The disclaimer: Of course this is my opinion, and not that of SVBC, as it well should be. This is a weblog, not an official channel for SVBC policy. That being said, I would love to hear what you have to say on this subject, so make sure to leave a comment, okay? ^_^
Before we get into it, here is the video (embedded below), and here is the videographer's weblog set up around this event:
It is a little over 7:00 minutes. I'll wait.
Okay, did ya get all that? Groovy.
It is pretty obvious what happened: Caltrain conductor makes a call as to the bicycle capacity, passenger disagrees, conductor calls cops (and sheriff?), and iPhone-wielding witness shares with the rest of us.
When I first heard about this at the Peninsula Committee meeting last week I was pretty shocked. I had to quickly reign in my opinion, though, because of course I needed to examine what the deal was with the video. Nothing too shocking, actually. The police were, um, immature about the video being taken, I think. That the officer took the time to speak with the passenger on the train for a few moments, but was adversarial with video person, well, good game officer.
From reading around and digesting some of what people are talking about, here is what I think:
- This is getting ridiculous. I hear the word escalating being used, but I don't really know if that is an issue. Are cyclists hassling conductors, or vice-versa? If so, well, that is not a proper channel for policy change.
- The guy was wearing clip-in shoes. I have never worn them, but from the way he is walking, I doubt I would relax, especially if someone rushed me and twisted my arm. Could he not just say, "Hey, listen, I am putting you under arrest for delaying the train, it is a misdemeanor." No offense to Scott Wildy, but it didn't look like he was going to do much surrounded by three officers, in those shoes, being recorded.
- One last point, and this is a biggie: At what point are we, as individuals, supposed to just act like lemmings and go along for the ride (or get passed up, in this case)?
I would like to know how much of the situation was explained to Scott prior to the recording. Scott is not the authority in this scene, and yet every person he talks to refuses to explain to him the decision. This is not conflict resolution, it is forced obedience.
Caltrain, and seemingly the officers involved, would benefit from studying community policing standards, because that is what this is, a community of riders. Folks don't ride the Caltrain for the train experience, they ride it because it reaches to where they need to go. It is an integral part of the way of life for Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. This community should be treated with dignity and respect, not like a child who is misbehaving.