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Los Angeles Bicyclist Convicted of Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Santa Monica Crash

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By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

June 19, 2013 -- For the first time in Santa Monica, a bicyclist has been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon after an accident he caused by flouting traffic rules left a pedestrian with serious injuries, police said Tuesday.

A judge ruled on May 31 that Los Angeles resident Rocky Martin's bicycle was a deadly weapon when he convicted him nearly one year after Martin struck a pedestrian in the crosswalk at Santa Monica Boulevard and Third Street after running a red light.

“We want bicyclists to obey all laws,” said Sergeant Richard Lewis, the Police Department spokesman. “They are subject to the same laws as motorists.”

Martin was sentenced to three years formal felony probation and 30 days of community service after pleading guilty, Lewis said.

During April and May this year, Santa Monica police have handed out 86 citations to bicyclists for riding on sidewalks, failing to yield for traffic signals and other infractions, Lewis said.

But bicycle safety, he noted, is a two-way street. “On the same token, we ask motorists to share the road with bicyclists,” Lewis said.

Cynthia Rose, director of the local bicycle advocacy group Santa Monica Spoke, agreed that equal enforcement of the law for motorists and cyclists alike is important.

“We support equitable enforcement when it is enforced for bicyclists and motorists the same way,” said Rose.

But enforcement of the law isn't the only way to increase bicycle safety in Santa Monica.

“Along with this enforcement, we need to depend on SMPD and the City and our advocates to help with education,” Rose said. “But education needs to be part of enforcement.”

Lewis agrees. “The Santa Monica Police Department is committed to educating the public on traffic safety and enforcing traffic violations,” he said.

“To address poor driving behaviors, the Santa Monica Police Department focuses on specific violations,” Lewis said. In the past, SMPD has targeted drivers for tailgating, speeding and distracted driving.

From July to September, they will be on the lookout for bicyclists who fail to follow the rules of the road. Since a bicycle is considered a vehicle under the California Vehicle Code, bicyclists are bound by the same rules -- and allowed the same rights -- as cars.

For more information, contact Sgt. Phillbo Rubish with the Department's Traffic Section at 310.458.8950 or Lt. Jay Trisler at 310.458.8471.

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