Next Best Thing To Being There

Thanks to Illuminate LA’s posting of a complete audio recording of the landmark City Council Transportation Committee’s bike-themed meeting last Friday, I was able to catch up on all that transpired. While it sounds as if forward progress is being made on the whole there was also a share of bureaucratic laterals launched in the form of 60-day continuances to investigate and produce feasibility studies on various topics.

It’s a seemingly never-ending process that’s a necessary aspect of government, but it’s one that rarely fails to wear me out.

Speaking of wearing me out, I was particularly miffed by the LADOT’s Michelle Mowry when commenting on the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights (CBOR) created by members of the Bike Writers Collective, and already endorsed by several neighborhood councils.

Here’s a transcription of what Mowry first had to say about the document (which I might add the representative city attorney’s office present at the meeting demeaned as “a rather long laundry list of matters”):

“All the rights included in the twelve items listed in the Bicyclists’ [sic] Bill of Rights are protected in some way, shape or form already. Some of them are federally protected. Some are state protected.”

Now I know Mowry is a proponent of cycling. I know in her otherwise bureaucratic heart she wants cycling issues in Los Angeles addressed and advanced. But I can’t help but take issue with her first comment that essentially dismisses the rights as being redundant because of certain existing protections. The thing is, her waving of uncited federal and state statutes in such a “been there, done that” way, not only misses the point of the CBOR, it belittles what I believe the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights hopes to achieve.

Mowry may understand there’s legal repetition in the words, but what she isn’t getting is that it’s more than being about the vowels and consonants. It’s about the need in this bike-unfriendly place to assert our rights and have them recognized in a document that is as affirmative as it is symbolic.

It’s not that I don’t care that the United States or California constitutions — or the Ten Commandments for that matter —  might have my rights as a cylist covered under some overarching umbrella. It’s that I care more and can be greater vested in action that can be taken on a local level and that will have a direct impact on an increase of awareness and safety on the streets where I ride.