South Pasadena Moves Towards Cyclist Anti-Harassment PolicyPosted: October 20, 2011
On Wednesday October 19th the South Pasadena City Council unanimously directed staff to draft a bicycle anti-harassment ordinance based on LA City’s landmark legislation, which went into effect on September 6th.
If adopted, the policy would provide cyclists riding in the City with greater recourse if they are harassed by a motorist than they currently have access to. Presently, unless harassment results in a direct collision, serious injury/death and is witnessed by bystanders (or better yet, law enforcement), cyclists rarely pursue a civil, let alone a criminal, case. Why? Well for one intimidation, assault, and harassment rarely lead to significant monetary damages being awarded. This leaves most victims unable afford such cases. Serious repercussions for the culpable party are also infrequent except in the most egrigious cases involving drunk/impaired driving or felony hit-and-run.
Under LA’s ordinance, a series of actions taken against a bicyclist are grounds for a civil suit. They are:
- Assaulting, or attempting to assault, a bicyclist;
- Threatening to physically injure a bicyclist;
- Injuring, or attempt to injure, a bicyclist (this can include verbal and non-verbal threats); and
- Intentionally distracting a bicyclist with the intent of causing injury
In these civil suits, drivers who assault or harass bicyclists will be liable for:
- Triple the dollar amount of any resulting damages or $1,000, whichever is larger;
- The attorney’s fees of the bicyclist assaulted/harassed; and
- Any additional punitive damages awarded by a judge or jury
LA’s ordinance does not prevent victims (or family members in fatal cases) from pressing criminal charges against a harassing or assaulting driver. It simply provides cyclists with an additional means of defending themselves in cases of assault or harassment.
LA’s ordinance can be viewed here.