You are a long time resident; when did you come to our city?
I came to West Hollywood in 1979 from Chicago. We had a particularly brutal winter, and I wanted to get away from snow and ice because I thought life is too short to live half a year in icy cold weather and then struggle to exist the other half of the year. I was the first woman bartender at the famed pump room in Chicago. After struggling to find work in West Hollywood, I finally found bartending and restaurant management work with Hamburger Hamlet and in a lovely French restaurant called Entourage.
How did you become disabled?
In 1994, one month after my 50th birthday, I was diagnosed with cancer, a myxoid Condro sarcoma. Because it had gone on for so long incorrectly diagnosed, the doctors had no choice, but to amputate my dominant arm and shoulder. As I could no longer work in the restaurant industry, I needed to find a new way to earn a living. Thankfully, I had a degree in speech and theater with a minor in English literature, so with a few education courses, I was able to get my teaching credential and I taught ESL to adult immigrants for 17 years.
I was forced into retirement when the program ended in 2012. Six months later, as an incidental finding when looking for a kidney stone, a radiologist discovered that I had a large tumor in my right lung. The sarcoma had traveled to my lung, and so on Feb 7th, 2013, half of my right lung was removed.
In 2017 I applied to be on the West Hollywood disabilities advisory board. This is a board I proudly served on until a few months ago.
How have the scooters impacted you when you walk in the city?
I had noticed on several occasions that scooters were infiltrating our city and taking over our sidewalks. They were blocking my street, Clark Street, which is on the very steep hill, and the only way to get around them, was for me to walk out into the street. This is difficult and dangerous because having one arm, my balance is very poor. I am also 78 years old.
The straw that broke the camels back for me was when I was walking down Sunset Boulevard and a young man came whizzing by on his scooter with his dog on a leash, and he yelled, “get the hell out of my way.”
I knew something had to be done, but it was difficult to get the city to do anything. They were not enforcing the law that stated it was illegal to ride scooters on the sidewalk. And they were also not citing people for just abandoning them in the middle of the sidewalk rather than putting them in a safe docking place.
Being on an advisory board in our city means everything has to be agendized and run through staff and it takes a very long time to get anything done…if at all.
But, one day, in an email correspondence with the city council, and with our (at that time,) mayor, pro tempore, Sepi Shyne, I voiced my fear of the dangers of scooter riding. The mayor pro tempore, who is now our mayor, dismissed my concerns, and answered, “well, some people like them, and some people don’t, and neither side is wrong” I found it to be a false equivalency and angrily I equated her comment to a comment that Donald Trump made regarding tiki torch, bearing Nazis. He said, “there are good people on both sides.”
Sepi told me I was disrespectful and that she would not tolerate my disrespect, and so in protest, I resigned from the board.
So what are you doing now to get rid of the scooters?
I now realize that I am getting more done outside of the confines of an advisory board. As a private citizen, I started a petition through change.org to ban dangerous scooters in West Hollywood, and to date 362 people have signed it. But we really need a lot more signatures.
The sheriffs department cited no incidents of scooters or E bike problems in December 2022 or January 2023. Those are false statistics because neither the sheriffs department, nor the city are enforcing any laws regarding scooters and e- bikes at all.
The sheriffs department, in all honesty, has been reduced in size, and though they are trying to do their job, our city Council is not making it easier for them. Meanwhile, people are getting injured. Even the former mayor’s own sister, Debbie Meister, was run down.by a scooter rider who ran a red light. She wound up at Cedar Sinai in surgery with broken bones. Not listening to all the negative input on scooters from the various boards and commissions, the council decided to extend the 18-month pilot program another six months.
In June this year, they will decide whether or not to make the scooter program, which they call “the dockless mobility program” permanent.
My petition is to try to persuade them, not only to end the program, but to ban scooters from our sidewalks. These scooters are a danger to people living with disabilities, seniors, people with young children with animals and with most able-bodied pedestrians as well.
On a half block stretch last night leading up to Sunset Blvd. I encountered 12 scooters randomly laying about, one seemingly drunk robot, 1 speeding scooter and 2 speeding cyclists on the sidewalk. Even as a former elite skier this slalom course was tough to navigate.
sadly, it’s going to get worse as the weather warms up and kids are on summer break. If you were having trouble navigating the sidewalk, and you are in good physical shape, just imagine what we who have disabilities have to go through.
thank you for commenting, and I hope you signed my petition
Thank you Mikie, yes I have consistently been in excellent competitive sports physical condition but am recovering from a traumatic thigh injury and am presently using a walker or in this case a TJ’s grocery cart. Normally very vigilant as I do a great deal of walking, but this gives me a true picture of the hazards a person with diminished abilities or elderly folks face in a daily basis. Prior to this and in agreement with your thoughts, there are many more requirements the City could and should have demanded with the scooter companies seeking operation. Even cautionary bells… Read more »
Most of the time the reason they are strewn on the ground is because someone walking by kicks them over. I watch an older woman walk by and kick over the entire line of scooters on every block, every single day. I get that people don’t like them. It’s not the scooter users that are the problem, it is the people who hate them.
If there were designated scooter racks as were supplied for bikes, much of this could be eliminated . Additionally any scooter left randomly on the sidewalk or other improper location could be disabled and connected to renter for citation. Do you have any better ideas?
Sadly the City does not appear interested in solutions. It’s all talk, drama, more talk, more drama until the nuisance is quietly accepted. Spineless non critical thinkers more interested in their paychecks arriving on time than rocking the boat.
I support Mikie on this all the way and am grateful for her efforts. However, I feel compelled to correct her on one unrelated point. Trump did not say of the tiki-torch Nazis, “there are good people on both sides”. He, in fact, explicitly condemned them. He said that of the people who differ on the issue of the Confederate flag, some of whom see it as a symbol of Southern pride, far removed from its first use in the Civil War.
Thank you, Mikie Friedman, for speaking truth to power.
Let’s ALL sign!
Hmmm, when I look at this picture, I think, did the riders just all jump off and leave these scooters here in the middle of the sidewalk? OR…MAYBE the scooter companies leave them like this to keep the conversation (aka free advertising) going! Enquiring Minds want to know.
Come on people! SIGH THE PETITION! (I did).
I did and donated $100. SO sign and donate as well.
Mikie is the best!! She advocates for all of our safety and looks out for our best interests because she loves our city. It’s sad for the advisory board to lose her, and it’s even more disappointing Shyne’s narcissism was a major factor, but that Mikie can make a major difference and impact on and off the board is just a testament to how incredible she is. West Hollywood is lucky to have Mikie as a guardian angel!
I wish you had used your real name so that I could thank you…profusely… for your very kind words!
This is not just about avoiding the scooters but the fact that people on them are allowed to literally run amok! A neighbor of mine was walking down the sidewalk with her dog and the dog got hit by a crazy scooter driver. That was 4 months ago and the injury is a torn ligament that takes months to heal! Here’s the problem…..no rules, no boundaries, no limitations, no enforcement whatsoever for the scooter drivers. Why is it that bicyclists have to follow the same rules as car drivers as well as wearing a helmet but scooter drivers can clog… Read more »
Mikie is a community treasure! This city council is often more interested in representing the wants and demands of their expanded definition of community that disproportionately gives voice to visitors. It’s time that West Hollywood put more major quality-of-life issues such as this to a referendum of the voters who live here. Paris will on April 2 hold just such a referendum on banning scooters from its streets. The referendum has the support of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. If it’s good for Paris, it’s good West Hollywood.
Sadly, it will remain that way as long as Shyne, Byers, and Erickson comprise the majority.
A lot of things are going to be sad with this comprised majority.