Skip to Content
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Log In
"Accidents"

The Vicious Cycle of Anti-Cyclist Bias

From the National Bike Summit:

4516694_92b586a5eb_o.jpgAt a panel on cyclist's rights, Bob Mionske, a Portland, Oregon attorney and founder of Bicycle Law, offered a cogent explanation of the obstacles cyclists face when it comes to public perception, police enforcement, and holding motorists accountable for injuring and killing cyclists. "Anti-cyclist bias is endemic in the police, the court system, and the
media," he said, then described how bias in each arena reinforces bias in the others.

Mionske talked about three examples from his practice:

    • A 19 year-old cyclist stops next to a cement truck. Truck turns right and crushes her. Headline the next day reads: "Bike slams into cement truck." Police said the driver couldn't see her, didn't issue a ticket.
    • A rider going downhill inthe bike lane gets crushed under the rear wheels of a right-turning garbage truck.Cops determined that the driver had violated the cyclist's right-of-way,but he couldn't perceive it. They didn't issue a ticket, even though the sideview mirror washeld together with duct tape and bungee cord. Media portrayed it as a "cars vs. bikes"story and ran file footage of a bicyclist on a roundabout, nothing from the scene of the crime. "It's a feedback loop," said Mionske."The message to society is: Someone died on a bike, but it was probably hisfault."
    • A mother called, said her son was hit by an F150 truck. Son was issuedtwo tickets for running a light and had $25,000 in medical bills. He hadfront lights, back lights, and a helmet at the time of the crash. On the scene, the officer asked the cyclist what happened, but the cyclistwas in shock and couldn't remember. News said, "Wrong way cyclisthits truck, driver has heart attack," but it turned out that the driver was entering adiabetic coma at the time of the crash. Media wasn't interested when the case against the cyclist wasdismissed.

"This just poisons the mind of the public, and the public is who is
empaneled in juries," said Mionske. "What you see is anti-cycling bias starts with cops, is reinforced by the media, and is perpetuated in the
courts."

"We need to keep the media accountable, and we need to talk to the police," he said. "But it starts with enforcement."

Photo: Steffe/Flickr 

Story Originally Filed by Ben Fried

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Los Angeles

L.A. Street Vendors Celebrate Removal of No-Vending Restrictions in Huge Win Against City

The victory is the product of a decade-plus-long battle to legalize sidewalk vending on our city streets

July 23, 2024

This Week In Livable Streets

East L.A. Food Bicycle Tour #3, Metro/Caltrans 91 freeway expansion, Metro board meeting, C Line delays, Metro East Valley light rail, and the Citywide Housing Incentive Program Ordinance

July 22, 2024

Metro and Caltrans Expect to Complete Torrance 405 Freeway Widening Project Next Month

Metro and Caltrans are adding nearly two miles of new auxiliary freeway lanes, a new on-ramp, and widening adjacent streets including Crenshaw Boulevard and 182nd Street

July 19, 2024
See all posts