by Bob Fisher
The Valencia police are clamping down on crime, or making an effort to make its own presence felt.
But rather than tackling the muggings and the thefts, the protectors of the law have turned to the team members riding bicycles, and finding them an easy target.
Early in the America’s Cup 32, a team member was killed while riding his scooter on a road in Valencia, just another traffic statistic in the eyes of the local police, but proof positive that the roads are dangerous for anyone not enclosed in a motor vehicle.
As a result, most people in Valencia ride their cycles on the sidewalks whether or not there is a dedicated cycle track, and the teams’ members have taken to emulating the natives. It should be noted that the Valencians also ride their scooters on the sidewalks.
Now, in its crackdown on crime, the Traffic Taliban is issuing 100 Euro tickets to team members who they have found riding their bicycles on the sidewalk, and in one case this was the same sidewalk that last evening, in broad daylight, three girls attempted to rob a female member of Emirates Team New Zealand, by targeting her back-pack as she walked up the Avenida del Puerto.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, is being done to counter this type of crime, one that is a daily occurrence. Ask around any of the compounds here in Valencia and you will have countless stories of thefts, none of which have resulted in the apprehension of the perpetrators. So, the police take the easy way and are fining cyclists for minor transgressions.
And the Traffic Taliban is targeting women. A group of eight cyclists were heading towards the America’s Cup harbour when they were apprehended by police and told that they were riding down the sidewalk the 'wrong way' in a one-way street – the Avenida Baleares. The six men among them were shown the way to a street going the other way while the two women were presented with tickets for a 100 Euro fine.
Elsewhere three male members of another team were ticketed for a similar offence. Two others were reprimanded for going through a red light while, at the same time, two cars barrelled through the same light. It is simply a case of taking the easy way out, and, it would seem, to target the visitors as the locals are never stopped.
'I’m tired of complaining,' said the shore boss of one syndicate, 'nothing is ever done and I never hear back from the police.'
The final item in this tale of woe is that of the South African tender driver who was hauled over, in the Avenida Beleares, when there are very few other people about, because he was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk, against the flow of traffic and was ticketed. The television producer who was accompanying him, talked his way out of a similar ticket. It was a case of the scales of justice being tipped, unfairly.
Meanwhile, out on the water . . . nothing moved.
Day two of the Louis Vuitton Cup was a no, no. No wind and no racing.