LA City Council Eyes Fines For Bicyclist Harassment

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A second Los Angeles City Council committee went on record on Monday in support of a proposal to make it a civil violation to harass, threaten or assault a bicyclist, and to allow the rider to file for damages.

The council’s Public Safety Committee directed the City Attorney’s Office to draft an ordinance, an action first proposed by Transportation Committee last week.

“This isn’t about a fine,” Deputy City Attorney Judith Reel said. “What this does is it says to a plaintiff who sues: `Here’s what you’re entitled to recover — damages or $1,000, whichever is greater.”‘

Reel said if a bystander or driver were to touch a bicyclist waiting at a stop light, the proposed ordinance would give the rider an opportunity to receive compensation for the violation.

“It may be that there’s no actual monetary damages because thank goodness there was no serious physical injury,” Reel said. “This (proposed ordinance) would establish a minimum amount that a plaintiff could recover.”

Both committees also supported efforts to urge the state Legislature to make it illegal for people to drive a vehicle within three feet of a bicyclist.

In his report to both committees, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said bicyclists have complained that people spit at them; throw liquids and solid objects at them; verbally threaten them; drive too close and cut them off; and honk horns to scare them.

Trutanich said state laws already exist to protect bicyclists from such actions, which can be considered assault, battery and other crimes. He said the California Bicycle Coalition is working with the state Legislature to craft other protections for bicyclists.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

  • MMcK

    How about fines for bicyclist, .

  • Keith S

    this sounds okay by me ASSUMING the bicyclists obey the laws of the road. Most cyclists are fine but over one weekend had two bicyclists perform illegal actions on the road. The issues were: Riding southbound in a northbound lane and pedaling across an east-west sidewalk and suddenly turn south into a pedestrian cross walk with no signal and not walking the bike across as I thought they had to. Sadly, we will have to deal with the fact that a small percentage of bicyclists are probably looking for some way to abuse the privilege in order to collect an easy $1,000 as this is being reported.

  • Bob

    This is amazing. When did the LA City council get the wool pulled over their eyes. I’m not saying that such things have not happened, but where are the rules protecting the pedestrians and motorists from these out of control bikers. They routinely run through red lights and stops signs, cut off pedestrians, and red hap hazard in all lanes of traffic. They ride in huge groups and act like thugs to anyone who dares ask them to obey the rules of the road. They even have our police department scared to act to enforce the vehicle code. this is a shame.

  • Luis

    Bob, you’re going down a slippery slope my friend and I will not join.

  • Brent

    As a cyclist who rides every day (and rarely drives), I’m happy to see the City Council considering these matters. However, I would also be happy to see ticketing of cyclists for running stop signs and red lights. While some consideration should be given to cyclists for not following certain traffic laws (such as using crosswalks to make left turns in heavy traffic, rather than trying to cut across the traffic to make a proper left turn), there’s no excuse whatsoever for running lights and stop signs.

  • Oncle Willie

    Brilliant idea. Create a new class of victim that can recover despite no injury or damage occurring simply because they are on a bicycle. So if I honk my horn at a bicyclist who is riding irresponsibly, that bicycle rider can recover damages from me for scaring him? Another good reason to spend my dollars anywhere but Los Angeles. Why would I want to drive in that city when my pocket book can be assaulted by tort happy bicyclists?

  • Robear in Ojai

    As long as there is a quid-pro-quo. Too many bicyclists are arrogant a**h***s who flaunt their disrespect of traffic law, don’t stop at stop signs or even red lights, or ride squarely in car lanes. Stupidity spares no one, even bicyclists…

  • Robert

    Are you kidding me!!! All anyone has to do is go to YouTube and type Critical Mass Los Angeles and see the chaos, havoc, danger these bicyclists pose on our streets. They kick in car doors, mow down pedistrians and blow through red lights, hijack intersections to do their dumb chant. We is the protection for US. This is typical of the failures on city council not to protect the overwhemling majority of people in LA just read the blogs who are against these clowns taking to our streets

  • Ernest Mack

    I like the message this sends to rude motorists who think that cyclists do not have the right to shade the road as well.

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