Author Topic: Town Camping and Police  (Read 5686 times)

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Offline oldgroundhog

Town Camping and Police
« on: August 16, 2010, 09:17:20 am »
From my fellow touring cyclists, I'd like inputs on how you town camp and deal with police.  I've toured 40K+ miles across the USA and Canada.  In the last decade, when my wife and I have asked to camp in the town park, ball field, or school yard, there has been a noticeable hostility from local police in medium/large towns.

Just last month on a 1,000 mile tour we were called "undesireables" by the police in Millinocket, Maine when we asked to camp in town.  His  exact quote was "We run a clean town and don't allow undesireables.  Don't let me find you camping here."

Small town police are typically more friendly toward cyclists.  But still there always seems the apparent issue that we who travel and camp by bicycle are problem people.  So... what do we do and how have you dealt with this issue??

Offline staehpj1

Re: Town Camping and Police
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2010, 09:53:38 am »
I really haven't found it to be a problem.  The few times we camped in larger or medium sized town we had permission from the park manager or some other person who notified the police that we would be there.  There was only one case where the cop on patrol didn't get the word and woke us, called the manager in the middle of the night to verify our story and then left.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Town Camping and Police
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2010, 11:08:13 am »
It's never a problem on established ACA routes, but I can see how it might be elsewhere.

On the ACA routes, the maps usually tell you to check in with the police before camping in the town park, but every time I did so, the police response seemed to suggest that the checking in was unnecessary. So I just stopped doing it.

Do you always make it clear before asking the question that you are a bicycle tourist and will only be staying one night? I might make it a point to ask for restaurant/grocery recommendations at the same time to make it clear that you are an economic benefit to the town.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Town Camping and Police
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2010, 07:59:00 pm »
I make a rule to avoid camping / sleeping in towns overnight unless it is a command performance, and when I do it is usually in a treed area and out of sight, not so much because others might think badly of what I am doing but because I do not feel safe sleeping where anyone can walk up on me stealthily in the night. I slept in the dugouts of two town baseball parks on the ST this past winter without incident or comment. The only alternatives were expensive motels and it was cold.

If they don't want you to sleep there then don't. As for the comment, maybe it meant if they let cyclists start sleeping there, they will have to let others do it too which might tend to attract the wrong element such as homeless people, some of whom might be ex-convicts, alcoholics, and offenders.

Offline Tourista829

Re: Town Camping and Police
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2010, 09:02:06 pm »
I have not shared your experiences, but I don't look at "The Police" as necessarily sympathetic to cyclist. Living in Tampa, Florida anything is bound to be an improvement. When I was hit by a car and I had to contact the police, to get the drivers insurance information, (because the driver felt it wasn't necessary to give it), The Police Sargent told me, in a slightly aggitated tone, that the roads are for cars and trucks.  He said that I have no business being on the roads. I wonder what his Police Chief, who is an avid cyclist, would have thought. Getting back on point, down here, many homeless people ride bicycles and as such are considered trouble and as such undesireable. Lately, when I tour, I stay at a Methodist Churches (pre arranged) or I like some RV parks, because they have showers, pools, recroom (that comes in handy when it is moonsoon like), relatively safe, and you meet some of the nicest people. If I camp elsewhere, I like to go stealth and avoid public squares and parks.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Town Camping and Police
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2010, 11:22:12 pm »
When available and allowed, I really like camping in town parks. The ground is usually level. There are often picnic tables and a pavilion. There is usually access to restrooms and water. Restaurants and grocery stores are nearby. There is often access to showers in a swimming pool. And there is often access to an electrical outlet to recharge my stuff. The police patrol the park all night to keep you safe. Furthermore, you get to meet the town folk. Except for one time I accidentally camped in a closed park, the police have never been anything but helpful. I guess I've been fortunate to never visit towns such as described above.

Offline bktourer1

Re: Town Camping and Police
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2010, 06:41:38 pm »
Look into   Cyclists who host other cyclists

In Salem MA, the town has a campground with its own beach and a tourist trolley that comes right into the campground so you can go shopping/sight seeing.

Check with a local bike shop for a place or ask at the Fire Station.  In one town I slept in the station and another an empty cell with the Police

Offline TwoWheeledExplorer

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Re: Town Camping and Police
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2010, 09:51:31 pm »
Why were the police sleeping in the empty cell with you???  ;D

I have slept in fire halls on lost person searches. Fine except for the ineveitable 3:00 AM call out, and/or if they leave the dispatch radio on full blast all night.

Ride safe,
2WX: The Two-Wheeled Explorer
"St. Louis to the Western Sea if nothing prevents."--John Ordway, Corps of Discovery

Offline bktourer1

Re: Town Camping and Police
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2010, 06:39:31 am »
not with me directly.  a officer was working ot and needed to take a break in another cell (small town)