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Monday, July 25, 2011

Los Angeles outlaws yelling threats at bicyclists

From USA Today:

Motorists who even threaten a bicyclist by yelling at them could be held as criminals or potentially face a lawsuit before charges are filed under a law being enacted in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles City Council made it a crime to threaten cyclists physically and verbally. Yes, that means you can't even yell at them. If you do, cyclists can sue drivers in civil court -- even before the city files criminal charges, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The state could go further: It's considering a law that could get motorists ticketed if they venture within a 3-foot safety zone for bicyclists.

The L.A. law involving shouted threats or actual violence results from bicycle activists who have loudly complained about abuse from drivers in the nation's automotive mecca. Two bikers crashed as they rode downhill on a popular stretch three years ago when a motorist deliberately slammed on his car's brakes in front of them. He was successfully prosecuted.

The Times cites Census data as saying upward of 13,000 Angelenos commute to work by bicycle, a 48% increase in the past eight years.

L.A. has put huge attention recently on bicycle laws and safety as more take up the sport for trips around town. Like so many things involving bikes, the plan risks a backlash from motorists. Biking has become popular for commuting in many major cities, especially in places such as Seattle, Portland, Ore., San Francisco and New York.

-- Olivia Ouyang and Chris Woodyard/Drive On

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