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Old 02-08-06, 05:19 PM   #1
chroot
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Interesting altercation at the light-rail station

This morning, the BART (light-rail) system was running about a half-hour late due to some mechanical problems. When i finally arrived at the Fremont, CA BART station, it was packed to the rafters.

Despite (small) signs indicating that bicycles are not allowed on the escalators, I decided I was in no mood to wait with the other 50 people for the painfully slow elevator, and opted for the escalator. I respectfully let everyone else in the throng down the escalator first. Only myself and another man remained at the top. He looked remarkably like Ron Jeremy, and was pushing a loaded wheelie-cart with probably 50 lbs of stuff on it.

He stepped onto the escalator before me, only to look up a second later and tell me "You're not supposed to do that."

I said, "I know," and stepped onto it anyway.

He looked at me for a second and said "No, really, you can't do that."

"Well, you can't do what you're doing either," I said, motioning to his wheelie cart. The hypocrisy that was plain to me was apparently invisible to him. The point of the escalator rules, of course, is to ensure the personal safety: so you don't drop your crap and push someone else down the escalator. It's not like strollers and bicycles are capable of such things, while 50 lb. wheelie carts aren't.

He flashed his BART badge at me and said "Yeah, but I work here."

"So the rules don't apply to you if you work here? That must be convenient for you," I said. He narrowed his eyes and blinked a few times.

"This isn't a stroller," he said. (Strollers are also prohibited.)

"What's the difference between that a stroller?" I asked.

"Well, there's no BABY on this," he said.

I responded with the only sensible response: "Okay. There's no baby on my bike, either."

He just scowled at me.

"Are empty strollers allowed on the escalator, then?" I continued.

"No."

"So what's the difference between that and an empty stroller?" I pressed. At this point the guy looked like he was about to pop a vein. He didn't say anything.

"When you start following your own rules, I'll follow them, too, okay?" I offered.

He was positively seething at this point. "You need to go get a f***ing clue, you f***ing Johnny Bicycle f***," he yelled. Yes, that's right, he called me... Johnny Bicycle. Actually, not just Johnny Bicycle, but a Johnny Bicycle f***, which I presume is even worse. "Next time I'm going to give you a f***ing ticket!" he finished.

"You can't give me a ticket; I didn't break any laws," I countered.

At this point, he just rushed away from me. I yelled that he should take some anger management classes, and left.

I spent the next 10 miles of my bike ride alternating between laughter and thinking of things I could have said to goad him further. If only the escalator had been ten feet longer, I'm sure I could have added a few jabs about his pudge, or his unfortunate career. It would have been positively brilliant if I had pushed him over the top and he had assaulted me on the escalator. If you can get a million bucks for spilling McDonald's coffee on yourself, I can't even imagine what you can get for tumbling down an escalator with a bicycle and a wheelie cart full of crap after having been assaulted by a government employee.

- Warren
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Old 02-08-06, 06:18 PM   #2
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Maybe it's a stupid rule but the guy was just doing his job. If the train was packed and half an hour late I'm sure it was full of other cranky people he had to deal with, and I'm going to take a wild guess that being a cart pusher in the BART system probably isn't making him rich. I'm not excusing this guy's behavior, but in his situation I might not have acted that differently.
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Old 02-08-06, 06:42 PM   #3
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I think you need to change your user name to Johnny Bicycle ****.

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Old 02-08-06, 06:50 PM   #4
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- and this is near one of the more bike-friendly cities?

- i'd hate to see a bike-unfriendly city!

:-)
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Old 02-08-06, 07:50 PM   #5
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Its another case of a rule being put in place to facilitate common sense, then common sense being thrown away in order to abide the rule.

Rule was most likely put in for peoples safety and convenience during busy times. Then when its completly empty, people still demand you abide the rule.

Like sitting at a red light out in the country at a non busy intersection , where you can clearly see a mile each direction down the cross street. But people are expected to sit and wait for a light to tell them when its safe for them to go.
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Old 02-08-06, 08:52 PM   #6
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A guy at an ancient Greek site forbade me from using my camera tripod because it was against the rules. He then offered to let me set my camera on his stool. I guess it was OK because the stool had 4 legs. Sometimes you meet a rules freak. Probably the product of overly stern parents.

BTW, I was OK with the no tripod rule. I just thought his remedy was a little funny.
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Old 02-08-06, 11:19 PM   #7
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Haha, that story rules. I'm with Az B, you should retire your nickname and adopt Johnny Bicycle ****. Or at the very least, change the little description under your name.
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Old 02-08-06, 11:28 PM   #8
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Haha, that story rules. I'm with Az B, you should retire your nickname and adopt Johnny Bicycle ****. Or at the very least, change the little description under your name.
Have a shirt printed with your new name, expressly for wear when you're using the BART system. The guy is sure to see you again. If he described the encounter to the guys back at the shop, you might become a minor celebrity...or a target.

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Old 02-08-06, 11:32 PM   #9
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Yes, I agree, chroot should change "Newbie extraodinaire" to "Johnny Bicycle ****".

That dude was out of line and apparently incapable of reason. It's a good thing you didn't get a chance to launch your own personal insults because that would have put you out of line too.
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Old 02-08-06, 11:52 PM   #10
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Johnny Bicycle. I like that too. Hate to say this. But as my profile shows, I have a chance to live elsewhere for awhile, thanks to my wife's international teaching credientals. But, can't help but compare how things are run where ever you have lived. Why is it, it seems US police authorities seem so stressed.
Here in Roussillon, there hardly seems to be a significant police presence. Mostly when you see police is at crossing guards when school gets out.
Anyway. We saw a police confrontration at a restaurant/bar in Perpignan. Our impressions are in spite of the drunken state of the bar patron, the police used a minimum of force or confrontrational speech.
They talked to him in spite of his rowdy nature; the conversation seemed not too heated. At the larger train stations guards seem less obvious. Maybe couple National guards with machine guns! In Paris at least.
Should this impression hold. My question. why. There is less crime, are the police better paid and trained. Or maybe the police seem less threatened because they have less chance of being shot? Coming back to US now. Just feels different.
Here, Police seem to be everywhere. Think one thing. Europe uses more electronic surveillance for speeders, so maybe that is it. As an explanation as to why fewer police are seen on the streets. Or maybe we just live in the wrong part of the country.?
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Old 02-09-06, 08:22 AM   #11
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You did not call him "peasant" or "porter boy?" /..... shame on you!!!
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Old 02-09-06, 09:09 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot
Johnny Bicycle. I like that too. Hate to say this. But as my profile shows, I have a chance to live elsewhere for awhile, thanks to my wife's international teaching credientals. But, can't help but compare how things are run where ever you have lived. Why is it, it seems US police authorities seem so stressed.
Here in Roussillon, there hardly seems to be a significant police presence. Mostly when you see police is at crossing guards when school gets out.
Anyway. We saw a police confrontration at a restaurant/bar in Perpignan. Our impressions are in spite of the drunken state of the bar patron, the police used a minimum of force or confrontrational speech.
They talked to him in spite of his rowdy nature; the conversation seemed not too heated. At the larger train stations guards seem less obvious. Maybe couple National guards with machine guns! In Paris at least.
Should this impression hold. My question. why. There is less crime, are the police better paid and trained. Or maybe the police seem less threatened because they have less chance of being shot? Coming back to US now. Just feels different.
Here, Police seem to be everywhere. Think one thing. Europe uses more electronic surveillance for speeders, so maybe that is it. As an explanation as to why fewer police are seen on the streets. Or maybe we just live in the wrong part of the country.?
New York is the safest big city in the US and yet our police tend to be quite surly, not to mention flippant even in the face of some complaints (try talking to them about an identity theft or a reckless driver, get laughed at -- it's happened to me). Naturally this does not apply to all NY cops, but in my recent experience (not so much years ago), they're not the friendliest lot, forgetting the "servant" in "public servant", so to speak.
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Old 02-09-06, 09:12 AM   #13
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I guess I'll desent from the norm on this thread. You did something that you knew was wrong and you had a battle of wits with someone, because you were doing something wrong. It doesn't matter what he was doing, that doens't make it right. Go ride your bike.
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Old 02-09-06, 09:30 AM   #14
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I read somewhere once how to avoid confrontation. When he told you not to do that just say, I'm from Canada (or any other city, state, country or planet). Any further remark on his part just smile and say it again.
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Old 02-09-06, 10:22 AM   #15
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I read somewhere once how to avoid confrontation. When he told you not to do that just say, I'm from Canada (or any other city, state, country or planet). Any further remark on his part just smile and say it again.
HaHA. That made me laugh out loud in the middle of my cubile farm. Great idea.
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Old 02-09-06, 10:26 AM   #16
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I guess I'll desent from the norm on this thread. You did something that you knew was wrong and you had a battle of wits with someone, because you were doing something wrong. It doesn't matter what he was doing, that doens't make it right. Go ride your bike.
I agree. Part of what makes society work is that we follow agreed-upon rules. Unless there was an emergency, there does not seem to be any justification for not simply using the elevator, as you are supposed to.

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Old 02-09-06, 10:37 AM   #17
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When I arrive at work (Vancouver International Airport) I usually ride my bike about 50 yards through an indoor luggage pick up area just past the access road doors.

Every so often a security gaurd has to point out that you're not supposed to ride a bike in this area, but of course, the airport has a bicycle patrol that rides in this same area on a regular basis. Furthur, there is no indication anywhere that bicycles must be walked.

One time, I asked a guard about the other gaurds riding their bikes and he said, that's different, they've taken a bicycle safety course. He had no answer when I told him I took the same course.
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Old 02-09-06, 10:43 AM   #18
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BART is a heavy rail system, not a light rail system.
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Old 02-09-06, 10:44 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by cyclezealot
Here, Police seem to be everywhere. Think one thing. Europe uses more electronic surveillance for speeders, so maybe that is it. As an explanation as to why fewer police are seen on the streets. Or maybe we just live in the wrong part of the country.?
It's just a different way of doing things. Police are omnipresent in the US because they believe that is what the general populace wants. There have been studies comparing aggressive patrol with only coming out when called and they found that it had no effect on crime rate. Most police know that, but they still spend hours driving around and making themselves visible. It's not to deter crime, but to make people feel secure. Fear of crime is almost all about perception.
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Old 02-09-06, 10:57 AM   #20
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Why didn't you ride your bike down the escalator? After all, they're stairs that move...
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Old 02-09-06, 11:14 AM   #21
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Rules are rules and we're all supposed to follow them regardless of whether or not others choose to. You're using the same faulty logic that many speeders attempt: "But officer, the other cars were going just as fast if not faster than me. Why aren't you pulling them over?" Irrelevant. You're still breaking the law, the cops can't catch everyone and anothers' choice to speed has no bearing on whether you're actually breaking the law or not. Try running from a cop and justifying it in court with similar logic, "the officer was speeding in order to catch me, I think that my ticket should therefore be nullified", see how well that one flies.

We grant cops priviledges (running lights, high speed pursuit, arrests, etc) that are necassary in the course of their work. This may seem arbitrary or hypocrital to some, but it's legally and morally justifiable in their attempt to enforce the rules that we create. Basic police powers stand up to Constitutional scrutiny.

That said, I do respect your spirit of taunting and goading. I find it fun too, however, not with cops. I get the Devil in me sometimes and can, fortunately, back it up with my size (6'2", 260). If someone rubs me the wrong way, they're likely to get it. Nothing physical or illegal, just frustrating and enraging to which they have no recourse.

Look at how civilized we are..... :-)
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Old 02-09-06, 11:28 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oboeguy
New York is the safest big city in the US and yet our police tend to be quite surly, not to mention flippant even in the face of some complaints (try talking to them about an identity theft or a reckless driver, get laughed at -- it's happened to me). Naturally this does not apply to all NY cops, but in my recent experience (not so much years ago), they're not the friendliest lot, forgetting the "servant" in "public servant", so to speak.
So far it seems pretty sure thing, citizens are safer in most of Europe. My first impressions, police are less snarly and more public servant oriented. THey use more descreation. ( I had an encounter with some Christmas eve in a sobriety check.) They often do not even hand cuff those arrested, was my impression.
I think not being shot at effects their behavior?
I added this comment RE: police in Europe, because they less inclined to have this gotcha attitude. I would hope they would be reasonable to the altercation at the train station. Where I used to work, god the training of some security guards. Totally unreasonable. THink they were FBI agents.
I don't blame the guy. He had his back against the elevator door. I recall he could have lost his job. Being late. GOtta do , what you gotta do. Would be nice if security personal were reasonable.
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Old 02-09-06, 01:21 PM   #23
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You knew the rules and you used the elevator anyway, just because you didn't want to wait for an elevator, then argued with an employee when he told you to stop.

You got off light. A ticket should have been the least of your worries.
You're lucky he wasn't an armed security guard.

Next time the BART rules for bicycle use are up for review, I hope your incident isn't used as part of an excuse to ban bicycles altogether. Too many places are looking for any reason.

Last edited by cc_rider; 02-09-06 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 02-09-06, 01:44 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by cc_rider
You knew the rules and you used the elevator anyway, just because you didn't want to wait for an elevator, then argued with an employee when he told you to stop.

You got off light. A ticket should have been the least of your worries.
You're lucky he wasn't an armed security guard.

Next time the BART rules for bicycle use are up for review, I hope your incident isn't used as part of an excuse to ban bicycles altogether. Too many places are looking for any reason.
Escalators? Elevators? Where the @&*^#(*)!! are the stairs!?
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Old 02-09-06, 02:00 PM   #25
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You knew the rules and you used the elevator anyway, just because you didn't want to wait for an elevator, then argued with an employee when he told you to stop.

You got off light. A ticket should have been the least of your worries.
You're lucky he wasn't an armed security guard.

Next time the BART rules for bicycle use are up for review, I hope your incident isn't used as part of an excuse to ban bicycles altogether. Too many places are looking for any reason.
Yeah, he did get off light, but I think we have to realize, enforcement officers have power of discretion and the real issue here is not that he broke the rules, but did he do any harm to others while doing so?

It's funny how some rules are enforced and others aren't. Sometimes prejudice is in mind rather than common sense.
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