THIRD STREET PROMENADE — For the first time in Santa Monica someone plead guilty to assault with a deadly weapon after seriously wounding a pedestrian last year while recklessly cycling near the bustling Third Street Promenade, police said.
Rocky Martin, a 38-year-old Los Angeles resident, was sentenced to three years formal felony probation and 30 days of community service on May 31 for striking a female pedestrian with his bike on June 24, 2012 after failing to stop at a red light while heading eastbound on Santa Monica Boulevard at the Third Street Promenade.
The 32-year-old woman sustained serious head and neck injuries and was admitted into intensive care, said Santa Monica Police Department spokesman Sgt. Richard Lewis.
Cynthia Rose, director of Santa Monica Spoke the local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, considered the incident and its legal consequences as exemplary of the need for greater caution on the roads.
“If [cyclists] want the same respect, they need to follow the same rules,” Rose said.
Lewis said people often call police to complain that the SMPD does not give citations to cyclists. However, an SMPD press release stated that in April and May motor officers issued 86 citations to bicyclists for violations ranging from riding on sidewalks to failing to yield for traffic signals.
For the months of July through September, the police department will focus on bicycle violations and will be targeting cyclists to ensure they follow the rules of the road.
While Rose supports efforts like the one focusing on cyclists to keep pedestrians safe, she worries it will detract attention from the danger that drivers can cause as well.
“We need to make sure pedestrians are safe on our roads, whether it’s from motor vehicle or bicycle danger,” Rose said.
Last month, the League of American Bicyclists awarded Santa Monica the Bicycle Friendly Community Silver award recognizing the city’s commitment to keeping bicyclists safe on the road, including the award-winning Bike Action Plan adopted in November 2011.
While both Lewis and Rose reiterated how bike-friendly the city is, Rose said that as the bike movement continues to grow so does the tension between cyclists, drivers and pedestrians all sharing the roads.
She attributed much of this tension to a misunderstanding of road rights such as the right for a bicyclist to use a full lane. Rose added that while it is important to enforce standards among cyclists, people should keep in mind how often drivers intimidate cyclists on the road and force them onto the sidewalk.
“As long as there is equity in the enforcement of motor vehicle violations against cyclists then of course [cyclists] need to be held accountable,” Rose said.
To remedy the misunderstandings that provoke friction, Rose called for more education on the rules of the road for all parties involved.
Santa Monica Spoke offers classes on rights and responsibilities for both drivers and bicyclists and they host a training program through the county bicycle coalition, Rose said. They have also recently wrapped up a pilot program for youth education in partnership with the Santa Monica Alternative Schoolhouse that they hope to extend into an after-school program.
The SMPD press release also stated the police department’s commitment to educating the public on traffic safety and enforcing traffic violations.