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:

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The L.A. Bicycle License Controversy


(NOTE: This Velologue post was originally posted on

Recently, in Legally Speaking, we reported on proposals in Portland and Seattle to implement bicycle taxes, and expanded on that Legally Speaking column in our blog post "A Bicycle Tax?" In  response to that blog post, reader Rich Wilson raised some questions about a controversy brewing in Los Angeles over recent enforcement efforts:

When that Seattle Times article came up, a list I subscribe to discussed various rider and bike registration fees. Someone reported that LA has a bike registration (I think it's $4?) and that the police will ticket you for it ($161 fine?), but that it's pretty hard to actually get a registration, as they only sell them a few hours of the week. Anyone from LA have more info? Any advice, Bob, for how one might fight such a thing in court? It doesn't sound like something your avarege citizen could successfully argue in traffic court.

We looked into it, and just as Rich reported, there has indeed been at least one ticket issued for riding an  unlicensed bike. Here's what happened.

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