Storm The Bastille: Friday, May 1st, Cyclists visit LA City Council

By Alex Thompson

Sparked by the now infamous Hummer incident, cyclists from all over the city will be swarming City Council on Friday, to make their dissatisfaction with LAPD known.  Friday, May 1st, at 10am at Van Nuys City Hall we will submit public comments regarding the anti-cyclist bias of LAPD.  Van Nuys City Hall is located at 14410 Sylvan St – arrive at or before 9:40am to have time to get through security.  If you live outside the Valley, you can meet us at the Red Line station at Santa Monica Bl & Vermont Ave, and we’ll all take the train over to the Valley, and ride from there.  Check out the event listing on Facebook.

In case you thought the Hummer incident was an isolated incident of police bias, or motorist aggression, here’s a comment left on Westside Bikeside by Emily:

I appreciate bikers–the fact that they bike to exercise or to save the planet–but before bikers start complaining about being treated as second class citizens, it would be nice if they learned how to ride safely and appropriately. I don’t know what happened in this situation, but bikers are not supposed to ride tandem on the street. They are technically supposed to ride single file so that cars can pass them. Were these 12 bikers doing that? How did that bike get caught under the car without more serious injury? Was the bike being used to block the car’s path?

I’ve heard so many bikers say that they’ve been hit by drivers who were turning right at an intersection without paying attention. Technically, bikers should not be passing cars on the right. Especially at an intersection. If a car tried to do that (pull up on the right side of a car turning right), they would probably get hit as well. However, even then, it’s easier to see a car, and the injuries for someone in a car would probably be much less than for someone on a bike.

Bikers need to decide: Are you riding in traffic? Then follow the rules of the road! Don’t ride past cars that have stopped at a traffic light. You should stop, too. Making cars pass you multiple times because it’s easier not to follow the rules of the road is dangerous! Otherwise, be a pedestrian and follow the rules of walking your bike around other pedestrians and across the street. Bikes are not meant to let you ride however you like. In fact, I’m surprised that more bikers are not ticketed by the police for their unsafe behavior.

Sure…it’s more fun, and less work, to bike unsafely. But, there are consequences for that!! Who knows how this incident really happened. Be safe in your biking, or stop complaining about accidents on the road.

Should I highlight the flaws in this comment or would y’all rather do it?  Because letting comments like this slide as “logical”, “reasonable”, or “she has a point” is what leads people to think they can run us over.  Whoever gave people the idea that it’s ok to punish all cyclists for some cyclists running red lights?  Or that it’s ok for motorists to act as vigilantes and punish cyclists they have identitfied as red light runners?  Who thinks that motorist aggression is really based on anger at cyclists running reds, and not on an angry sense of entitlement?  And since when did the punishment for running a red light become death by Emily, in a Hummer of her choosing?

We can’t permit this flawed thinking to exist for one minute without negative scrutiny.  If we do, we can only expect more comments like this comment from “steve”, who can be reached at scphares@yahoo.com:

If you’ve never lived in LA, then you’re not aware of the roving Cycle gangs that will shut down intersections and block all traffic as 100-200 slow-ass cyclists meander down the road. It is by far the most annoying thing ever.

The cyclists were lucky they weren’t run over, I’ve often dreampt of chasing them down and crushing everyone involved as I’ve sat through 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 rotations of a stoplight completely unable to move because the people on bikes are breaking the law by illegally shutting down an intersection.

Next time the HUMMER should just CRUSH all of them, then maybe the rest of us drivers who follow the law and don’t disregard and disrespect others on the road won’t have to waste 20 minutes or more at an intersection waiting for these cycling losers to pass bye.

See you all on Friday!

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26 Responses to “Storm The Bastille: Friday, May 1st, Cyclists visit LA City Council”

  1. Bravo Dr. Thompson, bravo

  2. A copy of the email I sent our friend Steve!!!:

    Dear Steve,
    You appear to be one of the people that make our lives hell on the road. You also appear to be someone that can’t have a civil conversation with someone you disagree with. Other than wishing death upon those that may have caused a few inconveinences for you (something that defintiely WON’T gain you the respect you crave you fucking idiot…excuse the language), why don’t you try taking part in existing efforts to make Los Angeles a safer place for cyclists to ride? People in our government disagree everyday Steve! If you pay attention, you’ll notice that politicians that wish death upon the other guys usually don’t have stellar careers. “Next time the HUMMER should just CRUSH all of them…” Stupi…..er…..Steve, remember that this is someone that could’ve lost their life. I’m sure you’d have a different opinion if it were a family member of yours. That being said, if you can’t change your irrational, inconsiderate, uneducated, narrow, and shallow line of thinking, I suggest you jump into a fish bowl and swim around with the others, therby increasing your chances of survival in a society that requires people to be able to count to 6.

    Offended by your brain fart,
    Joseph :-/

  3. Hey y’all! I will be riding from Santa Monica Directly to Van Nuys via Sepulveda. If you would like to join me I will be leaving at 8:30 sharp so you can wait anywhere along my route (http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2777605)

    -Watthew Woore?

  4. I don’t think that Emily’s individual points are unreasonable or out of line – I agree with her on most of them. I’m personally of the mindset that if we want to be accorded our rights as equal motorists, then we should ride lawfully.

    But her response as a whole has almost no bearing on the Hummer incident as described. The key issues there, IMO, are the use of a vehicle as a deadly weapon, leaving the scene of an accident, fleeing the scene of an accident on foot, threatening bodily harm and violence, destruction of property, and a complete disregard for law and procedure by a police officer.

  5. “I’m personally of the mindset that if we want to be accorded our rights as equal motorists, then we should ride lawfully.” – dave

    Dave, this is some awfully flawed thinking. When I leave my house on my bike I don’t issue license to motorists everywhere to treat me with respect or disrespect based on the current degree of lawful cycling by others. Safe driving and respect for cyclists’ lives should not depend on how perfectly we collectively adhere to the California Vehicle code.

    You shouldn’t be so quick to explain motorist aggression as an act of justice making on their part. If anything the degree of respect of cyclists by motorists is more closely connected with a sense of entitlement and a cultural assumption that cyclists do not have a right to the road, and has nothing to do cyclists’ degree of lawful behavior. If cyclists running reds is the top reason motorists cite for feeling cyclists are illegitimate road users, that only means they’re trying to explain rationally (and failing) what is fundamentally emotive behavior – irrational aggression. It does not mean is the actual basis of their behavior.

    I think I’ve found another post topic, which I can summarize as follows:

    There is no fucking we.

  6. well said, alex. how’s this for fundamentally emotive behavior:

    midnight spud-ttack!

    cyclists fan out across the city under the cover of night, each shoving multiple taters up the tailpipes of h1s, -2s and -3s. h1-3 drivers wake up and can’t start their oversized paramilitary vehicles, due to the tuber-centered uprising.

    victory! from the roots of justice will sprout the foliage of, well, further justice. oh, the glory of it…

    anyway, cheers to all those who make it tomorrow, to channel their energy more productively that i’m capable of doing :)

  7. Sadly, I can’t be there.
    I’m not going to be back in town until Saturday.
    I’ll be there in spirit!

  8. Hummer supporter April 30th, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    “We can’t permit this flawed thinking to exist for one minute without negative scrutiny.”

    How about this flawed thinking:
    “And since when did the punishment for running a red light become death by Emily, in a Hummer of her choosing?”

    Your logic here appears to be that a punishment of death is too severe for running a red light, therefore you should be allowed to run red lights with impunity.

    “… the degree of respect of cyclists by motorists is more closely connected with a sense of entitlement and a cultural assumption that cyclists do not have a right to the road …”
    Yet you would counter this with your own sense of entitlement? Are you entitled to ride six abreast across two traffic lanes at barely more than a walking pace while ignoring traffic lights? No, you absolutely are not. Yet I see hundreds of riders doing just that every time you gather for one of these righteous indignation rallies, and I expect this to happen tomorrow.

    I have a job, and therefore can’t make it to city hall in the middle of the day on a Friday. Otherwise I’d be there in support of the police who recognize the hoards of bicyclist attempting to take LA streets hostage as dangerous to themselves and to others.

  9. Alex,

    It wasn’t my intent to justify motorist rage (or legal repression of our rights to the road), but I can see now that my previous comment essentially does that, and that my thinking is indeed flawed. You are absolutely correct. Our rights and our treatment by motorists should be independent of the actions of others. Our right to safety and the road is written in law.

    In regards to “There is no fucking we” – I personally feel that the “we” is unavoidable.

    As you state – while the actions of other cyclists shouldn’t affect my treatment on the road, unfortunately they do. It’s not right. It’s not legal. But I feel that’s just how it is. I think this is because while I’ve met many LA cyclists that know that we have an equal right to the road, I’ve met many others that seem to think that we have *more* of a right to the road. It’s continually running into the latter that has affected my thinking on this issue.

    “There is no fucking we” – I’m taking this to mean that we as cyclists should not be judged as a group, nor judged by the negative actions of a few. Our treatment as individual cyclists is legally established and should be free of context.

    If so then this is an ideal that underrepresented or misunderstood communities the world over would benefit from. But I personally think it’s idealistic.

    I feel that as long as there is an unavoidable “we” then the best way to ride and live is to be a good ambassador but have a spine. To me that means:
    Ride well.
    Ride lawfully.
    Be courteous.
    Stand up for your rights.
    Look after your own.

    Of course, all this may be irrelevant if I’m misinterpreting what you mean by “There is no we”

  10. Dave,

    Firstly – I think you would really like Will Campbell’s blog “[sic]” and Ted’s blog BikinginLA. They very much come from where you’re at – a sort of steely backbone ethical approach.

    I think we’re getting closer to a consensus on this, and you’ve understood what I mean by “there is no fucking we.” I agree that, to some extent, cyclist behavior is connected with motorist treatment of cyclists. I’m not going to get into the whole group riding thing – lets just stipulate that I think group rides, including ones that cork lights, are a great thing, and I think worth taking a hit on image for.

    The thing I’m curious about is, when motorists and community leaders say things like “you guys always run lights” to justify not enabling cyclists, where is that coming from. I mean, I heard Councilman LaBonge give a textbook version of the “you guys run lights and therefore we can’t do anything for you” speech at transportation committee.

    I think a lot of it just comes from being defensive. Now, and to a greater extent when I was younger, when faced with a counterargument to mine, my mind starts churning out strong logical rebuttals. And I think this red light one is one that passes the basic “will this be considered rational” test. So people give it as justification for something dumb they said, or defending the reckless behavior of some driver.

    The other thing I think is that running a red light is taboo. The negative consequences of running a red light in a car are obvious and dramatic. You learn this when driving, and so running a red light in day light is really really frowned upon. However, speeding, which has similar negative consequences, is not as dramatically illustrated to be dangerous, so it is not taboo. So something like 85% of drivers speed excessively but they don’t run reds.

    So, cyclists running reds are breaking a taboo. And when people bitch about it they do it in that same tone that they do about so & so taking off her top, or “those kids these days” or anything else that breaks cultural norms.

    But the thing is that running a red on a bike just doesn’t pose the same danger to others that it does in a car, and more generally doesn’t pose the same danger to you. Sight lines are better, and you don’t weigh a bazillion pounds. Cyclists are already riding against a cultural norm by riding, so they tend to be flexible about the red light one as well.

  11. Hummer supporter May 1st, 2009 at 7:09 am

    “… lets just stipulate that I think group rides, including ones that cork lights, are a great thing, and I think worth taking a hit on image for.”

    There’s that sense of entitlement I mentioned earlier.

    “There is no fucking we.”

    Isn’t “we” what this blog and this movement are about? You’re bringing bicyclists together as a group for the purpose of advocacy and thus defining yourselves as a “we”. A part of doing that is taking responsibility for the worst actions of your members as well as claiming credit for the best. If, as you say, there is no “we” in the context of the illegal and dangerous activities of those among your numbers, then there can be no “we” in the context of the benefits you seek to gain for them.
    Either give up on activism, or become responsible, follow the laws, and look out for your own safety as well as mine.

  12. So, what news?

  13. Chris Pennington May 1st, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    It was awesome to see everyone today. There were some pretty clear and thoughtful comments for the Council. Me and T.J are gonna work on some follow through. Thats the thing with meetings like this. It only works if you stay on their case ALL THE TIME. They count on groups getting lazy. I just want to make a quick point about this whole bike license thing that Tom Labarge is so set on. There are some who think we should not make such a big deal about it. I disagree! I THINK ITS A BAD IDEA. And here is why:
    1. Its a misnomer. It is in no way a “license” There is no and will be no test to check your riding capabilities. What it IS, is a tax. Which brings me to
    2. WE ARE ALREADY TAXED. Electric car owners are given a tax break by the government. HUmmers are given a tax break by the government. But we who pay municipal taxes to repair damage caused by said electric and “farm machinery” grade vehicles are being expected to pay even more for a can of paint. By accepting this new tax burden we are in a way conceding to our opponents and the less informed that what we do is special and out of the norm, that our collective travel on the roads is purely for enjoyment. The city funds buses and bus lanes, subways and above ground transit, they should fund bike infrastructure.
    3. WHERE DOES IT END? ONe year the city says you have to cough up 30 bucks for a “license”. The next year they are requiring you carry “bike insurance” What a mess we can create! This new tax is a bait and switch. They have no accountability now, what is going to motivate them to offer oversight for any new regulations?

  14. You see my narrow-minded non-cyclist friends, the only real rule of the road once you’ve ridden in LA for more than a couple of years, in traffic, and on all of these crazy streets, is stay alive and try to get to where you’re going efficiently.

    I refuse to nit-pick at any of these comments, there’s no way a person who commutes every day of his or her life by bicycle can explain the shit that we go through to a motorist. We put our lives on the line every day for what we believe in, while you sheep continue to wait in line to get onto your I-405s and I-10s.

  15. here here.

  16. Hummer supporter May 1st, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    “The thing I’m curious about is, when motorists and community leaders say things like “you guys always run lights” to justify not enabling cyclists, where is that coming from.”

    “Cyclists are already riding against a cultural norm by riding, so they tend to be flexible about the red light one as well.”

    Let’s break this down, shall we. You claim that running a red light on a bicycle isn’t as bad or as dangerous as running a red light in a car. Does that make it safe or acceptable? No it does not. It still poses a risk of causing a severe traffic accident. It creates the risk of severe injury or death to the bicyclist running the light, to the drivers trying to avoid said bicyclist (who could potentially hit each other, hit stationary objects, or hit pedestrians as well as hitting the offending bicyclist), and to bystanders who could get caught up in the ensuing wreckage.
    Despite the running of red lights being illegal and extremely dangerous, whether on a bike or in a car, you somehow reason that as a bicyclist you deserve a pass on that particular law. The law doesn’t allow you that pass, and neither does logic or reason, but you take that liberty anyway.

    From this comes the source of the councilman’s argument. If you refuse to follow the law, and in so refusing put yourselves and others in danger, how can you reasonably ask for new laws to be enacted to protect you?

  17. Chris Pennington May 1st, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Is this Hummer person for real? (I mean fur real.) There are bad apples on the cop squad and bad apples in the bike community. You cannot create or (in L.A. ‘s case) not create laws based on only a small percentage of a certain group. Even debating it is pointless. Its so clear. The real reason motorists are such assholes so much of the time is because they secretly wish they werent so fat and lazy and stuck in their car. MOVE ON!

  18. Hummer supporter May 1st, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Nicely done, Chris. In response to my suggestion that bicyclists should obey the law for the sake of their own safety and that of others, you reduce the argument to childish name-calling.
    Apparently the only reason I believe that bicyclists should ride safely and courteously is that I’m fat, lazy, and secretly jealous of your freedom.

    “There are bad apples on the cop squad and bad apples in the bike community. You cannot create or (in L.A. ’s case) not create laws based on only a small percentage of a certain group.”

    I regularly see hundreds of bicyclists in packs ignoring lights and obstructing traffic. At the top of this page I see a link to midnightridazz.com, a group that organizes such rides. I’m going to put 2 and 2 together and say the people posting on this blog are the same people participating in those rides. Those are the people screaming about “unfair” treatment at the hands of police and demanding protection from the city.

    People here keep saying that the red light runners are in the minority (even the ones defending the practice). So let’s hear from all those who can honestly say they don’t run lights when they ride.

    I’ll start. I stop at red lights.

  19. OK, Hummer supporter. I am going to go out on a limb with this one. As a commuting cyclist who regularly rides more than 250 miles per week, I would not be alive if I didn’t obey laws that apply to cars. This means that I stop at red lights and stop signs, and I signal to other vehicles my intentions if I am changing lanes. Many cyclists behave as I do because we don’t want to get killed. If we behave like the rules don’t apply to us, we will get hurt. But as cycling has grown in popularity over the last few years, some really bad behavior has risen as well. I’m not talking about group rides but the day-to-day irresponsible behavior.

    As cyclists, we have a problem: we often can’t decide if we are pedestrians or vehicles. Running red lights is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m talking about the people who ride against traffic, on sidewalks, or what have you. Pedestrians routinely run red lights, walk against traffic sometimes on the shoulder, or chase items into the street. That’s what people do. Who gets blamed when a car hits a pedestrian? The car.

    I believe that this confusion between cyclists as vehicles or pedestrians will improve as cycling culture in LA gets more hospitable. Just as certain laws and policy make it better for cars (raising speed limits, widening freeways), better transportation policy (bike lanes!) will encourage more responsible behavior. What doesn’t help this process is unadulterated car v. cyclist rage (cars running over bikes at a group ride, for example) or poor officer training. Generalizing the behavior of a few to the rest of us does not fit under the “helping” category.

  20. Hummer supporter May 3rd, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Thank you, twoweelz. You sound like a responsible rider and I hope you encourage others to do the same. It takes support from within to make the group stronger.

    “Who gets blamed when a car hits a pedestrian? The car.”

    This is because in California pedestrians have the right of way in every circumstance, even when the pedestrian is engaged in illegal behavior. I believe this to be a flaw in the legal system, but it’s entirely unrelated to the matter at hand.

    “As cyclists, we have a problem: we often can’t decide if we are pedestrians or vehicles.”

    By law, bicycles are vehicles. There shouldn’t be any confusion about that.

    “Just as certain laws and policy make it better for cars (raising speed limits, widening freeways), better transportation policy (bike lanes!) will encourage more responsible behavior.”

    I agree with this, but it goes both ways. You can’t say “we’ll be responsible, but you have to do something for us first.” You need to give people a reason to want to do something for you if you’re going to ask. And as I said at the beginning, people like you encouraging other riders to engage in safe, legal, and courteous behavior can go a long way.

    “I’m not talking about group rides but the day-to-day irresponsible behavior.”

    Let’s not discount the group rides. There are two reasons that they are significant. One is that the same legal and common sense rules of safety (that of the riders as well as the public at large) still apply. The other is that this is the time when bicycles are most visible and when the greatest impressions are made on non-riders. That is, I believe, a major part of the reason these rides take place.
    If the impression being made is one of friendly, courteous, and safe riders, this will be a positive one and will make people think “hey, maybe I should ride my bike. too bad there aren’t more bike lanes. someone should do something about that.” Good impressions=benefits to bicyclists.
    If on the other hand, the impression being made is of a bunch of jackasses with a mob mentality effectively shutting down portions of the city, this will make people think “it’s those god damn bicyclists again! someone should run those idiots down. I hope they make it illegal to ride a bike in this part of town.” Bad impressions=rage towards bicyclists.
    You see the difference?

  21. Hummer supporter writes:

    “By law, bicycles are vehicles. There shouldn’t be any confusion about that.”

    Actually, they’re not. They’re devices. A small mistake but nevertheless, a mistake.

    CVC specifies that Cyclists “have all the rights and responsibilities of vehicle drivers” and then goes on to contradict that statement with exceptions.

    Can the operator of a motor vehicle drive on the sidewalk, use a bike path or cross in a crosswalk? Not hardly and yet our leadership still builds facilities such as the orange Line Bike Path that directs cyclists to use the crosswalk.

    So while it may be true that there shouldn’t be any confusion, there is. At all levels, from user groups to law enforcement to local legislative bodies and to the judicial system.

    So you’re in good company!

    But you’re still confused.

    “See you on the Streets!”

  22. Wait. Stop one second.

    So Hummer-Supporter, you support the right of this SUV to get in an accident and leave without giving insurance information? You support the right of this SUV to run over 3 bicycles in an attempt to leave the scene?

    I am a commuter bicyclist and I stop at red lights.

    Do you drive under the speed limit at all times?

  23. Besides, Do you know me? Have you been Stalking Me?

    How Did You know that I am Fat and Lazy.

  24. Banned Hummer Supporter, twice. It’s nice to have some scrutiny, but when the comments are dominated by some adversary trolling by posting thin logic and attacking everyone, plus dominating the discussion rather than participating, it’s ban time. Not to mention, there is a basic and irrefutable illogic to defending a motorist who drives over a bike.

    Westside Bikeside is not your blog Hummer Supporter – you are invited to get your own.

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