LAPD Cruiser Parks In Protected Bike Lane Downtown Hours After It Opens
Gerry Egbalic was riding his bike through downtown around 8:45 p.m. Thursday night, using the brand spankin' new protected bike lane on Los Angeles Street, when his ride came to an abrupt halt: there was a cop car parked in the way.
The L.A. Department of Transportation began sprucing up this particular protected bike lane, which connects Union Station with First Street, in April: a victory for cyclists and bike safety advocates across the city. In fact, yesterday was the bike lane's official opening day: it was honored with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebratory cruise.
But just hours later, Egbalic said that his ride was halted thanks to the (illegal!) presence of a cop car parked in the middle of the lane. He says he "had to stop and let the cars pass me before I [could] swerve around the cop car." Doesn't sound likee such a parking job was embodying the 'protection' of a citizen of Los Angeles from busy traffic.
According to California Vehicle Code 21211, parking in a bike lane—at least for us plebes—can result in a $50.00 fine.
A spokesperson from LAPD's Media Relations department tells LAist that justification for an officer parking in the bike lane "all depends the situation," and that if an officer has been found to be taking advantage of the vehicle's...prestige...they might face disciplinary consequences, which means "less police officers out in public."
This is, obviously, not the first time a patrol car has been parked in a bike lane in Los Angeles (or elsewhere! There's an entire Tumblr dedicated to sharing photos of NYPD parking in bike lanes). In 2012, Streetsblog L.A. post, LAPD Sgt. David Krumer wrote some advice on action to take if you do see a car parked in the bike line:
Unless an officer is responding to an emergency or a call for service where officer safety requires unconventional parking, an officer is required to operate and park his/her vehicle in accordance with all laws. They can not block a lane (bike lane) or otherwise park illegally out of mere convenience.
I would recommend that if someone sees an officer parked in the bike lane to write down the number of the car (located on the upper left hand corner of the trunk and under the City seal on the doors), the date and the time of the observation. A photo would be helpful as well. Also on the trunk itself is a large number that corresponds to a division of assignment.
Krumer also said you could contact the watch commander for the division in which the car was parked, or, if the car happens to be parked by a police station, you can just go inside and speak to a supervisor, who will handle a report and whatever possible "negative consequences" there might be.
"There is always the possibility of a parking ticket, an internal complaint, or worse, a cyclist is injured as a result of a traffic collision from having to move from the bike lane to the traffic lane," Krumer continued. [emphasis ours]
We've already covered too many stories about cyclists being run off the road, or fatally struck, by aggressive drivers in this last year alone. It'd be nice to see the LAPD advocating for protection for cyclists with their own actions, too.
"I felt like LAPD doesn't respect the bike lanes, like they're always above the law," Egbalic said. "It makes it harder to make the general public take cyclists seriously."