Street Justice: Crime and Punishment

As the competitors in the Tour de France professional bicycle racing race enjoy their rest day, the world of cycling was rocked by the news that Serbian rider Ivan Stevic was ejected from the Tour of Quinghai Lake professional bicycle racing race (which experts predict will eclipse the Tour de France in popularity by 2015) for "aggressive saluting:"

Unlike the infamous Mark "Man Missile" Cavendish salute in the Tour of Romandie, which was directed at the journalists who "know jack shit about cycling," Stevic's gesture was directed "at his team's mechanic who had previously joked about his form." Here is a picture of the mechanic, who took the ribbing with typical Southern good humor:

In addition to being thrown out of the race, Stevic received a fine of 1,000 Swiss Francs (or roughly 1,400 Tunisian Dinars), which is equal to what both of the participants in the infamous post-Stage 6 front wheel bludgeoning incident were charged. Incidentally, it's worth noting that this fight was broken up in part by former professional cyclist and Versus commentator Frankie Andreu:

Who charged boldly into the scrum despite having only a pair of flip-flops and a bib bearing the number "69" for protection:

In any case, I think the UCI is making far too much of these supposedly "obscene" victory salutes, and as long as the "pants yabbies" remain inside the bibs everything else is fair game.

Speaking of "fair game," among Floyd Landis's allegations was the claim that the Discovery Channel cycling team sold their team bikes for drug money, and while team director Johan Bruyneel of course denies the drug part he has confirmed that the team indeed sold bikes on eBay:

Intrigued that I might perhaps be able to score a good deal, I headed straight over to eBay, and while I was unable to find any bicycle offerings from any Bruyneel-"curated" teams I did find a brace of Garmin-Slipstream bikes. There was a road bike:

As well as a time trial bike:

Both had been raced in the 2009 season, and both were being offered by a seller named "jonathanrider1," along with numerous other pieces of Garmin-Slipstream kit. Since to my knowledge there were no riders named Jonathan on Garmin-Slipstream in 2009 (and since the bikes were different sizes), I dismissed the idea that this was a former team member making a private sale. This left only one Jonathan--team director Jonathan Vaughters. Clearly, I had stumbled upon his brazen scheme to sell team bicycles in order to either fund a doping program, or else to fund his insatiable wine, tweed, and ascot habit.

Of course, anybody who's either followed cycling for awhile or hunted for online bargains knows that lots of this pro cycling crap eventually winds up on eBay one way or another, and without a subpoena I have no way of knowing for sure who "Jonathanrider1" really is, so while I briefly considered taking my Garmin-Slipstream discovery to Floyd Landis I opted instead to help indirectly by making a sizeable donation to the Floyd Fairness Fund.

As Landis explained back in 2007, the Floyd Fairness Fund was "a fund set up first of all primarily to cover the legal fees in my case and hopefully in future to help other athletes who have to deal with this also." This raises the interesting question as to whether Landis will make Floyd Fairness Fund funds available to the numerous riders he has named in his confession. This would save them the indignity of having to sell their own bib shorts.

I didn't have long to ponder this, however, for I was soon distracted from the question of which pro cycling teams are selling stuff and why by video evidence of a pair of NYPD officers hitting a cyclist while driving the wrong way and then leaving the scene without reporting the incident:

Here is the actual video:

While some people outside of New York City might find this shocking, the only thing that surprises me about the actual incident is that the police even bothered to give the victim a tissue. Of course, the only reason the officers are actually being charged for this is because the incident was caught on video, and the unfortunate truth is that the only way we can expect the people whose salaries we pay to be accountable for their actions is to surrender any semblance of privacy--or at least keep video cameras strapped to our heads at all times. Failing that, it's helpful to keep in mind that, like any large company, in practice the police department exists not to serve its ostensible purpose but rather to sustain itself and protect its own interests. (Until you get to the federal level, of course, where law enforcement agents spend your money on important work, like investigating celebrity athletes.) To put it in "Zenlike Vroonenese," while Apple may be able to get away with selling you an overpriced phone that is susceptible to a "death grip," the police can get away with putting you in a death grip. The crucial difference is that Steve Jobs can't actually force you to buy the phone.

This is not to say we don't need law enforcement--we most certainly do, especially given the apparent increase in "ride-by gropings." A few weeks ago a groper was on the loose in Santa Monica, and now a reader informs me that another has struck repeatedly in the Portland area. Moreover, he seems to have a "thing" for women pushing strollers:

In Portland, this sort of thing is considered a serious crime, but in New York City it's just a Craigslist "missed connection."

Speaking of crime and surveillance cameras, a reader in Philadelphia has sent me this video of a bicycle theft in progress:

Unable to get the bicycle over the street sign, the thief actually enlists a neighbor, who not only helps him but also lends him a ladder, proving that Philadelphia is indeed the city of brotherly love.

Given the intrigue and thrills of urban cycling, it's no surprise that Hollywood is revisiting the fertile subject that produced the movie "Quicksilver" almost a quarter of a century ago (as well as the unfortunate sitcom "Double Rush" about a decade later.) This time, the movie is called "Premium Rush," and a number of readers have informed me it's finally in production and stars the guy from the sitcom "3rd Rock from the Sun:"

Here's the gripping plot:

The story follows a 20-something-year-old bike messenger who somehow gets involved in a chase across New York City. And we’re not just talking about a little chase but big budget William Friedkin-style action sequences. Apparently a dirty cop is “desperate to get his hands” on an envelope the messenger received from Columbia University.

Presumably we'll have to wait for the movie's release to find out what's in the envelope, but my guess is it contains photographs of the dirty cop running down a cyclist.

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