Councilman Kevin de León drives a 1960s red Chevrolet Impala convertible across the bridge as part of a low-rider event during the opening of the new 6th Street Bridge on July 10, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Lowriders are a huge part of SoCal car culture and have been for almost a century. Starting January 1, the act of driving around in a pack with other lowriders will no longer be considered a crime.
AB 436, signed into law in October of this year, will protect cruising, or driving around in lowriders in groups, once more. Cruising has been outlawed in many California cities in the early 1980s, as an example of thinly veiled racial biases leading to legislation against important cultural traditions. Not that the bans ever slowed down these passionate owners from celebrating their car culture, the Los Angeles Times reports:
In the end, the bans were unable to stomp out cruising.
“If anything, the lowrider culture grew,” said Polanco, now president of the United
Lowrider Council of San Jose and president of the Tu Sabes car club.
Beyond car culture, lowriders hold a beautiful cultural significance for Chicanos where generations have handed down ornate custom low lows and kids are raised around the culture. Lowrider clubs have a history of uplifting communities, as shown by the United Lowrider Coalition and various other clubs. The predominantly Latin lowrider community was forced to either drop a rich cultural passion that their parents and family members celebrated for generations, or operate illegally.
Opponents to the new legislation have tried linking cruising to illegal street takeovers, you know, the ones you see the videos of on social media where a clapped out Charger is doing donuts in a WalMart parking lot and shock-and-awe ends up putting the smackdown on a poorly placed onlooker.
In reality, cruising is a peaceful act where car clubs and passionate enthusiasts bring their polished pride and joy out to share their art, heritage, and culture with the community.
People take photos/video and view classic low-rider cars parading down Van Nuys Blvd. during the monthly Van Nuys Cruise Night Van Nuys Blvd. on Saturday, April 17, 2021 in Van Nuys, CA. Cruising is back in a major way in Southern California.
Thanks to the United Lowrider Coalition’s resilience and passion, AB 436 passed, legalizing the act of cruising as of Jan. 1, 2024 and preventing cities’ authority to individually outlaw this deep-seeded faction of Southern California culture.
The passing of this law opens doors for future enthusiasts to keep the rich cultural tradition and art form of cruising and low riders to flourish free from legal recourse, a rare example of laws facilitating car culture instead of squashing it.
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