On bus-only lane signage in Los Angeles, there is a little two-word section at the bottom that reads, “BIKES OK.”
Except when they’re not.
On May 24, bicycle commuter Mike MacDonald was riding in the “BIKES OK” peak-hour Wilshire Boulevard bus lanes. As he often does, MacDonald was recording his ride. He was cautioned by an L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy who stated, “You gotta let buses get through. This is their lane. You’re not even supposed to be in here right now.” He then instructed MacDonald to “be close to the curb.”
To his credit, the officer did not ticket the cyclist. MacDonald’s encounter is shown on his YouTube video and detailed in his article at Biking in L.A. In 2014, cyclist Marc Caswell had a similiar encounter where he was ticketed by a sheriff on the Sunset bus lane.
MacDonald filed a complaint with Metro, and actually received a response that went all the way to Alex Wiggins, Metro’s new Executive Director of Security, imported from Denver by Metro CEO Phil Washington.
Wiggins met with MacDonald earlier today. In an email to Streetsblog, MacDonald relates the meeting:
Mr. Wiggins wanted to meet on site at the location where I was stopped and scolded by a Sheriff’s Deputy.
On site, Mr. Wiggins explained to me that he supports and instructs Sheriff’s deputies to ticket cyclists who “impede” buses by using the lanes. He refused to discuss or reference any vehicle code basis for his direction to LASD to ticket cyclists using these lanes, saying that, “This is why we have a court system. If you disagree, you can take it up in a court of law.” Mr. Wiggins explained to me that he fully was aware of traffic law with regards to bikes because of his experience as a “bike cop.”
Wiggins followed up with an email to MacDonald that stated: