m aware of, every major candidate for mayor of Los Angeles is on the record for their stands on bicycling issues.
Or rather, their support of bikes.
The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition has managed to get all five leading candidates to complete an in-depth questionnaire on the questions facing the local cycling community.
And surprisingly — or maybe not so surprisingly, given the audience they’re speaking to — every one of the five has come out strongly in favor of bicycling as a key part of the city’s transportation future.
I’m not going to tell you what I think about each one. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s important to be able to work with the winner once the election is over — which isn’t always possible if you’ve come out in favor of his or her opponent.
But I will tell you that, from my perspective, two of the responses are head and shoulders above the rest — and not the ones I expected going into this.
I’ll let you read them yourself, and make your own decisions.
But you owe it to yourself to read each one before you cast your ballot next month or decide who to support.
You also owe it to me, and every other bike rider in the City of Angels. Because the future of bicycling in L.A. depends on who wins that election.
And that depends on you.
Here are the links to the surveys, in the order they were returned to the LACBC.
“Los Angeles should be a leader in innovative bikeway design and programs both for cyclists and pedestrians. I will pursue improvements that will elevate the bikeability of Los Angeles… I will build a network of separated and protected bikeways so that existing and new riders feel safe. This network will effectively connect neighborhoods to retail, educational and cultural institutions and we will start to see ridership grow.”
“Over the past few years, we have made great strides in making our city bicycle-friendly. From instituting new green bike lanes, to installing more bike racks, to parklettes, to larger initiatives like our bike plan—we are moving in the right direction. I would continue this momentum and look to leverage local dollars with state and federal dollars to see these initiatives expand tenfold throughout the city.”
“People aren’t walking or biking because they have to travel so far for food, work, and school. We need to focus on high impact investment in communities, so people can live and work close to their homes if they choose. If people’s needs are met close to home, they will be able to walk. Part of that investment needs to be in the quality of our streets. Some places in South LA, East San Fernando Valley, and the Eastside of LA don’t even have sidewalks.”
“As Mayor, I will approach cycling as a key part of our city’s transportation system. First of all, bicycles are already on our streets, and we must address that fact in terms of infrastructure, safety and planning. Looking ahead, our next Mayor must support bicycling as a viable option for short trips and as a way to link with public transit.”
“Disappointment surrounding LA’s transportation options generally, and the implementation of the city’s bike plan specifically, is understandable. Yet even with such frustration among Angelenos, our City leaders have failed to deliver efficient and effective transit… The days of poor planning, shady bidding, irresponsible outreach, failed implementation, cost overruns, construction delays, and the lack of a common sense approach to smart transit must end – and will end with my administration.”
Let’s give credit where it’s due.
And yes, that’s the committee I chair. And no, I don’t take credit for this.
It was a group effort, with Eric doing the lion’s share of the work.
And it’s a perfect example of why you should be a member, if you’re not already.
You can hear the candidates discuss the issues in Tuesday’s mayoral debate broadcast by KPCC. Streetsblog looks at the barely contested race in Council District 5, where incumbent Paul Koretz faces little known opponent Mark Herd; rule number one in L.A. politics is incumbents almost never lose. Agoura Hills considers expanding the Chesebro overpass and adding bike lanes over the 101 Freeway. Pomona Valley cyclists are invited to join LACBC affiliate chapter Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition, which is celebrating it’s first anniversary.
Three former CA governors call for reforming CEQA. New bike lanes are on the agenda in Palm Springs. An Orange County woman rebuilds her face, and her life, nine years after she was attacked by a mountain lion while riding her mountain bike; a second rider was killed hours earlier. San Francisco cyclists aren’t happy with a proposal to move bikes off Market Street. If you’re in San Francisco tomorrow and Friday, you could pretend to be European for a video to promote Bike Snob’s newest book. A Chico cyclist dies a week after he was struck by a vehicle; he may have been in an altercation with the driver prior to the collision.
Instead of Safe Routes to Schools, why not build schools on already safe routes? Five apps for cyclists. A Tucson driver faces up to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to severely injuring a cyclist, fleeing the scene and tampering with evidence. A Denver driver who tried to blame his own brother faces up to 18 years in prison after being convicted for running a red light and killing a cyclist who was walking his bike in a crosswalk; he sped off with the victim’s bike still lodged in the grill of his SUV. Please don’t feed burritos to the coyotes on a Boulder bike path. A Detroit area town says no to a planned Gran Fondo. Austin surveys its residents following a spike in bike and pedestrian deaths.
The proposed World Series of Cycling is dead in the water; with a little luck, UCI president Pat McQuaid’s tenure will soon follow. Manchester cyclists can avoid ticket fines by taking a bike safety course. More proof of the international bike boom, as the number of Dublin cyclists has doubled in the last eight years. New Zealand researchers map the country’s cycling crash hotspots. A British expat builds a bike to filter Beijing’s choking smog while riding.
Finally, you never have to ride alone again.
L.A.’s first-of-it’s-kind ordinance to protect cyclists from harassment by motorists by making it a civil violation has passed the full City Council by a unanimous vote. Now the measure goes to the Mayor’s office for his signature, which is expected. You can download the full ordinance here; no word on when it will go into effect.
There is no overstating just how important this innovative new law is. For once, L.A. is leading the way in protecting the rights of cyclists with an ordinance that is likely to be copied by cities around the world
The hearing for the ordinance lasted just 40 minutes, with moving comments from a number of cyclists and council members, including District 11th District Council Member Bill Rosendahl, who has shepherded the measure from its inception — and who learned to ride a bike again just two weeks ago after a break of over 40 years.
But Council President Eric Garcetti may have said it best when he suggested that this ordinance may be what it takes to move L.A. from Carmegeddon to Cycletopia.
Unfortunately, any urge to celebrate this important win is tempered by news of last night’s fatal bike collision Downtown — sources at City Hall tell me police have ruled out road rage as the cause — as well as news of two other SoCal cycling fatalities, and confirmation of the previously reported fatality in Santa Maria earlier this week.
I’ll try to catch up will all the news as quickly as I can.
Meanwhile, come out and join the LACBC Board of Directors at our annual public meeting at the Encino Velodrome to celebrate the victory and discuss what we can do to prevent more tragedies.
In the end it was a false alarm.
For a brief period Thursday afternoon, there was a flurry of online activity suggesting that the groundbreaking new Bicycle Anti-Harassment Ordinance had unexpectedly become law.
Instead, it was something almost as big, but not quite as final.
I first heard that this law was in the works when I appeared with LADOT Sr. Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery on Larry Mantle’s AirTalk program on KPCC back in November ’09. She told me confidentially that she had been working quietly behind the scenes with members of 11th District Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s staff to develop additional legal protection for the city’s cyclists, though in a far different form from what we see today.
So give credit where it’s due. Because this wouldn’t be happening at all if she hadn’t been pushing for it.
Yesterday was that the City Attorney’s office officially unveiled the final draft of the ordinance. The confusion came from the inclusion of Council Rule #38 in the City Attorney’s letter accompanying the draft, which said that because it didn’t require enforcement by an city officer, board or commission, it didn’t require review by “any such City officer or entity.”
To those of us who lack a legal background and aren’t grounded in the minutiae of city regulations, that sounded like it might not need further approval by the City Council to become law.
Fortunately, after a mad flurry of emails, texts and tweets Thursday afternoon, City Council President Eric Garcetti and his staff helped us unravel what had really happened, and what the next steps will be.
It turns out that Rule #38 simply means that the ordinance doesn’t need to be reviewed by any other city department, such as LADOT or the police department. Instead, it will go straight to the Transportation Committee for review, leading up to a hearing before the full Council; if they approve it, it goes to the Mayor for his signature.
And assuming Mayor Villaraigosa signs off, it will then become law, most likely 30 days after signing unless otherwise noted. L.A. cyclists will then be protected by this innovative ordinance — as near as I can find, it’s the first of its kind anywhere that makes the harassment of cyclists a civil, rather criminal, violation.
Which means that you’ll be able to take drivers — or anyone else — who threatens your safety or refuse to recognize your right to the road to court yourself, rather than relying on the police to determine if a crime has been committed, and the District Attorney or City Attorney to file charges.
And because your case will be heard in civil court, it requires a lower burden of proof; just a majority of jurors will have to agree instead of the unanimous verdict required in criminal cases.
It also doesn’t preclude criminal charges, so you can pursue your own case against someone who threatens you without jeopardizing any possible criminal case.
Of course, it won’t work miracles.
While it sets a new standard for other cities and states to follow in ensuring cyclists a safe place on the road, you’ll still need to prove your case. As all too many of us have learned the hard way, it’s not easy to get the license number of a driver who just ran you off the road. And you’ll still need to gather evidence and witnesses so it’s not just your word against theirs.
But with a potential judgment of triple your actual damages or $1,000, whichever is higher, plus any punitive damages the court may impose, it should act as a significant deterrent to hot headed motorists.
In addition, the provision for attorney’s fees should make it much easier to find a lawyer who’ll take your case despite the relatively small potential judgment. Which means that whatever money you receive as a result will go to you instead of your attorney — something I learned about the hard way when the small settlement I received in a road rage case was eaten up by attorney’s fees; in fact, I would have owed him if he hadn’t written off the excess.
So it should be an effective tool to fight back against things like this that occur countless times every day in every part of the city. And it should also serve as a model for other area cities, since harassment and threatening behavior is hardly confined within L.A.’s borders.
We still have some significant hurdles to jump before this becomes law, though. While the drafting of the ordinance enjoyed unanimous support from the council, we haven’t heard from the motoring public, who may not yet be aware this law is being considered.
But now we finally have an actual draft in our hands.
It was a just over a year ago that Council President Eric Garcetti offered me his personal assurance that he would stay on top of the proposed ordinance and keep it moving forward. Yesterday he reacted to the release of the draft by saying “This is a long-overdue recognition that our streets are shared and bicyclists deserve to be free from fear on our streets.”
It looks like he’s kept his word.
As has Rosendahl, who has been driving — or perhaps, pedaling — this ordinance since the very beginning, famously declaring that “The culture of the car is going to end now!”
There are other people to thank, of course — not in the least of whom is Deputy City Attorney Judith Reel, who had the brilliant idea of treating harassment as a civil violation.
But let’s save that until we’ve actually crossed the finish line.
Because we still have some work to do in the meantime.
Learn more about the Anti-Harassment Ordinance in Chris Kidd’s excellent step-by-step analysis at LADOT Bike Blog. And I’ll give you as much advance notice of any hearing as possible.
Here’s the full draft of the proposed ordinance:
ORDINANCE NO. _________
An ordinance adding Article 5.10 to Chapter IV of the Los Angeles Municipal Code to prohibit harassment of bicyclists because of their status as bicyclists.
THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES DO ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1. Article 5.10 is added to Chapter IV of the Los Angeles Municipal Code to read as follows:
PROHIBITION AGAINST HARASSMENT OF BICYCLISTS
SEC. 45.96.00. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.
After public hearings and receipt of testimony, the City Council finds and declares:
That the City of Los Angeles wants to encourage people to ride bicycles rather than drive motor vehicles in order to lessen traffic congestion and improve air quality;
That harassment of bicyclists on the basis of their status as bicyclists exists in the City of Los Angeles;
That existing criminal and civil laws do not effectively prevent the unlawful harassment of bicyclists because of their status as bicyclists;
That riding a bicycle on City streets poses hazards to bicyclists, and that these hazards are amplified by the actions of persons who deliberately harass and endanger bicyclists because of their status as bicyclists; and
That because people have a right to ride a bicycle in the City of Los Angles and should be able to do so safely on City streets, it is against the public policy of the City of Los Angeles to harass a bicyclist upon the basis of the person’s status as a bicyclist.
SEC. 45.96.01. DEFINITIONS.
The following words and phrases, whenever used in this Article, shall be construed as defined in this Section. Words and phrases not defined herein shall be construed as defined in Section 12.03 of this Code, if defined therein.
A. Bicycle. A device upon which any person may ride, propelled exclusively by human power through a belt, chain or gears, and having one or more wheels.
B. Bicyclist. A person riding a bicycle.
SEC. 45.96.02. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES.
A person shall not do or attempt to do any of the following:
A. Physically assault or attempt to physically assault a Bicyclist because, in whole or in part, of the Bicyclist’s status as a Bicyclist.
B. Threaten to physically injure a Bicyclist because, in whole or in part, of the Bicyclist’s status as a Bicyclist.
C. Intentionally injure, attempt to injure, or threaten to physically injure, either by words, vehicle, or other object, a Bicyclist because, in whole or in part, of the Bicyclist’s status as a Bicyclist.
D. Intentionally distract or attempt to distract a Bicyclist because, in whole or in part, of the Bicyclist’s status as a Bicyclist.
SEC. 45.96.03. REMEDIES.
A. Any aggrieved person may enforce the provisions of this Article by means of a civil lawsuit.
B. Any person who violates the provisions of this Article shall be liable for actual damages with regard to each and every such violation, and such additional amount as may be determined by a jury, or a court sitting without a jury, up to three times the amount of actual damages, or $1,000, whichever is greater, as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs of litigation. In addition, a jury or a court may award punitive damages where warranted.
C. Notwithstanding Section 11.00(m) of this Code, violations of any of the provisions of this Article shall not constitute a misdemeanor or infraction, except where such actions, independently of this Article, constitute a misdemeanor or infraction.
D. The remedies provided by the provisions of this Article are in addition to all other remedies provided by law, and nothing in this Article shall preclude any aggrieved person from pursuing any other remedy provided by law.
Sec. 2. Severability. If any provision of this ordinance is found to be unconstitutional or othervvise invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, that invalidity shall not affect the remaining provisions of this ordinance, which can be implemented without the invalid provisions, and to this end, the provisions of this ordinance are declared to be severable.
Sec. 3. The City Clerk shall certify to the passage of this ordinance and have it published in accordance with Council policy, either in a daily newspaper circulated in the City of Los Angeles or by posting for ten days in three public places in the City of Los Angeles: one copy on the bulletin board located at the Main Street entrance to the Los Angeles City Hall; one copy on the bulletin board located at the Main Street entrance to the Los Angeles City Hall East; and one copy on the bulletin board located at the Temple Street entrance to the Los Angeles County Hall of Records.
Evidently, LADOT finally figured out what kind of paint to put on the street.
In an event as unlikely and seemingly miraculous as Moses parting the Red Sea, L.A. saw its initial sharrows hit the pavement on Fountain Ave. in Hollywood today — the first in what is promised to be six test sites, as Los Angeles gingerly explores a concept that has already been proven in cities around the world.
And despite LADOT’s expressed concerns over what kind of paint to use so cyclists wouldn’t sue after slipping on wet paint, they ended up using the same thermoplastic paint usually used for lane markings.
Go figure, huh?
Suffice it to say that today’s pilot project marks a rare victory for local cyclists, for which much of the credit goes to City Council President Eric Garcetti, who championed the project, and the LACBC, which has unrelentingly led the fight for the last five years.
Of course, the fight’s not over.
L.A. cyclists — and drivers — need to prove that these projects are successful before we’re likely to see another drop of paint in our lifetimes.
Santa Monica Spoke invites one and all to their next meeting on Wednesday, featuring special guest Santa Monica City Council Member Terry O’Day.
Next weekend, Streetsblog holds it’s first fundraising ride on Friday, June 18, following the routes of L.A.’s old Yellow Car train lines through NELA. The next day, Saturday, June 19th, explore art and culture with the Folk Art is Everywhere Bike Tour, an easy 3.5 mile ride through Echo Park and historic Filipinotown.
No objections on the Transportation Committee to a motion requiring developers to count bikes and pedestrians as well as cars; even LADOT supported it. Flying Pigeon makes the scene at the SoCal premier of Riding Bikes with the Dutch. LACBC recaps last Sunday’s River Ride, with a link to another great Flickr set of photos. California cyclists get pelted by passing motorists in a pickup. Local bicyclists plan to fight the bike ban in Blackhawk CO. The joys of cycling include giving random strangers a high five as they hail a cab. A teenage driver kills a cyclist while untangling his flip flops and walks away without charges. DC’s DOT Director asks local cyclists to just take a breath. Your summer reading list: 10 great books about bicycling. RAAM is on the road, making good time through the western U.S.; India’s top endurance rider aims for a top five finish. Lance calls a proposal for even more drug testing at the Tour de France “bullshit.” Six-hundred riders prepare to roll across Britain. A grown man shouldn’t be afraid to ride a bike in the street. Pink rides through Deutschland sans skidlid. Germany’s Defense Minister rides das fahrrad. Polite police warnings in Copenhagen. Protect your pedals, ‘cause there’s few things worse than an insecure bike. A 15-year old pseudo cop jacks 14 bikes before getting caught. A Canadian bike rider gets bit in the butt by a grizzly bear.
Finally, LA Eastside’s El Random Hero outs himself as a new member of the cycling community. Glad to have you on board, but seriously, get a light if you’re going to ride after dark; after all, it’s only your life we’re talking about.
Today, Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl begged to differ.
In a powerful statement before the full council, Rosendahl said “The culture of the car is going to end now!” He reminded his fellow council members about the harassment cyclists face on the road, as well as the lack of support riders have received from the LAPD in the past. “We’re going to give cyclists the support they should have been getting.”
“This is my pledge to the cycling community.”
The subject at hand, which drew similar support from many of the council members in attendance, was a motion requesting the City Attorney to draft an ordinance prohibiting the harassment of bicyclists.
It didn’t take long to realize that this wasn’t going to be business as usual.
The first sign came when Council President Eric Garcetti noted that this matter had already been heard by both the Transportation and Public Safety Committees, which would normally mean no more public comments. But as Damien Newton had predicted, he quickly deferred to Rosendahl’s request to allow the handful of cyclists in the room to speak.
But first, Rosendahl and Public Safety Committee Chair Greig Smith agreed to what Damien called the three-step process, in which LADOT and the City Attorney will work with local cyclists to determine what the ordinance can and should contain, without conflicting with existing state traffic regulations. Then they will report back to both committees before drafting the actual ordinance, which will be subject to final council approval.
I argued against the extra step, since the City Attorney would, by necessity, determine what can legally be included in the ordinance during the process of drafting it.
But Rosendahl had already made it clear that he wouldn’t allow the process to drag on. He agreed with Smith to hold a joint session of the two committees to consider the recommendations. And pledged to have an ordinance drafted and ready for approval by the end of March.
That’s March of this year, in case you were wondering.
He also reminded the audience about a planned Transportation Committee session scheduled for February 24, in which cyclists will have a chance to speak with new LAPD Chief Beck. This is a chance to change, not just car culture, but that of the LAPD as well, he said, stating that future graduates from the police academy will receive training in bicycle law — including a copy of the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights.
In remarks a little later, Council Member Ed Reyes, co-sponsor of the motion, added that indifference has usually been the best a cyclist could hope for from the LAPD after being harassed or assaulted.
Fellow Transportation Committee member Paul Kortez suggested that it wasn’t enough to defer to the state to address the problem, saying the city needs to find a way to address harassment in its own laws and do whatever it can to put a stop to it. “We need to send a clear message,” he said.
When the floor was opened to comments, a brief parade of cyclists spoke about the problems they’ve faced on the road.
David talked about being harassed on the streets, while Iain told the council about an incident in which he was injured after being harassed by a driver — only to be told that by a police officer that it was his fault because he was riding with traffic.
Siku spoke of an incident in which she was buzzed by a driver, who yelled “Do you want to die?” at the next red light. And Michael, who described himself as a businessman, homeowner and taxpayer, cast it as a civil rights issue, saying he had been harassed by both drivers and the police.
In fact, every cyclist who spoke — including Aurisha of the LACBC, as well as myself — told of being harassed by drivers on the streets of L.A.
Rosendahl concluded the discussion by listing what he believes should constitute harassment under the proposed ordinance, including:
1. Knowingly throwing a projectile or discharge at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle;
2. Threatening any person riding a bicycle verbally or by use of his/her vehicle for the purpose of injuring, frightening or disturbing the person riding the bicycle;
3. Knowingly placing his/her vehicle within 3’ of a bicyclist while passing or following;
4. Making physical contact with a bicyclist from a moving vehicle or the roadway either by physical person or use of an implement;
5. Knowingly placing a person riding a bicycle in concern of immediate physical injury;
6. Knowingly engaging in conduct that creates a risk of physical injury or death to the person riding a bicycle.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Evidently, the council members agreed, voting 13 to 0 to approve the measure.
Afterwards, Eric Garcetti came up to me and offered his personal assurance that he will stay on top of this measure, and use his position as Council President to keep it moving forward.
And we can’t ask for much more than that.
Six cities that could go car free, including one right here in California, courtesy of Curbed LA. Designing better cities for bikes. Mixed results on Portland’s bike boxes. Boston Biker loses it after getting doored by a passenger bailing out in traffic. Virginia is the latest state to consider a three-foot passing law. New York cyclists are ticketed for delivering fried dumplings on the sidewalk. The great Hasidim v. hipsters debate goes on, and on — literally, this time. If bike lanes can tame New Dehli’s traffic, just imagine what they could do here. A UK driver is convicted of killing a rider competing in a time trial; as usual, she claims she never saw him. Brits petition the Royal Mail to let posties keep their Pashleys. Disgraced former Spanish cycling boss threatens to dope and tell. An Edinburgh cyclist hits a white van at 20 mph; maybe the driver thought he was a pothole. Finally, a great examination of how to fight biased — or just uninformed — police enforcement. And perhaps the best last line of any bike quote, ever.