The Monday Roundup: Tampa’s ‘Bicycle Blitzkrieg,’ London’s bombsite races and more

alphonso

Alphonso King’s homebuilt bike was confiscated
by police who couldn’t believe he hadn’t stolen it.
(Screen grab from Tampa Bay Times)

Here are the bike-related links from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

“Bicycle Blitzkrieg”: A Tampa woman walking her bike home after cooking for an elderly neighbor, carrying a plate of fish and grits in her other hand, got a $51 ticket for not having a bike light. A 54-year-old man’s bike was confiscated because he couldn’t produce a receipt to prove it was his. A 56-year-old man was handcuffed for towing a borrowed lawnmower through a stop sign on his bike. They’re all part of the Tampa police department’s effort to “head off crime before it happens” by issuing thousands of bicycle-related infractions to black people.

Bikes vs. bombs: After World War II, London teens turned bomb-site ruins into low-rent velodromes. One man who’s still in the saddle tells the story.

“Placemaking” problems: If something is unique and beautiful, who cares if no one uses it? An NYC architect goes after the “brain-dead urbanism checkbox” of the Project for Public Spaces with rhetorical guns ablaze.

Encaged bike: The so-called “world’s safest bike,” now in crowdfunding, claims that it can survive a truck collision.

Complicating simplicity: Writing in the Washington Post, Bike Snob Eben Weiss writes that the greatest trick the auto industry ever pulled will be turning people into cars.

Outreach model: Oregon State Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) says legal marijuana should take a lesson from Cycle Oregon and build support respectfully before going big in rural Oregon.

Seattle chop shop: A Craigslist sting by Seattle police turned up 60 stolen bikes.

NYC biking slowdown: NYC’s bike boom picked up as Portland’s flattened, but it too has leveled off as bike-lane improvements have slowed.

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Vision Zero: A national network to encourage the spread of the idea has launched. It’s funded by Kaiser Permanente and led by the former head of San Francisco’s bike advocacy group.

Bicycle hero: Bicycling Magazine tells the story of Frances Willard, the bike-loving booze-banning suffragist fashion icon who was the “second-most famous woman in the world (after Queen Victoria).”

Bike history: The Wall Street Journal reviews a new book about U.S. biking history.

Private bikeshare: Fast Company picks up the news that Spinlister is planning to launch a private floating-fleet bike sharing service in Portland this summer by giving people free bikes to share. (Here’s our previous coverage.)

Diesel hub: Multnomah County has the country’s fourth-highest diesel pollution due to truck traffic to our ports.

Lower-car cities: Portland leads large U.S. cities in biking, but it’s far behind its would-be peers in the percentage who don’t drive.

Pollution boom: The most air-polluted city in the world is now Dehli, the capital of India.

CRC reboot: After some false starts, the Washington House of Representatives voted to put up $100,000 for new talks about replacing the I-5 bridge.

Truck collision: If you really want to see the moment a semi truck brushes past a man on a bike, crushing it but leaving him mostly intact, you can.

Bike lane blockers: A pair of Belgians have created a slightly less insane Brussels version of Casey Neistat’s famous video of biking directly into obstacles on NYC’s streets.

Distracted driving: In California, tickets for texting and telephoning while driving are down 25 percent in three years but no one knows why.

Fire bike: Yes, that’s a hose wheel built into the frame.

Finally, here are two videos of the week for you, one a graduate course in angular momentum from four young Slovakians…

and the other a 50 mph ride down a looping Norwegian roadway with a 10-degree grade … backwards.

If you come across a noteworthy bicycle story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.

Michael Andersen (Contributor)

Michael Andersen (Contributor)

Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.

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TonyT
Tony T
8 years ago

RE: the Florida story. One of my first encounters I had with Portland Police was observing an officer pull over an African American guy who was riding his bike on the street right outside where I was living. It was at night and the guy had TWO rear blinky lights. The cop proceeded to berate him about the location of the rear lights. The lights were attached to the seat stays and the cop went on about how the cop couldn’t just put the lights on his car wherever he wanted and therefore the guy couldn’t put the bike lights wherever he wanted to them to be. He never, as I recall, offered where the lights SHOULD be.

The guy hadn’t been doing anything other than riding slow and easy, taking the lane on a quiet evening on NE Failing.

This was back in 2000. It was harassment, plain and simple.

Dave
Dave
8 years ago
Reply to  Tony T

He (the cyclist) could probably have found bike store employees or a bike lawyer to testify that almost no bikes are made so that there is a place where lights “should” be mounted. I was just given a product sample of a new rear blinker with at least four mounting options–outside of constructeur touring bikes or Dutch land barges I can’t think of a bike with designated light mounting!

TonyT
Tony T
8 years ago
Reply to  Dave

I don’t think the cop cited him. He was just harassing him.

Scott H
Scott H
8 years ago

News from Florida doesn’t phase me anymore.

John Lascurettes
8 years ago
Reply to  Scott H

Oh, B. Bunny, you had the right idea so long ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiTM2HQ0g98

Justin Carinci
Justin Carinci
8 years ago

The “bike blitz” gives a whole new meaning to “Tampa Bay Lightning.”

wsbob
wsbob
8 years ago

The Tampa Bay Times story about police use of bike citations to focus on crime reduction in high crime areas, is a good one. A lot to absorb. The paper makes an impression fairly convincingly, that the police, by issuing the citations by far and large to black people, are abusing the use of such citations. Claims made by the police as reported in the story, that despite the very disproportionate number of bike citations issued to black people, crime has been significantly reduced, are not convincing.

Personally, I think it’s fine for police to be citing people for violating the law while riding a bike. Such things as not having lights, blowing stop signs and stop lights, not signaling effectively, pose safety hazards that people as responsible road users should take care to avoid. Give people that can’t afford lights for their bikes, some help paying for them. Doesn’t cost a cent to stop for stop signs and stop lights, or signal for turns and stops.

While it’s entirely possible that people cited in Tampa may not be doing a very good job of avoiding the citations they receive, by simply complying with the law, the police may be making a big mistake by overdoing too much of a good thing. Maybe the police should be issuing more warnings rather than citations. No mention in the TBT story about the number of warnings issued.

No smart to just stop issuing citations to people of one color, because the other color doesn’t get issued similar numbers. I don’t know what Tampa should do. Issue more bike citations to the color that isn’t getting many of them? The Tampa police department, while maybe somewhat well intentioned in deciding to so excessively use bike citations as a pretext for traffic stops in high crime areas, has perhaps unwittingly made itself look silly…like, silly dangerous.

Scott H
Scott H
8 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

This isn’t some pesky little public relations issue, it’s systemic racism. No matter how they try to deny it, the numbers don’t lie.

Jeff
Jeff
8 years ago
Reply to  Scott H

Systemic racism nationwide.

Cops are killing and harassing blacks at an alarming rate. All people of conscience should be shocked and appalled.

9watts
9watts
8 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

“Such things as not having lights, blowing stop signs and stop lights, not signaling effectively, pose safety hazards that people as responsible road users should take care to avoid.”

Notwithstanding your list of biking infractions you like to trot out here, the things mentioned in the article that black people who were cited had done do not, on the whole, amount to safety hazards: most were just biking, not doing anything hazardous. And besides, your feeling that people committing little, tiny, trivial violations should be cited, elides the fact that we don’t take this zero tolerance, nitpicky, approach in any other area of life (besides biking), or with any other demographic group (besides blacks). Forest, trees…

“I don’t know what Tampa should do.”

Really? How about the ‘do nothing alternative’?
To me, pretty much anything other than what they are doing would be preferable. Heck, give everyone who bikes in Tampa free donuts, whether or not they are towing a lawnmower or have lights.

John Lascurettes
8 years ago
Reply to  9watts

One of the people cited wasn’t even biking. She was walking with her bike in one hand and a pie in the other. Presumably the lighting requirement is for when operating a bike. Walking is not operating.

Pdxmark
Pdxmark
8 years ago

The CRC link goes to an Italian site about a bike for firefighters…

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Pdxmark

Thanks Mark. Fixed it.

Mick O
Mick O
8 years ago

The actual Brussels Bike Jungle video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSFHsuNdYjA

The linked article has a video that excerpts it with a voiceover from the Independent, and prefaces it with an ad. (yet probably would claim “editorial use” so that it’s OK to use without linked to the original)

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
8 years ago

Diesel Hub & the Resurrection of the CRC:
with the loss of Hapag-Lloyd on April 7, 2015 & Hanjin on February 10, 2015 as shippers (you know, with actual ships) the movement of freight through, to and from the Portland Metro area will increasingly fall upon big commercial trucks.

This will not only further exacerbate Multnomah’s air quality issues but will serve only to reinforce numerous big money interests’ push to have more lanes for truck freight over the Columbia River on I-5.

Interviews on OBP point specifically at the fact that imports once shipped directly to Port of Portland will most likely end up in SeaTac then trucked south to Portland.
More cost, more pollution from trucks, more truck traffic, more truck drivers (new & from out-of-state) unfamiliar with Portland’s bikey ways bumbling around squishing anything in their path.

Michael Miller
Michael Miller
8 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal

And many of those trucks fresh from California, where they are too dirty for CA’s new diesel emissions regulations.

dan
dan
8 years ago

That bike-truck collision video is pretty horrifying. Looks like a hairy place to bike; I probably would have looked over my shoulder before moving over.

Opus the Poet
8 years ago
Reply to  dan

The truck was passing on the right from an exit-only lane, that resumed as a normal travel lane after the exit. The cyclist was pulling over into what should have been an unoccupied lane just a few feet after it began. Had he looked over his shoulder all he would have seen was the truck in the exit-only lane, where it should have exited from the freeway.

Dwaine Dibbly
Dwaine Dibbly
8 years ago

I moved to FL as a small child in 1965. I lived there until moving to Portland in 2010. I never lived within 120 miles of Tampa, but let’s just say that this story is 100% consistent with everything I’ve ever heard about the Tampa PD. I doubt anything will change until there are well-publicized deaths, riots, etc..

Mark Allyn
8 years ago

What gets me curious is that they stopped someone for walking their bike (I assume the person was on the sidewalk and dismounted; not on the saddle of the bike) without the light on.

Here in Portland, I have walked my bike many times (because I was tired; wanted to bypass some traffic; whatever. I never had the light on while walking (dismounted) the bicycle. No police officer here has said anything to me.

Has anyone here ever been harassed for walking their bicycle on the sidewalk without the light on?

I have walked my bicycle many times without the running lights on (but with the lighted jacket lit) at Christmastime where there were many cops around me on Peacock Lane and I never had any problems.

I don’t know that gives in Tampa if that part of the story is true. I would think that there would be a false arrest lawsuit there. That person is a pedestrian, not a bicyclist if they are walking.

That is close to being ticketed for walking on the sidewalk carrying a package or even a purse without a light on it.

John Lascurettes
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark Allyn

I presume the spirit of the law on lighting on a bicycle is that the light is for when operating the bike – that is, while pedaling and moving, or otherwise in the street on a bike (like standing at a light). Bikes in operation move faster than pedestrians, and they share a lot of space with cars. They have a pragmatic need to be more visible at night.

This woman was operating as a pedestrian. If she were in Oregon, I would guess the laws of Oregon would not require her to have her light on. What if the light was dead and she was walking it because she couldn’t operate it legally? Wouldn’t that be the prudent, if maybe overly so, thing to do?

So back to Florida, what would have happened had the woman had the bike slung over her shoulder. At that point, it’s even more so a hunk of metal object. Like you pointed out, that would be akin to being ticketed for walking with a purse. There’s no way to slice this other than overt racial bullying.

wsbob
wsbob
8 years ago

Under the circumstances, the cop wasn’t being unreasonable to stop someone walking on the sidewalk with a bike that wasn’t properly equipped for use on the street. It was entirely possible the woman intended to ride the bike after delivering the fish, so an equipment check was fair. Issuing a citation may have been overdoing it.

The whole story the TBT has been sleuthing out, smacks of racism on the part of that city’s police department and maybe city hall itself, though to what degree is debatable.

John Lascurettes
8 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

We disagree there. It is unreasonable for an officer without cause to stop someone to ask their intent. And one most certainly is not obligated to tell the officer anything in that regard. Point is, the officer cited her. She was walking.

wsbob
wsbob
8 years ago

“…It is unreasonable for an officer without cause to stop someone to ask their intent. …” John Lascurettes

Okay…having thought if over some more, I’ll agree that the officer, if he had no reason to expect the lady was going to be riding the bike on the street after delivering the fish by walking the bike on the sidewalk…shouldn’t have stopped her and cited her for not having the bike properly equipped.

As I wrote earlier, on the brief facts of that stop, reported in the TBT story, I think the cop should just have issued her a warning, verbal or written, for example, if he didn’t know her from the past as a repeat violator. The ‘stop and talk’ approach of community policing, isn’t such a bad deal, if that’s basically all it is with regards to citizens that aren’t suspected of being involved in some kind of criminal activity.

According to the TBT story though, the police in that city seem to be going way beyond reason, apparently by chronically stopping and citing just about anyone black, riding a bike in the city’s high crime areas, whatever they’re doing at the the time. Difficult to see how that’s going to turn out well for Tampa.

Eric at: http://bikeportland.org/2015/04/20/monday-roundup-tampas-bicycle-blitzkrieg-londons-bombsite-races-139647#comment-6351317

Eric…sorry, I can’t agree with your view that bikes ridden on sidewalks at night shouldn’t be required to have lights. Walking, I’ve experienced the approach of bikes without lights to indicate their presence, used on sidewalks, and the experience wasn’t good. Conditions vary of course, but dark, shadowy conditions existing on some sidewalks, make bikes without lights, a danger to other sidewalk users.

Eric
Eric
8 years ago

Oregon law requires a light when riding on roadways, so ninja riding on sidewalks should be legit (not recommended, but not illegal.)

Eric
Eric
8 years ago
Reply to  Eric

Florida law is similar. And biking on the sidewalk without lights isn’t illegal in either state. (Not should it be, I think the general rule of “Unsafe operation of bicycle on sidewalk” ( http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.410 ) requires responsible ninja-ing.)

wsbob
wsbob
8 years ago
Reply to  Mark Allyn

It would seem you’re referring to this example from the story:

“…One woman was walking her bike home after cooking for an elderly neighbor. She said she was balancing a plate of fish and grits in one hand when an officer flagged her down and issued her a $51 ticket for not having a light. …” Tampa Bay Times

Keeping in mind that details of that stop are sparse, consistent with the Times report being an overview of years during which the police in Tampa apparently have been using bike citations in a big way…that citation under those circumstances seems way over the top. The officer could have just stopped and talked to the lady, asking whether she intended to ride the bike on the street at night after making her delivery, and recommending she get a light for the bike asap. That would have been good PR. Forget the citation until at least the next time.

The TBT story makes it fairly clear that it’s an open, publicly acknowledged fact, even by the police, that in Tampa, police aren’t just citing people riding bikes and making violations, in order to have the use of bikes for transportation be a safer way to get around.

The story is, that police in that city are using the citations as a kind of broad sweeping means of putting pressure on anyone, which as it turns out, almost always are black, in high crime areas, that may be up to some kind of criminal activity. In taking this approach, the police apparently are sweeping in a lot people whose only offense may be relatively minor infractions. So ‘anything goes’, seems to be the routine for citations issued for bike infractions committed in high areas of Tampa. That’s bad PR, conspicuously so, now to a very big audience, thanks in part to the Tampa Bay Times story.

One question I have, is that if the police issuing these types of bike citations is widely known amongst the public residing within high crime areas, to what extent have they been taking this into consideration when they set out on the road with their bikes? Have there been an increase in the number of bikes on the road that are properly equipped with lights? Are greater numbers of people riding bikes in these areas, complying with road use rules and regulations, stopping, signaling, etc?

soren
8 years ago

Riding a bike does not excuse Fraces Willard’s legacy of racism. She encouraged lynching by unceasingly promoting the racist stereotype that drunk african americans rape white women.

http://www.theroot.com/articles/politics/2011/03/womens_suffrage_and_racism_ida_b_wells_vs_frances_e_willard.html

Dave
Dave
8 years ago

Will someone please nominate Eben Weiss for a Pulitzer?

Beth
8 years ago

While everyone is all up in arms about what’s going on in Tampa — and, let’s be honest, in so many other US cities with tense racial divides and large pockets of black population density — let’s not get too smug about living in the bubble that is Portland.
OPB re-broadcast a fascinating program last night about how Portland came to be one of the whitest cities on the west coast — by design. People with societally-reinforced racial privilege still benefit from that history in a thousand prickly little ways. Denying our own city’s history in the face of something more blatant seems disingenuous. We ALL need to examine our privilege and do more for those who lack it, even here at home. Maybe especially here at home.

Pete
Pete
8 years ago

You write “Auto Boom” in reference to the article on pollution in Delhi, but I fail to see where the article establishes any correlation between increased car traffic (your implication) and the insanely high level of particulates in the air there. Delhi is an impoverished city where few can afford automobiles, and its air quality problems go far beyond diesel pollution. For one thing, if you’ve ever gotten rid of anything electronic, it was probably set ablaze there in order to harvest the gold and copper in it. India’s pollution problems in general (and China’s, for that matter) go far beyond whatever regulation can be put into place at the city level, and as much as we hate to admit it, our own consumption is as much to blame as any car or truck driver in many of those cities.