City of Cyclists? The emerging Los Angeles bike culture

In our December 24th Legally Speaking column, we discussed A Cyclists’ Bill of Rights, an inspirational example of cycling activism by the Bike Writers Collective, a group of Los Angeles cycling activists, who drafted a Cyclists’ Bill of Rights and brought it before the Los Angeles City Council, where it was adopted with preliminary approval on December 9, 2008.

Then, on December 31st, I reported on The L.A. Bicycle License Controversy, in which an Angeleno cyclist with the nom de velo Roadblock was targeted for harassment by an LAPD that apparently has nothing better to do, for—get this—not having a bicycle license.

Now, those two story lines come together in Bike Culture: Spokes People, an outstanding Los Angeles Magazine piece on an unlikely underground bike culture emerging in the capital of American car culture. Some highlights:

• Mass rides—parties on wheels, really, replete with sound systems, video, alcohol, illicit substances, and “hot girls”—that paradoxically claim to be “traffic” while studiously violating the rules applicable to traffic.
• Dozens of VeganBananaPenis riders run a red light; the LAPD inexplicably singles one out for arrest. As one of his fellow riders ask, “What, they arrest the one black guy”?
• Rush hour rides on gridlocked Los Angeles freeways, equal parts bike activism, stunt, performance, and “jackassness.” The goal? Getting the gridlocked drivers “to go ‘Oh wait, why did that bicycle just go by?’”
• The culture-clash between the more-established advocacy-based organizations and the more confrontational bicycle counter-culture. One group stages a crosswalk-based protest that brings automobile traffic to a halt, with apparently no other purpose. More established advocates focus on working within the system to improve bicycle infrastructure, but with mixed results—bike lanes in the door zone, disconnected bike lanes, bike lanes that don’t go anywhere. The problem? Business interests have expropriated the public space—the roadway—for automobile parking, leaving no roadway space for cyclists. The advocates working within the system have neither the political strength nor the political will to challenge this expropriation of public space for private gain, and so they continue to work for infrastructure gains that place cyclists in harm’s way. Activist Stephen Box, the impetus behind the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights, who straddles both worlds with a no-compromise attitude, argues convincingly that the number of traffic lanes on roadways should be reduced instead, in order to make room for bicycle infrastructure.

It’s a fascinating glimpse into a daring—and increasingly popular—Angeleno bicycle culture that few would have predicted, and well worth the read.

 

Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
According to Colorado Statutes, bicycles may be prohibited on roadways if there is an alternate route within ΒΌ mile of the roadway. For safety purposes, CDOT has chosen to apply this statute to much of I-70 and I-25. The alternate routes can be other roadways or non-motorized paths. Here is the statute language:

CRS 42-4-109 (11), it states: Where suitable bike paths, horseback trails, or other trails have been established on the right-of-way or parallel to and within one-fourth mile of the right-of-way of heavily traveled streets and highways, the department of transportation may, subject to the provisions of section 43-2-135, CRS, by resolution or order entered in its minutes, and local authorities may, where suitable bike paths, horseback trails, or other trails have been established on the right-of-way or parallel to it within four hundred fifty feet of the right-of-way of heavily traveled streets, by ordinance, determine and designate, upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation, those heavily traveled streets and highways upon which shall be prohibited any bicycle, animal rider, animal-drawn conveyance, or other class or kind of non-motorized traffic which is found to be incompatible with the normal and safe movement of traffic, and, upon such a determination, the department of transportation or local authority shall erect appropriate official signs giving notice thereof; except that with respect to controlled access highways the provisions of section 42-4-101(3) shall apply.

Recently, I was riding my bicycle on the extreme right side of the freeway shoulder between Frisco and Copper Mountain. During at least six months of the year, the recreation path along Ten Mile Creek is closed due to deep snow cover and avalanche danger in Officers Gulch. The alternative state highway, without shoulder, is Highway 91 to Leadville, 25 miles over Freemont Pass, then Highway 24 to Fairplay, south on Highway 9 to Breckenridge, over Hoosier Pass, then 10 miles down the Blue River to Breckenridge. Therefore, the I-70 is the only reasonable means for me to commute from Copper Mountain to Frisco.

During that evening, I was returning from work. A snowplow driver on his way to Vail Pass stopped on the shoulder at the 195 mile marker to block my progress and attempted to stop me. When I ignored his command to pull over, he yelled to me that I should not be on the freeway. Then, he blasted his air horn and shouted, #### you!

I called his supervisor to discuss the issue. I told him that I have no alternative to commute for work other than traveling on the shoulder of the freeway. The supervisor informed me that a snowplow driver has authority from Colorado State Patrol to detain traffic. I provided him with my identity, telephone number, and location of work in case an officer wanted to write me a ticket.
My question is whether there is any existing case law interpreting the Colorado Statute or other state statutes concerning bicycle or other slow-moving traffic on the shoulder of interstate freeways in the United States.

The only reference that I have been able to find is United States v. Guest, Supreme Court of the United States (1966):

The constitutional right to travel from one State to another, and necessarily to use the highways and other instrumentalities of interstate commerce in doing so, occupies a position fundamental to the concept of our Federal Union. It is a right that has been firmly established and repeatedly recognized.

-   Kim Fenske, JD
# Posted By Kim Fenske | 5/10/10 1:55 PM
Cycling is the ONLY sport for me

Eli
# Posted By eli | 6/19/11 2:45 AM
I was so much intrigued when I read this article! I wonder what has come of your crazy (in a good sense of cource!) ice bike idea???
http://www.braungresham.com/2013/05/south-texas-la...
# Posted By mccanneric | 6/10/13 4:12 AM