Cartoon Tuesday, American Voices, Harassing Cyclists

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This week, The Onion’s “American Voices” asks three average Americans their views on L.A.’s recently passed cyclist anti-harassment ordinance.  As you would expect from The Onion, the comments aren’t pretty.  Of course, these three have been answering these questions for quite some time now.

But I have faith that Streetsblog readers are funnier than Onion staff writers, so take a crack at writing your own ridiculous commentary on the law, and leave it in the comments section.  If we get enough comments, we’ll make a poll out of it to crown the winner of a LA Streetsblog t-shirt.

  • “I’d never harass a cyclist. It’s easier to just sort of nudge ’em out of the way with my fender.”

  • “I’ve never seen a cyclist stop for a stop sign!” Texted while driving solo in the carpool lane at 85 mph 

  • “What kind of nanny state are we living in, where a tax-paying L.A. motorist can’t lob a Big Gulp at a pack of cyclists? I’m moving to Portland.”

  • “Harassing cyclists is against the law now I understand, but running them over and fleeing from the scene is still perfectly legal!”

  • As long as we can continue to legally harass tricyclists I think things will be just fine

  • The dude abides

    This is LA where the only rights you have is free parking and to speed down Wilber at your hearts content. Sorry but those “bike lanes” are really just trash bin guide lines. No one really rides in LA.

  • I wish there were more accountability. Just the other day I ran into (figuratively) two cyclists who both created a dangerous situation for myself, my passenger, other road users and himself. When a car drives recklessly, I can either call 911 and/or report their license plate. But I can’t really do anything with a cyclist. At the very least, I want to get literature about safety into their hands because they are driving on the wrong side of the road (which happened in both incidents) without safety gear (on the bike) and one wasn’t even wearing shoes. 

    It’s crazy out there.

  • Fred Lawrence, tax attorney: “I agree with the new law—keep harassment in the workplace where it belongs.”
    Susan Dell, freelance groomer: “If cyclists don’t get harassed, how will they learn?”
    Brian Wendt, former intern: “Ridiculous! With the way they dress, they’re asking for it!”

  • Guest

    “If killing bike riders and driving off is harassment then I’m guilty as charged!”

  • Tom

    “I can Share The Road comfortably after receiving update from AAA agent
    that my policy now covers collisions with, driving within 3 feet of, as
    well as harassment of cyclists.”

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, they’re are a lot of riders acting stupidly out there, but I think that’s a separate issue from protecting them from wanton harassment.

    The problem is that for most people — and I’m not trying to lump you, Spokker, into this crowd, because I respect your opinion — the bike issue is just one big amorphous blob where every issue gets lumped together.

    It seems like every time biking is discussed, it’s an opportunity for someone to mention that time they saw a kid on a fixie blow through a stop sign. Ok. But what does that have to do with harassment?

     I suspect/hope that as biking becomes safer and more accessible to average Joes and Janes, that the scofflaw issue will become more muted.

  • “Cyclists? What cyclists? I never see them.”

  • But there’s a whole class of cyclist out there that I don’t think you are reaching. They are the day laborers (or night laborers) who are cycling at 2 in the morning because the county cut Night Owl bus service. They are the dudes who got DUIs and now have to ride their kid’s bike to work. They are people who may not speak English and read these blogs and don’t fully understand their rights and responsibilities as cyclists.

    As far as harassment goes, I guess that would make my post off-topic. But on the other hand, I don’t like to see harassment going the other way either. A driver harassing a cyclist may be able to do more damage, but let’s not pretend there are not hardcore cycling advocates who are a bit on the wild side and won’t deliberately block a family’s car in an intersection because they want to make some stupid point. I don’t think Damien is that way, of course, but I don’t see him coming down too hard on those guys either. If he has and I missed it, then I rescind my comment.

  • Spokker, there is a difference between harassment and annoyance. The example you give of a cyclist deliberately blocking a car may be incredibly annoying to the driver, but poses no risk to the occupants. Harassment of a cyclist, on the other hand, can result in serious injury or death to the rider; that’s why the council has moved to protect them.

    As you point out, there is a need to educate cyclists on how to ride safely and legally. That’s something virtually every biking organization I know of is working on, but it’s a challenge to reach out beyond the relatively small core of regular riders who read blogs like this.

    The LACBC’s award-winning City of Lights program exists precisely to reach out to Spanish-speaking laborers like the ones you mention. Yet as successful as it has been, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to reach every rider on the road who needs education in how to ride safely

  • Wait, I thought this was tongue-in-cheek.  Oops.  It was much funnier that way.

  • There has been a lot of talk in bike activist circles regarding how to reach workforce and other “invisible” cyclists in LA, with some people accusing the most prominent activists, who are indeed predominantly white, of being somewhat elitist. The fundamental problem with reaching out to the invisible cyclists is that they want to blend in to to a culture where someone that doesn’t own a car is at least an oddball, if not a cranky, socialist malcontent. They DO NOT want to be identified as “cyclists”, DO NOT recognize a bicycle as a legitimate form of transportation, and are almost certainly biking because they have absolutely no other alternative. When you see a lot of these people out in the street, it’s obvious that they are doing their best to keep as low a profile as possible, like a tiny mammal in the middle of the Dinosaur age. We all know that riding assertively and visibly is vastly better, and that riding against traffic, on sidewalks & without lights is extremely dangerous, but it’s counter-intuitive—keeping as far away from cars as possible and riding against traffic so you can keep an eye on them (and avoid vehicular left turns) is how most inexperienced people instinctively ride.

    Campaigns like the City Of Lights program are great, and I’m not suggesting that it’s not worthwhile to try to address the invisible cyclists. Just don’t expect people who are mostly ashamed of having to ride a bike for transportation to flock to a BAC meeting or speak before the Transportation Committee. The best thing bike activists can do at the moment is to lighten up a bit about race and class issues, and simply keep fighting to make the bicycle a legitimate vehicle on our streets. Once utilitarian cycling is accepted as a “normal”, or even desirable, activity, the invisible cyclists will begin to come out of the woodwork and be proud to show up to work with a helmet and a U-lock. 

  • Judy B

    But I can still harass them if their Mexican, right?

  • “The example you give of a cyclist deliberately blocking a car may be incredibly annoying to the driver, but poses no risk to the occupants. ”

    They should still be arrested for doing this.

  • El Barto

    This is really going to affect my punk rock score… I’m gonna have to punt more toddlers to make up for the loss.

  • Arrest cyclists who block a lane of traffic? Are you kidding? Any cyclist who wantonly prevents a motorist from exercising his or her God-given right to go ten to fifteen miles per hour over the posted speed limit should be immediately sentenced to death.

  • “Arrest cyclists who block a lane of traffic?”

    Arrest cyclists who circle vehicles at intersections and bang on the drivers’ hoods. It’s a common occurrence at Critical Mass. 

  • If you think LACM still does the “Circle of Death”, you haven’t attended, or seen, one in over a year.  “Circle of Death” stopped when LAPD began riding escort for LACM.

  • Circles of death are still happening as of last month in Hollywood. This one was conducted by Midnight Ridaz.