-- ABC News' Michael Koenigs is cycling 500 miles from the Republican Convention in Cleveland to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. Along the way, he’ll be interviewing politicians, pundits and voters about the major issues of the 2016 election.
Bike Barricades: Using Cycles for Crowd Control at RNC 2016?
Only minutes after a protester lit a flag on fire outside the security gate of the GOP convention, over a hundred bicycle police stormed into the area. They used the metal frames of the cycles as temporary barricades against the crowd of protesters and media.
It was the most dramatic confrontation seen this week. Seventeen protesters were arrested Wednesday afternoon during an attempted flag-burning. Most were charged with inciting to violence, while two were charged with assaulting an officer.
Bicycle police emerged as the primary means of containing the nearby crowds. Here in Cleveland, two wheels have largely replaced four-legged horses as the first line of defense against street mobs.
Nearly 200 police officers pedal around the perimeter of the Quicken Loans Arena in search of unusual activity and unruly crowds. About half of this force was brought from other cities just for the convention.
They use a series of carefully coordinated tactics to create temporary bicycle barricades, cutting off rowdy crowds and isolating those inciting violence.
In less than an hour, the crowds had largely dispersed. These bicycle patrols will remain at the ready, patrolling for any major protests before Donald Trump’s speech planned for tonight.
Assembly Required: Constructing the RNC and ‘Election Cycle’
It took the RNC only four weeks to build the staging at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena in anticipation of Trump’s nomination Thursday. The set for our “Election Cycle” was a much simpler construction job, requiring just two wheels and a few screws. With traffic in downtown Cleveland backed up because of a maze of security gates and police blockades, this bicycle just might be the fastest way to get around the city.
'Let’s Make America Great Again' Song Repeats Trump's Name 311 Times
Martin, 62, had dressed his best for an unscheduled meeting with Donald Trump.
Martin didn't want to pitch a real estate deal or political strategy; he wanted to sing. As a jazz vocalist from Long Island, Martin took an hour long train into Manhattan to pitch what he hopes will become Trump’s theme song for the 2016 Republican Convention. He came to serenade The Donald from the foot of his Tower.
Unfortunately for Martin, Trump was out of town.
But perhaps it's Trump's loss. Martin recognizes that no sound is sweeter to Trump than the sound of Trump's own name. The word "Trump" is repeated 311 times in the course of the three-minute song entitled "Let's Make America Great Again." The song shares Trump's rhetorical knack for repetition and includes only one phrase in its chorus: "Let's Make America Great Again."
With the Republican Convention less than a week away, Martin says he managed to talk to a Trump campaign staffer while waiting in line for a coffee in Trump Tower's Starbucks. He emailed the song to the staffer, but has not yet heard back from the campaign.
"I want this to be the song that Trump walks out to when he goes to make his big speech," Martin said.
Even if Martin's song doesn’t make the convention stage, he'll be performing with his jazz band, Freddy Martin & the Martinis, at New York weddings and corporate events throughout the summer.
Pedaling Politicians: The 'Election Cycle' Ahead
He was just one of a number of U.S. presidents who viewed pedaling as more than just a pastime.
Politicians have used bicycles for everything from diplomatic campaigns to cruising around with their kids. Teddy Roosevelt commissioned the first bicycle police squad in 1895; Ronald Reagan sped around Warner Brothers studio lots on two wheels; George H.W. Bush was known as a "bicycle-riding envoy" for his bike tours of Mao's China; the Clintons and Obamas take beachside rides on Martha's Vineyard; and George W. Bush still hosts an annual mountain bike race at his ranch in Texas.
So instead of covering this year's election from a crowded campaign bus, I've decided to keep up with the presidential race on a bicycle. It will give me the freedom to break off from the pack of reporters and seek stories on less trodden paths.
I'm planning to bike 500 miles from the Republican Convention in Cleveland to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. Along the way, I'll pedal with politicians and the people who can put them into office. I'll hit the brakes frequently to hear what struggling students, farmers, teachers, small business owners and others have to say about the issues confronting them.
As I pedal through America's streets and fields, I hope to gain a better understanding of the problems facing our country and what path ahead might have the least number of potholes.
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