This weekend I was stopped for the third time in three months by a police officer while bicycling. While there is an argument to be made that in one of these stops, I was in a “dismount zone” [an unmarked dismount zone], the other one was for riding while “hand-less”, a crime listed perhaps in a heretofore unknown Borges-esque book of statutes.
This time, while riding through Piedmont, I was stopped by an officer who wanted to make sure that the bike I was riding wasn’t stolen. There was no other reason. I’m no angel, but on that day I was following all the rules of the road [and no, it’s not illegal to ride “hand-less”, I looked it up.], stopping at lights and stop signs, and riding in the bike lane [although it actually is legal to take up an entire lane in California.]
Last year I received two tickets for jaywalking. All of this sudden attention, as soon as I gave up driving, has led me to wonder about my place in the world, viz law enforcement. Am I alone in this? Is it my perceived race? My beard? My long hair? What?!!!?
It really is about to drive me crazy, and is putting a serious crimp in my enjoyment of our East Bay unseasonal weather.
I still have no answers, but some internet research shows that I am not alone.
There is this essay, about bicycling while “brown or bearded”… (h/t Cecilia)
Maybe it’s simply easier to harass and arrest cyclists, since you don’t have to call the tow truck, or wonder if they have a gun under the seat. Perhaps, it’s class based, with non-bike drag cyclists seen as poor people with few resources. Otherwise, of course, they’d be driving a car! Maybe people who drive, like cops, just don’t like us, and this is a perfectly legal way for them to get their jollies out on harassing us. I don’t know. Any personal experience or insight is welcome.