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San Diego city workers clean up homeless bikes

And start an internet tempest

From Michael McConnell video
From Michael McConnell video

Hundreds of Twitter and NextDoor app users are outraged with city employees after an April 14 video tweet captioned, "Perfectly good bikes being crushed by the @CityofSanDiego" went viral.

About 10 am that Thursday, Michael McConnell, a local advocate for solving homelessness, tweeted the controversial video he had just filmed on 16th Street in the East Village neighborhood.

It was the San Diego Padres' opening day.

Sanitizing crews alongside the city of San Diego employees grabbed and disposed of tents, personal possessions, and bikes left along the sidewalk and street north of Imperial Avenue and a three-minute bike ride east of Petco Park.

In McConnell's 37-second video clip, two persons are seen rolling two bikes towards the rear of a garbage truck. The two sanitation workers throw the bikes into the open tailgate; seconds after, a truck operator smashes the two cycles with the garbage truck's packer blade. The video was shared hundreds of times on Twitter and other online platforms.

Jeff tweeted @CityofSanDiego and asked, "How do you ever expect anyone to get off the streets when you take their transportation? This is unacceptable and needs to stop immediately." Most of the tweet responses defended the homeless people who had just lost their belongings, tents, and the two bikes.

On Facebook, locals speak of bicycles — some dismantled with rough edges and left lying on the sidewalks, alleys, streets, and parks — as dangerous obstructions to children walking to school and adults on the move.

On Reddit, the responses underneath the shared video had a different vibe. A Crown Point dweller said, "This looks like these bikes were tagged for being abandoned and now being removed due to being visual blight, instead of being ripped out of the hands of [a] homeless person that is cycling from business to business looking for a job."

Another Redditor discerned the 37-second clip. "[It] seems like it's a piece of a whole story. Nice to have all of the facts before making judgment."

McConnell reposted the bike video on the NextDoor app and received over 100 comments; the opinions on the hyper-local platform were closer to down the middle of the road than on the aforementioned social media apps.

On April 30, I asked McConnell what happened before and after the bike video. His response: "Here is the thread on my Twitter. Approximately same time as posted."

McConnell's first post was at about 7 am, where he was following the San Diego Police Department as they checked if the tents on 16th Street had occupants. At 7:25, he tweeted: "The City posts notice giving people 3 hours to move, but the police show up in an hour." At 8:25, he tweets a video of two police officers speaking with a person lying on the sidewalk and another person sitting in a wheelchair, offering to take them to Balboa Park. He uploads more videos and photos of the police officers on the scene in the next hour or so. Then before 10:00, he films the controversial bike video.

He tweeted a video of sanitation workers hauling away large tarps the following day. He captioned it, "Want to post all the other things that homeless people need to survive that are being trashed by the @cityofsandiego since there are so many following this thread because of the bikes being crushed."

Robert McKinley, Anthony Garcia and Juan Cordero customized a lowrider bike for Juju (far right).

The co-founder of BikeIndex.org, Bryan Hance, saw the viral San Diego bike video from his Portland, Oregon, office. "I get that the cleanup crews aren't tasked with anything other than "go clean up site X" - and these are usually very narrowly focused contractors. In a perfect world, those bikes would get donated, find a good cause or a new home, go to a nonprofit, teach some kids about bike building, etc. And stuff like this rightly pisses people off, on multiple levels."

Hance's nonprofit organization is a website and app that contain over 797,531 cataloged bikes worldwide, tens of thousands of day-to-day searches, and about 1,360 community partners.

He continued, "There's no shortage of places these bikes could have gone other than the trash heap."

Last year, thieves stole five bikes from Marisol Topete and her family at their Logan Heights apartment. She posted about the missing bikes on the Barrio Logan Event Page on Facebook: "The most important one is the blue one that belongs to my special needs son (Juju) .... plz contact if [you have] any info."

On Hance's site, of the 109,440 registered stolen bikes, 367 were stolen and reported within a 10-mile radius of the 92113 ZIP code of Logan Heights. Hance adds that the figure is a low number, as many bike owners and bike-theft victims, such as Topete, have not registered with his website.

I spoke with Topete on May 2. "One bike was really important to my son, Juju," she said. "And I didn't recover any of them."

A group of lowrider bike builders saw Topete's missing bikes' post on the Logan Heights community page. The group then customized the Topete family, a red lowrider bike made with recycled bike parts.

Juju was happy with his new custom bicycle. "He has lots of fun riding around," Topete continued, ".... this is the only thing he can control ..... [with his] mental disability and autism."

Hance from BikeIndex.org continued about the two bikes tossed into a garbage truck on April 14, "It sucks because these are perfectly functional (or at least quasi-functional) bikes being destroyed and going to a landfill. I understand why this annoys people, especially bike theft victims or anybody who knows about bikes, or anybody who works with bike nonprofits who rehome bikes, etc."

On a "donate bikes in San Diego" Google search, there are over ten organizations listed.

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From Michael McConnell video
From Michael McConnell video

Hundreds of Twitter and NextDoor app users are outraged with city employees after an April 14 video tweet captioned, "Perfectly good bikes being crushed by the @CityofSanDiego" went viral.

About 10 am that Thursday, Michael McConnell, a local advocate for solving homelessness, tweeted the controversial video he had just filmed on 16th Street in the East Village neighborhood.

It was the San Diego Padres' opening day.

Sanitizing crews alongside the city of San Diego employees grabbed and disposed of tents, personal possessions, and bikes left along the sidewalk and street north of Imperial Avenue and a three-minute bike ride east of Petco Park.

In McConnell's 37-second video clip, two persons are seen rolling two bikes towards the rear of a garbage truck. The two sanitation workers throw the bikes into the open tailgate; seconds after, a truck operator smashes the two cycles with the garbage truck's packer blade. The video was shared hundreds of times on Twitter and other online platforms.

Jeff tweeted @CityofSanDiego and asked, "How do you ever expect anyone to get off the streets when you take their transportation? This is unacceptable and needs to stop immediately." Most of the tweet responses defended the homeless people who had just lost their belongings, tents, and the two bikes.

On Facebook, locals speak of bicycles — some dismantled with rough edges and left lying on the sidewalks, alleys, streets, and parks — as dangerous obstructions to children walking to school and adults on the move.

On Reddit, the responses underneath the shared video had a different vibe. A Crown Point dweller said, "This looks like these bikes were tagged for being abandoned and now being removed due to being visual blight, instead of being ripped out of the hands of [a] homeless person that is cycling from business to business looking for a job."

Another Redditor discerned the 37-second clip. "[It] seems like it's a piece of a whole story. Nice to have all of the facts before making judgment."

McConnell reposted the bike video on the NextDoor app and received over 100 comments; the opinions on the hyper-local platform were closer to down the middle of the road than on the aforementioned social media apps.

On April 30, I asked McConnell what happened before and after the bike video. His response: "Here is the thread on my Twitter. Approximately same time as posted."

McConnell's first post was at about 7 am, where he was following the San Diego Police Department as they checked if the tents on 16th Street had occupants. At 7:25, he tweeted: "The City posts notice giving people 3 hours to move, but the police show up in an hour." At 8:25, he tweets a video of two police officers speaking with a person lying on the sidewalk and another person sitting in a wheelchair, offering to take them to Balboa Park. He uploads more videos and photos of the police officers on the scene in the next hour or so. Then before 10:00, he films the controversial bike video.

He tweeted a video of sanitation workers hauling away large tarps the following day. He captioned it, "Want to post all the other things that homeless people need to survive that are being trashed by the @cityofsandiego since there are so many following this thread because of the bikes being crushed."

Robert McKinley, Anthony Garcia and Juan Cordero customized a lowrider bike for Juju (far right).

The co-founder of BikeIndex.org, Bryan Hance, saw the viral San Diego bike video from his Portland, Oregon, office. "I get that the cleanup crews aren't tasked with anything other than "go clean up site X" - and these are usually very narrowly focused contractors. In a perfect world, those bikes would get donated, find a good cause or a new home, go to a nonprofit, teach some kids about bike building, etc. And stuff like this rightly pisses people off, on multiple levels."

Hance's nonprofit organization is a website and app that contain over 797,531 cataloged bikes worldwide, tens of thousands of day-to-day searches, and about 1,360 community partners.

He continued, "There's no shortage of places these bikes could have gone other than the trash heap."

Last year, thieves stole five bikes from Marisol Topete and her family at their Logan Heights apartment. She posted about the missing bikes on the Barrio Logan Event Page on Facebook: "The most important one is the blue one that belongs to my special needs son (Juju) .... plz contact if [you have] any info."

On Hance's site, of the 109,440 registered stolen bikes, 367 were stolen and reported within a 10-mile radius of the 92113 ZIP code of Logan Heights. Hance adds that the figure is a low number, as many bike owners and bike-theft victims, such as Topete, have not registered with his website.

I spoke with Topete on May 2. "One bike was really important to my son, Juju," she said. "And I didn't recover any of them."

A group of lowrider bike builders saw Topete's missing bikes' post on the Logan Heights community page. The group then customized the Topete family, a red lowrider bike made with recycled bike parts.

Juju was happy with his new custom bicycle. "He has lots of fun riding around," Topete continued, ".... this is the only thing he can control ..... [with his] mental disability and autism."

Hance from BikeIndex.org continued about the two bikes tossed into a garbage truck on April 14, "It sucks because these are perfectly functional (or at least quasi-functional) bikes being destroyed and going to a landfill. I understand why this annoys people, especially bike theft victims or anybody who knows about bikes, or anybody who works with bike nonprofits who rehome bikes, etc."

On a "donate bikes in San Diego" Google search, there are over ten organizations listed.

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