Rise and Shine: Anti-Harassment Ordinance Has 9:30 Hearing on Monday

For the rest of the agenda, ##http://ens.lacity.org/clk/committeeagend/clkcommitteeagend2768903_11012010.pdf##click here.##
For the rest of the agenda, ##http://ens.lacity.org/clk/committeeagend/clkcommitteeagend2768903_11012010.pdf##click here.##

Any cyclist who has ridden the streets of Los Angeles with any regularity has a horror story.  Sometimes the story is because of negligence, such as a driver who passes too close or a taxi that pulls out of a parking space without looking.  Sometimes the story is caused by maliciousness, such as a hummer that drives through a group of cyclists or some kids in a truck that throw things.  These stories almost always end with the no consequences for the aggressor, because the police don’t like to file reports without witnessing the act.  No report, no legal recourse.

But now the City of Los Angeles is trying to change that sad trend.  The City Attorney’s office, represented by Judith Reel, is poised to create a draft ordinance that would allow for cyclists to file suit themselves for violent or aggressive actions directed towards them.   There’s a feeling that this ordinance only addresses “car v bike” issues, but the City Attorney clarified that it also applied to “a guy on the street corner throwing a rock and yelling ‘I hate cyclists.'”

Reel also went to great lengths to explain that the ordinance is not about making new things illegal, but making some things which are already illegal but difficult to enforce made more enforceable.  Also, because the ordinance creates civil law, not criminal law, there would be no cost to the city once the ordinance is passed.

All the C.A. needs to begin drafting is the approval of the City Council.  On Wednesday, the City Council Transportation Committee gave them the green light to start drafting.  However, they still need the approval of the Full Council and a hearing from the Public Safety Committee.

It seems unlikely that the full Council will reject the drafting of the ordinance, which will need another approval before it becomes law.  That means Monday’s 9:30 A.M. meeting of the Public Safety Committee is the only place that could stop the creation of the groundbreaking ordinance.

At Wednesday’s hearing, the potential ordinance began to take shape.  After testimony from Ross Hirsch, Glenn Bailey and Ted Rogers, the committee urged the C.A. to draft the ordinance for full review from the Council before potentially becoming law.  Hirsch suggested a $1,000 civil penalty if one is found guilty of violating the anti-harassment ordinance.  Despite the language that appears in the agenda item at the top of this article, the Council Committee urged a $1,000 minimum penalty for anyone found guilty of harassing a cyclist in civil court.

Other items which the Committee wanted to see involved in the new ordinance included attorney recovery fees, cost recovery for injuries or physical damages, and punitive damages for repeat offenders.

Streetsblog will report on the Public Safety Committee hearing on Monday.

  • Brent

    I hope it passes, but I’m not sure how often it’ll be used. It will require quite a lot of effort by the cyclist — gathering evidence, hiring an attorney, making the case — to have an effect. I guess in egregious cases it’ll be one of many tools to find redress.

  • Brent, I suspect it will act more as a deterrent. Once motorists know they could be on the hook for $1000 — plus potentially thousands more in lawyer’s fees — they may think twice before taking aggressive action towards riders.

  • Otto

    Will there be an equivalent law allowing motorists to file claims against cyclists?

  • Otto, if you can show me how motorists lives are endangered by harassment from cyclists, I’ll be the first to support it.

    I had a motorist deliberately pull out in front of my from a side street on Montana today, then yell “fuck you” when I yelled a warning. He was willing to risk my life, whether because he doesn’t like cyclists, wanted to make a point, or just didn’t want to wait the 2 or 3 seconds it have taken for me to clear the intersection.

    That’s what we face on the streets every day. That’s what this proposed ordinance is about.

  • otto

    I’ve had my car damaged by cyclists – granted, they suffered for it, and at the times, I refrained from adding to their punishment – its just hard to go after someone who is lying on the ground busted up for being stupid.

    The common collision is when the cyclist enters the intersection from the sidewalk via the wheelchair ramp, on the wrong sidewalk side of the street, going against the red light, and yet, gets mad at me (or hits the car) for daring to position for a right turn on a green light.

    There are the spandex-wearing toeclip crowd that ride 30 mph within a foot of parked cars and act surprised when a door opens – we ARE looking for you, but if you’re zipping in and out from the sidewalk, you aren’t going to be seen. That one cost a new mirror.

    Then there are the four-way stops, at which there is a protocol by which we are take turns, but cyclists just zoom through regardless, putting my license and insurance at risk. Thump, aerobatic acts over the hood – fun to watch, nice dent in the fender.

    We have a growing number of wanna-be critical massholes and those single-speed-brakeless youth who pay no attention to auto traffic – they’ll pull in front of you without concern or observation, ride in any direction without care. Now, that’s more to do with being 14-18 and male, and just plain reckless than cycling, but when they transition from a skateboard to a bike, it gets much more dangerous – for them.

    I have a thick enough skin – I can put up with a lot of the nonsense spewed by the useful idiots in the biking community, but if you expect to have public support (taxpayer support) at levels high enough to do any good, you need to acknowledge the bad actors among you, and emphasize safe cycling behavior just as much as you demonize drivers.

    If we’re going to give cyclists the right to collect for their perceived “harassment”, the reciprocal should apply as well.

  • Otto, the penalty for your transgressions shall be DEATH OR MAIMING.

  • Can the public attend tomorrow’s meeting? Would it help/hurt?

  • The public can most definitely attend. It always helps to attend. There is less napping and phone call taking by the committee members. Sometimes they actually listen to what is being said!

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