Council Member Tom LaBonge Responds to Streetsblog’s Bike Licensing Story

Yesterday, Council Member Tom LaBonge called to follow-up on our bicycle licensing story from Monday.

Labonge took issue with a couple of parts of the story, both that we reached out for comment several times (it seems to be a communications issue between me and their office team) and that outreach for the proposal is sub-par. It’s not sub-par the Council Member argues, it just hasn’t happened yet.

Councilman LaBonge poses with cyclists before his office's "Positively 4th Street" bike ride in 2008. Photo: Tom

The Council Member stated:

The one key that I wanted to express to you is that government runs on statistics.

You can say you don’t want a license, Michelle Mowery doesn’t want a license, DOT doesn’t want a license.But unless there are numbers…when we have numbers it always backs you up.

In issues of theft and recovery, in issues of injury and accident, especially solo riders having some way to contact family, it (licenses) can be helpful.

We always work with community organizations. When we introduce motions at Council we don’t just rush it through, we have outreach.

There’s one comment…”We’re honestly just puzzled by this proposal, which was resurrected with zero input from bicyclists,” writes Eric Bruins from the county coalition.

The county coalition has a place in every discussion that’s taking place on bicycles right now and they will be discussed with.

We thank the Council Member for reaching out to us, and we’ll be sure to speak with him if and when this proposal moves forward.

  • Roadblock

    They need to find out the ID of the dead cyclist quicker so that they can be safer.

  • sahra

    Yes, a government runs on statistics and numbers matter, but it isn’t helpful if you don’t have the right numbers. Eric’s earlier point about institutionalizing bike and ped counts is a better solution, giving you both numbers AND patterns, thereby being exponentially more useful for government planning purposes. Moreover, if there is genuine concern about things like collisions, then how about focusing on more accurate collision data first? The idea that, just a few weeks ago, we posted about a young woman injured in an event witnessed by two whole police officers but the traffic officer said he couldn’t make a determination of fault because the officers hadn’t taken a traffic course is perhaps one of the stupidest things I’ve heard in a long while (minus the recent govt. shut down). Numbers of collisions are important, but not without some data on the how and why they happen. Without that component, appropriate fixes to prevent future collisions are hard to come by. Data matters, in other words, but it has to be the right data. Data for data’s sake is a waste of incredibly scarce resources. And silly, if you want to use the technical term.

  • Methinks that granting a license is really all about eventually revoking the same…

  • Stumpy


  • james

    Has LaBonege ever ridden a bicycle when the press isn’t around?

  • Erik Griswold

    So Herr. LaBonge vil haf os karry our papers mit os at all times, javol?

  • Erik Griswold

    Via sales tax information, it is fairly easy to get picture of how many bicycles are extant in Los Angeles. Based on bis argument, L.A. should license shoes to judge how many pedestrians there are.

  • james

    Does he want to know how many bicycles in LA there are or how many cyclists there are on the road? There are a variety of ways of estimating the number of cyclists on the road. Does Labonge believe that we won’t be able to quantify the increasing use of bicycles in the future if we don’t have stickers on our frames? Does he believe that cities that have made real progress have had to rely on registration to keep track of bicycle use?
    I imagine that bicycle registration would be most people with people buying beach cruisers for their children.

  • El Sharto

    LaBong is just a fucking moron lets just be honest. His words are nearly incomprehensible but his logic is just complete rubbish and for all the reasons stated in the comments here. For O’Farrel to attach himself to this old tired loudmouth ape is pretty disappointing. I had high hopes for O’Farrel. Cant wait till LaBong get termed out.

  • I think it’s a good sign that both offices reached out. We’ll stay on top of it while it moves forward.

  • miguo


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