August 2, 2011
Citing a spike in bike accidents in the central area of the city, Los Angeles police on Tuesday asked both motorists and cyclists to do their part in sharing the road.
“The mayor has declared the city of L.A. a bike-friendly city,” said Capt. Ronald E. Marbrey. “We want to ensure we remain a bike-safe city.”
Marbrey said bike-related collisions have declined 4% across the city so far this year. But there has been a 9% uptick in bike accidents in the central part of the city.
Alexis Lantz of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition said those statistics may be misleading because the number of cyclists on the road has increased.
In an email, Lantz noted that the downtown residential population has grown. “If more people are riding more often, as we believe they are, then a 9% increase in collisions might actually represent a decrease in collisions per trip, or per mile bicycled.”
“We need bicycle count data to be able to know what’s really going on,” she wrote.
Tuesday’s news conference comes in the wake of the Los Angeles City Council’s approval last week of a new anti-harassment law designed to protect bicyclists from motorists. The ordinance makes it a crime to threaten cyclists verbally or physically. It also allows riders to file suit against drivers without having to wait for the city to press criminal charges first.
Councilman Bill Rosendahl, chairman of the Transportation Committee, wrote the new ordinance and said “it’s about time cyclists have rights.”
Rosendahl has been an advocate for the city’s bicyclists, but recently acknowledged he hadn’t ridden a bike in three decades. A short video posted on Streetfilms.org last week captured Rosendahl trying to relearn the art of riding.
“The 66-year-old councilman hopped on my spare bike … and after about 30 seconds completely found his balance,” Rob Adams wrote on a blog post accompanying the video.
“The councilman even got to experience getting buzzed and shouted at by an irate van driver. Welcome to the streets!” the post read.