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Bicyclists in Los Angeles.
This week, the Los Angeles City Council approved a new ordinance with tough measures against drivers who harass bicyclists. It prohibits motorists from distracting, threatening or assaulting cyclists. Moreover, it awards a minimum liability of $1,000, even in the absence of damages, plus lawyer fees for successful complainants. However, if the driver wins the case, the ordinance does not provide for his or her legal fees. According the Los Angeles Times, the president of the League of American Bicyclists, Andy Clarke, said no other city offers bicyclists an equivalent civil recourse. "It's a groundbreaking move," he said. But does it go too far? Does it create too much incentive for cyclists and their lawyers to pursue frivolous cases? Or is a strong correction on car culture necessary? What do you consider harassing or distracting behavior on the road?
Bill Rosendahl, Los Angeles City Councilman, District 11; author of ordinance
Eugene Volokh, Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law