Forty Harvard and Radcliffe cyclists found themselves walking back to their dorms Thursday as the Cambridge police launched a surprise attack against the parking of bikes on public sidewalks.
Fed up with complaints about shins changed on bikes which were "obstructing the public way," Acting Chief Tierney ordered six police officers to move all bikes left on the sidewalks in front of the Harvard Coop and the Cambridge Trust. Bicycles locked to posts were cut loose, and the "Harvard kids' toys," as one policeman called them, were hauled in a truck to the Central Square station.
They were locked in a vault which will not be opened until Monday since the only officers who know the combination are off duty until then.
Chief Tierney explained that Chapter of the city ordinances strictly prohibited blocking sidewalks with bikes or scooters. Owners of bikes taken Thursday will be warned. Next time, Tierney said, consequences will be much more serious.
There is no doubt in the chief's mind that there will be a next time. He said that Monday police will eliminate the presence of bikes from sidewalks on Quincy, Cambridge, and Walker streets. "We expect to pick up about a truck load every day until the nuisance is stopped. Pedestrians have a right to free passage and we're going to see that they get it," said Tierney.
Crackdown on 'Cliffies
Tierney also plans to crack down on Radcliffe girls who "make a game of trying to stay on the white line in the middle of the road" while riding along Garden St. From now on, claimed Tierney "Girl, bike, and little green bag are going to get a free ride to Central Square, via paddy wagon."
The reaction of the Harvard administration was calm. "It's certainly within their authority to do this," said Dean Monro. Student reaction was more vociferous. One irate cyclist explained the police action as "part of the 'Hate Harvard' campaign."
Tierney advised the students to keep their anger to themselves. "If anybody wants to make an issue of it, we'll make an issue and throw them all into court. We can get them on three charges, and if someone wants to be a guinea pig for a test case, that's all right with us."
Where are the students expected to park their bikes? "That's their problem," said the chief.