Saturday, March 18, 2006

ESPN Zone vs. Bicyclists - my letter

Baltimore EspnZone Security Guards Help Obstruct the Way for Bicyclists

I was bicycling home from work yesterday evening, Friday March 17th 2006. At approximately 6:15, I was travelling eastbound on the bike/trolley lane on Pratt Street in front of the ESPN Zone.

There was a commercial tour bus parked in the bike lane completely blocking it. The tour bus was parked directly in front of a sign saying "NO STOPPING CARS TOWED AWAY".

I identified the driver of the tour bus. While I was having a discussion with the tour bus driver in a futile attempt to get him to move the bus, we were approached by two security guards from ESPNZone. The guards were dressed exactly like Baltimore City police. They were wearing dark blue uniforms and bronze badges. Except the uniforms said "Inner Harbor Security" and the badges said "Security Guard".

The guards treated me as the person causing a problem, rather than the illegally parked tour bus. They told me the following:

1. If I call the police about this, the police will arrest me for "creating a disturbance", and not do anything about the bus.
2. The bus has a permit to park here. (I immediately asked the bus driver to produce such a permit. He changed the subject.)
3. While there is an obvious sign saying "NO STOPPING CARS TOWED AWAY", there is a different sign farther down the block that says bus unloading zone, and that's the sign that applies. (There is a pull-off area where the guard said this sign was, so that buses could unload without blocking the bike lane. I did not confirm whether there is a sign there or not.)
4. "His employer" owns the bike lane and the sidewalk, and buses are allowed to park there.

Each of these statements are lies.

My assumption is that the security guards is poorly trained as to his duties and the limits of his authority. His actions give the appearance that the ESPN Zone is making an attempt to reserve the public roadway for their private use, by what amounts to using security guards as hired goons to spread misinformation about the public's right to use the public right-of-way, and to intimidate people who raise an objection.

I find it hard to believe that a responsible business would engage in such practices. One would think that in such a situation as I experienced the security guards would attempt to have the vehicle obstructing traffic moved, and to contact the proper authorities if the driver refused.

I would like the operators of the ESPN Zone Baltimore to provide me a copy of the policies for the security guards detailing their duties and responsibiliites.

I furthermore would like the operators of the ESPN Zone Baltimore to describe to me the actions they have taken to educate their security guards so that incidents like this do not happen in the future.

Thank you,

Drew (last name, address, and e-mail removed for blog)

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