East Hollywood NC Adopts Cyclists’ Bill of Rights

bill of rightsEarlier this week the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council unanimously voted to adopt the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights (pdf link). This is a major step for cyclists in Los Angeles and hopefully just the first of many more to come. Reports from people who were at the meeting say that the NC was fully supportive and excited to adopt the Bill of Rights. In a thread on the  Midnight Ridazz website, EHNC president Elson Trinidad posted a comment suggesting that might not be the case in some other parts of the city. He writes:

“…best of luck trying to get many other neighborhood councils to endorse this. I’m not gonna name any names, but just letting you know you’re gonna get laughed at by some of the other neighborhood councils, which don’t even consider bicycles as a legitimate form of transportation and want more parking and more cars on the road.”

While I’m pretty sure everyone with a car in Los Angeles is supportive of more parking, I’d love to hear from anyone who lives and drives in here who wants more cars on the road. Yeah, that’s just what drivers want – more traffic and less parking. But that’s beside the point – the point is there’s no reason this document shouldn’t be adopted by every Neighborhood Council in the city, hell by the city itself. As I said, this is a major step, and hopefully just the first of many. It’s really exciting to see this happen and it will be great when EH gets to brag that they were the first ones to run with it when everyone else gets on board. Full text of the Bill is after the jump.

WHEREAS, cyclists have the right to ride the streets of our communities and this right is formally articulated in the California Vehicle Code; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are considered to be the “indicator species” of a healthy community; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are both environmental and traffic congestion solutions; and

WHEREAS, cyclists are, first and foremost, people – with all of the rights and privileges that come from being members of this great society; and

NOW, THEREFORE, WE THE CYCLING COMMUNITY, do hereby claim the following rights:

1) Cyclists have the right to travel safely and free of fear.

2) Cyclists have the right to equal access to our public streets and to sufficient and significant road space.

3) Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement.

4) Cyclists have the right to the full support of our judicial system and the right to expect that those who endanger, injure or kill cyclists be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

5) Cyclists have the right to routine accommodations in all roadway projects and improvements.

6) Cyclists have the right to urban and roadway planning, development and design that enable and support safe cycling.

7) Cyclists have the right to traffic signals, signage and maintenance standards that enable and support safe cycling.

8) Cyclists have the right to be actively engaged as a constituent group in the organization and administration of our communities.

9) Cyclists have the right to full access for themselves and their bicycles on all mass transit with no limitations.

10) Cyclists have the right to end-of-trip amenities that include safe and secure opportunities to park their bicycles.

11) Cyclists have the right to be secure in their persons and property, and be free from unreasonable search and seizure, as guaranteed by the 4th Amendment.

12) Cyclists have the right to peaceably assemble in the public space, as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment.

And further, we claim and assert these rights by taking to the streets and riding our bicycles, all in an expression of our inalienable right to ride!

15 thoughts on “East Hollywood NC Adopts Cyclists’ Bill of Rights”

  1. More communities need to take an active role in making bikes a viable option for getting around. I have spoken up at my own city council meetings when our general plan with my own thoughts on making bikes and cars on the same roadway possible. I have advocated some bike only routes by converting unused alleyways and setting aside strips in redevelopment zones.

    Bikes and peds are still an area of concern. Bikes were taken away from me years ago so my favorite mode for getting around my little burg is walking. We have to get bikes to obey the same traffic laws as cars, specifically yield to peds in the cross walks. It is very frustrating to be in a cross walk and have to stop for a bicycle blowing a red and nearly getting hit while being given a single finger salute.

    I totally don’t get why #11 is tossed in there? Are people being stopped and questioned by LE just because they are on a bike?

  2. Yes actually, it’s almost comical to some extent but people who ride their bikes around LA all the time often joke about some of the cities being less bike friendly than others, and some are outright hostile. When planning evening group rides I know some sections are purposefully avoided because of this.

  3. I don’t like wearing helmets and a cop used that as an excuse to stop me once, though that law only applies to people who are under 18. I had to prove I was old…though I could be wrong, but I suspect he stopped me for other reasons, but I won’t go into that. I think it’s having a bike plus other things like tattoos, ethnic, alternative dressing looking, smelling like pot, having a crack pipe around your neck, just riding away from a known drug house…lol..certain people will never have problems on a bike, but people who may have a problem just walking around will definitely have a problem on a bike.

    Cops (some cops, I don’t want to generalize and hurt cops feelings) like a reason to bother certain people and any reason they can use they will latch on to it like a little rabid dog.


  4. i think that it is a sad state of affairs that this document has to be written. i agree with all of these statements (except for the “WHEREAS, cyclists are considered to be the “indicator species” of a healthy community”- i do not know enough about the issues, but this sounds less like a statement backed by academic research and more of a personal mission statement). i will say one thing about bike riders in la:

    sharing the road is a 2 way process. i live in playa del rey, where there are perhaps more bikers than almost anywhere else in la, and the driving infractions i deal with every single day are as annoying as they are dangerous. i know it is hard to stop a bike and put a foot down at every single stop sign, but that does not mean that you can run them. bikes must obey the same laws as cars, and in la, they don’t. i know that it is hard and dangerous to ride in la, and i do my best to make room and be courteous. but i don’t get to drive on the sidewalk any more than they do. i have to stop at signals, so do they. i once had a girl blow through a stop sign, swerve in front of me and scream “share the road” all at the same time. behavior like this does not do the cause any good, and sadly, i see it every single morning as i leave the house.

    for declarations like this to work, bikers need to hold up their end of the bargain. i do not commute by bike, but i do ride when i have the time to do so, and when i ride, i obey the laws of the road.

  5. Sean,

    Thanks for writing this.

    The Cyclists’ Bill of Rights was authored by the Bike Writers Collective. Would you mind linking that in your post?

    Andy Cochrane,

    “For declarations like this to work yadda yadda”. I think this is a totally misguided POV. Consider the US Bill of Rights. Do you lose your right to unreasonable search and seizure when someone else uses that right to hide atrocities? Do you lose your right to bear arms because someone else uses that right to kill someone? Do you lose the right to free speech because someone else uses it to promote hate?

    Rights are rights. They belong to individuals. Just because some girl blew a stop sign and ticked you off does not mean I lose my right to “ride safely and free of fear.” Just because some rider jumped a red light does not mean cyclists lose their 4th amendment protections.

    By arguing that Cyclists’ rights are dependent on the actions of other cyclists your are promoting a fallacy and doing a disservice to cyclists.

    Alex Thompson
    Cyclists’ Bill of Rights Co-Author

  6. I hear and respect where Andy’s coming from up to sharing the road being a two-way process; it most certainly is, and as a dedicated commuter cyclist, I do my best to. Beyond that point he offers anecdotal ammunition about how cyclists in his microcosm are badbadrudebadrudebadbad that he then extrapolates to shoot down why cyclists as a whole shouldn’t be making such declarations.

    You want anecdotal ammunition biased against drivers? I’ve got ’em — three alone from my ride home Monday night! — that I could offer up as to selfish motorists not participating in that sacred two-way process. It seems in Andy’s point of view that either doesn’t matter or is acceptable.

    Am I some sort of by-the-book bicylist? Mostly. But for all the yielding and stopping and law-abiding I do, I also rolled through a half-dozen stop signs at a half-dozen empty intersections over the course of the 13 miles to work this morning. And I made an illegal left turn. I even road against traffic on the wrong side of the road for a spell. Does that mean I’m not holding up my end of the bargain and therefore I’m unworthy to declare my allegiance to the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights? Apparently so, from Andy’s perspective. Behind the wheel of his vehicle.

  7. it is not that breaking the rules of the road strips all cyclists from their rights. as i stated at the top, i am amazed that any of this even needs to be said- some of these are constitutional rights, others are basic human rights in our society.

    what i am saying is that making grand declarations about how poorly cyclists are treated in this city is greatly undermined by not following the rules of the road. you deserve these rights, with or without them being declared. but stop at every stop sign. don’t ride on sidewalks. don’t ride against traffic. don’t ride in crosswalks. yield to pedestrians. obey speed limits. don’t make illegal turns. for god’s sake have a light on if you plan on riding at top speed on pedestrian paths at night.

    the problem of bikes vs cars in la is mostly one of mutual disrespect. in order to solve it we need more bike paths, more bike lanes, more bike friendly mass transit, and no more breaking laws from the bike riders. we need to respect each other and give each other room to travel safely- and it makes me extremely less sympathetic to the cause when i have to sit and wait at my first stop sign as i go to work as bike rider after bike rider blows through it, making unsignaled turns and generally acting like “share the road” means “bikes first”.

    I make room for bikers- i change lanes, slow down, make my intentions clear, and wait patiently. it bothers me that i am not returned that same courtesy. and i know that many drivers are bad in la, and that riding here is dangerous, but that does not entitle anyone to break the laws, and it does not work towards fixing the issue, it deepens it.

  8. I hope I didn’t mean to imply this was a lost cause in terms of getting other NCs to adopt it. I was merely touching on a bigger phenomena in the neighborhood council system, namely a deep generational divide. I chatted with Josef Bray-Ali after our meeting and he commented that he was a former board member of another neighborhood council and lamented that he was the youngest person there. Though fortunately I’m not the youngest member of my neighborhood council, I do get the same vibe when I deal with other NCs in community meetings and many of them just biatch about “parking, parking, parking” and not even try to think of the other options, and merely deride alternate forms of transportation as “unrealistic.” Though I don’t want to stereotype here, in my experience the majority of neighborhood council boardmembers out there are elderly, rich white homeowners who care more about property values than they do about progress.

    But I do know boardmembers of other neighborhood councils, and so after reading this post, I’m determined to help out the cause by using my influence to help convince other NCs that this is a good idea and that their neighborhood will also benefit from this.

    Elson Trinidad
    President (and fellow cyclist)
    East Hollywood Neighborhood Council

  9. Andy I appreciate patience you demonstrate on the road for cyclists. I for one would be one of those few you seem to have a hard time finding that would be grateful of your respect and concern and accord you the return-courtesy you seek.

    As easy as it would be to get baited into making demands of motorists similar to those you make one-dimensionally of cyclists, I won’t go that route because like you said “it doesn’t fix the issue, it deepens it,” leaving everyone spinning their wheels, whether it’s two or four.

    And just for the record, blank-check ordering me and my bike off the sidewalk isn’t as easy as you think it to be. While there are ordinances in Santa Monica and West Hollywood prohibiting the riding of bicycles on sidewalks, it is perfectly legal to safely do so in and throughout the city of Los Angeles.

  10. is it really? i was under the impression that bikes were not allowed on sidewalks or crosswalks (unless they are being walked of course). in the area around usc when i was there they certainly would order bikes to be walked unless you were riding on the street. i guess it is not a city-wide ordinance then, i stand corrected.

    any motorist who breaks the law, and many do, damage the flipside of my argument as much, if not more, than cyclists who break laws. i guess the issue is that motorists are not fighting this fight, they are not a unified community the way bike riders are, in a lot of ways, they don’t care. and their lives are not put in danger by bike riders every day. and that is what bikers are up against.

    my comments here are not a bitter anti-biker tirade, they are frustration at a worthy cause that is doing itself harm by breaking the law on one side and demanding it be upheld on the other. in a very roundabout way (trying to word this carefully now…), bike riders in la are fighting a microcosmic civil rights battle for equal treatment. i think that winning such a fight requires the higher ground, as evidenced by the nonviolence of several such movements around the world. when i ask that the bikers obey all of the laws that apply to them, i am not really saying “you guys want better treatment, act better, then we’ll talk”, i am saying “i think you guys are right, but the law breaking is really hurting your cause”.

    i know it’s hard out there, heck i could ride my bike to work but honestly, i don’t want to die, and in la riding a bike to commute is serious business. i applaud everyone who does, and i wish that there weren’t so many drivers out there putting you in danger. i see it all the time from my driver’s seat, i’m not blind to it. and i do think that a more bike-friendly la is in all of our best interests. so to hopefully sum it all up:

    take the high ground and obey the law. nobody will win this fight by taking the lower ground.

  11. know it’s hard out there, heck i could ride my bike to work but honestly, i don’t want to die, and in la riding a bike to commute is serious business.

    Will Campbell rides his bike to work every day, and it’s not exactly down the street from where he lives, and last time I checked, he’s still alive. Maybe he has some super powers that I’m not aware about. But the *only* way for things to be safer for cyclists and for motorists to take cyclists seriously is to have more cyclists on the road.

    Yes, you could die on a bike, but you can die in a car too. Or on a plane. Or you can get shot in any neighborhood. Life is full of risks. And I’m willing to bet there are more car fatalities every day than there are for those on bikes.

    If hostility and danger from cars is the only negative to biking in this city, what about the positives? Well, there’s the relatively flat topography, many connecting streets and great weather. So there you go, the advantages outweigh the disadvantage.

  12. I am too often the minority despite all manner of folk thinking that tall bald white arse being part of some majority. (Larry David has naught on me save the ability to be just polite enough to make loads of cash.)
    Anyhow. I marvel at how americans seem to think that they have rights for no other reason than, well, someone else told them so. Look, folks, I have to be talked out of not walking out the my door with a shotgun—but not because I am psycho; I feel it is no less a tool thna a bottle of water required at times. I hope you understand.
    Moreover, I am all to aware in an innate sense the dynamic of life: pain, pleasure and all that. I think Mr. Campbell understands it and he is someone who comes from an era slightly prior to mine.
    Stand up for your rights, and get ready to bleed a bit folks, but understand that that pain grants a greater appreciation of the resultant pleasure—provided you live to appreciate it. To wit: get on yer bikes and make those motherf***en motorists make way, and get on with where your going, especially if it is on the way to City Hall.
    And when you get home, slip in that copy of “Yes, Minister” or “Yes, Prime Minister” so as to get the gist of what has been, what is and what always will be since well before Cicero, capiche? (Anyone can learn latin, but too few learn how to deal with civil servants and the politicians that fan through the doors.)

  13. That’s a great link there mattyshack. Of course they have to do that as the term I heard constantly in London for bicyclists was “organ donor”.

Comments are closed.