Harassment on two wheels

I am interested if anybody has had any run ins with the Minneapolis Police Department while biking? I’ve heard reports of harassment especially in the downtown area, and know that historically that the Police in this city have a record of harassing everyday people, bikers and non-bikers. Just curious to here some first hand accounts.

10 Comments so far

  1. Elizabeth (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

    Now, I’m not a fan of cops in general, but I do see cops being jerks to bikers around here all the time. A few days ago I was at a stoplight at a really not busy intersection a few blocks off Nicollet and E 18th. Facing me on the other side of the intersection was a cop car. Two bikers slowed down at the red light and then went through. The cop got on his speaker thing and said, “Stoplights are for bikers too!” Really stupid (even more so because it was completely ineffective).


  2. Lex (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

    Are you referring to bicyclists or motorcyclists? As a motorcyclist, I have a couple stories of cops being hard on (motor)bikers. In particular was a time when my boyfriend and I weren’t able to trigger a left-arrow at an intersection, so we went through while it was red (yielding to oncoming traffic). There’s a state statute that specifically says we can do that (rather than hold up traffic indefinitely) and a cop pulled my boyfriend over and yelled at him, even after the boy explained the situation. No ticket, but the lecture was rather annoying.

    And I’m not sure why Elizabeth thinks what the cop did in her example was stupid… because he is right. Bicyclists are supposed to follow all the same traffic laws as cars.


  3. Dave Dash (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 6:30 pm

    Lex, I’m refering to bicycles, the world of motorcycles is mostly unknown to me. Although in your instance, you are correct.

    As far as the incident in Elizabeth’s comment, I agree the law states that bikes must obey motor vehicle laws, but it’s completely understandable why it was broken. I’m actually surprised that they didn’t pull the bikers over.


  4. Biker (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 7:21 pm

    Dave, I do not think it is understandable why the law was broken. According to Elizabeth, they didn’t even stop. This is the type of thing that makes police harass bikers.

    Not that I think that’s right either.


  5. Elizabeth (unregistered) on August 24th, 2006 @ 10:12 pm

    Yes, I understand that bikers must follow cycling laws. What annoys me most about this incident was the snarky way the cops chose to deal with it. If these laws are so sacred then don’t the cops have a responsibility to enforce that law with a ticket (not that I would have been happy with that, I’m just sayin’)? It was something about the bullhorn thing that really made this obnoxious to me. But like I said, I’m suspicious of cops in general, so with that I step aside from the discussion.


  6. DaveP (unregistered) on August 25th, 2006 @ 7:00 am

    The MN Critical Mass site is dead, but has pointers. http://www.mncriticalmass.org/html/openingpage.html

    Note that today’s a Mass day.

    Generally things go pretty smoothly. And then about once a year, for some reason it all goes sideways. One year it was flatbed trucks full of bicycles with the riders hauled off in paddy wagons. Another it was tackling people off bikes. Search the archives.


  7. Joe (unregistered) on August 25th, 2006 @ 8:31 am

    There has been a couple instances where I almost hit a biker that ran a red. Would I have felt bad? Sure, but no worse than if I hit a car running a red.

    Just because your more mobile does not mean that you can break the laws.

    Cops should be nice to bikers, but if they see one breaking traffic laws – they should bust them each and every time.


  8. Katie (unregistered) on August 25th, 2006 @ 9:52 am

    Interesting how a post about cops harassing people has turned into “bikers break laws!!!”.

    One, if you’re not considering the nature of the law, the law is useless. The laws are meant to protect people, not to be a hard and fast rule that we follow…well, y’know, just because it’s a law. At some point don’t you wonder why certain things are or are not legal? A law is NOT something that should be created so the cops have an excuse to harrass people when they’re bored. That is what many of them have become.

    Two, biking is dangerous. The fact is, many times there are no good choices for bikers. People in cars often do not want you there and they make it clear…by endagering your life. If you bike on the sidewalk you are supposedly endagering other people, no matter how slow and careful you are. (Personally, I can bike as slow as I can walk and if I need to bike on a sidewalk for a block or two to avoid a particularly life-threatening situation I’m damn well gonna do it. Fuck the law. My life is more important than a law made by some suit who drives a Buick.)

    Three, there is a difference between being told you are breaking a law (more effective would be explaining WHY the law is necessary) and being verbally and physically assaulted by someone against whom you CAN NOT DEFEND YOURSELF. The fact is, if a cop is harassing you, you have no defense. Unless people are willing to realize that we the people make the laws, the cops work for us, and they need to have some sort of retribution if they overstep their bounds they will keep abusing their power.


  9. Dave Dash (unregistered) on August 25th, 2006 @ 10:48 am

    Sorry to clarify why I think its understandable the law was broken it’s the same reason why I understand that people break speed limits.

    Yes, bikers should use caution when running red lights, they should look both ways and do it safely. They shouldn’t try to endanger peoples lives.

    The same goes for people who speed. Fine if you speed. The de facto law is its okay to speed within reason if its done safely.

    Anyway not to cut off this interesting thread, but it would be nice if we could stay on topic. I really want to hear just about the harassment stories. … I have a purpose that is a followup post that relates bicycle safety to police harassment, but I;’d like to get some stories.


  10. James Eckard (unregistered) on August 25th, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

    Yes, I’ve seen the cops stopping bikers on Nicollet Mall and they need to do it more often. As a bike rider and a bus rider I’ve seen some really really stupid bikers get nearly creamed by a bus several times. I mean really, Minneapolis has setup some great bike lanes on city streets and hardly anyone uses them. They all feel they need to go down Nicollet Mall and weave and play chicken with the buses.



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