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L.A. to study ways to protect bicyclists, considers 'bill of rights'


L.A. city officials are vowing to look at ways to protect bicyclists on city streets.

Cyclists have been demanding more attention from government around the country, saying they have the right to share the road with cars.

The bike rights campaign has been galvanized by the case of an L.A. doctor convicted a few weeks ago of purposely hitting bikers in Brentwood.

More people are turning to two wheels for commuting and recreation. Cyclists are asserting their rights as never before. In Los Angeles, advocates are pushing for more bike lanes and other road improvements, a cyclists' bill of rights and more protection from police.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to study ways to protect cyclists.

"There are anti-harassment laws protecting us in the workplace, but cyclists don't have the same protections when they are on the road," said Aurisha Smolarski, communications director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, told the Daily Breeze.  "Los Angeles has a chance to make sure we have the protections and the equal rights to use the roads."

Among the ideas being consider: creating bike sharing lanes in certain areas, improving training for police and creating a cyclist "Bill of Rights."

--Shelby Grad

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

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Comments () | Archives (99)

"[S]idewalks are loaded with people staggering every which way, never looking where they go..."

Imagine that! Human beings walking on the SIDEWALK. Don't like it? Stay off the sidewalk. Bicyclists trying to use the sidewalks as their own personal highways are a meanace.

Bill Rosendahl and the Transpo Committee already signed the Cyclists' Bill of Rights last year. They are lobbying to make it official, not create a new one. See the Cyclists' Bill of Rights at http://bikewriterscollective.com. The Cyclists' Bill of Rights is based on our Constitution, rights that already exist.

On another note: some of these people should be ashamed of themselves for spreading hate and violence. America is a country where we teach others to learn to respect each other regardless of race, creed, sex, age or religion. Your hate is un-American and embarrassing to your Country!

Those commenters complaining about cyclists blowing through stop signs forget the countless drivers who roll through stop signs themselves, fail to come to a stop when turning right on a red, cross over a double yellow line to pass a slow-moving vehicle, etc. Cyclists and drivers alike ignore the laws when obeying them would be inconvenient and they think there's a low chance of getting caught.

And for that matter, cyclists *do* get ticketed, just like drivers, when law enforcement catches them in the act. I've had friends get pulled over for rolling through stop signs and riding in the crosswalk, and it's pretty well-documented in the bike community that some cities enthusiastically cite cyclists for violations of this sort, treating them as a source of revenue. So don't talk like cyclists are getting away with something while drivers aren't.

if they want the same rights, then they should get traffic tickets too for speeding in traffic, running red lights and wearing those stupid uniforms in public. it's only fair.

I'm all for sharing the road but you better be able to pedal that bike at least 35mph. Holding up traffic during rush hour on a busy street is biker suicide.

If you can't hang, ride on a street with a bike lane.

ROBERT B. - You need to familiarize yourself with the rules of the road before you make comments. A bike is a vehicle and must adhere to the rules that are set forth for that vehicle. Making a left hand turn on a bicycle is supposed to be made from the left turn lane, just like a car. Since it is a vehicle, it is not permitted in the crosswalks or on the sidewalks. Please read your driver's manual before you get into your car again so we can all feel safe on the road. Then, maybe you won't have so much anger towards the cyclists.

i see so much ignorance being yelled out in every comment.

how many people on a daily basis do you see speeding, not using blinkers, talking on cell phones, rolling through stop signs, following you to closely.
now compare that to how many bicycles you see running red lights and stop signs. the few that you see that you now use as examples of a entire group is called generalizing, equivalent to stereotyping. you are looking good so far.

self policing, how many other motorists have you EVER let know what California Vehicle Code they are breaking. now you're ignorant and a hypocrite.

the reason roads exist today for you to drive your automobiles on is due largely to efforts of the League of American Wheelmen, yes, a group of cyclists is largely to thank for the roads you have the ability to drive on everyday.

go read a book and learn something, that way you stop looking so dumb.

Both the motorists and cyclists have the responsibility of obeying the laws and being courteous on the road. For cyclists, they should be aware of the rules and their rights when taking their bikes on the streets by reading the DMV handbook because it's always best to keep oneself informed about what is legal and what is not. Perhaps those cyclists one sees running stop signs and red lights are not educated enough and they should realize that. However, motorists do that as well and I'm pretty sure they are well aware of such violations, otherwise, they would not pass the DMV test. They too, should be aware of the rights of the cyclists. Both parties would eventually learn to co-exist on the road, I believe that. And providing for more options to cyclists such as designated bike lanes will ensure a safer ride. Points to ponder: If a car gets hit by a runaway bicycle, what happens? The car gets a dent and scratches and the rider gets hurt one way or another, but not the car driver; But, if a cyclist gets hit by a runaway car, what happens? The rider is injured, or worse, gets killed, but the driver, not a scratch. Who do you think is at a lose-lose situation then? Shouldn't it be a win-win situation for both parties instead? The government has the responsibility of making the roads safe for both cyclists and motorists and as good citizens, we should do our part by being well informed, defensive drivers/riders.

A cyclist who followed the rules would be memorable. I can't remember the last time I saw a bike stop at a red light or stop sign. I'm not sure that I ever have in almost 30 years of driving. I do remember seeing bikes on a sidewalk on Eagle Rock Blvd. even though there are bike lanes in both directions.

The bicycle "Bill of Rights" is a joke. I just read it on some blog.
My five year old son could have wrote that!
If you are going to protect my son on his bike, change the laws or give him a bike lane.
And the City Council approved the "Bill of Rights"? Now I know the city council members are gutless.
Please do something..change the laws....put in bike lanes.

Wow, imagine if cyclists were as selfish as automobile drivers regarding 'rights' to the road?
Cyclists fight to survive each and every day, while motorists complain about having to share and being slightly inconvenienced.
Motorists: Be less selfish please and everyone is happier. Thank you!

If you see a cyclist in front of you in the road you are required to slow down and wait for a chance to safely pass. If you can't give a three foot passing distance, you need to wait until you can. Got it?


Lives are on the line. If we all just used the road with a little common sense, we wouldn't live in a country where over 40,000 people a year die in traffic collisions.

Bikes have a right to the road. That's the safest place for them to be. Everybody should follow the rules of the road. Both cars and bikes need to do a better job on this.

City officials should be required to read these comments. As for me, after reading them I will never ride a bike in LA. LA drivers are hateful, murderous, ignorant and driving big, powerful vehicles that they can't even control. The current roads were never meant for these high-speed vehicles. (And, I might add, the current people weren't, either)

The only way to have safe streets for bicylists and pedestrians is to put all the cars in underground tunnels, as suggested for under Pasadena. It's okay, the drivers will never even notice, since they will be looking at their phones and listening to their iPods. Let the pedestrians and bicyclists enjoy the good climate and city sights!

The car driver community really needs to start policing itself.

Anybody with more than 1000lbs of steel needs to come FULL STOP at ALL stop signs. On a recent afternoon videotape showed out of 50 cars 48 did not come to full stop at stop sign.

Every day I see car drivers driving at dangerous speeds and not obeying the law, one bad car driver makes every car driver looks bad altough I have heard that there are decent drivers out there too, I believe it when I see it.

There are people KILLED by bad drivers hitting a pedestrian/cyclists(2009 1000s in CA alone), while bike hitting motorists is not nice, no motorists were killed by bicycles running into them in 2009!

As interesting as it would be to have a cyclists' Bill of Rights, the main thing about road safety -- whether you are a bicyclist or a car driver, is just following the rules as much as learning to share the road. There are as many instances of reckless drivers as there are irresponsible riders. Stricter enforcement of laws, on bikes and cars will be the best way to keep everyone on the road safe.

Who knew that asking people to pay attention and be a bit more patient every once in a while would be so controversial.

Also, a memo to everyone complaining about "scofflaw cyclists": All kinds of road users bend the rules a bit. Are you saying you've never rolled a stop sign or driven faster than the speed limit?

Why do we as a society hold motorists to a higher standard? It's because the consequences of them disobeying traffic laws is much much greater.

How about they just get the LAPD to start enforcing motoring laws and ticket car drivers who speed, change lanes without indicating, speed up to get through orange lights or use their phones while driving.

We don't really need to waste time & money studying for a 'Bill of rights'. Especially when that money could be used on cycling infrastructure.

hopefully this "bill of rights" will include the responsibilities that go along with riding a bicycle on the road...number one should be: you MUST follow the same rules of the road like autos, this includes making a complete stop at stop signs, that would be every individual cyclist, no just the one at the front of the pack... How friggin annoying is this? Cyclists create unsafe situations and then whine when they are hit or over the resulting road rage.

To all the people who seem to hate bicyclists:

have you ever ridden a bicycle? There are so many comments disparaging people for wanting to get a little exercise. We all have to share the road, why do people have to vent such violent tirades because they had to slow down for a few seconds to avoid a bicyclist or two. What do you do if you have to wait for an elderly woman crossing the street? Honk? Run her over? Beat her to death like a Swedish rapper? Geez, calm down already.

Why should you care so much if a bicyclist goes through a stop sign? All these people out there complaining how they can't lose weight, that gas prices are putting them in the poorhouse.

In stead of going into conniptions, how about trying a few bicycle rides yourself? It's great fun, kinder to the environment, keeps you fit and healthy, and it's free!

Hate is such a strong sentiment against other people, cyclist or not. I know you don't like very much, but you have to understand that one of these cyclist can be one of your friends, family members or even someone who is going somewhere to do something productive that might even benefit you and others... you never know. I might be exaggerating a bit, but one has to be tolerant to others... don't you think.
Peace may be with you and the rest of us.

Don't forget that the reason bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists are pitted against each other is because the city officials haven't done anything to upgrade the streets or intersections in years.

We should get together and demand safer intersections, more green turn arrows, more bike lanes, more enforcement of the laws, etc. from them!

Share the road! Cycling hate mongers can get off their high horses and take some responsibility for their impacts on other citizens. We all have the right to equal protection under the law; perhaps you need to grow a pair, by getting your fat a$$ out of your car and exercising a little. Drivers are easily distracted and often feel privileged to the road, at what ever the cost bicycle safety is worth it and is a long time coming.

The efforts to "protect" cyclists, while laudable, are insufficient. Transportation policy in general should prioritize two objectives: to reduce our per capita carbon footprint, currently the most outsized of all the large industrial nations, and to increase public safety. To these ends, the dominance of the private automobile must end, with policies introducing disincentives to their use and corresponding incentives to use lower carbon footprint and potentially safer alternatives such as public transportation and cycling.

At the national level, policies such as business tax deductions for auto use, subsidies which artificially lower the cost of gasoline, and programs such as Cash for Clunkers, all of which act to promote private auto usage, must be phased out. California should implement the State of Idaho Bicycle Laws, which allow cyclists, when and where safe, to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs. Idaho's laws have been in effect since 1982 and have not resulted in appreciable increases in accidents. Throughout LA County, allowable speed limits in all but primary and secondary highways should be reduced, an inexpensive form of traffic calming which would increase public safety. These two measures would cost very little since they would require mostly signage changes.

The private automobile ascended to its current dominance through a combination of corporate conspiracy and public policies and subsidies specifically designed to increase its market share; if we're serious about slowing our destruction of the planet, we'll use policy to incentivize use of alternatives.

Having read through all 98 of the previous posts, the overriding impression is of the quite staggering intransigence, prejudice and intolerance towards other people's interests evidenced in some of the offerings. I can only hope that none of those writers is ever called to do jury service; the poor sod in the dock would have no chance whatsoever, no matter what actual facts might be.

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