domingo, 9 de septiembre de 2018

Rallying Against Cyclist Killings

Diego Garcia, left, calls for an end to murders like the one which cost him his son, who shared his name.
A crowd of protesting cyclists
on Plaza Bolivar.
Last October, Diego Alexander García, 33, was riding his bike home in the early morning in Bosa, when a group of men attacked and robbed him. Garcia resisted and was fatally stabbed in the neck, and two passersby who tried to defend him were stabbed as well.

The thieves escaped with the bicycle and Garcia became one of dozens of Bogotá bicyclists killed each year, either thru accidents or by criminals.

Hundreds of angry cyclists rallied on Plaza Bolivar Sunday morning to draw attention to the deaths and to call for stiffer penalties for theft, since suspects are often released almost immediately, as well as special police units for battling bicycle theft and a national bicycle registry.

'No more robberies.'
Those are good ideas, as a start. However, the registry idea has been tried before, and to be effective requires the participation of a large percentage of owners of high-end bikes, at least, as well as the authorities' taking it seriously. And knowing the corruption and ineffectiveness of Colombian authorities (after our neighbor, a New Zealander, was stabbed almost to death not long ago, the police didn't even bother to interview the crime's witness or review the street's videos) I don't have much faith in law enforcement.
'I join the change.'

More effective might be taking away the incentive to steal bikes by cracking down on the stolen bike market, although this will be difficult to do without complicating the sale of legitimate used bikes. One method would be with sting operations: Have a guy show up at a shady shop offering a used bike lacking proper papers, and maybe with a locked chain wrapped around its seat tube. If the shop buys the bike, they get shut for two weeks, fined and their bicycle inventory gets confisticated. Or, set up a shady bike shop and see who shows up trying to hawk bikes of dubious origin. Yet another method would be to equip nice bikes with GPS tracers, let them get stolen, and then follow them to where the thieves store their merchandise.

A colorful character.
But will Colombian police use innovative methods to protect cyclists, most of whom are low-income people? I'm not holding my breath. At today's demonstration I didn't see a single police representative, except for those standing around with shields to ensure that cyclist protesters didn't storm Congress or the Supreme Court.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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