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Sunday, December 04, 2011

Valencia Police Ticket 530 Cyclists in Three Days

Los ciclistas no somos el problema; somos la solución. Me pregunto si la policía ha multado a 530 conductores en todo el año. Según las nuevas leyes muy anti-ciclistas, las bicis no pueden andar en los parques de Valencia como Viveros que tiene calles anchísimas. Hemos dado unos pasos para atrás en cuanto la modernidad.

It seems that the municipality of Valencia has begun to solve a thorny problem that never really existed in the first place: the fact that a few brave souls have decided to ride bikes in this city. Instead of thanking these people profusely for their effort to make the city cleaner, healthier,  and less of a traffic nightmare the city’s leaders have decided to punish cyclists by handing out over 530 heavy fines against bikers for such heinous acts as riding on the sidewalk and chaining their dormant bikes to trees or lamp posts.

This recent police action here in Valencia is wrong on so many different levels that I hardly know where to start. Let me begin with this: Two Hundred Euros! Why not just shoot violators on sight? Are they out of their minds? 200€? How much is the fine for driving on the sidewalk? It’s probably less, assuming that it’s even against the law here to drive on the sidewalk. Police rarely ticket motorist here, for anything. 200€ seems such a horribly disproportionate fine for riding a bicycle on the sidewalk on in a public garden, some of which—like Viveros Gardens—have  paths wide enough for two lanes of traffic.  People have been cycling in this beautiful park for probably over 100 years yet now that activity is illegal and subject to a 200€ fine.

This reign of terror by local police seems like it has as its objective to stamp out cycling in Valencia once and for all. Cyclist are forbidden from locking their bikes to trees, lamp posts or any mobiliario urbano which means just about anything that isn’t specified for bike parking of which the city has graciously provided 4,000 around this city of over 800,000 inhabitants (as one civic leader pointed out in an interview).  Once again I ask what was the original problem they are hoping to solve by forbidding cyclists to chain their bikes to lamp posts? Does it somehow hinder their effectiveness? Do they shine less brightly with a bike locked to their bases?

Just think about the police man hours spent writing 532 tickets. I would imagine that every one took at least 10 minutes from start to finish. Perhaps a lot more considering that most of the people being fined had no idea they were doing anything wrong and thus the police need to explain it to those sorry souls.

I would also wager that not a single person responsible for the new anti-bicycle laws has ever ridden a bike in their adult life.

2 comments:

  1. Ahmen! The bicifestación this last Sunday was pretty fun. I couldn't get a sense of what the turn out was, but it seemed effective in sending the message that there are a lot of disgruntled cyclists out there.

    The organizers (Valencia en Bici) also noted that the police campaign has now officially ended, for now. Which is to say that all those rules are still in effect, but the "shock and awe" phase of implementing them is now going to be toned down.

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  2. I didn't hear about the bicifestación but I put up a video of it. As I said, the city should thank cyclists for braving the streets here.

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