When Cleinman got close to the Burnside Bridge, he saw a group of police officers talking to what looked like homeless people under the bridge. "I pulled off the trail and asked one of the officers very politely, ‘Sir, do you mind telling me what’s going on here?’" says Cleinman, who also snapped some photos of the police. "He said, ‘The park is closed so these people are trespassing.’ Before I could respond, he said, ‘And so are you. Do you have identification?'"
The officer wrote Cleinman an exclusion notice that says if he enters Waterfront Park over the next 30 days, he could be arrested for trespassing. Cleinman plans to fight the exclusion. If the path is closed from 12 am to 5 am like the rest of the park, there should be signs on the Hawthorne Bridge warning cyclists that riding through the park at night could get them in trouble with the law. If police plan on enforcing the nightly five hour closure, then it should also be noted on city bike maps, says Cleinman. Mostly, though, Cleinman believes that he was issued the exclusion notice for being nosy about the cops' interactions with the homeless.
Refreshingly, Cleinman keeps his exclusion from the bike path in perspective. "It sucks for me, but I’m more worried about people who got these exclusions who don’t have any other options for where to sleep at night," he says.
UPDATE 1:40 pm: The Parks Department's Beth Sorensen says that the rules for Waterfront Park path are not the same as those for the Eastbank Esplanade and Springwater Corridor. Those paths were federally-funded transportation projects, so they have to be open to the public at all times. The Waterfront path is part of a city park and can be closed at night. "Technically the park hours do apply, though they're not actively enforced on the path unless there is an incident involved," says Sorensen. "If he was just riding his bike and continuing through the park, I can't imagine he would get an exclusion."
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance's Michelle Poyourow chimes in that the city should change is policy to keep the path open like the Eastbank Esplanade. "This is a vital transportation link in our central city, it should not be closed to people at night any more than Naito Parkway should be closed," says Poyourow. "Having people on a path at all hours makes it safer."
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