After a battle with the L.A. Sheriff’s Department that lasted well over a year, I thought that we had finally put to rest the harassment of cyclists on PCH north of Temescal Canyon. Our loose coalition of idealists had a three-pronged attack on the harassing citations that the Deppity Doofuses were writing:
- Outreach and education for the LASD.
- Fight each and every ticket.
- Continue riding in the lane where it’s legal to do so.
Of course we had a few secret weapons up our sleeve. We had Dr. Tomato Stain, our sly expert witness who made himself available for detailed measurements and expert testimony at each of the three trials that we won when the harassing deputies didn’t appear. We had the heft of Eric Bruins and the LA County Bicycle Coalition providing expertise and expert testimony. And most importantly, we had the full support of Greg Seyranian and Big Orange. These riders are the ones who refused to be pushed back into the gutter, and who weekly rode their bikes legally in the lane.
They backed up their willingness to ride in the lane by an equal willingness to take time off of work to fight the bogus citations. The tickets stopped, and I went on to other less pressing concerns, such as work and family and cat videos. Until Monday.
That’s when I learned that we do indeed have another Deppity Doofus with a severe case of citation writus reflexia.
A group of Big Orange riders were cruising north bound on PCH, legally riding 2×2 in the right lane. When they got within about half a mile of Cross Creek, they heard the dreaded beep of a short warning siren. It wasn’t clear that it was for them so they kept moving. Then the angry voice of Deppity Doofus told them to get out of the lane. Confused and frustrated, they began to move to what little shoulder there was. As everyone who’s ever ridden this stretch of road knows, there’s no bike lane and nowhere to put your bike except the lane itself unless you want to charge through the glass, rocks, gravel, used condoms, bongs, used dildos, meth paraphernalia, and other necessities for surfing Malibu that are strewn in the gutter.
Deppity Doofus then called out to to one of the riders, “You in the red jersey, pull over!” Red Jersey Rider had been singled out for two obvious reasons, neither of which was justified. First, he was at the back of the group, and like the wounded gazelle at the rear of the herd he was the first one to be dragged down by the throat by the marauding lion. Second, he was wearing a white jersey with cats wearing red Santa hats, a fashion misstep that some would say justifies every persecution. I however, would not.
All of the riders pulled into the parking lot at Aviator Nation, a place that Harrison Ford frequents in between golf course crash landings. There were a few cyclists who passed by, also in the lane, and who continued up the coast. These scofflaws, who were obviously on the lowest step of the gradual cyclist ladder to violent crime that begins with riding in the lane, were ignored by Deppity Doofus and his assistant, Newbie Nukkelnoggin.
When Doofus and Nukkelnoggin got out of the car, the cyclists asked the officers to explain exactly what they had done wrong, aside from the cats in the Santa hats. Some of the riders videotaped the incident while others looked up the section of the California vehicle code that gives cyclists the right to ride in the traffic lane. They offered up facts and even asked about the “Share the Road” sign that was posted on PCH a few hundred yards south. Doofus, uninterested in law or fact and apparently unable to read, rolled up his window when one of the riders approached his vehicle to show him digital documentation of the CVC code section displayed on his phone.
Another rider pulled up additional information on his phone regarding the right to legally use the traffic lane and handed it to Nukkelnoggin, who, after excessive efforts that involved moving his lips while he read, digested the information. He showed it to Doofus but by now it had become a matter of phallus measuratus, and Doofus wasn’t about to back down even though he was wrong on the law, wrong on the facts, and wrong on just about everything. Nukkelnoggin then informed them that their supervisor was coming to the scene from Calabasas.
A fun day in the saddle was thus transformed into a miserable altercation with deputies so bad at their job that they required backup and supervisory reinforcement to evaluate a traffic citation.
When Deppity Doofus finished writing the citation, he approached Santa Cats and told him to sign it. At this point, things got a little hairy. One of the riders asked why Santa Hats had to sign the citation if he didn’t believe that he had done anything wrong. Doofus became irate and started calling the other cyclist a “jackass” and told one of the riders with a video to “Go ahead and film me, I’m not doing anything wrong.”
As they waited for the supervisor to arrive, reinforcements showed up in the form of another deputy who parked next to the other two. It was obviously either a slow day at Malibu or this dangerous gang of cats-in-Santa-hat-sporting-scofflaws was going to need some serious SWAT backup.
The supervisor finally showed up and he approached the sheriffs first. It didn’t look like Deppity Doofus was pleased. He then began to point his finger at the cyclist who had asked why Santa Hats had to sign the citation. He was livid and the supervisor seemed irritated. When the riders spoke to the supervisor, he was friendly. He shook Santa Hat’s hand and patted him on the back while Doofus and Nukkelnoggin stood quietly and Deppity Reinforcement flanked the group as if he were ready for something to go down, like, you know, in case someone attacked the armed police battalion with a Bonk Breaker or a Gu gel packet.
The supervisor then expounded wrongly on the law, telling the riders that they have the right to take a lane when there’s an obstruction in the bike lane or shoulder, but that they would have to return to the shoulder when said obstruction was gone. Super defined “obstruction” as car doors and other objects. The riders tried to explain the law but he kept saying that there was nothing he could do about it. The ticket had already been written, and he he parted with the sage and helpful advice to “Tell it to the judge.”
On their time, of course.
After an hour and a half, everyone left the scene of this incredibly significant law enforcement incident. The cyclists rode cautiously to Cross Creek then turned around. On the way home, they took the lane because all agreed that their safety was worth more than the price of another citation. They passed the sheriffs on the way home, but Doofus and Nukkelnoggin did nothing, focusing all of their energies on a 12-pack of donuts.
In this instance, the citation was for violation CVC 21208(a), which requires a cyclist to ride in a bike lane when such a lane has been established pursuant to CVC 21207. A quick search of the local roads database shows that this section of road is designated as a Class III Bike Route, otherwise defined as an on-street travel lane shared by bicyclists and other vehicular traffic.
A Class III Bike Route is, of course, a completely different dog from a bike lane established pursuant to CVC 21207. In essence, a Class III Bike Route is a metal sign on the side of the road indicating that there is no bike lane or other separated facility. More importantly for Santa Hats, on its face the citation is void, as Deppity Doofus will be unable to show that there was a bike lane anywhere on PCH, much less at the point where he cited Santa Hats.
In addition to being a wonderful showcase for how ineffective we’ve been at educating the sheriff’s department regarding actual laws, it’s even more disheartening to realize that the ignorance festers at the supervisory level as well despite meetings, encouragement from the captain at the substation, and even ride-alongs with deputies and supervisors to educate them about cyclists’ rights. The behavior of the deputies showed that when push comes to shove, they will push and shove the cyclists rather than back down and admit they are wrong.
Sounds like another case for Dr. Tomato Stain and his crack legal team.
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