TPD to work with cyclists to curb bike ride’s lawlessness

In an effort to avoid targeted enforcement of the Tuesday Night Bike Ride, Tucson Police Department officials met with members of Pima County’s bike ambassador program on Monday night.

The meeting was organized by TPD officer Jerry Skeenes, who is in charge of the grant focusing on bicycle and pedestrian safety; and Matt Zoll, Pima County’s bike and pedestrian program manager.

Skeenes, who was asked by Downtown Police Sergeant Bart Rohr to help with a plan for getting the riders to obey traffic laws, said he doesn’t want to go out and ticket a bunch of cyclists.

“We want everyone to have a good time, first of all,” Skeenes said.

Skeenes originally hoped to provide ride leaders with assistance in reserving barricades and directing traffic for the ride, but realized the lack of organization would make that impossible.

“I am a little concerned we are not going to have a way to address the group,” Skeenes said. “That makes it difficult for us to handle without doing what law enforcement always does, which is go out cite people for stuff.”

To avoid that scenario, the bike ambassadors, who will be at the start of the ride handing out Share the Road guides and safety information, invited the officers to speak to the group before the ride.

Zoll said the bike ambassadors will not be going on the ride because of liability concerns, but wanted to facilitate a conversation.

“We are not here to tell the Tuesday Night Bike Ride what to do,” Zoll said.

Ignacio Rivera de Rosales, Pima County’s safety educator, BICAS board member and coach of El Grupo said this is a great opportunity for the cycling community to work with police rather than against them.

Sgt. Rohr said more and more 911 calls have been coming in because drivers are getting frustrated waiting at stoplights while hundreds of cyclists stream though.

“I have personally been in the intersection of 6th and Congress and seen hundreds and hundreds of people blowing through the red light, blocking traffic and taking up all the lanes of travel,” Rohr said.

Those actions are what have police concerned, not only because of the lack of respect for other people on the road, but because  it could lead to an angry driver driving into the group.

Skeenes said they will speak to the group Tuesday evening and hope the riders will police themselves.

“We want to support you in this thing, but we also have a job to do and that is protect everyone in the city,” Skeenes said. “We have to have some rules obeyed. Our goal is not to check up on the bike ride and follow people around, we are not interested in doing that.”

The TPD representatives stressed they wanted to make the ride fun and safe for everyone.

“Whether you are into bikes or not, Tucson prides itself as being a bike friendly community. We want to work towards something that is good for everybody.”

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22 comments
Red Star
Red Star

Good job on this one, Scott! Thanks!

rzar
rzar

Well said!

Karl
Karl

Don't feed the trolls guys

Colin
Colin

The only offense I perceived was that you seem to lack acknowledgment for the successes that these people have had. There is a long way to go and I don't disagree that it can't all be done within the system. Trust me if you knew me you would understand that. But I have worked with and spoken in depth with these people and they are getting new bike boulevards set up, they are constantly recruiting new cyclists and promoting a DIY mentality, and effecting a lot of change. Honestly I am flabbergasted at how much they are able to accomplish in the face of the car culture, within the system. I think that deserves acknowledgment. I think it is a lot more than "I'm dubious this will amount to much?". I don't see how you could call that not much. That's all. Not trying fight or be abrasive. I'm really sorry if I came off that way. Colin

Scott
Scott

Mike, if you refer to me at all I'm sorry. Allow me to try and sum up my position in that spirit without pointing to or addressing any specific person here.... Responsible cyclists are getting really really sick of constantly having to bear all the ill-will and backlash generated by the selfish minority of riders who seem to religiously believe that their choice of non-motorized transportation makes them “special” and exempts them from their legal and civil responsibilities. (Whether they boast here about engaging in such behavior themselves, or defend/praise it in others, there is no real practical difference, it's all the same attitude.) If anything, we as cyclists should be holding ourselves to a higher standard, not engaging motorists in a race to the bottom, both sides using each other's identical boorish behavior as the excuse for our own. Especially confounding is when such cyclists claim as the excuse for their behavior the very motorist anger and anti-bike backlash that their actions cause, while failing – or refusing – to make the obvious logical connection. I challenge anyone here to back up the claim, either with hard data or even with just a clear logical determination, how alienating the general public against bicyclists somehow helps our cause? I challenge anyone here who claims to believe that angry motorist are lying when they continuously complain that the source of their anger are those “entitled asshole” cyclists that ignore the law, to explain just what it is that they think is the real source of that anger? I challenge anyone to explain to me how, just because some motorists are a danger to cyclists to a certain extent already, that that make it somehow benign to engage in behavior that exacerbates the problem?

Colin
Colin

I think it's a broad statement to say you can't work with the police. In this case we are working with two individuals not the police institution. Now as individuals police can be hard to work with because of their beliefs or ignorance. With these two men this is not the case. They are reasonable and rational people and I think that a lot can be accomplished. These guys want the TNBR to happen and they want it to be unmolested. However when there is a proliferation of 911 calls the institution aspect or the police department takes effect. I don't think it's productive for the ride either. When the ride passes people legally it's exciting and inspiring and I've spoken to people who started coming on the ride because they saw it pass them in their car. However when it blocks traffic for multiple lights it goes from seeming beautiful to people, to being aggravating. I think this is counter productive. It should be an inspiration not an aggravation. In regards to Ignacio and others like him, I just thought this "Looks like the lines have been draw, unfortunately, and the well-intentioned diplomacy of guys like Ignacio's will ultimately l be wasted. In other words, I'm dubious this will amount to much." was a little insulting. Diplomacy can and does fail, but these people have a great deal of success in growing Tucson's bike safety and involvement every year and I think their successes greatly out weigh their losses. Meaning I think that what they do with the police and the community amounts to quite a bit.

Colin
Colin

@rynsa I disagree with your broad statements. Individuals like Ignacio, Tom Thivner, Matt Zole and many others have effected a lot of change in Tucson! We are getting more bike lanes and safety controls every month. There are massive safety awareness and training efforts that are all free to the public. Just this month the Police have received a lot of training on laws relating to cycling and have being organizing stings that target drivers who follow and pass cyclists to closely. I was at this meeting with the Police and they do not want to stop the TNBR. They simply want to make sure that everyone is safe. The ride has been reckless in ways that go beyond activism lately and has received a lot of 911 calls. Participants ran over a dog and broke it's leg for goodness sake! Plus I have been witness to many crashes where I am the only person that stops and the ride refuses to wait up. This is not solidarity within our community and it is dangerous in ways that are simply narcissistic. I mean really, who runs over a dog and doesn't stop!!! This leaves the police with no choice but to act. They have asked cyclists to try to help the ride police itself. I think this is more than generous considering what they are legally allowed to do. I am always hesitant when it comes to the police, but I can assure you they support the ride and want it to continue. In fact the officer in charge of this action said that Tucson is a bike friendly community and activities like the ride are an important part of that! Maybe you aren't aware of a lot of what has been happening in the community to further cycling. But all of us who work in the system that you seem to think is ineffective are accomplishing a lot. Cycling is getting safer in Tucson every day and I can assure you non of us think Tucson is perfect. We are not post bicycle advocacy. In fact we all try to recruit as many new ambassadors and advocates as we can. These people work hard and need your support and deserve credit for all the wonderful changes they have made in the Tucson cycling culture.

Scott
Scott

Translation: I've got nothing of substance to back up my absurd assertion that "Politically and in terms of messaging, yes, it is constructive" to anger and alienate the general public. I do have an apology for you... I'm sorry to have dissapointed you - obviously you came in here expecting to blame all our woes on the so-called evil car-culture and have everyone on a "velo" board blindly agree with you, and you seem unprepared to have anyone call you on it.

Scott
Scott

Yeah, that works - if you can't defend your wildly irrational position that alienating the general public somehow *helps* cyclists, toss around a bunch of diversionary accusations and leave in a self-righteous huff. You want to keep it on the level of ideas, let's hear an actual one.

rzar
rzar

Ok, we are talking about 2 different things. Of course anyone, car or cyclist breaks the law to avoid an accident. I wanted an example of a mass of cyclists breaking the law to bring about positive changes. My equation actually reads: Pissing off drivers = putting all cyclists in danger. How? A driver almost hits a cyclist who runs a red light, which I have seen and gets angry, not only for the inconvenience of slamming on the brakes but drivers are humans too and they don't want to kill anyone. Now they lump cyclists into "stupid" category and maybe they drift in on them to teach them a lesson. You don't care that a miffed driver is driving a lethal weapon? You purposefully piss that driver off. Maybe the next time he/she sees a cyclist they decide to teach that cyclist a lesson. I have had 2 friends hit because of this very thing. The driver did not hit them on purpose but misjudged when trying to teach them a lesson. IE pulled out in front of them and did not realize how fast the cyclist was going. Made a left turn in front of them and again did not realize how fast the cyclist was going. Obviously the driver who made the decision to do this is directly at fault. However what pushed them in this direction? Cyclists who continually break the law and do stupid things that endanger themselves and others. Anyway I am done. We won't see eye to eye. We have the same goal, safer streets for bikes and pedestrians, but 2 different paths.

rzar
rzar

You are right, I assumed, ass out of you and me, yeah i know, that since you labeled the TNBR as the "group who broke the laws" that meant you were against that. My bad. Can you still answer the question? I am really curious to know how you think people breaking laws and pissing off drivers will somehow make it better for cyclists?

rzar
rzar

Hah, I love posts that say "I will no longer be responding to you". When that in itself is a response!

rzar
rzar

I am not lumping the TNBR peeps into "Rebel Without a Clue" group. From many eyewitness accounts last week's ride broke traffic laws so they could keep up with the group not to make a statement. I was going on your praise of their lawlessness. If it turned into that then I would lump it into that. I am just extrapolating that if you were in favor of the way the ride went last week then you are for "activist" rides where people break the laws for attention. Which I disagree with wholeheartedly because all it does is anger divers. If you like it or not main stream USA will always drive cars and guess what, they are heavier and move faster then we do. So tread nicely. I am not saying just because we have lots of bike lanes compared to other cities we should stop. Hell no. Lets move forward, but NOT by causing anger in drivers.

rzar
rzar

@Rynsa in your first post you said "Good its working". In another post you say how cyclists should follow traffic laws and in others you just say how cooperation is not going to work cause there is some evil "car culture" out there. So can you tell me how causing frustration in drivers works to make changes? Cite examples? I can cite examples of drivers running into cyclists during Critical Mass rides in SF, but can you cite anything where it actually worked and how it would work in Tucson?

rzar
rzar

Try riding in suburban SoCal, then tell me we don't have enough bike lanes. We have the luxury here of thinking, "What are the few roads I have to avoid because they don't have bike lanes?". Euclid for example. Compare this to many cities where the thought process is "What are the few roads I have to use because they are the only bike lanes". So, you want the TNBR to take up an entire lane, run lights and stop traffic? If you want to "be traffic" you have to follow the same laws. I am an activist every time I ride. I follow all laws, stop at lights and stop signs fully and never react negatively when I am honked at. I try to be an example to drivers that not all cyclists are ass hats putting themselves and others in danger. If that is the route TNBR wants to take great! However turning into a Critical Mass like ride where the point is to stop cars, take up lanes, run lights and otherwise show examples of bad behavior then that is not activism. That is immature stupidity. Rebels without a clue, "ANARCHY!".

Monsoon
Monsoon

The goals of certain cycling activists cannot be met by generating, continuing, or promoting frustration between their group and an opposing group. That is a recipe for failure. An understanding of common goals is the recipe for success. What happens to an annoying bee that keeps on pestering a person? It gets squished. What happens to a bee that pollinates flowers? It is respected and left alone. I know, this is very deep... and probably changed your life.

Scott
Scott

That anger comes from somewhere, and if you bother to listen, seems to be consistantly directed at "all those idiots breaking the law." If you don't believe that scofflaws inspire anger in those affected by their behavior, than what do *you* think causes it?

James
James

The thing is, TPD is obviously trying right now to be nicer or more attentive to cyclists for whatever reason. And I don't believe that a parade of cyclists should be allowed to flow through stop lights holding up traffic, just like I don't think a parade of cars (they are everywhere all the time) should be able to blow through stop lights. I don't think the mindset should really be, "we can work with cops" or "we should work against cops", it should be "cops exist and they do what they do". It is a real pain that traffic laws are the same for bikes as for cars (not that they are enforced the same way), and we should work to change some of that (Idaho stop, etc?), but it's something we are going to live with until people change their driving habits or cars disappear, or we have a magic localizing of all communities so no one ever should think about driving anywhere... I guess I'm trying to say, saying a police force has "been co-opted by the car culture", is really an absurd statement because that is blaming a police force for following a product of modernity in America which took place over 60 years ago. Police are normal people (not a statement on what kind of people choose to join the police force) in the sense that they grew up with cars, and they enforce a car filled world. So when they come across bicycles in traffic, it is about as foreign to them as say, a car coming across bicycles in traffic. I have a lot of car anger issues, but as a bike advocate I can't let that transfer over to how I treat people I know or meet who drive (which is almost everyone). You have to come from a different angle - help them find a bike, fix their bike, get them to ride somewhere with you - show people how easy and nice cycling around town is. And with police you might talk to them normally, nicely, without fear, asking them about bicycle laws, perhaps trying to educate them about bicycle laws or bicycles or cycling in general and maybe it would remind them that they are normal people, instead of macho gushing and impulsive people who are hated and feared. It might work?

Scott
Scott

Of course they do - thanks directly to the intolerant actions of selfish "activists" who are more focused on tearing down the so-called "car culture" then on promoting bicycling; and no, the two are not one in the same and are not even dependant on each other. And we've already seen repeatedly what the "political" ramifications turn out to be every time you guys' "messaging" pisses off enough people to trigger the backlash.

rzar
rzar

I agree with Scott. We should not be angering drivers towards bicyclists! This just drives a wedge between the two groups and puts all cyclists in danger, hipster / roadie / commuter alike. We don't want TNBR to turn into Critical Asshole. Tucson has over 300 miles of bike lanes and is very bike friendly. We are NOT San Fransisco where Critical Mass was needed for a while. TNBR was started as a fun social ride NOT as activism since we don't really need it here.

Scott
Scott

What's working - getting Tucson motorists to hate all bicyclists? Yeah, that's constructive.

Jimg
Jimg

The TNBR is a great social and networking event. I believe people will listen, so long as TPD talks to the group as people. Once, TPD pulls the "God" card and starts talking down to people, people will stop listening and the respect will be lost. Keep it real, have someone from the bicycle squad come out the speak. They ride the streets all day, everyday and completely understand bicycle safety on the streets of Tucson.