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The Scraper Bike Team, which combines art and bicycles to promote healthy living and a positive outlook for urban youth in underserved communities, celebrated the opening of its artistic, 0.8-mile center-running bike lane on 90th Avenue in East Oakland a little over a year ago. Unfortunately, as seen in the lead image and the pics below, the community can’t enjoy the new facility because the Oakland Police Department has turned it into their personal parking lot.
“In the past, we have spoken to OPD about being parked in the lane. From that conversation I was under the impression that my opinion and concerns didn’t matter and they will continue to park there as they please,” wrote Tyrone “Baybe Champ” Stevenson, founder and CEO of the Scrapers.
Warren Logan, policy director of mobility and interagency relations for the mayor’s office of Oakland, tweeted this on-point comment about the situation:
Some days it feels like we’re not rowing in the same direction, but other days I remember some aren’t even in the same boat. https://t.co/KxdKc4jqLj
— Warren Logan 🚶🏾♂️🚲🏳️🌈✌🏽✊🏽 (@WarrenMobility) December 4, 2020
And no, these cops are not on a call (in case their lax postures leave any doubt). According to Babye Champ, this has been going on pretty much non-stop since the lane opened. “No call, no interaction. They just sit there for no reason at all!” he told Streetsblog.
“The Oakland Police Department is looking into this incident. Officers should not park in Scraper Bike lanes unless there is an emergency and shall remove their vehicles as soon as it is safe to do so,” wrote OPD spokesperson Paul Chambers in an email to Streetsblog sent Friday. “We are reminding our officers of the importance of keeping these lanes open for the enjoyment of our community.”
And here’s the view Saturday evening, a day after that statement:
Logan tells Streetsblog he is meeting with OPD today to try and rectify the situation. “This isn’t acceptable,” he wrote.
No, it isn’t acceptable, in Streetsblog’s view. But until the mayor’s office is able to get the police department to issue sanctions against these officers, nothing will change. The city has seen this kind of behavior before, where traffic rules don’t seem to self-apply. Let’s start by taking the three officers in the photo and banning them from patrolling with cars. OPD has a bike patrol, so put them on it. In the long term, it might help them better fit their uniforms: figuratively and perhaps literally.
“This is why the gap between police and community is so far apart. They don’t respect the community they serve. This is proof, ” wrote Babye Champ.
The Scraper Bike Movement, meanwhile, “…offers youth a sustainable group of peers that is positive and motivating. The team wanted to expand and enlighten young people’s perspectives on life through fixing and painting bicycles. The goal was to support youth entrepreneurship and cultural innovation… The Scraper Bike Team used each work of bicycle art to impact social justice and global change.”
To see the artwork without OPD sitting on it, check out this photo essay on the 90th Avenue bike lane in the East Bay Times.