More Rights for Bike Riders Approved by LA City Council

On Wednesday the LA City Council approved a landmark ordinance aimed at giving bicyclists greater protection from harassment and assault by drivers and others.

LA City Councilman Bill Rosendahl recently learned how to ride a bicycle, which came in handy on Wednesday when a group of bicyclists rode to City Hall to support Rosendahl and the new law he helped sponsor.

The "Prohibition Against Harassment of Bicyclists" makes it illegal to harass bicyclists and allows them to sue aggressive drivers in court.

The council passed it unanimously.

"The car culture is over," said Rosendahl.

Bicyclists have been more worried about their safety ever since a Brentwood doctor was convicted of seriously wounding two cyclists by intentionally hitting them with his car in 2008.

And Tuesday night a bicyclist was killed in downtown Los Angeles in an apparent case of road rage between two motorists.

That's the kind of danger cyclists told the council they face every day without recourse.

"One evening I was riding my bike down La Brea Avenue, and a passenger leaned out of their car window and tried to push me over," one bicyclist told the council.

"A driver was driving really close to me and actually hit my elbow and I wobbled a little and almost fell off my bike," said another.

Cyclists insist the new law won't lead to a flurry of lawsuits against drivers. They say most of them are willing to share the road.

They want to send a message to drivers like the one who last year who cut off LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Villaraigosa fell off his bike and injured his elbow.

"I don't consider myself a cyclist, I consider myself a human. We're all kind of tying to share a society, a world, a road," says Ingrid Peterson, bicyclist.

But it is still yet to be proven if this new law can force a more peaceful co-existence, since more bicyclists share the road every day.

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