If there ever was a car that was inherently dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists it was this one. The Leyat Helica was produced in France during the 1920s. While high profile vehicles like sport-utility vehicles and pick-up trucks are considered dangerous today, none of them have a propeller on the front of the vehicle…at least yet.
Even a cursory viewing of the ongoing protests across America has shown a clear and present new addition to urban crowd control – the once lowly bicycle. Where bikes were once a pleasing symbol of community policing and trail safety, they are now being fortified and employed across the United States as a new form of mobile barricade, as a potential weapon, as well as for quick redeployment of uniformed officers. Unlike typically cumbersome police barricades, the nimble bicycle is now being used to enforce curfews, block protests (peaceful or otherwise), catch/arrest people (innocent or guilty), and in the worst cases be used as weapons to attack crowds and assault people (innocent or otherwise).
“The supposedly ‘humble’ bicycle—usually a symbol of non-motorized meekness—is being used by America’s over-militarized law enforcement as a mix between a riot shield and a baton.”
“They’re more mobile, they can more easily create physical barriers – and the bikes can be used as weapons.”
These beefed-up bicycles and their accompanying gear are not just your run-of-the-mill commuting or mountain equipment, but instead they are the equivalent to an assault vehicle on two wheels (see photos throughout). They are military, tactical, and evil all rolled into one nasty package of authoritarianism.
As The Guardian so aptly alludes – bikes have become the new mount for the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
“The fact that bikes seem innocuous is a way of masking a weaponised potential,” says Williams. “Cops on bikes are less alarming than cops on horses, or in an armoured personnel carrier – until you’ve been penned in by a dozen cops on each side using the bikes as barriers.”
Sadly, gone are the days where the innocent bicycle was pictured as the epitome of joy in a young child; a commuting or recreation tool; or just the subject of an artist. As an assault vehicle, the bicycle has become a new object of both fear and loathing – and not just by annoyed motorists.
Beneath historic Bisbee, Arizona during it’s copper mining heydays, mine supervisors would ride rail bikes such as this to oversee mining operations.
Saw this unique pedaling tricycle with three (3) occupants in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park over the Veterans Day weekend.
Not something you see everyday, even in Traverse City.
The central theme of the terrific new movie Hearts Beat Loud may not be about cycling, but it is a critical component of the film. In fact, this may be the first motion picture ever to include a scene with a ghost bike. Certainly, it is the first movie I’ve seen where this topic is visualized and it is done in a thoughtful and comforting way. Caution – possible spoilers ahead.
All I can say is go see Hearts Beat Loud – the music is fabulous, the acting is superb, and the film includes important reminders of the scope of a bicyclist’s death goes well beyond the death of the victim and that society must improve bicycling safety and awareness to avoid such heartbreaking tragedies. Peace!
If you love the music as much as I do, here’s a visual link to the movie soundtrack available on Amazon*.