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Los Angeles: A step in the right direction

Los Angeles has a new police chief named Charlie Beck. (Left.) 

Just into his third month as chief, he has already met with community leaders promising to make "good policing and civil rights" the foundation of his LAPD legacy.

It was at one of these meetings Chief Beck was presented with a Cyclists' Bill of Rights and a challenge to put his leadership team to work towards making Los Angeles a better place for cyclists to ride.

As a result a LAPD Cycling Task Force has been formed headed by Commander David Doan. They recently met for a marathon session with representatives from various LA area cycling advocate groups.

These included, the Bike Writers Collective, illuminate LA, Sustainable Streets, Bikeside, the Voice, (a Bike Working Group) and the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Commander Doan (Right.) convened the meeting saying, "The LAPD is committed to making our roadways safer for all commuters with an emphasis on our most vulnerable commuters, cyclists. We are committed to working with the cycling community to improve police cyclist interactions and to find ways to make our streets safer for everyone." 

One of the first orders of business will be the education of LAPD officers who patrol the streets and the LA public as a whole on the rights of cyclists on streets of Los Angeles. Better investigation of accidents involving cyclists, and also “crimes” against cyclists was called for.

When a motorist "asserts" himself against a cyclist, it is not a simple traffic violation or traffic collision, it is a crime. Crimes against cyclists need to be treated as real crimes, not as simple infractions that are simply part of everyday traffic in Los Angeles.

A hit-and-run motorist that leaves a cyclist behind needs to be pursued and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The recent Mandeville Canyon road rage incident that resulted in several felony convictions for Dr. Christopher Thompson wasn't the first reported incident for the doctor, it was the third, and it wasn't investigated as a crime until it got political. That must change.

On the civil rights issue - Cyclists riding alone and late at night sometimes find themselves in handcuffs while the LAPD check their information.

LAPD officers report that this is simply for the safety of the officers but critics call it "bias based policing" or "profiling" and that riding a bike should not be a cue for handcuffs.

Many of these cyclists ride for economic reasons; they are workers in low paying jobs simply riding to or from work. They may not have lights and may ride on the sidewalks late at night.

The opportunity here would be to have the LAPD pass out blinkie lights and a copy of the Cyclists' Rules of the Road rather than to assume that late-night cyclists are involved in crime.

This is a huge step in the right direction; when a major city like Los Angeles starts to take cycling seriously, then other municipalities are more likely to follow suit. You can read a complete and more detailed report here


Reader Comments (9)

Your posts recently are making me want to move to America!

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoby

Interesting, let's hope for a better climate in LA for all road users. A Cycling Task Force should force more accountability.

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJack

This is encouraging, especially in the context of a strong and growing bicycle community in L.A. and a public that is increasingly aware of urban and environmental issues. L.A. could become such an amazing and beautiful place if the local government could be just a little bit more creative and enlightened. As you said, this is a step in the right direction.

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacob Bear

This is a real encouragement. Hopefully it comes with real results. Other communities should be as proactive. Cheers to officers Beck and Doan!

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Great news Dave! As one who commutes weekdays at 4:30am I usually don't have any issues with traffic in the morning. However, cyclists are required to have lights (both front and rear) for night riding and most do not. This alone gives police officers a reason to stop you. Even if to imform you about the lights. On the other hand, if you fail the "attitude" test when stopped, you leave the police every reason to cuff you and check you out. Equal respect will get you proper teatment in most cases. I've lived here for nearly 50 years and commuted for the last 25 or so and have never been stopped and cuffed. I cooperate and follow the traffic laws. Simple enough. Let's hope others will do so and make Los Angeles a bike friendly city. It needs a lift.

January 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

“We’re going to give cyclists the support they should have been getting.”

Awesome let's see more: http://bikinginla.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/rosendahl-to-council-car-culture-ends-today/

January 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJack

You may direct your local chief of police or training officer to this web page:

MassBike Police Training

The training materials are very affordable and this sort of training is sorely lacking in most police departments.

MassBike is the E-Z Lite name for the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition.

January 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRay

Commander Doan will be at the next Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting on this coming Tuesday (02/02/2010). There's a short ride to it for anyone who's interested:


January 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterangle

I completely support bicycle rights.. Reason for this message is A. I have seen people riding @ night with no lights- especially dangerous on dark streets.. B. riding on sidewalks. { friend hit 3 times } C. llttle or no regard for traffic lights or stop signs .D. no helmets. I think if more can be done to address these issues the streets will be much safer.

Thank you for your consideration.

September 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Brickley

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