LAPD Training USC Security That “Biking in Crosswalks” Is Illegal

9_23_09_crosswalk.jpgA cyclist flaunts her violation of a non-existant law. Photo: Katherine Hitt/Flickr

h/t to reader Jass.

The Daily Trojan reports that the LAPD and USC Campus Security are teaming up to more effectively enforce the law that prohibits cyclists from crossing the street while riding. What the article misses, and what the LAPD sometimes seems to understand and sometimes gets confused is that such a ban doesn't exist.

In fact, there is no written law regarding the duties of cyclists anywhere. Sometimes the LAPD claims that the state vehicle code (C.V.C.) requiring cyclists to follow road rules as though they were drivers is the law behind the ban. That the Los Angeles Municipal Code, with the approval of the state vehicle code, allows cyclists full use of the sidewalk unless otherwise stated would also give cyclists the right to use crosswalks as pedestrians do.  There isn't a clear answer here because there is no prohibition written anywhere that applies to Californians or Angelenos that specifically spells out the rights of cyclists to use the crosswalk.

At Soap Box, Stephen Box recounts a conversation he has with an "Officer K" about just this issue in the wake of a DWP truck killing a cyclist in the crosswalk and being cleared by Valley LAPD because she was "biking the wrong way in the crosswalk." Putting aside that it is impossible to travel the wrong way in a crosswalk, the rest of Box's tale is at least just as troubling:

He said he had to write it that way because there was no California Vehicle Code (CVC) to rely on to enforce that ban against riding in the crosswalk.

I countered by pointing out that it's not illegal to ride a bike in the crosswalk and that was why there was no CVC prohibiting it.

He stiffened up a bit here and responded that it was up to a Judge to decide and that even if the ticket got thrown out by the Judge, the process was a learning experience.

If the LAPD's assertion that crosswalk riding is illegal, I have a small list of people that need to be frog marched in front of a judge: Metro Bicycle Coordinator Lynn Goldsmith and LADOT Senior Bicycle Coordinator Michelle Mowery. These two diabolical planners green-lighted the Orange Line Bike Path. A bike path that includes multiple street crossings that are crosswalks. I've even biked the Orange Line with Goldsmith and consider her a friend, but justice needs to be served.

However, if the LAPD is confused about this law, perhaps the City Council and Mayor's office could clarify it with a formal resolution and vote. There's a reason there's no law governing bicycle riding in a sidewalk, which incidentally I don't do, and it's not because our state and local lawmakers are ok with the LAPD creating their own laws.