Thursday, October 16, 2008

Caltrain's bogus photography ban

While I was getting bumped from Caltrain three times last night, I talked to Shirley Johnson, who has been leading the "Bikes on Board" movement to get Caltrain to increase capacity. If Caltrain were regularly running trains filled with walk-on passengers, I could understand their resistance. In reality, however, Caltrain runs trains with half-empty cars for walk on passengers and full bike cars.

Shirley told me that when she tries to document this discrepancy, conductors have been telling her that she cannot take photos on Caltrain. This is a transparent effort on the part of the conductors (directed, I assume, by Caltrain middle management) to suppress free speech by activist cyclists. I mean, it's not like they're preventing tourists from taking photos of stations and rolling stock. Caltrain should clarify its policy on photography. If, as I suspect, there is no such ban, they should not invent one on the fly to suppress free speech. Nevertheless, if there is a ban, the conductors should enforce it consistently. They should not invoke the policy selectively when cycling activists take photos that illustrate a reality they don't like to admit.


At 4:50 PM, Blogger Dan said...

No one in management is telling Caltrain conductors not to let bicyclists (or anyone else) take photographs. Rather, many conductors (much like the average Joe public) have a complete misunderstanding of "security issues" and photographers' rights, a misunderstanding largely brought about by post 9-11 hysteria.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger Joseph N. Hall said...

That may be, but I had taken two photos out of the front window of a northbound train in mid-2008 when I was instructed by a conductor to stop.

Caltrain being private property, and me not knowing anything about the policy, I stopped.


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