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Coming Soon: Bike Bill of Rights

4:37 PM PST on February 5, 2008

Activists, Bloggers, and Ridazz are fired up about a new idea from Illuminate LA's Stephen Box called the Bike Rider's Bill of Rights. Westside Bikeside spells out the benefits of writing down the rights cyclists have and the rights they deserve.

As abstract and lofty as a BBR seems, it is just a way for bikers to get what they want. A BBR works to our benefit in four ways. First, it documents the common needs of all cyclists. Second, it provides public officials a basic criteria for determining whether a program will benefit cyclists. Third, politicians will gladly commit to it now, enabling our community to hold them accountable later. Finally, it gives the community a rallying point that energizes other efforts.These are complex points, so let's flesh them out:

    • Common Ground: Cyclists often get sidetracked arguing over methods. Arguments about bike lanes vs. vehicular cycling distract from the issue: cycling must be made easier and safer. Pernicious navel gazing within the LACBC board over Critical Mass wastes energy better spent on improving things for cyclists. A BBR focuses our community's energy by identifying our commonality.
    • Basic Criteria for Bike Programs: Imagine you are a councilwoman in Torrance CA, where the velorucíon hasn't quite exploded yet. How are you to know what street improvements will assist cyclists? If you consult city engineers they'll likely regurgitate cryptic street specifications. You need a basic idea of cyclist's needs, and a BBR gives you a starting point.Accountability: At first glance a BBR is toothless. As an elected official, if you are pressured you can easily sign it and feel safe that you aren't committing to much. However, it becomes a weapon for the bikers when we insist that officials follow through. When elected officials fail to effect real change, we can point to the BBR and whisper, gurgle, shout, or scream "you are not living up to your commitment."
    • Rallying Cry: Los Angeles County is a big place, and so bike efforts rightly take different focuses. A BBR is something we can all get behind, while not giving up our individual autonomy. It's a collaborative opportunity to come together with a common goal, while strengthening our other efforts.

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