Let me start out by saying I am not anti law enforcement. I don’t think we need to defund the police; although I do think reform or retrain might have been better words. But lately I’m finding I’ve stopped waving, saying good morning, or buying a Cafecito for these folks. I think the following three recent experiences might shed some light.
A few months back my neighbor and I were standing outside chatting across the alley that separates our homes. The alley isn’t much wider than a small pickup. Suddenly I see a van come speeding down the alley. I waved frantically and motioned the driver to slow down. The driver swerved to avoid me and drove onto my neighbors grass. She was holding her infant. She backed away. He continued thru the cross street without stopping or barely slowing. I caught the license plate. I emailed our neighborhood officer hoping maybe he could just go knock on the door (yeah, it turns out the person lives down the street.) Our neighborhood officer never responded.
A few weeks ago a driver, who clearly doesn’t understand bicycle laws, started yelling and screaming at me to get off the road. I asked if he knew the law – that law being that in many places a bicycle has as much right to use the road, the whole roadway, even when there is a bike lane. He sped up ahead of me, pulled over, jumped out of the car and came at me. This is South Florida. People have guns and shoot others just because. I pedaled my ass off. Found a police officer at the next corner and told him what was going on. The officer wanted nothing to do with the situation because no gun was pulled nor was I assaulted. Okay, I see……so unless I get touched or killed law enforcement wants nothing to do to help? As the car was coming down the boulevard I pointed it out. All the officer had to do was pull the guy over explain the law to him and guess what…..I’ll bet the guy would never pull that shit again. But no, the officer couldn’t be bothered because coming at me with anger and threat doesn’t matter. I guess? I also emailed our Police Chief and Mayor since a couple of years ago they made a commitment to bicyclist safety in our city. Of course that commitment went nowhere. My email was also ignored.
And then just this past weekend an officer on a very popular cycling road here in South Florida not only got within 3 feet of our group, which is violating the law, but also decided to blare the horn at us when we were riding to the right side of the road, two abreast, which is the law. The officer appeared not to be rushing anywhere. No lights. No sirens. Maybe there was a warm donut up ahead. An email exchange with the sheriff’s department (I caught the unit number that almost wiped us out) apologized for the “inconvenience” not once, but twice. Inconvenience!!!!!?????? Your deputy is an idiot. Was showing contempt for cyclists and put us in danger. This was not an inconvenience. I pushed backed at the Lieutenant when the word was used twice. I was told it would never happen again and the deputy would get a talkin’ to.
I get it. These people go out there every day and face danger. And I know there is bigger shit going on. But guess what law enforcement, my shit is important to me too! A returned email and maybe a knock on that van driver’s door? A quick lesson to a motorist about the law? Calling something what it really is when your employee fucks up? That’s all it would have taken. But instead I’m writing a blog entry about why it’s getting harder and harder to support and respect law enforcement.