Cyclists, LAPD Working on “Bicycle Awareness Campaign”

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Everyone who had a problem with the "Caution! Pass With Care" posters because they were "illegal" can rest assured that the next awareness campaign aimed at motorists, but designed by cyclists will be perfectly legal.  Of course, that the LAPD, along with the LACBC and "Midnight Ridazz," is sponsoring a contest to create the poster theme that will appear in bus shelters and Public Amenity Kiosks (PAK) throughout the city.  People interested in learning more about the project, or how to submit a theme for the posters, the art is being donated by Geoff McFetridge, can read more about it at the LACBC blog.

The announcement of the contest and partnership revealed a familiar division in the bicycling advocacy community.  On one hand, you have those that believe partnership is one way to build relationships of trust and do some good in the meantime.  Then there’s the group that believes that going along with the government (LAPD, LADOT, whoever) on small projects relieves the pressure for the major policy changes that the city desperately needs.  It’s an interesting debate, and one that flares up every now and again.  Prediction: we’ll see it again in the lead-up to "Bike to Work" Week in mid-May.

People seemed especially surprised to see the Midnight Ridazz’s
skull appear on the contest announcement.  Roadblock, who holds the
copyright on the term "Midnight Ridazz," spoke with me about why the
Ridazz name is attached to this project:

We
saw this as a win-win.  On one hand, Midnight Ridazz produces a lot of
good feelings for riders, especially people taking the group rides. 
But it does have a bad name in some circles, a sour reputation.  So,
OK.  Here’s Midnight Ridazz doing something good and continuing the
tradition of supporting the LAPD.

In my personal experience, I found that cooperation on areas of mutual interest is a great way to build a collaboration that can lead to bigger and better things.  However, the NJDOT and NOAA Fisheries, the targets of most of my career as an activist, and LAPD are very different beasts.  But let’s look at the LAPD’s recent record on reform:

On one hand the LAPD wants to work on this contest and poster campaign and the city attorney is pushing ahead with prosecution in the "Ed Magos v Porsche" crash. On the other we still don’t have a copy of the report on last May’s "hit and run through" crash downtown involving Andres Tena, a hummer, and Officer Stephen Cho and the department is unwilling to reform its policy when it comes to recording handcuffing incidents when it comes to non-violent confrontations with cyclists.  A mixed record.

Regardless of what one thinks of the politics of this contest and campaign, the reality is it’s happening which means there’s an opportunity to get some smart and positive messages out to the motoring public about the rights and privileges cyclists enjoy as equal users of our roads.  I’m thinking that the combined creativity of activists, Ridazz and Streetsbloggers ought to come up with something pretty good.

  • skd

    The only way we are going to succeed in making LA more bikeable is to work together. Part of the problem is a mistrust bicyclists have for the LAPD. They don’t seem to be treated equally and they certainly are not accorded the same rights as car drivers, even though the law clearly states otherwise. I applaud this plan and the partnership, since it will help to alleviate the misconception that bicyclists are “outlaws”. The only reason bicyclists have had to DYI sharrows and posters is because they can’t seem to get the “system” to address the litany of complaints and issues that are critical to the bicycling community. I do agree if the city, the police, the Bicycle Coalition and the Midnight Ridazz representatives can sit down and discuss solutions, even though there may be differences and uneasiness, it will only help the bicycling community at large. Kudos to everyone, now let’s get this city rolling!

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