Ad Nauseum: L.A. County DPSS Thinks Bicycling Is Scary

Does depicting bicycling really stand for "when life gets rough"? Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Does depicting bicycling really stand for "when life gets rough"? Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Somehow the L.A. County Department of Social Services missed the memo that bicycling is actually really healthy and safe.

The DPSS ad, spotted last week on the Metro Red Line, communicates an important message: encouraging folks to sign up for Medi-Cal.

The ad depicts a fallen spandex cyclist. The text reads “When life gets rough.” The ad falls into the alltoocommon grim bicycling-equals-danger trope which shames cyclists and reinforces misperceptions about cycling safety.

Apparently because nothing says “life gets rough” quite the way bicycling does, right? Except maybe the depiction of, say, a car crash. Drivers kill more than 30,000 people annually in the United States. In 2016, driving’s death toll was over 40,000 – the highest in nearly a decade, and a national disgrace. Car crash injuries are orders of magnitude higher, with more than 2 million each year.

Perhaps worst of all, the ad will likely be ineffective. Unless Medi-Cal is literally expecting disabled former cyclists will need their services, then it does beg the question of who they think they are targeting with this ad or how they think this message will reach them. To qualify for Medi-Cal, one must be 65 or older, blind, in a nursing home, pregnant, or meet other specific criteria. Not that folks in those situations cannot be spandex weekend warrior cyclists, but it is perhaps much less likely that the ad would register with the majority of people for whom Medi-Cal represents an important life-line.

  • calwatch

    Actually, since Obamacare expansion, this is no longer the case since 2014 and anyone who makes below the specified amount in Medicaid expansion states like California, can get Medi-Cal. And, unlike Covered California, which has specified enrollment periods, anyone who qualifies can enroll for Medi-Cal at any time. Please check your facts.

  • James

    Did your mom forget to bring Oreos down to the basement calwatch? Did this upset your routine and drive you to go online and fact check someone?

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    LA Metro pulled a PSA about dooring cyclists because it made cycling appear dangerous. Maybe they will respond to your request. That said, you are correct; an image of paramedics pulling a body out of wrecked car (on stretcher with neck brace) would be more appropriate.

    Calwatch is correct about Medi-Cal expansion. But James is simply a troll – can you remove his post before others feed him?

  • Joe Linton

    James didn’t use expletives, slurs or other hate speech, so his comment will stay. I think it’s a mean, dumb response – and I am grateful for calwatch’s always-helpful input.

  • sahra

    Actually, that information came from Medi-cal’s own web posts about eligibility. It has indeed expanded to include folks of a particular income level (alluded to with “other specific criteria”), but still caters to those folks that have the conditions mentioned (allowing them to have higher income levels and still be eligible), plus a few others. The larger point being, the ad is not helpful in informing anyone about Medi-Cal or who might be eligible or likely to use it, and it probably isn’t reaching the folks who could benefit from it. New enrollees are largely lower-income Latinos. I’m not sure this speaking to them in a way that addresses their situations.

  • Mitchell

    “Dooring,” my ass! When pedestrians are exiting a car, they get “biked”!

  • Corvus Corax

    I don’t blame YOU so much, I blame whoever taught you how to write ‘biked’.

  • Mitchell

    Sorry (or not-so-sorry), Corvus, I created the term “biked” entirely on my own. I think it has potential as a meme! :-)

    The term is self-explanatory: as it illustrates, bikes don’t belong around pedestrians, and they don’t belong among cars. Swat the gnats!

  • Corvus Corax

    I find that VERY hard to believe, as would anyone who has read other posts of yours – oh, wait, they can’t: as a typical small-brained bike-hating troll, you have kept your posts private. But if anyone is interested, Mitchell is the guy who said: ‘Quote marks are for (short) story titles; italics are for titles of novels and other books’ – Know Your Troll, number 429B

  • Mitchell

    Thank you for pointing out that I’m literate — and, btw, a (now retired) professional typographer.

    As for trolling…. Cut the personal invective (e.g., “small-brained”). Civil discussion starts there.

    I haven’t attacked you (or anyone here) personally — only their equipment. On this site, I’ve seen cars (and for that matter, motorists) called far uglier names than “gnats.”

  • Corvus Corax

    Literate? THAT was your takeaway? In fact, I was pointing out the exact opposite: your idea of where quotation marks (NOT ‘quote marks’) and italics is absolutely 100% incorrect. Yes, I should not have called you small-brained: after all, something can be very large and still be non-functioning.

  • Melanie Curry

    I’m stuck on an irrelevant point: I can’t get over how much this guy looks like Fred Armison–as if somehow this picture is supposed be funny/absurd like his character in Portlandia, being all shouty about his right of way on a bike. It’s not.

  • dat

    State law dictates that the person in the car is responsible for ensuring its clear before opening their door.


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