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Who Will Educate the Police?


Dana Point, California, USA

This is a story about the local County Sheriff’s office in Dana Point, California. But it has relevance to police forces in Australia and elsewhere.

Dana point is officially classified as a city, but it’s really part of the massive greater Los Angeles post-war urban sprawl. A very pleasant part mind you – on the coast at the southern tip of Orange County. The population is mainly white, wealthy and conservative.

Recently the e-bike boom has disrupted traditional car-centric life. Authorities have responded by posting speed limit signs as low as 10 mph (16 kph) and even 5 mph (8 kph) on shared-use paths.

In the self-proclaimed exceptional country of the USA, they have the exceptionally rare, if not unique law enforcement structure comprising at least four levels of police force: federal, state/highway patrol, county and city.

This results in a staggering 17,985 individual police agencies (source Wikipedia), compared to just seven in Australia (six states plus Federal).

With a population of only 33,000, Dana Point’s Sheriff’s department would be towards the smaller end of this spectrum. This might explain the cheerful, colourful, no doubt well-intentioned but disconcertingly poorly informed flyer below.

Dana Point police flyer
Well intentioned but…

‘ALWAYS wear a helmet. No exceptions.’ Helmet laws vary from state to state and even city to city in the case of some major cities, but in California, helmets are only compulsory for those under 18 years of age. Which makes for a rather large exception to the ‘no exceptions’ claim.

‘Wear bright, reflective clothing.’ Many would reasonably argue that this is wise advice, but can we also smell a whiff of victim-blaming? After all, very few people riding bikes in the most cycling-friendly parts of Europe wear anything other than their everyday clothing, and their road tolls (depending upon the country) are typically about 600% lower per capita than the USA’s.

‘Install a horn so motorists can see you coming.’ And later in tip 9 ‘…or a beep of the horn.’

Clearly, bicycle bells don’t make the grade in Dana Point.

I wonder if Dana Point’s finest are also putting out flyers asking people driving motor vehicles to wear helmets, bright clothing, find safe routes on back roads and so on.

Thanks to Marc Sani, former Dana Point resident and correspondent for our sister website The Latz Report, for sending through this flyer.


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