City Announces Meetings to Help Select Police Chief: We Need a Plan

8_19_09_lapd_times.jpgImage: Times

Yesterday, the City announced the details of their outreach strategy to gather public input on the qualities that Angelenos want to see in their next police chief.  In early September, the city will hold four public outreach meetings in the Valley, South L.A., the Westside and, as Zach Behrens notes, near the Eastside.

As Livable Streets advocates, we need to be vocal in the coming weeks about what we want in a police commissioner but to do that we need a message and a plan.  We’ve all seen some ridiculous mis-enforcement of the law when it comes to cyclists or pedestrian issues.  Some of them, like the LAPD’s botched reporting and bungling defensive follow-up concerning the hummer assault on Andres Tena have been reported on Streetsblog.  Others, such as the time a DWP truck struck and killed a cyclist in a crosswalk that resulted in no arrests because the "cyclist was going the wrong way in the crosswalk," were not.

I haven’t heard of an organized effort to make certain that the new police chief is a hawk on traffic justice and ensuring safe streets, so I’m starting one on my own.  I’ve set up a Livable Streets Discussion Group here so that we can figure out a message, an outreach strategy and make sure we follow-through with that strategy.  Anyone can view our discussions, unless the group decides to close our discussions, but to contribute you need to be a member of the Livable Streets Network.  Don’t worry, it’s not hard to sign-up, follow the instructions here.

For those that want to testify at these hearings but don’t want to join the party, a list of all the dates is after the jump.

September 2, 2009 Friendship Auditorium
6:30 pm 3201 Riverside Drive
Los Angeles, California 90027

September 3, 2009 Department of Water and Power
Community Auditorium
6:00 pm 4030 Crenshaw Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90008

September 9, 2009 Felicia Mahood Senior Center
6:30 pm 11338 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90025

September 10, 2009 One Generation
6:30 pm 18255 Victory Boulevard
Reseda, California 91335

  • DJB

    I don’t know if all cyclists would want a chief who is a hawk on enforcing traffic laws. This would mean, among other things, cracking down on cyclists who ride on the sidewalk (which of course is technically not kosher).

    Personally, there are a lot of streets I would never ride in, because as much I agree that cyclists have a right to share that road space, I’m not trying to get killed.

    I’ll put out a hypothesis: most cyclists ride where they feel safest (I’ll leave aside the debate over where cyclists actually ARE safest). For many people who ride, the sidewalk feels safer. Enforce the law and you effectively throw these people off their bikes.

    Of course there are other issues to consider in screening a new sustainable-transport-friendly Chief, but I guess I’ll start with this one.

  • DJB writes “I don’t know if all cyclists would want a chief who is a hawk on enforcing traffic laws. This would mean, among other things, cracking down on cyclists who ride on the sidewalk (which of course is technically not kosher).”

    Except that it’s not against the law to ride a bike on the sidewalk. It may be bad form, ill advised and a greater risk to the cyclist than riding on the street (all true) but it’s not against the law.

    That being said, a new Police Chief who promotes education of both Law Enforcement Officers and the Public on the law regarding cycling would be a tremendous benefit to the community as a whole.

    The new Police Chief could start with the LAPD website which still perpetuates the myth that there is such a thing as “wrong way riding” on a sidewalk. Cyclists can’t ride the wrong way on the sidewalk and crosswalks, marked and unmarked, are extensions of the sidewalk.

    Cyclists can hardly expect to be supported by educated Law Enforcement Officers is the LAPD can’t figure out where cyclists belong on the sidewalk, let alone the street.

    DJB wraps with “For many people who ride, the sidewalk feels safer. Enforce the law and you effectively throw these people off their bikes.”

    Nope, you don’t. In LA, enforcing the law would give cyclists options, lots of them, and it would give cyclists the legal support they deserve in order to ride safely and free of fear.

    ‘Nuff said!

  • DJB

    The CA DMV Driver Handbook states that “Bicyclists . . . must ride in a straight line as near to the right curb or edge of the roadway as practical—not on the sidewalk.”

    This seems consistent with the principle that “bicyclists on public streets have the same rights and responsibilities as automobile drivers.”

    I am under the impression that the DMV Handbook is a digest of legal rules that pertain the the road. Am I wrong?

    My point was that if you told me I couldn’t ride my bike on the sidewalk of, say, Wilshire and that I had to ride in the street instead, I just wouldn’t ride at all (because it would just feel too dangerous for my taste). I guarantee I’m not alone in that sentiment.

  • I’m guessing that on Wilshire you would just take the whole right lane because there is no good place to ride on the right. Cars would just have to go around you.

  • DJB, use caution when reading the DMV Drivers Manual. Good advice is not necessarily law and visa versa. It is not against the law to ride on the sidewalk unless the local municipality has made it so. Los Angeles has not. Some cities have, LA is not one of them. CVC 21 trumps a manual prepared as advice.

    Long story short, the confusion over simple things such as the appropriate place for cyclists to ride demonstrates how far we have to go as a community to clarifying the law, the application of the law, safety, rules-of-the-road and a boatload of simple “get-along” topics.

    Ride your bike, get out in the street, take your place, and if you aren’t comfortable, rest assured that the 88 communities within LA County have done as much as they can to be as inconsistent ybody is equally confused.

    Spokker, yes, on Wilshire a cyclist should control the lane and ride with confidence that it is legal.

  • DJwheels


    Although the DMV handbook provides some useful advice about cycling, it does not encompass all the local rules municipalities are allowed to pass under the California Vehicle Code.

    In the city of L.A., it is legal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk if you do so in a manner that does not willfully disregard the safety of others and property.

    L.A. Municipal Code Section 56.15.1:

    No person shall ride, operate or use a bicycle, unicycle, skateboard, cart, wagon, wheelchair, rollerskates, or any other device moved exclusively by human power, on a sidewalk, bikeway or boardwalk in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. (Amended by Ord. No. 166,189, Eff. 10/7/90.)

  • I hope the next chief of police gets a chance to read this discussion!

    What is next on the agenda? A talk about bike riders running stop signs or not wearing helmets?

    Let’s hope that the next chief (whomever that may be) focuses his officer’s efforts on making sure that those most vulnerable on the streets are protected. Often the LAPD are called in to help move as many cars through an area as possible when things get backed up – it would be nice if they would focus instead on safety instead of the LADOT’s dreams.

  • DJB

    Thanks for the info :)

  • DJB

    So, is there a place where I can easily find out the cities in which it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk? Say I do that Wilshire ride, west to the beach. I start in LA, go through Beverly Hills, continue through LA, then go into Santa Monica.

    That’s a lot of jurisdictions.

    I want to keep coming back to this point about where people feel safe (and how they could be made to feel safer). There are probably a lot of people here that would have no problem riding in Wilshire, contending with irate drivers, parked cars, buses, right and left turns, etc. (although they probably want conditions improved). I have a lot of respect for people who do that, or maybe a better word is awe, like the awe I feel when I see a professional stunt person.

    Would you do the same thing with young children along in one of those wheeled carriages that attach to bikes? I’ve talked to people who are afraid to drive in small cars, let alone ride their bikes, Amish-like, in regular lanes risking ridicule, harassment, and impacts from motorists.

    This may be too off topic, so ignore it if you want . . .


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