The local cycling community has had it up to their helmets with the Ottawa Police bike patrol, and are now taking action. Numerous complaints have been filed with the city this season, citing infractions by police officers such as: cycling the wrong way on one-way streets, riding without helmets or bells, riding at night without lights, and disregarding bike lanes when riding in traffic.
Stan Polowski, a self-described frequent-cycler, and MAMIL (Middle-Aged-Man-In-Lycra), describes the police activity to be disgusting. “I’ve had it with these bike cops thinking they’re above the law,” said Polowski. “I was waiting to turn left onto Bank street about a week ago and one rode up alongside me and gave me a ticket because I had my foot outside the bike lane as I was waiting for the light to turn green. I got a ticket for something so small, while the cop who ticketed me rode up on the sidewalk! That’s not at all allowed!”
Cyclists in the area report an unusual affinity for pulling over visibly French cyclists. Pierre LeDouche says he was locking his bike in a park with his friend and a bike cop issued him a ticket for loitering. “I had just pulled up to the bike rack with my friend. We were speaking in French, and this bike cop gave me a ticket! He said we weren’t allowed to use those bike racks, as they were for Ontarians only,” says LeDouche, a resident of Gatineau, QC. Others have reported similar occurrences where simply speaking French while riding a bike will draw in a swarm of bike cops. “They seem to be attracted to the sound of French, like flies to poutine,” says Ledouche. The recent police crackdown on Quebec cyclists has prompted the creation of protest group, “Quebec Cyclists Matter.” The activist group has created a divisive debate in the city, with support from much of the public, paired with irrationally aggressive opposition from those who are largely unaffected by the issue.
Tauheed “2Wheelz” Epps, Ottawa’s councillor in charge of cyclist issues, has issued a statement of support stating “All cyclists matter in our city regardless of where they’re from. Ottawa will not stand for this abuse of power.”