Monthly Archives: November 2010

Subject: SMPD Bike Patrol

Letter to the Editor, SMDP

From: Roger Swanson

SMPD Bike Patrol: Sunday Ride at the Beach?

On Sunday, November 14 at 1:35 PM, a friend and I rode behind two members of the SMPD Bike Patrol on the beach bike path south of the Pier. This was my first encounter with the Bike Patrol since moving to Santa Monica 12 years ago. In over 500 rides on the Santa Monica portion of the bike path, this was a first! So, I took some photos with my cellphone camera.
That’s the good news.
Now, the bad: The attached photos show the Bike Patrol completely ignoring the pedestrians on the beach bike path. In the background is a parallel, and separate, pedestrian walkway, the Beach Promenade. One must conclude that the inaction of the Bike Patrol means this portion of the bike path is a shared bikeway where pedestrians are allowed, according to the Santa Monica Municipal Code (Public Safety) 3.12.550 – Bike-path and beach promenade.
OK, shared bikeway.
SM MC 3.12.550 also says: “All persons riding bicycles on the bike-path shall comply with all lawful signs and directional markings, including, but not limited to, painted directional arrows, bike-path route boundaries, and signs designating permissible travel lanes.”
Did I miss the signage and the travel lanes?
Maybe a shared bikeway with poor signage?
On the other hand, if it is a true bike path, then CA Vehicle Code Section 21966 – Pedestrian in Bicycle Lane applies:No pedestrian shall proceed along a bicycle path or lane where there is an adjacent adequate pedestrian facility.” As far as I can tell, there is an adjacent adequate pedestrian facility
So, which is it, 1) shared bikeway with poor signage, or 2) a bike path with pedestrians?

Now the irony: If riding bikes on sidewalks is a public safety issue (and prohibited by SM MC (Public Safety) 3.12.540 – Bicycle riding and coasting restricted), then why are pedestrians on a bike path not a public safety issue? The beach bike path looks like a sidewalk to me.
I really hope the Bike Patrol promoted public safety elsewhere on Sunday.

And here what appears to be the resulting article:
Equal treatment under the law

quote from the article:

“What we’re concerned about is the presence of a double standard, one that cannot stand. If the Santa Monica Police Department is going to be aggressive in ticketing bikers on sidewalks (which it should), officers should be equally vigilant about ticketing pedestrians on the bike path. On our ride we were behind two officers on bikes and watched as they failed to cite or even talk with pedestrians, this despite the fact that the path was packed with peds and their kids, some of whom were left unsupervised to swerve in opposing lanes. This would have been a perfect time to raise awareness that the bike path is for bicycles.

People need to be more responsible and respect the law, and that includes cyclists who fail to stop at stop signs or ride without lights at night. And the police department needs to stop the selective enforcement. City Hall needs to live up to its reputation as being bike and pedestrian friendly. Right now, the bike path is neither.

City Council Meeting Tonight, 1st reading to change sidewalk bicycle riding from a misdemeanor to an infraction

Subject: Ordinance Amending the Santa Monica Municipal Code Relating to Penalties for Violations of Certain Sections of the Municipal Code, and Authorizing Additional Job Classifications to Make Arrests and Issue Citations

Tonight Santa Monica City Council has the first reading of an ordinance to change riding on the sidewalk from a misdemeanor to an infraction.  See text below

*the item is listed as 7b  on the agenda and follows the taxi cab resolution so it won’t be early.

Recommended Action
Staff recommends that the City Council introduce for first reading the attached ordinance authorizing certain violations of the Santa Monica Municipal Code to be prosecuted as either infractions or misdemeanors and authorizing additional job classifications to make arrests and issue citations.

Executive Summary
Unless otherwise specified, any violation of the Santa Monica Municipal Code is a misdemeanor.  This ordinance would allow Santa Monica Police Officers to issue citations as either infractions or misdemeanors for the following violations: 3.12.540 (prohibiting persons from riding bicycles on public sidewalks or in public parking structures); 3.12.370 (prohibiting persons from leaving property or items unattended for longer than ten minutes on certain public property); 3.36.280 (prohibiting persons from being present in public parking structures unless engaged in permitted activities such as parking or unparking a vehicle); or 4.55.130 (relating to the use and enjoyment of the public parks).

City officers and employees occupying specific job classifications are empowered to issue criminal and/or administrative citations to enforce various local laws.  This ordinance would expand the list of job classifications to include: Public Works Inspector, Code Enforcement Officer, Code Compliance Officer, and Office of Sustainability and the Environment Inspector.

Background
The City Council received a complaint from a resident who received a misdemeanor citation for riding his bicycle on a public sidewalk.  The resident was willing to pay the fine for the citation, but felt that the inconvenience of going to court was disproportionate to the violation.  Based on that complaint, Council directed staff to prepare an ordinance modifying the penalty language to allow violations for riding bicycles on public sidewalks to be cited as infractions.

Staff requested input from the Criminal Division of the City Attorney’s Office regarding whether any other sections of the municipal code would be more appropriate as infractions.  Based on their experience in court, the Criminal Division suggested revisions to sections 3.12.370, 3.36.280, and 4.55.130 to enable violations of those sections to be cited as infractions.

Discussion
Currently, Santa Monica Police Officers must issue citations as misdemeanors for any of the above violations.  When a person is charged with a misdemeanor, he or she must appear in court to answer the charges.  The person does not have the option to pay a fine online or by mail, as is the case with traffic violations.

This ordinance would give officers discretion to issue citations as either misdemeanors or infractions.  Treating these violations as infractions will allow the person charged with the offense to resolve the matter in the same way as a traffic violation, by simply paying a fine.  This will eliminate the need for the person charged with the offense to appear in court to resolve the matter.  This will also eliminate the need for the City to appear in court to prosecute the charge as a misdemeanor.

This ordinance further clarifies the enforcement roles of certain City enforcement staff.  It expands the list of persons authorized to issue administrative citations to specifically include Office of Sustainability and the Environment Inspectors, License Inspectors, and Animal Control Officers.  It further clarifies that Code Enforcement Officers and Office of Sustainability and the Environment Inspectors and Traffic Service Officers, among many other City enforcement staff, are authorized to issue criminal citations in appropriate situations.

Financial Impacts & Budget Actions
Staff anticipates that making it easier for people charged with an infraction to simply pay the fine, rather than appear in court, will result in an increase in fines collected; however, the amount of fines that will be collected as a result of this ordinance cannot be estimated at this time.  Staff further anticipates that the City will have reduced costs associated with personnel time required to prosecute misdemeanor charges.

Prepared by: Roger C. Rees, Deputy City Attorney

Santa Monica Bicycle Action Plan,
Community Meeting

Please mark your calendars to attend this important event to help provide the city with essential input for the Bicycle Action Plan.

Santa Monica Spoke will hold an open meeting prior to the December 13th Community Meeting Open House held by the city to discuss priorities in regards to cycling and the Bicycle Action Plan for our city.  This meeting will be held this Sunday, December 5th – 502 Colorado Ave - 5 pm..
Please come by if you would like to share your input or hear what is on the table for discussion.

This December 13th Community Meeting hosted by the city should be considered very important and a first step to gather critical input that will shape the foundation for the City’s Bicycle Action Plan.  Your input will assist them in identifying policies, programs, allocating resources, and considering ordinances that will assist in implementing the LUCE bicycle elements.  This will include ways to assure that new development projects also support cycling.

The format for the meeting will be “open house style”, with stations around the room where participants provide their input.  Also being accepted will be written lists that you can bring with you.  In addition the city is in the process of putting together an online survey that is slated to be ready no later than the Dec.13th.   Information on the survey and the meeting can be found at smgov.net/bikesm

The city has stated that they want to create a strong and progressive Bicycle Action Plan – let’s help them make that happen!!

It is important that the cycling community demonstrate a large showing at this meeting.  It is our opportunity to provide insight based on our experience and expertise as cyclists on the street.  With the holidays upon us we know your schedules are tight, your presence and input are so important to the process, we urge you to attend this important meeting.  If you have any questions please let us know, contact@SMSpoke.org

An invitation from our city’s Senior Transportation Planner, Michelle Glickert.

December 13th, 6:30 – 8:00 pm, Civic Center Auditorium

Bicycling is a critical issue in the City of Santa Monica right now because it helps us achieve goals in many critical areas: sustainable living, greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements, active living, open space/recreation, traffic & parking solutions and accommodating arts, cultural, commercial and civic activities without choking the City on cars.   It is the fastest growing transportation mode for our largest employers, the City’s own pool bicycle fleet is now larger than its auto fleet and interest is growing in cycling not only in Santa Monica, but in the region and the country.

LUCE, the recently adopted Land Use and Circulation Element, includes a future bicycle network with goals, policies, and actions for bicycling.   The Planning and Community Development Department is currently preparing a Bicycle Action Plan, which will set forth an implementation strategy for realizing the LUCE vision for bicycling.  We need your help in prioritizing and identifying programs like bike education, safe routes to school as well local and citywide bicycle improvements that need to be made so that we can create a place where everyone wants to ride and feels comfortable doing it.

Please join us from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday December 13, 2010 at the Civic Center Auditorium east wing for an open house style meeting to discuss bicycling and provide feedback on issues and priorities for the Bicycle Action Plan.  Feedback from this meeting, as well as a public survey, will be incorporated in the Bicycle Action Plan which will be issued next year.  The Civic Center is accessible by Big Blue Bus lines 1,2,3,4, 7, Rapid 7, and 8.  There will be additional bike parking for the event.  Please contact Michelle Glickert for special arrangements or questions 310.458.2204.

Michelle Glickert
Senior Transportation Planner
Transportation Planning
City of Santa Monica
1685 Main St., Rm 115
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2200
310.458.2204

Coming Posts

Back Log of Post Coming

to include:
Accident Statistics for Santa Monicaexplained?
Sidewalk Riding IllegalPolice Harassment or directive from City Council?
Parks & Recreation Bicycle Committee Task forcewhat are their plans, meeting summary
Ocean Park Association budget meetingwhere will the money for bikes come from, meeting summary
Environmental Task Force, Discussion and Recommendations Regarding Bicycle Master Plan – meeting summary
Interview with Paul Leafadvocacy from Santa Monica’s Past
The frugal traveler visits LA by bikeSETH KUGEL, New York Times