Last night cyclists from San Pedro to Lincoln Heights to the Westside met in the center of Hollywood for a "Storm the Bastille" bike ride to the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting in order to deliver the "Bicyclist Bill of Rights."
The BAC is a "Council and Mayoral appointed body" and acts in an advisory capacity to the Mayor, the City Council Members and to the various agencies of the government of the City of Los Angeles.
The cyclists challenged the BAC members to truly represent the cycling community, to take the BBR to the Mayor and the Councilmembers and to use the BBR to inform and direct the City Departments.
Alex of Westside BikeSIDE urged the BAC to truly engage the committee in the upcoming Bicycle Master Plan workshops and advised the committee that the current schedule hardly services the City of Los Angeles. (4 two hour meetings to engage the community in the process, none in Hollywood/Silver Lake/Echo Park!)
Josef of the Bike Oven urged the BAC to fight for a new definition of traffic that counts people, not single occupant vehicles, and that recognizes all modes of travel when evaluating funding. He also urged the BAC to fight for a more comprehensive "livability index" as a tool for evaluating transportation which would factor in noise, pollution, safety for peds and cyclists and other quality of life issues that impact our communities, not just relying on the number of vehicles moved through the intersection.
Russell pointed out that San Pedro is still waiting for arrival of the long-promised bike racks that would go a long way in encouraging cycling as a transportation solution in our congested neighborhoods.
Other cyclists spoke of the need to communicate and educate and advise our law enforcement departments on California Vehicle Code and the need to support cyclists on the road, not simply to segregate and harass.
With much fanfare and as the highlight to the meeting, MikeyWally took to the podium and read into the record the Bicyclist Bill of Rights!
Counterpoint to this climactic and historic moment was our experience as we left the meeting and rode to Pure Luck for some sustenance and camaraderie.
Four cyclists riding on Virgil executed a "Vehicular left turn" on the approach to the red light at Melrose. A car in the #1 lane accelerated up to the cyclists (approaching a red!) and stopped suddenly behind the cyclists who were merging into the left turn pocket. A LAPD Sgt. from the Rampart division pulled the cyclists over (letting the motorist go) and called in backup consisting of three squad cars and a helicopter. Excellent use of our tax dollars.
After a severe round of safety lectures and threats of citations for impeding traffic including the appearance of the "ticket book" and the gathering of ID's, all because we dared to speak up for our rights and to suggest that it might be more appropriate for him to address the reckless behavior of a motorist who accelerates at cyclists on the approach to a red light, the Sgt. wrote Mikey a ticket for not having the appropriate reflectors.
Sarge from Rampart did us a service by demonstrating his bias toward automobiles and against cyclists. He demonstrated how far the cycling community must go. He demonstrated how important it is for us to claim our rights, first by articulating them, then by exercising them. He demonstrated that item #3 on the BBR is worth fighting for!
"See you on the Streets!"