Biking While Black
(Byline with Kameel Stanley): If the tickets are any indication, Tampa residents must be the lousiest bicyclists in Florida.
They don’t use lights at night. Don’t ride close enough to the curb. Can’t manage to keep their hands on the handlebars.
In the past three years, Tampa police have written 2,504 bike tickets — more than Jacksonville, Miami, St. Petersburg and Orlando combined.
Police say they are gung ho about bike safety and focused on stopping a plague of bike thefts.
But here’s something they don’t mention about the people they ticket:
Eight out of 10 are black.
A Tampa Bay Times investigation has found that Tampa police are targeting poor, black neighborhoods with obscure subsections of a Florida statute that outlaws things most people have tried on a bike, like riding with no light or carrying a friend on the handlebars.
Officers use these minor violations as an excuse to stop, question and search almost anyone on wheels. The department doesn’t just condone these stops, it encourages them, pushing officers who patrol high-crime neighborhoods to do as many as possible…