Cycling safety is a common concern for people in the Los Angeles area, as many people rely on bicycles as one of their primary forms of transportation. Despite rules that require sharing the road, motor vehicles often endanger those on bicycles.
In theory, traffic laws serve to help reduce crash risk and promote public safety. However, police officers have a tendency to engage in very pedantic enforcement efforts that prioritize issuing tickets rather than promoting public safety. Some cycling safety advocates have begun advocating for decriminalization measures that they claim would help protect cyclists.
What do activists suggest changing?
Those concerned about safety and how the police focus their efforts on California roads have drawn attention to how the act of enforcing traffic laws against cyclists might actually lead to increased risk for them and others. There are multiple law changes proposed that could theoretically help reduce policing focus on minor traffic infractions and potentially improve cyclist safety in some areas. One proposed bill would prevent officers from searching individuals without suspicion of criminal activity.
Another allows for bicycles to use sidewalks on streets that do not have special bikeways. Still another proposes the elimination of bench warrants issued for minor traffic infractions. Should these bills move through the legislature and become law, the changes that they will create could potentially lead to fewer police enforcement efforts targeting cyclists on Los Angeles streets.
How these rules could help
The ability to lawfully bike on a sidewalk could potentially save someone’s life, as trying to ride a bicycle on streets without a bikeway may put someone in very close proximity to inattentive and dangerous motorists. Fewer enforcement efforts can also overall increase safety by limiting the cycling traffic stops where they must wait by the side of a road while an officer issues a ticket.
Additionally, minor changes in the law could reduce the likelihood of cyclists facing claims that they are partially responsible for the crashes that they experience because of minor traffic infractions on their bicycles. For many reasons, complying with state law and also tracking changes that could improve cyclist safety can benefit those who routinely go out for bike rides in the Los Angeles area.