After a road in Silver Lake was reduced from four lanes to two, local residents attended a neighborhood council meeting on Monday to complain that rerouted traffic was ruining their neighborhoods, but an eleven-year-old boy lambasted the adults publicly and drew hearty applause.
The contretemps started when bike lanes and a center lane for drivers were added to Rowena Road, cutting driving lanes in each direction from two to one. Councilman Tom LaBonge had urged the city to make the change after a 24-year-old woman was killed when she crossed the street in April 2012.
Results have been favorable; LADOT stated that car speeds have been cut and crashes reduced.
But some local residents have expressed irritation that drivers avoiding the traffic on Rowena Road have cut through their neighborhoods, run stop signs, and exceeded speed limits. They sponsored a petition to reverse the change on Rowena Road that has gathered roughly 300 signatures and filmed a video of cars ignoring stop signs in their areas.
But Matlock Grossman, 11, wowed the crowd with a short prepared speech. He stated:
I’m eleven years old, and I’ve been riding to my school since I was seven. I do everything motorists say they want to see in a cyclist . No problem, right? Nope. I’ve lost track of the number of cars who have purposely violated my legal right of (unintelligible) safely or shouted obscenities at me. Can you imagine the kind of monster that yells “FU” to a child? Clearly, there are motorists out there who are not mature enough to share the road without having the rules painted on the road to show who goes where. The road diet, by design, is meant to slow cars down because motorists are the problem. Please stop bullying and victim-blaming the pedestrians and bicyclists as being the problem. I don’t understand why driving a car makes you think you’re more important than someone else. You’re not. It’s whiny, entitled behavior you wouldn’t tolerate from a kid, so why should I tolerate it from adults?
When asked if she and her husband had used Matlock as a tool to speak for them, Matlock’s mother, Debra Matlock, tweeted, “To the people who think we forced our kid to speak at #saferowena: you should have heard his science fair project on Quantum Entanglement.”