New law demands street lighting for horses and riders »Holtville Tribune
Part 1 of 2
Pedestrians crossing the streets of the community of Sylmar are sometimes puzzled to see the buttons on the posts of pedestrian crossings placed higher than normally seen.
They are there to make it easy for riders to push the button. This lodge is a reflection of the large equine community of Sylmar and the surrounding area.
The equine community celebrates the recent passage of AB 974, written by Assembly member Luz Rivas, which seeks to improve the visibility of those who ride horses or other animals on paved roads at night by requiring riders and their equines they wear equipment. reflective or sunset lights.
“The idea for this legislation came from my community after an unfortunate horse and vehicle accident occurred in my district,” Rivas said. “If we can prevent even one injury with this new law, then our efforts will have paid off. “
Rivas was referring to an accident in October 2019 when a vehicle struck two people riding on Lake View Terrace. The collision killed both horses and left the riders in critical condition.
Neither riders nor their equines wore reflective gear or lights at the time.
The crash sparked a community town hall meeting that served as the impetus to update passenger safety laws in the state, according to Rivas’ office.
Equine owners in the valley say they are happy that state law has been enacted and that this could be the first step in attracting more attention, which could lead to law enforcement and additional security measures.
During meetings with the local equine community, Rivas stressed that it would be easier to pass this bill because it had no fiscal impact.
In addition to reflective gear or lights required for all riders and animals, minors are also required by law to wear helmets when riding on paved roads. Failure to comply can mean a fine of $ 25 for the first time, the same amount imposed by the State Department of Motor Vehicles for those who ride their bikes without a helmet.
However, the fine may increase for a repeat offense.
Safety gear is attached to the horse’s tail, chest and legs to reflect light at night. Protection increases exponentially when the rider is also wearing reflective gear. So far this has not been necessary.
Many members of the local equine community in Sylmar and Lake View Terrace worked with the Rivas office to seek its approval.
“The AB 974 is a huge victory for the equestrian communities of Assembly District 39 and the state, and a big step forward in making our roads safer for cyclists,” said Gina Cruz, president of the amusement park use committee. Foothill Trails District Land and member of its equine team. Committee.
Cheri Blose was also very involved, the equestrian representative of the Sylmar Neighborhood Council, Civic Affairs of ETI Corral 12 and a member of the Equine Coalition. It refers to the large community of Sylmar horses that can often be seen riding throughout the community.
“It is not uncommon to see 60 horses pass through Roxford near Olive View at nightfall. It’s a way of life, a way of life, ”Blose described.
Blose said her late husband got up at 3 a.m., fed the horse, saddled it and was ready to ride before dawn.
“He would be back home when I wake up,” she said. “A lot of men go horseback riding very early in the morning before going to work and when they come back from work they come back up.”
It is a cherished lifestyle that becomes a family heirloom. Blose said his daughter Leah started horseback riding when she was 3.
The equine community of Sylmar and the surrounding communities also includes a large community of “Charros” who, from generation to generation, have passed on their love of horses and the historical traditions of the “Charros”.
Geronimo Bugarin is a member of the Asociación de Charros de Sylmar, a member of the Sylmar Equine Coalition, Sylmar Neighborhood Equine Committee, and a member of the Equine Advisory Board of LA Councilmember Mónica Rodríguez.
At the recent Mexican Independence Day parade in Sylmar, there were 100 charros there, Bugarin said. “When you put on the Charro costume, you are wearing a country.”
Proud of his family history, Bugarin said he grew up on a ranch with horses and his father came to the United States during the Bracero program and worked on a ranch. He was able to work hard and then have his own ranch where Bugarin grew up.
He feels very positive about the new law, which Bugarin says opens the door for other issues to be addressed, including the impact of aggressive development on Sylmar.
He also worked closely with the Rivas office.
“I’m getting old so I don’t run like I used to. But I hope that we can preserve this way of life and this culture for another 100 years for my grandchildren, ”said Bugarin. “It’s our heritage. Horseback riding unites us all ”.
Bugarin said passengers should also be made aware of the new law.
The news of a horse accident sends shivers down the spines of everyone in an equine community. They point out that more accidents happen than people realize.
Dark colored horses with riders wearing dark clothes are almost impossible to see. Leah and Blose still vividly remember a “terrible” accident on Bledsoe Street in Sylmar where riders were seriously injured and horses had to be euthanized.
“That was a long time ago, maybe 30 years ago,” Blose said. “An older man was driving west on Bledsoe; It was just dusk and three horses were coming down the street. And hit the three horses. It was just bloody.
“I think about it now and it makes me want to cry. And [the motorist] was devastated. He was a horseman. His daughter, whom he visited, was an Amazon. But he didn’t see them. [The riders] rode black horses in a dark street. It was a recipe for disaster. “
As careful and aware Leah is, she almost failed while driving her truck.
“When I turned the corner of a surface street, I couldn’t see the horse or the rider,” he said.
Many accidents go unreported, Leah explained. Previously, when the police arrived, they did not even file a police report. They do not consider a horse to be a “vehicle” and insurance claims cannot be made.
“Police said, ‘We’re sorry for your pet,’” Leah said. Horses, he stresses, should not be in the same category as a “pet.”
He also said motorists have little respect for horses or jockeys.
“Cars can roll against you. The drivers honk and yell at you, and they’ve even thrown things at the passengers, ”Leah said.
Motorists also mistakenly believe that horses are not allowed on the road, Cruz said.
“Part of the nature of our communities here is that many of our equestrian properties do not have direct access to the trails. So we have a lot of cyclists on the streets to get to the trails, ”he said.
“One thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that a lot of the streets in these communities are designated as horse trails – the streets themselves. Therefore, people should expect to see horses on the streets. And you see that in our communities of Lake View Terrace, Shadow Hills, La Tuna Canyon, and Sylmar. “
Cyclists add that the area’s trails are not fully reserved or maintained, or have been blocked off for cyclists.
“Ninety-five percent of the trails cannot be used. On Bledsoe Street, which should be part of a continuous path past homes, parked cars and some residents laid loose bricks as if it were their property, ”Blose said.
“The horses are dangerously forced out into the streets,” he continued. “Many cyclists prefer to ride on the sidewalk rather than on the street when they can. Since the trails start and stop, cyclists detour down the street until they can reconnect to a trail. We have all the trails in Stetson Ranch, Los Pintos Park, where you can go up to Placerita Canyon, and then we have the wonderful Wilson Canyon trails. “
“Honestly, we don’t want to punish the cyclists,” said Cruz. “We want to encourage them to wear reflective gear and for kids to wear helmets when they’re on the road. I don’t think we want to see a harsh penalty for cyclists, just encourage their use.
“We would like to see in the future, which has not yet been done, more severe penalties for drivers who are not careful and hit the horses. Obviously [cyclists] we have a responsibility on our side to be visible and careful on the road as well. It is a first step ”.
Blose added: “We live in a wonderful community” and people “want to be able to ride horses. [safely]. “
“California has the second largest horse population in the entire country, and it is important that we take these steps to keep riders safe and protect our equestrian heritage,” he said.
“We want to save your life,” Leah repeated.
The second part of this story will appear next week and will cover the concern of the equestrian community of Sylmar over the invasion of developers trying to buy land that could erode areas currently zoned for horses and change the way of life. from the community.
(The post The new law requires night-reflective gear for horses and riders on streets and highways first appeared on The San Fernando Valley Sun and was made available as part of the CalMatters Network.)