Editorial: Bike Or Security Threat?

The bike rack has been removed from the downtown post office on the northwest corner of Lincoln and Riverside. I know this because I use it every couple days and a week ago it disappeared. I had to choose whether to lock up to the stair railing or a parking sign instead. I chose the parking sign.

Inadequate bicycle parking, either poorly designed, poorly placed, or non-existent is an unsung factor in discouraging bicycle use. I went inside to inquire at the General Services Administration (GSA) office, which manages the building. I was told that a Federal Judge temporarily housed in the building ordered the bike rack removed for “security reasons.” The trashcans by the PO boxes were also removed for the same reason.

I mentioned this situation to friends. Comments ranged from, “Jon, bicycle gangs are notorious for terrorizing postal stations—we cannot be too careful, “ to, “I used that bike rack at least three times a week—dang it.”

Two years ago I remember reading a news story about a bicycle bomb in Iraq. How depressing that a bicycle, still a liberating and beneficial device, could be used for evil—in this case killing two innocent people at a restaurant. On August 4th the Spokane Bomb Squad was called to investigate a bicycle locked in the breezeway next to the federal courthouse. The bike was found to contain no explosive elements.

The same 2009 Iraq bike bomb article also covered a car bomb detonated the day before—death toll at 101 and counting with over 500 wounded. It’s tempting to make a remark about the higher instances of automobiles downtown, including those that pull up to the Post Office every few minutes to drop off mail. But then I remember another date: September 7 of this year. That’s when Kevin Harpham plead guilty to planting a backpack bomb at this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. Now the whole town, understandably, is looking for bombs in new places. See something, say something.

Yesterday at the Post Office I saw four bikes all locked up to signs at the entrance. A fifth bike was inside next to the PO Boxes. The GSA told me they might relocate the rack. I hope so. Bikes are no more deserving the taint of a bomb delivery device than cars are. I own both and like to use them downtown.

P.S. Check out the digital edition of this month’s mag at issuu.com; search “Out There Monthly.”

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