Local cops tried to put the brakes on Portland's daredevil bicycle posse Sept. 5, picking the lock on the group's communal bike pile on Southwest Oak Street and hauling their wheels away in the back of a squad car and a '93 Ford pickup.
The removal of the bikes, stashed on the sidewalk across the street from Rocco's Pizza and Pasta, left the bike enthusiasts known as the Zoobombers fuming that they've been unfairly targeted by police.
Sunday nights, Zoobombers meet at Rocco's and take the MAX to the Oregon Zoo for a speedy downhill cruise on their specialized mini-bikes.
According to Zoobomber Robin Dale, who witnessed the bike round-up, the real reason for the mass confiscation is that police remain red-faced over an incident earlier this summer, when they issued, then had to revoke, a slew of citations. (See "Speed Demons," WW, June 25, 2003.)
Portland Police spokesman Brian Schmautz, however, says rules are rules, and any bike--let alone a pile of 14--obstructing a sidewalk is subject to immediate removal. Schmautz says officers gave multiple warnings over the course of three weeks, stopping to ask kids milling outside Rocco's to claim the bikes or identify their owners. Mike Crane, manager at Rocco's and witness to Friday's incident, says he never heard about any warnings.
While the bikes are now being released to owners who can describe what they look like, the antagonism seems far from over. Dale says the 50 bikers who bombed Sunday night were detained by about three dozen cops before boarding the MAX downtown. He says they were warned to behave themselves, then allowed to continue on to what Dale described as a "very nice ride."