City Council “Passes” Cyclists Bill of Rights

Stephen Box Discusses Cyclists Rights at the "Festival of Rights"

It’s been an eventful 24 hours for those cyclists engaged in the battle for better recognition of cyclists rights.  Last night was the "Festival of Rights," the third annual protest of the ban on bicycles during the Griffith Park Festival of Lights except on special nights in November.  Today, the Los Angeles City Council gave a partial endorsement of the Cyclists Bill of Rights but will wait for reports from various City Departments before giving a final nod.

The purpose of the yearly yearly civil disobedience at the Festival of Lights is to show that despite the objections from city agencies, cyclists and drivers can share the road and legally the city has no right to bar cyclists from the festival.  Ride organizer Stephen Box wrote to me that most of the cyclists actually followed a police car through their festival on the way home with no issues.

This afternoon, the full City Council took up the Cyclists Bill of Rights, as written by the Bike Writer’s Collective and as introduced by Councilman Bill Rosendahl.  Rosendahl read the Bill of Rights into the record, and after a brief Q and A with LADOT Bike Coordinator Michelle Mowery, the Council appeared ready to vote on the adopting the Cyclists Bill of Rights as a guideline for city agencies pending the outcome of the reports of city departments.

However, Councilman Tom LaBonge had some changes he wanted to see.  First, he found the "Third Amendment" which states, "Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated
law enforcement."  While he didn’t have a problem with the basic idea, he was worried that the language was inflammatory to the local police by implying that they were uneducated.  Mowery spoke to the large amount of laws that fit in the Motor Vehicle Code and that it’s nigh impossible to know the entire code.  However, she stated that LADOT is working to continually educate the LAPD about the rights of cyclists.

LaBonge was also worried that children would get the wrong idea about cycling because the document fails to cover the responsibilities of cyclists as well as their rights.  He’ll have a chance to edit the document before final passage.  The final document, after being examined by the LAPD, LADOT, Bureau of Street Services, and City Planning, will go through the Transportation Committee, which LaBonge vice-chairs, and Parks Committee, which LaBonge chairs, before heading back to the Council for a final vote.

Photo by Enci

  • Cyclists certainly have responsibilities, but that is not the point of this document, which is explicitly about our rights. We don’t have the constitutional bill of rights and responsibilities do we?

  • “However, she stated that LADOT is working to continually educate the LAPD about the rights of cyclists.”

    There was a program in effect a while back to train Bike Cops that LADOT hosted, but I’m just not sold that they are doing enough. As far as I can tell, they ran the training program, but are not diligently committed to continuing this program with ALL LAPD on a regular basis.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this third right these past months, “Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement.”

    Now, I don’t typically criticize LaBonge, although it can be easy to do. But unfortunately at this point cyclists simply DO NOT have the full support of educated law enforcement. The fact that he doesn’t want to acknowledge this only points to the problem. No one wants to take the rap for the dangerous cycling conditions in LA, or admit that the LAPD has quite a bit of work to do in the ole education department.

    There shouldn’t be anything wrong with the suggestion that law enforcement become better educated as to the rights of the citizens. As one of those citizens, I would sincerely hope that any and all police offers continue to learn and grow within their careers. (Argh! Idealism!!)

    This is why we need LABID so badly! (LA Bicycle Incident Department)

    Shall we make it happen?


  • Gary beat me to it. LaBonge needs to LaShut the LaFuck up.

  • Man, I wish I could have been there to let LaBonge know about all the times I’ve been harassed by LAPD officers who don’t know the CVC at all. Being pulled over for turning left, being yelled at for taking the lane on a narrow street, being yelled at for (I swear this is true) not riding through an intersection by riding up on to the sidewalk and using the crosswalk.

    No, I am dead serious. I had a cop in West LA tell me that bikes were not allowed to ride through an intersection like traffic. ????????

  • I took a few moments to chat with Tom LaBonge. He said he had just read the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights and that he was reacting to his impressions. I pointed out that it had twice come before his committee, in sessions that he missed and that I attended.

    Regardless of his “newness” to the document, it was a complete and finished document and that there was no need for him to tender an offer to “improve or revise.” With or without his endorsement, it is a document that has gone around the world, picking up endorsements throughout LA and being presented by cyclists from all over the city to our City Council.

    LaBonge is such an argument for term limits!

  • Let’s face it. I’m sure the Councilman has never run into a cop that has given him a hard time when on a bike. Generally a bad idea to try and bully a Council Member the same way a lot of us are bullied. Might be a good time to keep up the educational efforts with our Council Members.

    To his credit, LaBonge did get in the LAPD’s face the other week about licensing, so it’s not like he’s going to side with the LAPD if he understands that cyclists aren’t getting their due from the LAPD.

  • Hey, what’s with all this trash talk about L.A.’s Cycling Councilman?! What gives? This is the fellow who has hosted numerous wild rides through his district, with police escort!

    Kicking this back to the transpo. committee (from whence it just came after being “reviewed” for several months) is a pretty asinine move, however. Do they think we’re just going to disappear? “Oh give this bike thing another few months, and it will al blow over.”

    Fat chance. Speaking only for myself, I’m here to stay on this issue.

  • Thanks Brayjerino….

    Lest we forget, the Los Angeles Spoke Card Archive reminds us –


    We ought to be able to criticize policy, without trashing or slamming individuals, right?

    Need another one?

    Aw, come on –


  • You know would I would like to be able to sleep on the Blue Line without a cop bothering me for my ticket. I think as drivers have the right to not be molested by cops without probably cause that bus riders and cyclists deserve the same courtesy.

    I got bothered three times by Sheriffs last week. They have the right to ask for my ID and bother me just because I’m sitting on the train.

  • disgusted

    “Will Campbell Gary beat me to it. LaBonge needs to LaShut the LaFuck up.”

    Wow. Somehow it isn’t surprising to see that bicycle “activists” are immature douchebags even when they are not blocking traffic in critical mass cycle-jerks.

    I am glad to see the more reasonable among you admonishing this jerk.

  • zsb123

    I’ve called Tom LeBonge’s office on a couple of occasions about the problem of riding in Griffith Park. He called me once, but I don’t think he’s followed up with his promises since then.

    In other related news, this is the letter I sent to a Glendale newspaper about the aggressive Glendale drivers.

    Glendale: We Have a Problem.

    Glendale is made up of beautiful streets, homes, schools, businesses, and parks. In short, life is good in Glendale. But Glendale, we have a problem.

    For now, I’ll set aside the aggressive behavior of motorists towards bicyclists on Kenneth Road and Mountain Street. I’ll set aside the time when two men in a new BMW decided to play a game of chicken with me while I was on my bicycle. I yelled at them when they ran a stop sign on Mountain. It was their way of acknowledging me. I’ll also set aside the time when two women in a small white truck yelled, “Share the road,” while I was at stop sign at and Kenneth. They threw water at me and sped away.

    For the purposes of this letter, I’ll focus on three incidents on the steep section on East Glenoaks east of North Verdugo Road. In the last three weeks there have been three dangerous driving maneuvers by motorists that endanger my safety as a cyclist and if these behaviors continue, I fear that someone will be killed or hurt.

    On Sunday, March 22, 2009 as I was descending westbound on Glenoaks after it had rained, I was squeezing the brakes all the way down to make sure I would be safe. Half-way down a dark-haired woman in a BMW decided to enter the road while I was coming down the hill. I slowed down even more because I didn’t know if she planned to cut me off or not. When I got to the traffic light at Verdugo and Glenoaks, the passenger in the front seat, a dark-hair man told me that “you shouldn’t even be on the road. You were in the middle of the lane.”

    For all those who share this man’s sentiments, here are some relevant sections of the vehicle code

    21200. (a) Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the
    rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver
    of a vehicle by this division

    21202. A. Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway:

    Indeed I have every right to be on the road and the burden of safety lies on the driver entering the main road. When I pointed this out to the man (a baby was in the back seat), he started opening his door and his wife swerved to hit me. That’s assault with a deadly weapon. How fast do you think I was going on a street with a speed limit of 35mph? I was going 35mph.

    On Thursday, March 19, 2009 as I was heading westbound on Glenoaks, an older man in gold four-door sedan and his female passenger (mid 30s) decided to make a U-turn in front of me as I was half-way down the hill. When I asked them why, they begin to yell at me that I had no right to be on the road.

    On Sunday, March 15, 2009 as I was coming down Glenoaks a man driving a truck decided to pull out in front of me, then slowed down, and turned right in the … cul-de-sac.

    Why is it that people in this area of Glendale with beautiful homes feel entitled to be so aggressive toward bicyclists?

    Cyclists take up a very small percentage of the road and cause little or no damage to the structural integrity of the roads, unlike SUVs that weigh over the legal weight of 6,000 pounds.

    What I would like in addition to people being aware of the vehicle code regarding bicyclists is that people of Glendale take a one-hour bike ride these same roads. How would these motorists on bicycles feel about being exposed to vehicles that weigh 20 times their weight when motorists typically engage in behaviors they only do when there is a cyclist on the road?


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