Eyes on the Street: Car Parking Enforcement, Done by LADOT on Bikes

Cervantes' sleeve.  Photo: Jennifer Beatty
Cervantes' sleeve. Photo: Jennifer Beatty

(Beatty is a self professed graphic design/cycling addict based in Burbank, CA. She is the creative workhorse behind Bandwagon Graphiks, designing anything for print and web with a vengeance. Cycling is her drug of choice and is known by her clients as the designer on a bike. Long difficult commutes and centuries are her passion)

People who don’t ride bicycles on the streets of Los Angeles always gaff when I tell them “”I Bike LA.””. They tell me how brave they think I am and how they could never bike, even though the most traveled route is often 2 miles to work. It is true that fear is a major deterrent keeping most people in their cars, but there are some organizations and people in this city trying to make a difference.

Driving a car in Los Angeles guarantees you a few things: Traffic, an empty wallet, and parking tickets. Los Angeles’ streets are rivers bursting at the seams with fish – only these fish weigh 3,000 lbs and can kill you.  Riding bicycles reduces the fish population, while simultaneously improving road safety and saving you money. By advocating cycling, we can open peoples minds and show them that the bicycle is not a status symbol but a viable means of transportation.

Today, I had lunch with a friend in Studio City. We rode our bikes 3 miles in heavy afternoon traffic to get there, and we were fine. We sat down, ordered and about five minutes later I spotted something quite ironic in a city whose default mode of transportation can be a weapon of mass destruction. Twenty feet away, a parking enforcement officer approached a car at an expired meter on a bicycle. I did a double take. It seemed so ironic.

Advocate cycling, promote health and enforce some laws all in one fall swoop? Nah…couldn’t be. This officer was not my first interaction with a bicycle cop. I see them all the time. Most recently trying to keep up with Critical Mass. However, bicycle cops or similar law enforcers in this society do not seem to garner the same amount of respect as do officers in cars. Unless, that officer is adding a nice $52 ticket to your windshield – then you perk up and notice.

Another happy cyclist.  Photo: Jennifer Beatty
Another happy cyclist. Photo: Jennifer Beatty

I flagged the officer over and introduced myself.,  I wanted to know what he thought of his job and his view of how the city is working towards better laws and safety. I come to find out that Officer Cervantes is from LADOT, a city organization that has been in the news a lot lately – especially in the cycling blogosphere with all the talk of a new GM and how LADOT needs to shape up.

He first told me that LADOT has had a bicycle program with its traffic enforcement group for 11 years. In high traffic areas they ditch the cars and hop on bikes to add an unhappy envelope to your one’s car and ride on. Officer Cervantes loved his job – he loved getting out and getting exercise. He also spoke of being on the street team supporting recent city endeavors such as CicLAvia and Tour de Fat.

As a Los Angeles driver/cyclist/pedestrian, we see transportation in this city as a broken system with broken leaders and misguided agendas. At least that’s all I seem to read in the blogosphere. Then you come across these seemingly ironic slices of life that surprise you, and reassert your faith in the system.

I am writing this from the perspective of the average apathetic Angeleno with a mild grasp on current laws/measures going in/out. I have more knowledge of the California Vehicle Code (CVCC) than the average driver out there, but I want to look at this experience through the eyes of the average Joe. What does this say to the majority? Can we take what LADOT is doing and use it to our advantage to bring cycling to other city organizations or companies?

Without asking, Officer Cervantes let me know about LADOT’s bicycle plan sponsor Air Quality & Beyond (AQ&B) – and air conditioning and heating company based out of Canoga Park, CA – who puts up the money to purchase the bikes for the city and has been doing so for the last 11 years.

Does anyone know of other “green” companies out there taking similar approaches?

I wish we wouldn’t need a corporate sponsor to advocate cycling over driving in these  types of situations, but ticketing negligent drivers on bikes makes perfect sense to me. Get our citizens healthy and keep our streets clear and air clean. Such a simple task, that not only has health and environmental benefits, but also financial gains.

Here are some pictures of Officer Cervantes at work. One more happy cyclist.

  • All our problems can be solved with a can of white paint. The roads are there, just paint in bike lanes. Bike lanes make people feel safe to ride bikes, more people riding bikes means fewer people in cars. Problem solved. Simple!

  • Stella N.

    it’s not that simple. you can’t assume new people know the laws and how to ride in traffic, regardless of them riding in a bike lane. I see people riding next to a bike lane(sidewalk) because they believe that they will get hit. Also don’t assume the bike lanes will be done properly to prevent people from being doored. To put the icing on the cake, speed limits on many streets are just too damn high. Before the paint there must be education and streets made to accomodate all users.

  • I was hit by a car while riding in a bike lane just yesterday. Driver education is infinitely more important than paint. Careless drivers, drunk drivers, distracted drivers can all trump the fact that you are riding lawfully in a bike lane.

    Education must go hand-in-hand with engineering improvements.

    But in response to the article, I see these guys riding in Westwood, usually on the sidewalk for some reason. But I hope they enjoy their jobs.

  • Lady Bike

    Wow, Streetsblog! Are you lost for credible writers or something? The “facts” in this article are questionable at best. Are we losing our taste for accuracy?

    As an employee of a County department, we are subject to the AQMD, (did Cervantes actually point you to the AQ & B, if so, I think he’s misinformed). In fact, if you look at their website, no where does it talk about sponsoring LADOT bikes, nor is there any corporate responsibility page, and any company who was paying for some agency’s bikes would be shouting that from the roof-top. Did the writer attempt to confirm this information? Was any fact-checking done from Streetsblog? Given that LADOT employees are never accurate–has the writer ever been to a presentation by the LADOT? The mayor’s summit? In my experience, the answer to any LADOT question by an LADOT employee is always inaccurate or “I don’t know.”

    Working for a department that is subject to the AQMD, Air Quality Management District, which is an agency that overlooks all urban areas in the OC, LA County, etc., and sets up requirements for government entities and departments to fulfill certain air quality and management requirements, I am somewhat familiar with their programs, which include changing out old gas fleets for hybrids and/or alternative transportation fleets, such as bicycles, as well as encouraging alternative transportation for employees and facilities by employers. My County department has to work with them every year to fulfill our certification–which includes having a certain number of people rideshare to work, and my guess is that Cervantes was referring to the AQMD, which can be located here: http://www.aqmd.gov. Perhaps someone at Streetsblog could do some fact-checking and confirm this.

    On another note, I think that LAPD and LADOT (as well as other agencies) who utilize bicycles as a resource to accomplish their prescribed tasks are being responsible, economical, and efficient, and should be encouraged do so more often whenever possible. The answer to your question “Can we take what LADOT is doing and use it to our advantage to bring cycling to other city organizations or companies?” is yes, but business owners will only do it when they see the economic efficiency of doing business that way. When they see that more people on bikes and public transit means they have to build less parking, when they see that their health care costs go down because employees are more fit, and when they see that bicycles and public transit are not alternative but completely legitimate and viable and reliable.

    There are lots of companies trying to navigate “green” solutions, and since the writer couldn’t be bothered to look up any–including the one she professes to be the sponsor of LADOT’s bike detail bikes–let me point to just one strong effort centered in Venice, CA: The Arts Earth Partnership, started by Joel Shapiro and Justin Yoffe, both of the Electric Lodge, which has been solar-powered since 1966. The Partnership helps businesses and nonprofits go “green.” Joel himself is also a cyclist.

  • hollywood officer

    OH man i am a bike officer in hollywood officer cervantes should not give interviews or talk about his involvment in tour de fat . some body is going to get in trouble its againts company policy also he should not pose for pics with out permish from PR department. tour de fat he needs it but shouldent talk bout it im glad he outa hollywood let someone else deal whith him

  • Yomama

    For a bike officer he’s a little fat! But either way Hollywood Officer should probably stop being nosy! lol it’s people like that who starts rumors. 

  • guest

    he should have sent this person to the PR department and should not have posed for a photo.  he give other bike officers a bad name. And if you want to talk about rumors he spreads more rumors and sticks his nose in other peoples buiness when he shouldn’t. He acts like a nice person to your face and then goes behind your back and sticks a knife there.

  • 123KID

    wow! this is what they look like in hollywood  ?  i live in the 818 and the ladot bike officers are fit .what happend to this guy LOL!

  • 123kid

    i own a restraunt in vannuys and always see this guy whith his bike on rack mounted to 1 of those hybrid cars i asked him why he dident ride his bike he said he was a supervisor and had to drive around and check on the other officers . i reminded him that he could do that on his bike and he shrugged and got back in his car . this guy is lazy

  • Gman

    None of those bike officers ride their bikes in the valley, they always drive around in cars. The only time they ride their bikes is in the parking lot. how do you get more fat riding a bike? And the female that is with them has cankles and fat knees.

  • Cg37

    Gman I bet your a fat porker your self I bet u talk shit bcuz you insecure and have a ridiculous beard.I bet u keep a white mustang bcuz u hope it will get yur fat ass some pussy but it never does.

  • Yamaha237

    OMG! This guy should not be on bikes hes fatter now then when he lef hollywood he was the only dude in the LAPD bike training to fail evan the chick tuffed it out this guy is a disgrace!

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