"The Bicycle as a Vehicle of Protest"
June 12, 2020 12:36 PM   Subscribe

"Bicycle politics, the causes championed by cycling advocates and activists, are often dismissed by critics as esoteric or élitist. But transportation issues are social-justice issues... In fact, you could say that Black Lives Matter is a moral crusade about freedom of movement and who is at liberty to go where." [SLNewYorker on the role of bicycles for protesters and the regimes they challenge.]
posted by ferret branca (19 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Journalists and cycling advocates have charged that these “ticket-blitzes,” which often follow incidents in which cyclists are maimed or killed by automobiles, are a form of institutionalized victim-blaming."

That's how it works in Toronto. If the police get bad press for how they've handled something cycling related, they'll be out in the parks and bike paths a few days later like clockwork, giving people tickets for whatever crosses their minds.
posted by mhoye at 12:52 PM on June 12 [8 favorites]


One of Adolf Hitler’s first acts upon assuming power, in 1933, was to criminalize cycling unions, which were associated with anti-Nazi political parties. Brown Shirts were sent to villages to confiscate bikes, a practice that was repeated years later by German soldiers during the occupations of Denmark, the Netherlands, France, and other countries.

I always knew the NYPD were brown shirts. As a recreational cyclist I have had more run ins with cops than I can count on both hands. A local cyclist I used to ride with had a beautiful Bianchi fixed gear. He always rides with his bike shop receipt for the bike because he's black and gets profiled constantly. Imagine the rage you'd feel if you were accused of being a bike thief on a daily basis because of the color of your skin.
posted by photoslob at 1:10 PM on June 12 [17 favorites]


That's how it works in Toronto. If the police get bad press for how they've handled something cycling related, they'll be out in the parks and bike paths a few days later like clockwork, giving people tickets for whatever crosses their minds.

One more reason why the police shouldn't be doing that. Property tax bills just went out in Toronto. Now is a good time to talk about how much of our taxes go towards the police and how much is actually necessary. You don't need groups of people making $100,000+ going around giving bicyclists tickets for not having the right reflectors. Hell, have Parks and Rec staff go around giving people reflectors, bells and biking handbooks for free and it'll likely cost less and end up with more people complying with the law.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:18 PM on June 12 [20 favorites]


The ticket blitzes make my head explode. A negligent driver kills a cyclist riding in the bike lane with the right of way and then the police go out and ticket cyclists. It's appalling. (Somewhat related: this other good piece on why it would be better to have automated traffic enforcement instead of police.)
posted by ferret branca at 1:25 PM on June 12 [13 favorites]


they'll be out in the parks and bike paths a few days later like clockwork, giving people tickets for whatever crosses their minds.

Oh man a few years ago I got a ticket for jaywalking. I was walking to the local subway station and this cop stops me as I get to the gates and starts giving me this lecture about how their have been a lot of pedestrians getting hit recently. So being as I was now running late for work and he was intent on actually writing out a ticket, I told him what I thought of that and asked why he wasn't out doing traffic duty??

And right as I said that, someone made an illegal u-turn right in front of the train station, through the crosswalk, and slams straight into the bumper of the cops car.
posted by bradbane at 2:56 PM on June 12 [36 favorites]


Just realized why the term "invisible riders" always rubbed me the wrong way. These riders aren't invisible! They are ignored.
posted by flamk at 3:32 PM on June 12 [20 favorites]


"Socialism can only arrive by bicycle".
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:38 PM on June 12 [9 favorites]


That's how it works in Toronto. If the police get bad press for how they've handled something cycling related, they'll be out in the parks and bike paths a few days later like clockwork, giving people tickets for whatever crosses their minds.

I don't live in Toronto anymore; do I recall correctly that it was in January 2010 the TPS started a month-long crackdown on jaywalking as a response to seven pedestrian deaths in a few weeks? The observation that five of the seven deceased had been crossing legally, at a crosswalk with the lights, did not blunt the police's enthusiasm. What was the alternative? Ticket careless drivers who kill people? Absurd!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:56 PM on June 12 [4 favorites]


Bikelaw.com
posted by grimjeer at 6:18 PM on June 12


Thanks for posting this - bicycles do seem to be taking up more of the zeitgeist lately, and they certainly have their role as tools of protest.

Some of you may also be interested in the #BoycottTrek [Forbes article] movement that's floating around. (Unlike BikeCo, Trek chooses to continue their police contracts.)
posted by invokeuse at 6:19 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Bicycle week on Metafilter does not disappoint! This was an excellent article, thanks.
posted by St. Oops at 11:38 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


What was the alternative? Ticket careless drivers who kill people? Absurd!

Something like 85% of Toronto police don’t actually live in Toronto. Like a lot of places, they just don’t enforce laws that might add 10 minutes to their commutes. In Toronto in particular it looks like this is a coordinated effort to hurt city revenue. (Cops also actively ignore bike theft, which is a related issue.)
posted by mhoye at 4:22 AM on June 13 [4 favorites]


Thanks, mhoye, I had not seen that before.
Chief Mark Saunders, promoted to the top rank in 2015, and Tory, first elected mayor in 2014, had long rebuffed calls for increased enforcement, citing the promise of red-light cameras and coming photo radar along with periodic traffic blitzes.

Safety advocates expressed anger when a report from Saunders to the police board last month revealed Toronto “does not currently have a complement of officers that are solely dedicated to enforcement duties on a daily basis,” and that the traffic services unit is primarily focused on post-crash investigations.
Wait, wait -- perhaps the proposed answer to increase the police services budget even more? That seems to be a sovereign cure for all ills.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:17 PM on June 13


Wait, wait -- perhaps the proposed answer to increase the police services budget even more?

That’s bureaucratic infighting 101, of course. When you are forced to cut something, cut the part that also hurts the people forcing the cuts, so they change course next budget cycle and let you rebuild your little fiefdom. It’s a societal trope that any long-lived organization will eventually be responsible for prolonging the existence of the problem to which they present themselves as the solution.
posted by mhoye at 4:17 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Courtney Williams (known on the internet as The Brown Bike Girl) has been a great voice for social justice and bike advocacy in New York City. Yesterday she did a live video on Instagram about the Black Live Matter bike rides that have been happening in NYC and talks a bit about the New Yorker article (she's slightly critical). It's a long video (50 some minutes), but worth it because Courtney is awesome.
posted by Drab_Parts at 4:34 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


Yay, Courtney is super awesome; I am an internet fan!
posted by ferret branca at 10:16 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


The Untokening, Dr. Adonia Lugo, and Public Biking Project. are my go-tos on biking, urbanism, accessibility and equity.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:45 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


Just realized why the term "invisible riders" always rubbed me the wrong way. These riders aren't invisible! They are ignored.

I'm told there is a Danish proverb to the effect that a sky is not any less blue just because a blind man does not see it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:20 PM on June 16




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