A Burbank cycling advocate may finally have his day in court to highlight what he calls an unenforceable law prohibiting bikes on the Mariposa Street bridge.
Doug Weiskopf is scheduled to be in front of a jury March 6 over a citation he received from police in early December alleging he illegally crossed the 140-feet long bridge with his bicycle. The Burbank City Council declared a total ban of bikes on the bridge in 2016 after a growing outcry from the local equestrian community. Bicyclists can’t even walk their bikes across the bridge.
Weiskopf admitted to flouting the ban several times for the express purpose of being issued a citation or placed under arrest so he could take the issue to court. He said it would be impossible for the Burbank Police Department to enforce the law, and bicyclists should be free to use the bridge.
City Atty. Amy Albano said Burbank officials have stood and still stand behind the ordinance.
Just after the law was enacted, Weiskopf walked his bike from the Burbank side of the bridge into Griffith Park and called the police on himself.
Officers never arrived, but he was issued a verbal warning over the phone.
The city previously said violating the law would result in a $100 fine for the first infraction, $200 for a second infraction and $500 for any subsequent infractions. The city attorney’s office could also charge someone with a misdemeanor, which would result in a $1,000 fine and the possibility of up to six months in jail.
On Dec. 9, 2017, Weiskopf finally got his wish and was issued a citation.
“I pleaded not guilty,” Weiskopf said. “I turned down a plea effort to take it down from a misdemeanor and no fine … I wanted a jury trial.”
While his latest attempt won’t overturn the ordinance — only the City Council can do that — Weiskopf said he hopes the trial will show people the ban should have never been made into law.
The ban was put into effect when equestrians argued that allowing bikes on the bridge was a safety hazard. A passing cyclist could potentially spook a horse and endanger its rider and any nearby pedestrian, they claimed.
The City Council initially allowed for bikes to be walked over the bridge, but that was then upgraded to a full ban when equestrians became concerned that bicyclists wouldn’t comply.
However, Weiskopf claimed City Council members were bullied by horseback riders into approving the total ban.
“They just absolutely browbeat the City Council,” he said. “They just feel like they can go down [to City Hall] like a lynch mob and get their way.”
Weiskopf argued that he always walked his bike across the bridge prior to the ban and would wait for a horse to cross it before doing so himself.
Prior to the City Council approving the law, Albano said she visited the bridge herself to see if there was a safety risk. She called the experience a little unnerving and said it was clear from walking on the bridge that allowing a bike to go over when there’s a pedestrian and a horse crossing at the same time would create a dangerous situation.
Albano added that the material the bridge is made of isn’t geared for cycling.
“You can really see the incompatibility of having other things on the bridge besides people or horses,” she said. “That’s why the City Council made their decision.”