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LA’s Got a Cycling Movement!

July 4th’s 300 person Holiday Ride ended badly for the 2 cyclists taken out by a road ragin’ motorist who objected to their presence on Mandeville Canyon and cut them off, slamming on his brakes and causing one cyclist to careen through the air crashing to the road in front of the car while the other cyclist crashed into the car putting his head through the back window.

Within hours of the incident, the cycling community had mobilized and rumors were chased down and the cyclists were located. (They had been transported to two different hospitals) Press access to the Police and Fire Departments was used to confirm information on the incident and the status of the driver, the cyclists and the investigation.

Press contacts were made but it was a holiday weekend. Fireworks were exploding in the air, gas prices hit a high and the death toll on our roads included a fiery crash, all stories that captured the headlines.

Through it all, a small crew of cyclists put their viral marketing skills to work, employing the same techniques and relationships and strategies that are used to promote rides, turn out the masses for “Storm the Bastille” political actions or put the spotlight on the all too frequent injustices and inequities that are part of the landscape of LA’s urban environment.

On Monday Morning, the story hit LAist complete with pictures supplied by the downed cyclists. As the City slowly returned to work, emails were waiting and the phones were ringing.

The Police Department at this point had only confirmed that there would be an investigation and that Westside Traffic would handle it if it was determined to be a traffic violation and that WestLA would handle it if it was determined to be a criminal case. This was hardly the resolve that the cyclists were looking for.

By noon, the LAist article was getting sent around the City. Calls were in to Council offices and the Mayor’s office and by midafternoon the incident was back in the spotlight.

News Crews were clamoring to get the pictures, the contact info for the cyclists, background on cycling in LA and were on the street in Mandeville talking to the neighbors.

Councilmember Rosendahl’s office jumped into the fray and his Chief of Staff began posting online, informing the public that the Council Office was monitoring the situation and would keep the public informed.

Captain Eaton of WestLA went public saying that he believed the incident was a case of road rage and that an arrest had been made and that it was being handled as a criminal assault.

The cyclists continued, calling and emailing and pushing the story. By Monday evening local TV stations were elbowing each other out of the way to interview the cyclists. The story went on the air on Channel 4, Channel 7 and Channel 9.

The original LAist story was picked up by SoCalCycling, StreetsBlog, the LAtimes’ Bottleneck Blog, the LATimes’ LANow and other blogs and now included additional photos of the aftermath of the accident including a graphic image of the Red Infinity with the broken back window and Ron Peterson’s blood all over the trunk.

LAist shut down the comment section of the article after readers repeatedly posted the motorist’s personal information. There was concern that such postings might serve as the catalyst for “vigilante” behavior.

By Tuesday morning the LATimes was fully in the mix and the investigation continued, the details of the story were enhanced as witnesses were located and what could have been simply another tragic road rage incident had now blown up and demanded attention.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl was interviewed on Channel 7 and refers to the need for the “Cyclists’ Bill of Rights.”

The LATimes story hits in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. It mentions Bill Rosendahl and concludes with him quoting from the BWC’s Cyclists’ Bill of Rights saying “Cyclists have the right to travel safely and free of fear.”

This incident is far from resolved. For the cyclists, the physical therapy and healing will take a long time. For the motorist, the legal situation looks to be a long and difficult journey.

For the cycling community, this incident has served to reinforce the fact that this is a movement, complete with a message, a network and an informal machine that is ready to spring into action with press, publicists, legal assistance, political heat and mainstream access to the media.

Here are the links to various posts on-line:

KFI 640: Doctor Allegedly Caused Bike Wreck

LAist: Road Rage Motorist vs. Cyclists on Mandeville Canyon Road (also posted on www.carsversusbikes.wordpress.com)

LAist: Mandeville Canyon Motorist Vs. Bicycle Incident Deemed ‘Road Rage’

LAist: Councilman Calls for ‘ Cyclists’ Bill of Rights’

LA Times: Conflict between bicyclists, motorists boils over in Brentwood

LA Times: Felony assault charges possible in car vs. bike road rage

LA Times Bottleneck: LAPD arrests motorist after bike crash

Daily Breeze: Doctor allegedly rams car into cyclists

KTLA: Cops: E.R. Doc Rams Cyclists in Road Rage Attack

Outdoor Urbanite: Bikers Beware on Mandeville Canyon Road

Ridiculously Persnickety: Doctor intentionally assaults cyclists with car

Derkeiler.com: ER Doc Arrested in Road Rage – Caused 2 Cyclists to Crash

Bentrider Forum: Road Rage Against L.A. Cyclists

See you on the Streets!


3 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Ben #
    1

    Nice wrapup of the situation. How about some links to the articles you mentioned?

  2. 2

    Good point, Ben. I posted a bunch of links into the article. :-)

  3. 3

    LATimes – Comment section to the July 9, 2008 article – Opinions expressed by people who were not defending the cyclists. The following is a list of opinions expressed and how often:

    Cyclists break the law (27)
    Cyclists are arrogant, have feelings of entitlement (27)
    Cyclists should not be on the road; the road is for vehicles only (23)
    Cyclists shouldn’t ride two abreast; should always ride single file (18)
    Cyclists are not part of traffic (16)
    Cyclists don’t give cars enough room to pass (15)
    Cyclists shouldn’t be in the street because it is dangerous (13)
    If a vehicle/bike altercation happens, the cyclist must be at fault in some way (12)
    It is against the law to ride two-abreast (9)
    Cyclists must always ride to right and not in the lane (9)
    Cyclists incite harassment fromn vehicles by not following the law (8)
    Recreational use of the roads by cyclists should not be allowed (6)
    Cyclists should only use streets that aren’t busy or dangerous (5)
    Cyclists have bad manners and shouldn’t incite bad vehicular behavior (4)
    Cyclists shouldn’t be on road because they don’t pay for them (3)
    Cyclists should be licensed/insured (3)
    Cyclists should not have a right to the road if they do not follow the laws (2)
    Doesn’t matter what vehicular law is; nobody drives that way anyhow (1)
    Who cares what rights cyclists have under the law (1)
    Cars are bigger and therefore have more rights (1)


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