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LA City Council Votes to Ban Public Bike Repairs Amid Bicycle Theft Concerns

A blue disfigured bicycle lays on the concrete sidewalk as a passerby walks past it in a blur. The back tire is attached and still locked, however the front wheel appears to have been taken.
A new ordinance approved by the LA City Council would prohibit bicycle repair shops in public spaces.
(Eduardo Munoz
AFP via Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles City Council has given preliminary approval to a ban on bike repairs and sales on sidewalks. The proposed ordinance would prohibit the assembly, disassembly, sale and distribution of bicycles and bike parts on public property.

The ordinance hopes to remedy what it says is increased bicycle theft due to an onslaught of open air bike repair shops.

Councilmember Joe Buscaino says he thinks it'll make it easier for pedestrians to get around and help reduce bike thefts.

"We have seen a proliferation of bike chop shops… informal operations where bikes are disassembled and parts are sold or traded on sidewalks and other public spaces," he said.

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Opponents of the ordinance, which includes the Los Feliz and Atwater Village neighborhood councils, said it'll "risk increasing the harassment and victimization" of cyclists of color and people experiencing homelessness.

"Many unhoused Angelenos rely on bike repair for living," said Matthew Luna, an unhoused person. "Additionally, how are unhoused people supposed to get around?"

Luna said the law is just a means to push unhoused people out of the city.

"I think it’s less about criminalization and more another way to take an inch, forcing a mile to push the unhoused out of the city," he said. "What’s next? Ban recycling?"

Councilmember Nithya Raman recommended other measures to remedy the issue of bike theft.

“Metro stations should have good places where you can lock up your bike and feel safe about it," Raman said. "You can provide additional and better storage opportunities that will allow you to keep your bike in pristine condition, and we can do that across the entire city in a thoughtful way. That would be a good investment in addressing bike theft.”

Only people with a valid permit or business license, as well as individuals getting a single bike repaired would be exempt from the ordinance.

The council's decision wasn't unanimous so it'll come back to the City Council next week for a final vote.

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