Unified by our shared experiences on the street, angered by the now infamous "Hummer Incident" and emboldened by their experiences with the LAPD Police Commission and Inspector General, roughly fifty cyclists pedaled to the monthly Los Angeles City Council meeting in Van Nuys to tell their stories, our stories, about life on the streets of Los Angeles.
The result? As the cyclists testified, Council Members Bill Rosendahl and Janice Hahn got to work with a motion directing the LAPD to report on the complaints, the conflicts and the issue of police
officer training on bicycling activities and laws. On his blow-by-blow coverage of the testimony and actions at SoapBoxLA, Stephen Box notes that the City Council has taken up cyclist safety issues before, only for cyclists to see the teeth of the resolutions fade over time:
I called on the City Council to examine their record. The Reyes motion
of 2006 addressing the rights of cyclists when hit by a car was
approved unanimously and then simply faded into oblivion. The motion
setting aside $400K for a Bike Map was approved unanimously and then
the money disappeared but yet no map. The motion setting aside $450K
for the bicycle Master Plan was approved unanimously and it was due in
2008. No Plan, no word, no respect.
We took the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights
to the City Council and they endorsed it, advising the departments of
the City of Los Angeles to report on how to incorporate it "into the
City of Los Angeles Bicycle Master Plan and other relevant documents
and practices." No reports, no action, nothing has happened.
But those were the actions from a past day, not today. When I first heard the howl of outrage from the bicycling community I thought we might be at a tipping point in bike advocacy. If cyclists remain committed to the cause of safer streets and equal treatment, the mistakes of the past might just be left there.