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Chicago police fined more bicycle users in Latino or African American neighborhoods

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16: A bicyclist rides along a commercial strip in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Pilsen on October 16, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.

CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 16: A bicyclist rides along a commercial strip in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Pilsen on October 16, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.

Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images

An investigation published by the Chicago Tribune newspaper, found that the level of fines applied to bicycle users in Latino or African-American neighborhoods is eight times higher than the sanctions in neighborhoods in which the majority are white users.

The study revealed that between 2017 and 2019 predominantly Latino neighborhoods received three times more fines than neighborhoods with more white populations, according to the American newspaper.

The most recurrent fine was related to cycling on the sidewalks. In this regard, the University of California explained that there is an unequal distribution of bicycle lanes and resources in Chicago: “Black and Latino neighborhoods generally have fewer bicycle lanes or bicycle infrastructure.”

The University of California has a study that complements the research conducted by the Chicago Tribune. In it, he explains that in the neighborhoods of the city most watched by police, there are many arrests for riding bicycles on the sidewalks and that it is these same neighborhoods where there are no appropriate lanes for such vehicles.

“When these types of inequalities exist, from the lack of infrastructure in our neighborhoods to inequalities in the application of the law, there is an effect that encourages black and brown people to turn to bicycles as a form of travel, a recreation or a way of life, ”Olatunji Oboi Reed, president and CEO of Equiticity, a Chicago-based racial equity group, said in the study.

The use of bicycles on sidewalks accounts for 90% of fines related to the use of these personal vehicles, the Chicago Tribune said.

The newspaper had already done similar work in 2017, when it found that police in that city in Illinois cited people from black communities twice as many as Latino or white people.

In response to these reports, the Chicago Police Department explained that it “is committed to treating all people with fairness and respect.”

“The Chicago Police Department works with residents of our communities to identify areas where vehicle and bicycle traffic safety could be improved. We don’t target people based on race or community, ”said Tom Ahern, a spokesman for the police department.

In addition, the authorities of this city affirmed that they will increase and improve approximately 100 miles of bicycle lanes (about 161 kilometers), in the South Side neighborhood, one of the most racially diverse in terms of population.

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