A Pittsburgh-based cycling advocate is calling out a city police officer for allegedly parking in a bike lane during a non-emergency situation and growing belligerent when asked to move it.
Cyclist Armin Samii says he was “insulted and belittled” by the officer during the encounter, most of which he caught on film.
“I turned to the officer thinking he could help me amicably resolve an issue,” says Samii in a press release from his Pittsburgh-based startup Dashcam for your Bike. “I have been told repeatedly by Pittsburgh officers to call 911 when a car is parked in the bike lane, and that they ‘take enforcement action when necessary’. Instead of being helped, I was insulted and belittled.”
Samii uploaded a video of the interaction to social media, which shows him cycling along a Penn Avenue bike lane in Downtown Pittsburgh until encountering a red pickup truck parked in the bike lane.
The recording captures Samii approaching the officer to ask whether the car in question has a permit to park in the bike lane. He responds by saying it’s his truck and notes he’s currently working.
Throughout the interaction, Samii repeatedly notifies the officer that his car is illegally parked, which he brushes off, saying delivery drivers often park there and insisting he won't move it until he finishes his shift.
“You’re gonna wait all night,” the officer says, adding, “I'll move it when I have a chance to move it.”
After Samii tells the officer that he has in the past been instructed to report illegally parked vehicles to the police, he appears to grow irritated.
“Go ahead, call them,” the officer says, adding “What’s wrong with you? Seriously, what’s wrong with you? You have nothing better to do than to screw with me? Is that what you’re doing? … Get a life.”
Samii maintains it's a safety concern, and, alongside the video interaction, tweeted a reminder that earlier this year, a 6-year-old named Jamel Austin was killed in Glan Hazel when an SUV hit him while he was riding a bike.
In a press release, Samii identifies the officer in question as Frank Rende, which the video footage of his name tag appears to corroborate.
Samii says he has reported the incident to the Citizen Police Review Board and the Office of Municipal Investigations.
Samii’s company, Dashcam for your Bike, offers in-app 311 reporting that enables cyclists to report bike lane obstructions in real-time.
“Since it launched its 311 reporting feature in Pittsburgh, hundreds of cars have been reported parked in the Penn Ave bike lane,” says Samii. “For bicyclists, this is a constant danger. Penn Ave has the highest volume of reported cars in the bike lane on the Pittsburgh Hazard Map.”
Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey’s office and representatives from the Department of Public Safety declined to comment, citing the police union contract.