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  • Cops and Couriers Do Battle

    Vancouver Province, January 19, 1991, page B2

    by Mike Roberts

    To paraphrase Jack Nicholson's naively optimistic line in Mars Attacks!,why can't we all just get along.

    But Vancouver's bicycle couriers aren't living in a B-movie-althoughmost argue that they might as well be, such is the zaniness overrunningtheir lives.

    The bike couriers are the young men and women who zip around town ontwo wheels hauling packages between businesses.

    The bike police are the uniformed men and women who chase them. So saythe couriers, who have had enough playing mouse to the cops' cat.

    It's all fun and games, sure, until someone gets a ticket. The minimumfine, now $100, is a days wages for most couriers. And say seasoned couriersKathy Golbeck and Martin Neale, the courier corps has been getting an inordinateamount of tickets lately. They say they're picked on by the police becausethey're highly visible and they're an easy mark for a quick cash grab.

    They say the bylaws affecting their job are as harsh as they are bizarre.Riding two abreast: Fine. Riding without hands on handlebars: Fine. Bikecourier fails to carry photo i.d. with name, address and date of birth:Fine and arrest without warrant.

    "I don't like to be treated like a criminal when I'm at work,"says Golbeck who, with Neale, is putting the Vancouver Bicycle CouriersAssociation on red alert.

    "I don't think there is any undue stress" Const. Bert Rainey,co-ordinator of the VPD's Bicycle Patrol, says of the cop-courier situation

    "We're an enforcement agency and you always meet with frustrationon the part of the motorist or cyclist. They're fairly free-spirited,"he says of Vancouver's 200 licensed bike couriers. "there are a fewwho certainly dislike police. (But) they're part of the downtown core justas we are."

    Rainey admits to a courier crackdown that began in November. He says10 per cent of their ranks were wanted on outstanding warrants. It washis job to haul 'em in and make 'em pay.

    But things have gone too far, says Neale. "They're ticketing usprofusely. It's very selective enforcement."

    Rainey says cops are simply keeping streets safe and enforcing warrants.

    Sure but why are they taking curbside pictures of couriers and arrestingthem without warrants.

    "That power of arrest is only for purposes of establishing identification,"says Rainey. "There are no criminal charges involved." Golbecksays one officer has been taking pictures of couriers who fail to produceappropriate I.D.

    Rainey denies it. He says accusations by couriers that their right toprivacy is being overridden is unfounded.

    Golbeck and Neale are looking forward to a continuing dialogue withthe police and city hall. In the interim, they are urging fellow couriersto take their fines to court.

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