Laying Down on the Job

Laying Down on the Job
The Santa Monica Easy

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Police Officer and Pedestrians

Thank you to the Santa Monica police officer who, around 1:40pm, Sunday, March 29, 2015, used his police vehicle's bullhorn to tell a cyclist riding on the 11th St. sidewalk (between Broadway and Santa Monica Blvd.) to, "Ride in the bike lane and not the sidewalk!" For those who don't know, it's illegal to ride your bike on Santa Monica city sidewalks. It's legal in Los Angeles city but not Santa Monica (Santa Monica Municipal Code Section 3.12.540).  Also, for those who don't know, I complain about cyclists riding on the sidewalks in Santa Monica all the time.  I'm a pedestrian around Santa Monica, only rarely using my car to drive out of the city. I see dozens of cyclists on the sidewalks every day in my neighborhood and have been knocked down by a few.  I've told many a cyclist that it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk in Santa Monica only to have him/her say, "Sorry" and continue riding.  
This guy kept on riding his bike even though there's a "No Bikes" sign painted on the sidewalk at 2nd and Arizona where this was taken.
I've watched many police officers casually drive past sidewalk cyclists without a glance at the cyclists. Why would a cyclist riding on a sidewalk ever believe it's illegal if the police force ignores them? I saw a police officer stopped in his patrol car at a traffic light while cyclists rode from one sidewalk through the pedestrian throughway to the other sidewalk without so much as a look in the direction of the cyclists.
There's a police officer in his patrol car stopped at the red light (to my right) who didn't do anything about this duo cycling in front of him. 
The local paper, "Santa Monica Daily Press", police blotter feature publishes the occasions when police have stopped sidewalk-riding cyclists in the dark only to find the cyclist in possession of drug paraphernalia or burglary tools and who is often also on parole. The "no sidewalk cycling" seems like a handy way for the police to scoop up parole violators. So, that's good. I'm pretty sure, though, most of the sidewalk cyclists are not in that category.  

Broadway & 11th St.

14th between Colorado & Olympic 
11th St. between Santa Monica Blvd. & Broadway
11th St. between Santa Monica & Broadway
There are lots of cyclists who never ride on the sidewalks but those who do, create a real hazard for pedestrians. We pedestrians only have the sidewalks. We're not allowed to walk in the bike lanes and we have to carefully share the crosswalks with motorized vehicles and bicycles when we need to cross the street -- and sometimes the pedestrian is at risk there too -- especially in crosswalks with no traffic light or sign. The city's pedestrians, many of whom carry groceries/shopping bags, use walkers, canes, crutches, push baby carriages, supervise children, or, like me, walk with their dog(s), share and negotiate the available narrow sidewalk space with runners/joggers and simultaneously navigate broken and wildly uneven sidewalks, skateboarders/skaters/scooters, out-of-control tree roots and driveways blocked by parked cars. If you are a pedestrian with slightly diminished eyesight from, say, glaucoma or cataracts, good luck. 

It's important the police take a pro-active role to encourage perfectly lovely people to ride their bikes lawfully and use the bike lanes. Those of you who choose to ride bicycles, good! Santa Monica has bike lanes marked for you all over the city's streets. You're supposed to obey all traffic laws just as if your were driving a car.  Ride with traffic (not against), signal turns, come to a full stop at stop signs and traffic lights (etc.). If you think Santa Monica traffic is too dangerous to use the bike lanes and are tempted to break the law by cycling on the sidewalks, don't. Walk your bike on the sidewalks until you get to a place in the city where you feel safe in the bike lanes.  Or just leave your bike at home and become a pedestrian.  

Once again, sincere thanks to the police officer who warned a sidewalk-riding cyclist to ride in the bike lane!  If more members of the police force would take the same action more cyclists would understand that Santa Monica is serious about the city's laws, all the laws. More cyclists might obey the law and we pedestrians might just feel it's a little bit safer for us.