So what was the point of the police turn out? "Random bicycle safety check" was the reason given to most punters. Personally, a few things in this statement really rub me up the wrong way.
Firstly, what constitutes "random"...
1. Proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern: the random selection of numbers.
2. Statistics. of or characterising a process of selection in which each item of a set has an equal probability of being chosen.
lifted from dictionary.com
So by this definition, a targeted and methodical approach to checking every entrant in a much publicised global race does not constitute "random." Random in the sense of the word would entail only a few people being checked while riding, rather than everyone during pre-race banter. For police to turn out in numbers that they did, they have had long prior knowledge. If this were the case, as el Brado (fixed.org forum member) suggests, why not proactively approach the race organisers to let them know of their potential legal issues, and instead encourage a safe and legal ride. In this instance, Qld Police took a reactive stance, wasting time, effort, resources, and serious tax-payers money.
Secondly, "bicycle safety check"
Participants who got in trouble had their back tyres let down, the number one reason for which being "not having a bell." What is the point of a bell anyway, apart from conforming to the letter of the law? When riding on the street, cars don't hear a bell. And when riding on the footpath, which is done very rarely due to potential pedestrian aggravation, most pedestrians are in their own ipod bubble world, unable to hear your warning bell. In both situations a well timed yell can work wonders, not some tinkle or bing like a microwave finishing its operation. Everyone at the event had helmets. We understand the importance of such an item. Everyone also had lights. Lights are incredibly more important from a cyclists perspective when it comes to signaling intentions to drivers as well as pedo's. I for one run Ay-Up beams from my helmet allowing me to pinpoint errant drivers who don't take my position on the road seriously. So for all intents and purposes, the infractions were moot from a "safety" perspective.
Regardless of this all, we were in the wrong legally for "not having a bell". But what about the personal estimate of the other 95% of the cycling population that do not have a bell. Would Police be so overzealous of their infraction notices to roadie groups on a Sunday morning cafe ride? No. Or what about the much publicised "Brisbane to the Gold Coast" or "Great Brisbane Bike Ride"? Would they "randomly"... ie. check every person riding in such an event? No. Not only too big a waste of resources, but also potential public backlash. How about setting up a stop on the Brisbane river loop, and enforcing the same rules they applied to us to all roadies and commuters. Their success rate in all the instances mentioned above would be consistent with their success rate on Saturday night, so why don't they do it? Point is they dont, and will probably never, instead preferring to target a select minority.
I can only really see one of two things happening from this event. Firstly it is going to push the community further underground, creating flaming tensions between fixies and police. Or secondly, the fixie community is going to continue what they are doing, albeit with ridiculously large but inherently useless clown bells.
To be honest... I'm not sure which one I would prefer.