LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District, and co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn on addressing the injustices exposed by the Los Angeles Times analysis which revealed that out of more than 44,000 bike stops made by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) since 2017, 70% involved Latino bicyclists.
“I am deeply concerned that despite talk of reform, more training, and better policies, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has not addressed the systemic issues of biased policing. In fact, it’s only become more pronounced, including in the simple and free act of riding a bicycle,” shared Chair Solis. “Bicyclists sometimes operate their bikes on the sidewalks because they feel unsafe competing for road space with cars, especially when bike lanes are nonexistent. Unfortunately, that practice is currently prohibited under Los Angeles County Code, and that provision was used by the Sheriff’s Department as the reason to stop bicyclists 8% of the time. The County’s Vision Zero Action Plan proposes revising our Code to legalize the operation of bicycles on sidewalks. This proposal is low-hanging fruit that will begin addressing the injustices exposed by the Los Angeles Times’ analysis. Biking to work, to run errands, or to school should not be a crime. Instead, residents should have the privilege to use their bicycle without fear of profiling.”
According to the Los Angeles Times’ analysis, the stops have been used by the LASD as a tool to “fight crime.” However, searches conducted during these stops resulted in finding illegal items just 8 percent of the time and seizing weapons less than 0.5 percent of the time. These bike stops also occurred at greater rates in communities of color such as unincorporated East Los Angeles than in more affluent neighborhoods throughout the County.
In 2020, the Board of Supervisors adopted a Vision Zero Action Plan that seeks to reduce traffic fatalities on unincorporated roadways to zero by 2025. To reach that goal, the Plan proposes a number of engineering, education, and enforcement strategies that make travel safer on County roads without disproportionately burdening certain populations. Of those strategies, there are several related to law enforcement, including a recommendation to legalize the operation of bicycles on sidewalks.
“The reporting by the LA Times shows that the law against riding bicycles on sidewalks is being exploited by law enforcement to stop and search cyclists, primarily Latinos,” shared Supervisor Hahn. “That is unacceptable and now we need to change the law. Where there are no bike lanes, we should not punish people for riding their bikes on the sidewalk and making a choice to keep them safe.”
The motion approved today instructs the Director of Public Health to collaborate with Public Works, Sheriff’s Department, County Counsel, California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County Development Authority, and the Los Angeles County Superior Court to immediately implement Recommendation B-2 included in the Vision Zero Action Plan to identify process and partners for establishing a diversion program for persons cited for infractions related to walking and bicycling. The motion also directs staff to report back with proposed ordinance language to allow the operation of bicycles on sidewalks and recommended modifications to County Code to further align the Code with the County’s Anti-Racist and Vision Zero policies.
The motion further instructs relevant County departments to identify any other recommendations included in the Vision Zero Action Plan that should be implemented in partnership with community stakeholders to further decriminalize and enable the use of non-vehicular and alternative modes of transportation in unincorporated communities. Additionally, the motion instructs the Director of Public Health, in consultation with the Chief Executive Office and relevant County departments, to develop cost estimates and identify funding needs and potential opportunities to support the implementation of these Vision Zero recommendations — and report back with an update on the above directives.
To view the full motion, click here.