Cyclists may be the happiest commuters, but not when they’re getting shit from passing drivers. Flashback to the summer of 2011, when Los Angeles passed an ordinance to make harassing cyclists a civil and suable infraction. Throw a thing at a cyclist and they can take you to court and seek damages — revolutionary!
L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti at the time said, “If L.A. can do it, every city in the country can do it.”
Well, we’re not quite there yet, but in the year and a half since L.A. passed its law, Washington, D.C., and the California cities of Berkeley, Sunnyvale, and Sebastopol have all passed similar ordinances. Healdsburg, Calif., is now considering one, too.
To be fair, Columbia, Mo., was actually the first city to enact an ordinance banning harassment of cyclists in 2009, but it didn’t include the all-important civil infraction bit. L.A.’s law and those modeled after it make it possible for cyclists to take their harassers to civil court, where there is a lower burden of proof.
“The biggest problem with prosecuting bicyclist harassment in the past has been the high level of proof needed in a criminal case — you pretty much needed a police officer to witness the crime in order to get the city attorney to take it to court,” said Chris Kidd, a cycling advocate who worked on the L.A. ordinance.
So, how long until we see a bike harasser takedown on a courtroom reality TV show? I wanna see Judge Judy ream some SUV drivers.