All of a sudden, the Gardena Police Department are front and center in the battle for equal and fair treatment of bicyclists as legitimate road users. Last month there was the shocking news of the GPD shooting a Latino in the back while trying to recover his brother’s stolen bicycle, then there was their involvement in Yanez hit and run involving a potential coverup by an LAPD Sargent, and then there was the detainment and harassment of the United Riders of South Los Angeles.
It’s been a rough month for one of L.A. County’s smallest cities.
But there is good news. It seems as though the city may have turned a corner. In response to hundreds of letters from concerned cyclists, the GPD has both publicly and privately indicated their willingness to work with the bicycling advocacy community to improve the department’s handling of bicycling related issues.
Lt. Steve Predergast, who happens to be the officer overseeing all three of the cases discussed in the first paragraph, has indicated the citations given to the United riders have already been downgraded in the California Vehicle Code (CVC) and hasn’t ruled out the department dropping them altogether. In the meantime, GPD is in discussions with bicycling groups about new training and education opportunities.
Of course, actions speak louder than words. While it’s nice to see a change in the public stance of the Department, none of the three cases above have been resolved satisfactorily. As the Gardena Police move towards a more supportive policy towards all road users we will continue to monitor their progress or lack thereof.
But the early returns are good. Comments on the Facebook Status posted above from both the Eastside Riders and Los Ryderz , two of the groups making up the United Riders of South L.A., are supportive of the new stance by the Gardena PD. We’ll see if things remain as positive in the weeks to come.