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So according to Bill Line of NPS, if I take a taxicab to the mall and pay the driver, that's illegal? If I get on Metro at the Smithsonian station, that's illegal too?

Correction: There have been at least TWO pedicab injuries... via taser.

It's about time to rein in the Park Police. This seems to have become more and more a renegade force unaccountable to anyone but parties with private monopoly contracts such as Tourmobile.

What a shame.

It seems the bigger challenge is the Tourmobile contract. Is there any way for citizens to way in on that big NPS deal?

The Park Police conduct here is outrageous.

I saw a pedicab in a very unusual place this morning--on the C&O Canal Towpath nearly all the way to Angler's Inn traveling westbound. No passengers.

Does this have something to do with the recent Supreme Court decision that conflates resisting arrest with assault on the arresting officer? I don't recall the details but I hope someone with more knowledge of the law can chime in here.

May I suggest the DC police start stopping every tourmobile and doing through vehicle inspections? Does anybody believe they are safe?

So, the PP get to use their monopoly of violence to preserve the rights of a vendor?

Can DC police arrest Park Police for civl rights violations?

What about taxis? Don't they pick up and drop off at the mall?

So tourmobile pays the nps a fee for monopoly access. But do they pay the city a fee? Maybe their access to city streets needs to be curtailed. Why should the city support nps's monopoly?

In the olden days, a real newspaper, perhaps like the Washington Post even, would start sniffing around the public records and interviewing people, looking for a possible corruption or abuse of power story. Since WaPo these days leans more toward supporting rather than exposing corruption and abuse of power, City Paper this time maybe?

The police state continues. This ruse of assault against a constable as justification for tasing someone is an old favorite.

What I don't understand is, with the ridiculous proliferation of smartphones nowadays, how is it that very little of this stuff gets filmed as it happens? Maybe pulling out the smartphone should be the first act when engaging DC's finest.

Hopefully this guy will pull in more witnesses and press charges.

But was he wearing a helmet?

For more park service/ Bill Lane absurdity read the article in Spokes Magazine about expanding the bike share to the Mall.

I was only able to find a PDF the article is on page 22.

http://www.spokesmagazine.com/assets/cms/files/currentissue.pdf

What absolutely kills me is that "engaging in commercial activity" is entirely common in one very conspicuous way: tour buses.

The entirety of both Madison and Jefferson Aves inside the mall are stacked with parked, idling tour buses pumping the air full of exhaust. Are these tour buses not there on commercial business? Absurd. Further, these tour buses are actively making the area worse for everyone around them by lowering the air quality of our nation's capital's most prominent green space.

NPS does need to do something about idling tour busses. They won't, though, until some congresspeople make it their pet issue.

The solution is obvious, an underground facility financed by user fees. As opposed to the current system of free use of a public resource for commercial benefit.

I'm not so down on Tourmobile. They are the most efficient, environmentally sound way of moving people around the Mall by keeping probably thousands of cars a day in the summer out of that area. Freeing up pedicabs would be the right thing to do, but will never move more than a couple of hundred people a day for shorter distances than Tourmobile trips.

Crickey7, I agree with you on the numbers side, but that makes the Park Police crackdown even more inexplicable.

It's the no-rules thing. The Park Police clearly believe everything should be in its designated place on the Mall. Pedicabs aren't regulated as vehicles, nor are there any rules about where they should be on the Mall as commercial operators, in large part because that assumes there is an answer to the question of whether they should be on the Mall. So because there is a vacuum, the pedicabs moved in to operate there, and the Park Police interpreted the law to say if it ain't permitted (with accompanying rules), it's prohibited. Ergo taseable.

Stuff like this makes me feel both angry and helpless. If I yell, who will listen? Will anything positive come of it?

Crickey7:
While I agree that it would be nice to find a way to get the tour buses away, I don't think that an underground facility is desireable. That whole area used to be a swamp, and so its a lot more difficult to keep the water out.

Flora, I looked that up. The only case I found was from the Indiana Supreme Court, and it said you can't assault an officer just because he/she enters your home in a way you think is illegal. Not the same as saying resisting arrest = assault. But maybe that's not the case you mean.

I leave the technical feasibility of specific design proposals up to the designy-people, aka engineers. Although I note that according to "24", there are even huge subterranean rivers in this vicinity.

There are any number of potential solutions, including utilizing some of the parking spaces near the Nationals stadium that are underutilized for long stretches of time. But none will gain traction unless the free and easy option of idling on NPS property is no longer available.

What do you do with all that exhaust inside a tunnel?

We already have tunnels called Metro. How about we build the buses parking lots near Metro stations outside the city and send the tourists into the city that way?

Let me get this straight. Park Police Spokesman Bill Line says Pedicabbers are engaged in illegal activity because of "cold-hard cash" transactions, something not allowed on the National Mall.

And yet, the Air and Space Museum, located on the National Mall, advertises on several of these very bikes. (Specifically, those owned by National Pedicabs.)

@Flora

GGW had this recent discussion on what might "legally" constitute assault on a police officer:

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/10619/assaulting-a-police-officer-may-not-mean-what-you-think/

Seems to me that the police are trying to define assault very broadly. Being able to add such a charge to an arrest helps negate any counter charge of excessive force :)

i saw it and the pedi driver already had one handcuff on and didnt allow the cop to apply the second handcuff. He kept trying to move away from the cop and push away from the car. he was definately resisting. The only lesson is if you already got 1 handcuff on you, just accept that your going to be dragged in to jail. Why fight it? your end up like this dope who got tased twice.

As Blue-Eyed Devil suggests, the consistent problem with these reports about pedicab run-ins with the USPP is the lack of video evidence. Maybe the owners of the pedicab companies could purchase helmet cams for all their riders, or, failing that, WABA could raise some money to outfit at least a subset of those riders with video recording devices. I'd be willing to chip in.

As fellow cyclists, also, we should all be on the lookout for any interaction between pedicabs and the USPP and record any such event with our phones/cameras just in case. If this is really a pattern of abuse, sooner or later, a damning video will result.

...officers are simply going after drivers who clog the roadway, impede traffic...

I think it's just awesome that the Park Police are now going to start enforcing various traffic laws. Maybe they can take a look at all the drivers doing 25-30 mph in the 15 mph zone on Jefferson Drive next!

I'll start holding my breath now. Yhhheeeehhhh....

DC collects a lot of cash from parking meters. Why does NPS allow parking meters for big ugly cars & trucks but not bikeshare's pretty red cycles?

Given the conflicting accounts, including one post on this blog suggesting that the pedicab driver was resisting arrest, do any of you even want to consider the possibility that this was a matter of officers doing their job, even if the law itself is suboptimal?

I understand that many cyclists are frustrated with law enforcement (though I have never personally had an issue). Contempt for the police, however, is generally not a great way to win public support. Just saying.

Sounds like the Pedicab driver asked for it. The officer asked him to move out of the cross walk. The others (also blocking the cross walk) moved when asked by the officer the one in question refused to move. Not really sure on the taser thing. Didn't see it :)

I too hope the Park Police will start cracking down on the drivers as they are the pedicabs but expect that's to much to ask for.

I witnessed this "attack" in front of the museum. I didn't use my phone to video the event although the rest of the crowd who saw it did. How about one of these other witnesses post their video to prove that the pedicab operator was resisting arrest and deserved to be tased? Anyone willing to show the truth?

Christine S, I can't tell from your statements whether you think the tasing was warranted or not. Care to elaborate on what you actually witnessed?


Given the conflicting accounts, including one post on this blog suggesting that the pedicab driver was resisting arrest, do any of you even want to consider the possibility that this was a matter of officers doing their job, even if the law itself is suboptimal?

I think the word you meant instead of "suboptimal" is "nonexistent." According to Mr. Line, the Park Police spokesman, the Park Police are cracking down on things that aren't actually against the law. The police have wide latitude to enforce the law as it exists, to the letter or not at all, but they can't enforce laws that don't exist.

Contrarian, presumably it is within the existing body of law that if a cop instructs you to move out of the crosswalk, you must comply.

(I'm not defending the cops, certainly, nor taking any position about something I didn't witness and of which no one has posted a video yet AFAIK.)

Just for grins, here's a little Youtube from 2009: "Mayor Fenty declares pedicabs the official vehicle of inaguration."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZuILrFZJMg

Antibozo: "Contrarian, presumably it is within the existing body of law that if a cop instructs you to move out of the crosswalk, you must comply."

I disagree
1. You are required to obey a lawful police direction. The question is whether this is lawful. Generally, the courts give wide latitude to the police, but there is a growing body of opinion that unyielding deference to the police creates its own problems.

2. Even if a police officer gives you a command, he is supposed to exercise judgement. If you disagree, should you be arrested immediately? Tased? Shot?

In the end, I believe that there needs to be an important public function before the police can arrest someone. Contempt is insufficient.

So if they become regulated, will they be given a designated bike taxi parking space, or will they be allowed to use current taxi parking pick up areas?

Also, has it not occurred to anyone that the driver may have been dancing (or merely tapping his foot, thus justifying the double tasing?

Contrarian, I have to suspect that there is a valid legal basis for a cop to instruct the operator of a pedicab, or any vehicle, for that matter, not to block a crosswalk.

Even if the pedicab driver did "resist", is tasing really the next level? Are our police officers so out of shape that they can't strong-arm people anymore? Maybe in ten years we'll all have to wear magnetic boots like in "Face-Off" and when citizens get too rowdy the cops just lock it down and tase you without the hassle of any potential "resistance". Judging by the park police behavior as of late I suspect they'll be the first to implement such a system, making it mandatory for entrance to facilities on the Mall.

According to Mr. Line, the Park Police spokesman, the Park Police are cracking down on things that aren't actually against the law.

On the basis of what have you concluded that Mr. Line is incorrect in claiming that "pedicabs are engaged in illegal activity when they come onto park service property because they aren't allowed to make commercial transactions on the National Mall or the park service property around it"?

By the way, I suspect that the tasing was probably excessive. My issue is with the automatic reflex to defend cyclists and vilify cops. It's intellectually dishonest and it does bike advocacy a disservice.

The reality, for better or worse, is that most Americans trust the police. In the long term, any movement that wants to succeed needs to come to terms with that. Cyclists like to see these issues in terms of civil rights, but civil rights protestors in 1960s understood that the price of civil disobedience was arrest, and they accepted that. Without accepting the law, they accepted the *principle* of the law. In doing so, they demonstrated a maturity that is strikingly absent in the cycling community.

Our version of civil disobedience is Critical Mass: protest as gratification, without conscience or principle.

@guez

I'd draw finer distinctions. The roots of Critical Mass grow from anarchism and punk as much as from city cycling. CM is an avowedly non-directed movement with a relationship to bike advocacy that is more incidental than tactical.

People of all stripes automatically vilify police officers. I agree that it's facile and unproductive, but given the police brutality scandals of the last 20 years, it's hardly surprising. (How many major police departments are operating under consent decrees?) The response of bike advocates mirrors the response of every other community, when confronted with the same kind of use of force.

Most Americans trust the police? Debatable. Certainly untrue across all communities - trust of police falls dramatically with contact with police. Gallup runs periodic polls on public perceptions of the police. In 2005, about 31% of respondents reported the perception of police brutality in their area, down from about 39% in 1991. Overall confidence in police abilities had dropped to about 50%.

Re: Injuries due to pedicabs: Actually, there have been several injuries to customers riding in pedicabs here on the West Coast. I would say they're not 100% safe.

Of course, you guys don't have quite the hills that Seattle does in its downtown core, so you don't really have to worry about a pedicab going too fast down a hill and having its brakes fail.

R.I.P. civil disobedience.

Jesus, some of you people and your obeisance and fawning at the feet of authority scare the shit out of me (it's one of the reasons this country is involved in 6 illegal wars right now, but let's not get started on that one). Just because a cop tells you something doesn't make it right (many times cops don't know the law themselves) and certainly doesn't make tasing the de facto m.o. for handling the situation (basically, SJE got it right above). I don't presume to know exactly what happened here, but it seems to me that tasing should be used to counteract violence or the apparent threat of it. Not because you have to tell someone something twice and you want to see how well your new "toy: works.

And please, just as with motorists, cowering before power or mindlesly saluting its every order regardless of whether that order is legitimate doesn't earn you respect. It just makes you more powerless.

@guez...

...but civil rights protestors in 1960s understood that the price of civil disobedience was arrest, and they accepted that. Without accepting the law, they accepted the *principle* of the law.

They may have accepted the price of arrest and the "principle" of the law, but they didn't advocate for it or appreciate it, and they damn sure didn't accept being beat in the head with a truncheon or tear-gassed in response to nonviolent acts.

Bottom line: there's an ambiguity in the law as to whether pedicabs are allowed to operate on the Mall. The pedicabs think they are. The Park Police think the pedicabs aren't allowed to conduct their business there, although the police will allow a quick stop here and there to pick up or drop off a passenger, like taxicabs can. The police think they've made it clear and the pedicabs aren't cooperating. Frankly, each side thinks they're in the right. The difference is that when the police think they're in the right and give a pedicab operator an order on that basis, the pedicab better either listen to them, or be prepared to be tased and then fight in court to prove they're right.

Blue-Eyed Devil: no one claimed that whatever a cop tells you is right. AFAIK, it is illegal to block a crosswalk with any vehicle, and moving off the crosswalk is something one should do out of common courtesy, and a cop shouldn't *have* to tell you to do so. I would say it's certainly within the cops' purview to give you that instruction, and that's not a matter of obeisance, fawning, or cowering.

antibozo, I didn't say anyone made any claims. And my statements about obeisance weren't directed at the pedicab driver, but at some of the reactions here. And as for whether the pedicab driver was "blocking" the crosswalk, I'm not sure about the details there; what I read says only that he was "in" it. But I'd guess that this issue wasn't at all about "blocking" a crosswalk. I believe that's called "pretext."

the taser doesnt land in somebodys back if he is assaulting a police officer. who assaults another man with their back to him? how is that even physically possible - he does a backward punch? Ludicrous.

Wow, so apparently the park police are authorized to use weapons and force to enforce a private contract between two entities? I'd like to hire them to work things out with my cell phone company.

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