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.
Planned improvements include new sidewalks, signalized pedestrian crossings, street furniture, landscaped medians, road and drainage improvements, as well as solar powered lighting, public art installations and protected bike lanes (aka cycletracks).
10/9 – CicLAvia!!! – 10-3pm
After taking the summer off, CicLAvia is back and set to be bigger and better than ever!!! The event’s third itineration includes two new spurs, one into south Los Angeles and another Chinatown, as well as an extension further into Boyle Heights.
The WSGVBC will be hosting a feeder rider along the Arroyo Seco Bike Path to Chinatown. Meet by the entrance of South Pasadena Public Library (1100 Oxley St.) at 9am.
For more info, or to see a map of the new and improved route, see the new CicLAvia website.
10/17 – October Coalition Meeting – 6:30-8:30pm – Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce
The next WSGVBC coalition meeting will be held on Monday October 17th. The historic El Encanto building, now home to the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce, will play host to this month’s meeting. Come enjoy this beautifully restored Spanish revival while discussing our latest plans and efforts to make the WSGV more bike-friendly! RSVP encouraged.
What: West San Gabriel Bike Coalition Meeting
When: Monday October 17th, 6:30-8:30pm
Where: El Encanto, Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce, 700 El Mercado Ave., Monterey Park
10/22 – MAKE A DIFFERENCE DAY – Emerald Necklace Cleanup Ride – 9am-12pm
As part of national Make a Difference Day, the WSGVBC will be hosting a cleanup ride along the Rio Hondo/San Gabriel River Bike Path. Riders of all ages and abilities are welcome to join us. Come make a difference with us, and:
- enjoy the beautiful fall weather
- get some much needed exercise
- make the Emerald Necklace shinier than ever
Riders will meet at Lashbrook Park in the City of El Monte (3141 Lashbrook Ave, El Monte 91733) for park cleanup and ride along the Rio Hondo Bike Trail.
10/22 – City of Alhambra Community Forum – 10am-2pm
“The City of Alhambra wants to Know: How do YOU Envision Alhambra?” Alhambra Council Member Gary Yamauchi will host a community open house from 10am-2pm on October 22nd to solicit feedback from the public on transportation, land-use, housing, parks and recreation, and public services issues as the City looks to update the General Plan. The meeting will be an excellent opportunity to discuss safety issues facing pedestrians and cyclists in Alhambra. The meeting will be held at Almansor Park Gym. For more information, check out the City’s event flyer.
At a relatively well-attended 1pm press conference on Tuesday, South Pasadena city staff and elected officials unveiled the City’s recently adopted bike plan. Due to rain earlier in the morning the planned installation of the plan’s first bike lanes along El Centro St. had to be postponed until later in the week when road conditions should be drier.
Outgoing Council Member David SiFuentes, who championed updated plan and helped shepherd its development over the past several years, highlighted how its passage was the first step towards realizing a cohesive network of bike infrastructure in the City that will allow residents of all ages to get around town without the use of a car. Council Member SiFuentes also noted how the plan is the latest example of the Council’s commitment to improving the health and well-being of residents, following smoke-free policies that were recently adopted to address public exposure to tobacco smoke in public places and multi-unit residential housing.
Following comments from Council Member SiFuentes, a police spokeperson outlined the department’s efforts to educate local children, cyclists and members of the public about the rules of the road and safety laws, notably the state’s helmet law for minors. Local children who cannot afford a helmet will be able to pick one up free of charge. For more information please contact the South Pasadena Police Department at (626) 403-7270.
South Pasadena Mayor Mike Ten was also on hand to document the occasion and speak with members of the public. In July the Mayor joined colleagues Michael Cacciotti, Dr. Richard Schneider, and Philip Putnam in unanimously adopting the plan, which took over two years to develop with the input of the public.
A Deadly Week for Pasadena Cyclists Underlines Need for Better Infrastructure, Greater AccountabilityPosted: October 1, 2011
Motorists killed two cyclists and injured a third in Pasadena last week. Two of the incidents were hit-and-runs, the third labeled an “accident.” Yet a car crash is never an accident. There’s always a cause. And it’s often preventable.
Speed plays a key role in most fatal collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists. According to Britain’s Department of Transportation, a driver whose vehicle strikes a pedestrian at 30mph has a 45% chance of killing them. At 40mph the chance of death jumps to about 85%. At 50+ mph a pedestrian has less than a 5% chance of survival.
Given the stakes, we as a community must take steps to calm traffic and hold drivers accountable. Too often only the most egregious cases involving drunk driving and/or hit-and-run result in criminal charges for drivers that kill or seriously injure pedestrians. Although still under investigation, the recent crashes in Pasadena are emblematic of this troubling trend. One driver who stopped after striking a cyclist has already been exonerated, despite his failure to yield.
How we as a society understand these tragedies also needs to change. In most cases we fail to correctly assign blame when ultimately it’s the driver’s fault, not the car’s. Like guns, cars can easily kill if misused. That’s why drivers of larger, inherently more dangerous vehicles are held to a higher standard in other countries when they are involved in collisions. It’s a system that’s only fair when an “accident” that doesn’t at all injure one party, far too often costs another their life.
We can also help prevent accidents in the first place by working to safely accommodate all road users. At present Pasadena’s streets, like most in Southern California, lack dedicated bike lanes and similar infrastructure. In Pasadena, cross town routes tend to be thoroughfares with wide lanes that encourage high speeds. In other communities, we’ve seen how road diets, protected bike lanes, and subtle changes to lane size can dramatically improve safety for all road users. Traffic engineers and city leaders should see our streets as a way to move people efficiently, not just cars, no matter their choice of transportation.
Make no mistake: changes like these take time, resources and political will. But pedestrian and cyclist safety must be made a priority, especially in light of last week’s deaths, only the latest in a rash of needless tragedies on our streets. Otherwise, such deaths will continue to be the collateral damage of our car-centric society. In the meantime those who travel our streets by bike will continue to place their safety and welfare in the hands of motorists on the roads we all must share. There’s only so much a helmet can do against thousands of pounds of metal. It’s never a fair fight, and one we should do our best to prevent.
Local musician, actor and cyclist Alan Deane tragically passed away on Thursday September 22nd – his birthday – after being struck by a car while riding across Terrace St. on Colorado Blvd. Alan was an accomplished guitarist and a regular at local community bike events, including the first official WSGVBC Emerald Necklace ride in July. Needless to say, he will be sorely missed.
Alan was also the second cyclist to be killed in Pasadena in less than a week – two days prior Jocelyn Young was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding home to Alhambra on Los Robles south of Cordova – highlighting the dangers facing cyclists in even one of the San Gabriel Valley’s most bike-friendly communities.
Although the exact circumstances of both fatal accidents are still being investigated, the need for safe bike infrastructure is clear, especially in the City’s central business districts where both of the accidents occurred. As a recent article in the Economist magazine highlights, cycling in the United States is significantly more dangerous than in countries that have made the development of safe bike infrastructure a priority.
During his induction speech Wednesday evening Mayor of Monterey Park David Lau stated that he would “update and activate the Bicycle Access Plan adopted in 1975” during his 9.5 month term.
The City’s new Mayor, who is taking the reins from Council Member Betty Tom Chu, also highlighted that he will “work with the City Council, staff and the community to explore the possibility of installing bike lanes throughout the City to provide easy bike access for cyclists, students and seniors.”
“Cycling helps us to save energy, promote health, and provide us with the least expensive means of transportation within the City.”
As previously discussed, the South Pasadena City Council formally considered bicycle and pedestrian improvements to Monterey Rd on its September 7th agenda, as well as a possible anti-harassment ordinance. Due to a full plate the Council only got to the former before the 11pm cutoff point for agenda items. This means that the anti-harassment ordinance will be pushed off to the next Council meeting.
In addition to considering potential bike improvements for Monterey Rd. in the Bike Plan, the City was also interested in bringing the sidewalks up to Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] standards. The Council had started with the idea of fixing all the potholes on Monterey Rd. and had the foresight to realize if they were going to temporarily disrupt things, they might as well consider making major improvements since projects on that scale only get done every other decade or so. The sidewalks were narrowed in the ’70s and consequently it’s difficult for able-bodied pedestrians to get by, much less anyone using a wheelchair.
Several members of the public stuck around until 11pm to comment on this agenda item. Most were in favor of bringing the sidewalk up to ADA standards and adding a bike lane. A number were specifically in favor of a bike lane separated by a small median as they felt a painted bike lane wouldn’t be protective enough. Some highlighted the need to encourage South Pasadena school children to cycle to school but were afraid no parent would let their child ride if they didn’t have the protection of a bike lane separated by a median (or “cycletrack”). Speakers were also in favor of calming the street to deter speeding and cut down on accidents (a number of residents have suffered from hit-and-runs involving their cars parked on Monterey). They felt that a road diet would complement the small town quality of life that is valued in South Pasadena.
One resident spoke against any change whatsoever because she was worried her disabled husband would no longer be able to park directly in front of their residence on Monterey Rd. One resident spoke against change because he feels that the road carries a lot of traffic, people would never change their driving habits to accommodate a changed road, and motorists far outnumber cyclists and should therefore carry the day.
One South Pasadena resident spoke in favor of the aims of the project but worried that it would be mishandled as many feel the major Fair Oaks construction project has been. She wanted some assurance that this would be designed and executed better. The Council responded that they would get a citizen advisory committee together to work with the Council. (It was unclear whether this committee would be comprised only of Monterey Rd. residents or whether it would be open to any South Pasadena resident.)
Wesley Reutimann of WSGVBC spoke in favor of the”road diet” option which would not only make things safer for cyclists, but for motorists by providing a center lane for left turns. He mentioned the CA Complete Streets Act , the draft South Pasadena Bicycle Master Plan, and the need for a holistic approach to transportation. He recommended they consult with road engineers and conduct traffic counts to get a clearer picture of just how much a road diet could help get a handle on the speeding that happens on the 4 lane stretch of Monterey Rd.
Megan Lynch of WSGVBC and South Pasadena resident spoke in favor of widening the sidewalks to make them ADA compliant. However, she urged the Council not to use the proposed flare-out solution as that would create a wavy sidewalk that could encourage cyclists to ride in and out of traffic rather an in a straight line, placing them at additional risk. She also spoke in favor of the road diet, feeling that a road that accommodates pedestrians and cyclists better would slow down speeders, make the road safer for all.
After a lengthy discussion that covered everything from the history of Monterey Rd. to cycling infrastructure in China, the Council unanimously passed a motion to do the following:
- Monterey Rd form the Western City limits to the Monterey Rd/Pasadena Ave intersection (aka the Gold Line crossing area) – develop a Class II Bike Lane as proposed in Bike Plan
- Monterey from Fair Oaks to Garfield – develop a Class III Bike Route with sharrows
- The middle, 4-lane section (ADA Improvement corridor)
- Label recommended road treatment for this section as “pending” in the Bike Plan
- Form an Ad Hoc Committee composed of local residents to help the City Council study all the options, including traditional Class II Bike Lanes to protected bike lanes/cycletracks and even protected contra bike lanes
- Conduct traffic studies along the corridor and adjacent streets to help determine what impact a “road diet” would have on traffic
With this decision made, staff will now be able to finalize the Bike Master Plan and submit it to Metro and Caltrans for approval. In the meantime WSGVBC members will continue to follow the process as it moves forward, in particular the work of the Ad Hoc Committee.