Carmageddon–Not!

Good things happening in the LA cycling scene last week.

First in publicity value, though not necessarily in importance, was Wolfpack Hustle’s race agains Jet Blue last weekend.

Jet Blue decided to use the MIA “Carmageddon” that was supposed to result from the day-and-a-half closure of a small stretch of the 405 to get some cheap publicity–by offering to fly frustrated drivers from Burbank to Long Beach airports for four bucks.

Los Angeles River Bike Path
Part of the LA River bikepath used by Wolfpack Hustle

Wolfpack turned Jet Blue’s publicity stunt on its head, by racing a couple of plane passengers door-to-door from their house in Burbank to the lighthouse in Long Beach. The cyclists left a little after the plane passengers drove off to the airport to go through check in and security, following Jet Blue’s recommendations on how much time to allow. (Since no one lives at an airport and flies only to visit other airports, a destination-to-destination race was fair.)

Woflpack, as almost everyone in the US knows by now, beat the flyers by an hour and ten minutes!

Slate has the full details here.

Meanwhile, the streets of LA were not only not particularly congested, but freer of traffic than they would be on a normal weekend day.

What would have happened on a weekday, you might ask?

Well, cities such as San Francisco, Portland, and Seoul have found that tearing down freeways has actually reduced congestion while improving business (and of course life on the streets).

As Lewis Mumford said about forty years ago, “Increasing road capacity to accommodate increased driving is like buying bigger pants to cure obesity.”

But, while this was fun, something much more important happened just this morning. The full Los Angeles City Council passed the “Prohibition Against Harassment Of Bicyclists,” popularly known as the cyclists’ anti-harassment ordinance. This defines as impermissible the harassment of bicyclists because of their status as bicyclists–something we have all suffered–and allows cyclists to sue perpetrators of the harassment. Specifically, it states that:

A person shall not do or attempt to do any of the following:
A. Physically assault or attempt to physically assault a Bicyclist because of, in whole or in part, the Bicyclist’s status as a Bicyclist.
B. Threaten to physically injure a Bicyclist because of, in whole or in part, the Bicyclist’s status as a Bicyclist.
C. Intentionally injure, attempt to injure, or threaten to physically injure, either by words, vehicle, or other object, a Bicyclist because of, in whole or in part, the Bicyclist’s status as a Bicyclist.
D. Intentionally distract or attempt to distract a Bicyclist because of, in whole or in part, the Bicyclist’s status as a Bicyclist.
E. Intentionally force or attempt to force a Bicyclist off a street for purposes unrelated to public safety.

Read the entire ordinance here.

In a way it’s an inverse statement of our right to the roads, by spelling out that you can’t threaten us just because we’re riding bicycles–any more than you can threaten someone because they won’t change their religion for you.

It also makes a clear statement that cyclists have a right to the roads and that the city “wants to encourage people to ride bicycles.”

Winning a race, even against a jet aircraft, doesn’t come close to this!

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