The Chainlink

'Biking while black': Chicago minority areas see the most bike tickets

Okay as the article points out there are lots of potential explanations for this but not a single North side area listed in the top ticked areas?

As Chicago police ramp up their ticketing of bicyclists, more than twice as many citations are being written in African-American communities than in white or Latino areas, a Tribune review of police statistics has found.

The top 10 community areas for bike tickets from 2008 to Sept. 22, 2016, include seven that are majority African-American and three that are majority Latino. From the areas with the most tickets written to the least, they are Austin, North Lawndale, Humboldt Park, South Lawndale, Chicago Lawn, West Englewood, Roseland, West Garfield Park, New City and South Chicago.

Not a single majority-white area ranked in the top 10, despite biking's popularity in white areas such as West Town and Lincoln Park."

Read full article at the Tribune site...

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Where is everyone? This seems like important stuff wouldn't you agree?

Yes. Surprised people aren't weighing in on this. Perhaps people don't want to encourage more tickets on North side. :)
Still processing this, personally. If i had to make cursory comments:

1) when i ride in some of these areas i see a greater percentage of bikers not acting at all like regular traffic
2) biking that way doesn't seem abnormal, especially when (at least some places) bikes feel unwelcome on roads
3) some places in these areas actually have bike lanes, for instance, but I've almost never seen another rider using them. More often than fellow bikes i encounter long-parked cars or lawnchairs/grills set up for cookouts (cough garfield park all the time cough)
4) i am very surprised that cops are writing tickets, for one because i would think they have better things to do (like aforementioned bike lane blockages or unwelcoming driver behavior), and because the police presence in some of these areas doesn't feel like they'd pay attention to bike infractions.
5) maybe i don't have a good sense of amount of cyclists in some of these areas, or the amount of tickets being written to bike lane parkers, based on article's graphs/statistics.
6) basic racism stuff - maybe that should be number 1
7) people don't seem to comment much anymore on chainlink topics
And 8) the trib comments section is hilarious

I can't bring myself to look. What's the vibe?

Anti bicyclist of course. Biking for transport in general I find it to be a good study in discrimination. I had to carefully get on the sidewalk last week and had a pedestrian yelling at me to get in the snow filled vehicle parked bike lane. Ya just can't win in this car sick city.

I rarely bike in these areas so don't have any insights into real life experience. But I too am really surprised they are writing tickets.  I bike all over much of the North side and I never see cops writing tickets for the most flagrant traffic or car.  I have run red lights (after stopping) with cop cars next to me and they don't blink.  My sense - based on anecdotal experience - is that CPD is completely demoralized and many of the police (not all) want to do as little as they can.  

When I ride in Garfield Park, too often I see bike lanes clogged up with parked cars, lawn chairs, or just flooded and/or full of mud. Many locations in these neighborhoods lack safe bike infrastructure.

I was discussing this article with a CPD officer who worked several years on the west side (North Lawndale and Little Village). His perspective: more officers are assigned to districts with high crime stats, so more are available to write tickets. 

He agreed that writing tickets just for riding on the sidewalk (especially where there isn't another safe option) is bad for low income communities. He thought that, in some situations, stopping someone for riding on the sidewalk might be a tactic to get probable cause to check for other things, like carrying drugs. He also wondered if some districts might have quotas for total number of tickets or certain categories of tickets. 

He doesn't feel that this is a constructive approach.

I'm no lawyer but I don't think that is the definition of "probably cause."

Probable cause would be seeing somebody and having a reason to think they committed a crime.  

What you have described - stopping somebody to just check them for other things- is stop and frisk which is illegal in Chicago and most of the U.S.

Stopping someone riding on the sidewalk or wrong way down a one way IS the exact definition of probable cause. The drug dealers use lockouts on bikes, they are the dealers themselves, or they are the protection (aka armed) for the block and it's dealers. After they are stopped an officer could make more PC to further the stop, or garner enough suspicion to further an investigation, which then they must document. Since the majority of police power, as well as drug sales, is concentrated in poor communities of color it would make sense this "trend" would even be in existence. In places like Buck town or Logan, while there are probably dealers and users, they aren't as numerous or blantant as let's say Lawndale or West Garfield park.

CPD surveillance/enforcement officers aren't driving around with ticket books.  It's not like they're arresting a gang member for a felony drug or gun offense and also writing him a ticket for riding his bike on the sidewalk.  This data is about generally law-abiding people who are only committing minor traffic violations, like your average car driver.  If somebody is openly selling rocks and blows on a corner in Lawndale, CPD doesn't need to manufacture PC through bike law enforcement.

Actually if they have the PC to stop someone for a bike infraction versus only reasonable suspicion (which more than likely will get tossed in a PC hearing), wouldn't it make sense to use the PC to their advantage?

And I can tell you with almost certainty that Chicago doesn't have as many officers doing surveillance/enforcement as you might think. They can barely man the beat cars let alone special units.


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