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Toronto Police Bicycle corps. re-purpose bicycles at G20 Summit for crowd control

This weekend I saw many examples of how police were re-purposing the bicycle. I was distressing for me to see bicycles being used as weapons and as “aggressive fences” during the past weekend’s military like clamp down.

The video below shows a march along Carlton Avenue called “Justice for our Communities” that took place on Friday June 25th 2010. The march was organized by the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). In the past, OCAP has had some violent incidents with police. (see Wikipedia article, “Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Queen’s Park riot and aftermath“).

The group has matured over the years and now, I think, understands that their chosen tactic, ‘Direct Action’ must be peaceful in nature in order to succeed (this includes sit-ins and demonstrations that target the offices of politicians); and that violent confrontation with police only serves to empower the authorities use of overwhelming force.

There has been no evidence of such incident around this group in the ten years since the Queens park riot (one of the groups early actions), in on going campaign for street youth and the very poor.

But for the people setting policy in the Toronto Police, this group, they believe needs constant reminders of the power of the police though ‘special’ treatment. As such police policy makers decided that this particular march fit the bill for an application of the surreal level of security bring laid on this weekend, especially in the red zone, which this groups main neighborhood is pretty close to – Dundas and Sherbourne – Allen Gardens.

Note in the video how Toronto Bicycle Police are charged with walking along side the demo, on both sides, with their bikes wheel to wheel – basically creating a rolling fence.

As you can see this containment idea was an over-all strategy – all egress points along the route were manned – not by enough force to stop everyone if they decided to change the route – but by centuries, in military terms, or eyes and and ears on the field.

Later, along College Street police arrest a young black man it seems they’ve targeted through face recognition software, he’s deaf and they arrest him for not following police directive (which he cannot hear) and is taken behind police lines into an HMV store.

The crowd presses the doorway the police are defending, attempting to communicate with supervisors about the protesters deafness and secure his release. There is no evidence of violence from the crowd in all the video I’ve seen of this. But the crowds pressing in to the centre the police themselves have created leads to confrontation. Eventually the order comes to push the crowd back – to secure the police position.

In the ensuing may-lay Jesse Freeston a producer/reporter with The Real News Network (TRNN), and others are thrown back over police bikes, which for some reason are lying on the roadway. When he’s down Jesse is punched in the head – twice.

Right afterwards, Freeston asks the policeman who punched him why he did it. At 4:11 of the video Toronto Police Bicycle corp. use the handle bars of their bikes as batons to jab The Real News Network’s reporter while ordering him to leave the scene (he is working as a reporter on public sidewalk, at a permitted march).

Later in the same video (at 5:11), the Toronto Bicycle corp. use their bicycles as an “aggressive fence”, with the bikes tipped up on their back wheels in a line, the knobby tires right in your face.

I dislike seeing bikes used as weapons or fences. it’s really bad imagery and a sad weekend in the otherwise good ‘Police on Bicycles’ campaign that’s getting more police out of their isolating, ‘uber human’ patrol cars and on to the streets and sidewalks, talking with and getting to know folks in communities.


Posted: June 29th, 2010
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“Rolling Stops” a yeild to common sense over “Crack Downs”

Jun 24, 2010 @ 12:57

Over at the Biking Toronto Discussion group, “Bikelanes & InfrastructureColin McKay started the topic: “Can we please have a police crackdown on cyclists running reds?“.

The inflammatory title of the piece serves to begin a discussion about the differences between car and bike, the history of the creation of the infrastructure and the bias towards car traffic reflected in traffic law.


Oh well. That’s what I wanted to talk about here.

Three weeks and three days ago Mark added a common sense essay to the discussion the included a link to this great video below. This seems like a good place to start here.

Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop from Spencer Boomhower on Vimeo.

So far there are 12 comments on the discussion including one added today by Todd Tyrtle – have a look.

My take here and at this blogs sister site the “Bicycle Route Mapping Wiki“, is that everything must change a little, some things must change a lot in the transportation infrastructure of the city to make Toronto a bike friendly environment.

I rode courier for four summers and 3 winters people running reds was never a problem. Like the video says you make a habit of running red the problem will soon be gone – you’ll be dead. The main point of Mr. McKays introduction if I read it correctly is that we need to be taken seriously with in the commons.

I’m all for that – but you’re not going to stop a practice used by messengers to get they’re job done, on a grid that treats them like second class users – with a crack down – what ever that might be.

Equal, that’s the key I think; we all want to be treated like equals, but the stage the way it’s set right now has people with a car being a lot more equal than them without.

I agree that responsible cycling is key to the discussion, I even think bicycles should be licensed – along with changes to the drivers license test that includes much more about sharing the road, and perhaps even a section of the test that involves a bicycle road test for motor vehicle drivers! You can’t drive a car until you’ve got your cycling license for example.


This piece was cross published in Michael Holloway’s FilterBlogs.

Posted: June 24th, 2010
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Nice Ride Minnesota Bike Sharing program rolling out this month

Jun 21, 2010 @ 15:57
Minneapolis Minnesota's "Nice Ride" front page

Minneapolis Minnesota’s new Bike Sharing system is up and running this month.

UTNE READER pic The Future of Biking June 21 2010 michael holloway  biking toronto blog june 21 2010Utne Readers’s associate editor Julie Hanus’s column ‘The Sweet Pursuit’ grabbed hold of Minnesota’s new BikeShare program, “NiceRide” that’s rolling out this month and gave it a good look. Entitled The Future of Biking, and oh, David Byrne!, thr article gives a nice overview of the program celebrated at a “Pint and Policy” public meeting last week in Minneapolis.

The Bike Share program foreshadows Toronto’s own Bixi Bike Share that City council passed last month (see Biking Toronto article, Toronto City Council passes Bixi Toronto Public Bike Program).

Below is the interactive map at Nice Ride Minneapolis. Notice it’s set up to keep riders informed going forward. I’ve opened a bubble that shows how many bikes are at each Bike Station. Stations that are “Out of Service” are marked in red.

Minneapolis Minnesota's 'Nice Ride' Bike Station Map

Minneapolis Minnesota's 'Nice Ride' Bike Station Map


Posted: June 21st, 2010
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“Tour de Dufflet” Routes!

Jun 18, 2010 @ 15:19
The 3rd Annual "Tour de Dufflet" Banner

The 3rd Annual "Tour de Dufflet" Banner

Tour de Dufflet” is on again this year (May 25 – June 30). The tour rules are simple: ride to all three Dufflet Pastry Cafe’s in one day and get free sweets, maps and, new this year, ‘sippy’ bottles with the Dufflet logo on them! How très chic.

The three locations you “have” to hit are:

Downtown: 787 Queen St. W. (west of Bathurst)
Uptown: 2638 Yonge St. (south of Lawrence)
Beach: 1917 Queen St. E. (east of Woodbine)

..and sugar doping is allowed!

Today Joe’s Post here in Biking Toronto, Tour de Dufflet 2010 took me to the Dufflet Blog, and reading the Tour de Dufflet page, Tour de Dufflet herself twigged me with this post,

“..You could also check – riders who participate last year have posted route tips…”

Well I don’t know what took me so long, but that is a call for maps!

So, my first contribution is a ‘safe’ route that I’ve posted in Biking Toronto’s, Toronto/GTA Bicycle Route Mapping Wiki.

My “Tour de Dufflet” Map

A safe "Tour de Dufflet" route

A safe "Tour de Dufflet" route

To see the map at the Wiki click here, or on the map.

There’s a call in comments over at the Dufflet Blog for scenic routes, safe routes and fast routes as well. If you have a favorite route see the instructions in the Toronto/GTA Bicycle Route Mapping Wiki, and add your map!


Posted: June 18th, 2010
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