Judge Throws Out Bronzeville Community Leader’s “Biking While Black” Ticket
Bernard Loyd, the Bronzeville community leader who was ticketed on August 5 for riding his bicycle a few dozen feet on the sidewalk between the public market he helps organize and his office, had his citation summarily dismissed earlier this week by administrative judge Gregory G. Plesha. Not only did the officer who cited Loyd not show up to court, but she miswrote the ticket, writing “sideway” instead of “sidewalk,” so Plesha threw out the ticket on that technicality. After the hearing Loyd, who runs the community development firm Urban Juncture, told me he was pleased with the judge’s decision, but he stressed that the whole affair was a waste of time for everybody involved.
Moreover, Loyd argued, the incident has racial overtones — he previously referred to it as “biking while Black.” The CPD has acknowledged that the fact that many times more bike tickets have been issued in some communities of color versus majority-white neighborhoods is largely due to officers using zero-tolerance bike enforcement as a pretext to conduct searches in high-crime areas.
Urban Juncture’s police beat, #224, saw 18 written in 2017 – almost four times as many of all of Lincoln Park that year. Loyd and the officer who ticketed him are Black. Prior to getting out of her squad car to issue the citation, the officer had hung out for hours in the vehicle, parked by the Sunday Boxville Marketplace, without interacting with residents.
Loyd said the dismissal of his ticket “doesn’t address the fundamental issue here, which is that the ticket was written selectively. It was a racially-selective enforcement… that has now wasted many hours.” He added that this seemingly minor incident “has contributed to a further deterioration of relationships with the police. tt was a ridiculous use of police time.”
Loyd noted that biking from the market to his office, 300 East 51st, next to the 51st Street Green Line station, was a reasonable thing to due, since the sidewalk was empty at the time and the street was full of cars. “I’m riding 150 feet from one property that I’m working on to another property that I’m working on,” he noted. “I did the right thing from the perspective of safety, from the perspective of other folks around, and the police took this so-called zero tolerance policy, which itself is very problematic, and used it to write a ticket.”
When Loyd told local alderman Pat Dowell about the incident shortly afterwards, she expressed concern and offered to contact the local police department. Loyd told me he sent sent Dowell a lengthy follow-up e-mail, including the officer’s badge number and district, but has not yet received a response from the alderman.
“While I’m glad I no longer have to deal with [the ticket], I also feel we’ve put a bandaid on a festering wound,” Loyd concluded. “We’ve addressed the surface issue for a minute, but the real problems — violence and the poor relationship between residents and police – are unchanged.”