Awesome 11-Year-Old Defends Road Diet, Calls Out LA’s “Bullying” Drivers

In case you need a reason to feel confident about the next generation of livable streets advocates, check out this viral video of 11-year old Matlock Grossman, standing up for a road diet in his Los Angeles neighborhood.

Grossman has been bike commuting since he was seven, and now commutes five miles each way to school. Unfortunately, like many bicycle commuters, he has already experienced his share of harassment from drivers.

Matlock Grossman (center in blue shirt) reads his comments at the Rowena Avenue forum. Photo: Joe Linton
Matlock Grossman (center in blue shirt) reads his comments at the Rowena Avenue forum. Photo: Joe Linton

At a public forum about a road diet and bike lanes implemented on Rowena Avenue, here’s what Grossman had to say to the project’s detractors:

Clearly there are motorists out there who 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 down cars because – motorists are the problem.

Even if there are zero bicyclists taking advantage of the bike lanes, it doesn’t matter. The road diet effectively reduces collisions and the statistics prove this.

Stop bullying and victim-blaming the pedestrians and bicyclists as being the problem.

If motorists acted towards women, or another group of people, the way you act towards cyclists, people would be horrified by your hateful words and violent actions.

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, why should I tolerate it from adults?

Grossman’s comments were first published at Streetsblog Los Angeles. From there they spread to Curbed, LAist, L.A. Magazine and then he was interviewed on CBS TV news. Grossman says he’s planning to run for mayor of Los Angeles when he grows up. He’s got our vote!

  • gb52

    I bike, I drive, I walk, and I take transit. I like having options, but i’m not willing to take unnecessary risks. Unfortunately PEOPLE dont respect other people anymore. But as much as I’d love to see transit streets, PED streets, and bike streets, that’s not the answer in a dense urban area. Mixed modes are here to stay, but if drivers dont learn quickly, they’re going to lose street space and are going to be artificially slowed down. Make the other modes safe and fun, and people will make a shift.

  • celticfrostythesnowman

    Good stuff, Matlock! It takes chutzpah to speak in a setting like that one. I can only imagine the activism you’ll be doing in 10-20 years…

    Someone give his parents two medals each. One is for naming their son Matlock. The other is for raising a kid (“child” sounds belittling, as does “young man”) who stands up for the truth.

  • Miles Bader

    Huh? In really dense urban areas, pedestrian/transit/etc-only streets are very much a viable solution in many cases.

    [One interesting edge case is streets that are nominally shared (between cars and pedestrians/bikes), but in practice are pedestrian/bike-only because there are so many pedestrians that cars end up travelling at walking speeds and need to stop ever 3m…. So only the insane try to drive down them (and delivery vehicles at 4am).]

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