Ride Free, Free Like the Wind!


I love L.A. more than Randy Newman, but this week's cold and rain combined with this grim report on the state of two-wheels-good liberty in my hometown makes me question my allegiance.

From the L.A. Weekly, here's the grim axle on which injustice rotates in the city of angels:

Until recently, Los Angeles Municipal Code 26.01 was little known. But then in August, the police department began to enforce its central tenet: All cyclists shall ride licensed bicycles; those who do not will be cited and fined. Upon learning of the LAPD's accelerated enforcement, the city's cyclists flooded bike blogs with outrage, saying that the code was "ridiculous," designed "ultimately to prevent bikes in our car-obsessed city … for harassing cyclists."

The story goes on to tell of a particular bike-rights advocate bringing his complaint before the city's Transportation Committee. He had been ticketed under 26.01, and

fined in the amount of $160, payable only in person at the Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse…the ticket cannot be corrected with an online payment [and] only two stations in the entire city are authorized to sell bike licenses (Central Station, near Skid Row, and the Department of Public Safety, near USC), and only on certain days (Tuesday and Thursday), and only at certain times (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.). Bike licenses are not available online (as one bike blogger pointed out, even bingo halls can be licensed on the Internet), and many of the officers at the eligible stations are "reluctant to find the bike-license box" and "don't even know what's going on."

Some bikers are planning a campaign of civil obedience to make the city think twice, involving

large coordinated excursions on successive Tuesdays and Thursdays to the LAPD's Central Station — swamped as it is with reports of rape, theft and narcotics crimes — for riders to register their bicycles and purchase a license … for $3. Said one participant: "The watch commander had to work pretty hard not to be pissed off that we were taking up his time with this petty B.S."

A libertarian for over 20 years, and I can still get shocked by some of the incredibly petty things about which government's can claim the right to regulate and license. Thank you, L.A., for restoring that old fashioned sense of wonder–wonder at what goofass petty tyrants governments can be.