Letter to the editor
Posted October 28, 2010 at 9:16 pm in Opinion
Controversy hits high gear
A few days ago I was biking from my home on Ellendale Place to class. As a student that is well aware of Â â but has not received â the infamous $300 tickets the Los Angeles Police Department gives out on the corner of Jefferson and McClintock Avenue for riding bicycles against traffic or through the crosswalk during red lights when pedestrians are crossing, I generally try to do things the right way.
As such, I was offended and appalled at the baseless and harassing âtraffic stopâ made by Department of Public Safety Officer Johnathan Clayton as I crossed Jefferson Boulevard onto campus earlier in the week.
When crossing Jefferson on my approach from Hoover Street, I specifically waited for a green light to the traffic on Hoover before riding my bicycle across the street with traffic, rather than risking an outrageous ticket by riding my bike through the crosswalk with the pedestrian signals.
As I was riding my bicycle across the street with traffic, a DPS vehicle pulled up next to me, and to my surprise, an officer yelled something to the effect of, âWhat do you think youâre doing? Meet me at the stop sign in front of the Lyon Center.â
When I met the officer at this stop sign he proceeded to tell me that, pursuant to California Vehicle Code, what I did was illegal because I biked across the street while the âred handâ pedestrian signal was displayed. At this intersection, a âred handâ pedestrian signal is always displayed when there is a green light to traffic on Hoover.
I respectfully attempted to explain to the officer that under California Vehicle Code a bicycle is considered a vehicle, has all the rights of a vehicle, and that I was biking with traffic and following the green light â a vehicle signal (California Vehicle Code 21200).
To this the officer said that, because the bicycle lane ends at that intersection, a bicyclist could no longer cross the street along with traffic.
Not only is this completely contrary to Code 21200, but the statement also is in direct opposition to 21208, which states that when a bicycle lane has been established, a bicycle is explicitly permitted to move out of the bicycle lane when approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
Thus, in my situation, I was not only not prohibited from, but explicitly authorized by California Vehicle Code to ride my bicycle in the lane with automobile traffic.
After being harassed by Clayton for approximately 10 minutes into finally stating that I agreed with his skewed understanding of California Vehicle Code. I wanted to get on with my life and avoid having to spend time and energy defending myself against the $300 ticket he threatened to write (even though I was confident I would win) the final part of this interaction was the icing on the cake.
He actually encouraged me to break the law by telling me to next time wait for the pedestrian signal and bike through the crosswalk with it â but just to be careful, because LAPD will hand out a $300 ticket, even though DPS will not.
DPS and Officer Clayton, I realize you might have the best intentions, but good intentions are no excuse for the continued harassment and unfounded stops of bicyclists by DPS officers on and around campus.
With the sheer volume of bicycles at USC, it seems well past due for DPS to thoroughly train its officers on California Vehicle Code as it relates to bicycles.
Senior, business administration