America's most bike-friendly city? Someone better tell Long Beach's cops

Inaugural Critical Mass ride sees police confiscate around 40 bikes

by Mark Appleton   November 1, 2010  

Long Beach, Photo by D Ramey Logan.jpg

"Long Beach, the most bicycle friendly city in America," says the inscription beneath a penny farthing sculpture outside the City Hall in the Californian town.

The absolute certainty of that proclamation makes it even harder to understand the treatment by the town's police of Long Beach's inaugural Critical Mass ride at the weekend.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram reports on how the local boys in blue stopped about 100 riders who were taking part in last Friday evening's event, gave most of them tickets for traffic offences and seized around 40 bikes.

Ronnie Sandlin, a promoter of the ride and one of the participants who received a ticket, said he is now collecting information from others riders to determine what offences are supposed to have been committed and exactly how many bikes have been confiscated.

Sandlin said people involved in the curtailed ride are planning to arrive en-masse to pick up the impounded bikes and that riders will also attend a Council meeting on November 9.

The Friday night ride, which had been publicised in advance, lasted only five minutes before the police intervened. Sandlin told the Press-Telegam that soon after they started riding, the riders saw police with flashing lights at a junction and assumed this was to allow them to carry on through.

"We thought they were facilitating us," Sandlin told the newspaper, adding that for a month and a half, his group had tried unsuccessfully to gain a permit for the ride. "Instead they pulled us all over and proceeded to give almost everyone a ticket,"

A spokeswoman for the local police department said the riders "blatantly disregarded other people's safety," did not obey traffic rules and ignored stop signals. Sandlin said all riders are given rules of the road before the ride and told to obey rules and share the road.

Apparently in a position to comment on the hundreds of similar rides that take place around the world, local Police Chief Jim McDonnell said that Critical Mass, "engages in dangerous conduct, violating every rule of the road and endangering the public."

When the riders were pulled over, Sandlin said, it was a mass of confusion as they received seemingly indiscriminate and contradictory citations.

Worst, riders said, was the seizure of bikes, which organisers claim are the only transportation for those riders.

"Our issue is what we consider this illegal seizure of our property," Sandlin said.
They also said the action is a big own-goal for a city that makes such grandiose claims about its bike-friendliness.

"It appears being bike friendly only applies to a limited part of the city," said June Kaeswith, one of the ride's organisers.
 

4 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

It's stories like this that give us a bit more perspective on how fortunate we are here compared to some other countries... it's just the rest of Europe to be envious of.. Thinking

G-bitch's picture

posted by G-bitch [302 posts]
1st November 2010 - 14:36

like this
Like (0)

It's at times like these that we must remain calm, engage in debate with the authorities and attempt to reason with them. We live in a democracy and the best arguments will win the day.

However, on this occasion, I say to Chief of Police Jim McDonnell - you're an asshole!

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
1st November 2010 - 20:48

like this
Like (0)

Hmm, even if the police were heavy-handed, misguided etc -

- I'm starting to agree with Dave Moulton, that Critical Mass does nothing to promote cycling, and often involves riders p***ing off other road users, ignoring Highway Code (or local equivalent) etc.

And I say this as a fanatical cyclist - road, utility, touring... you get the idea. I feel like these Critical Mass riders are really letting the side down. Though I also share their frustration.

If it's a celebration of cycling, do it on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [585 posts]
2nd November 2010 - 18:04

like this
Like (0)

spot on Im afraid. The critical mass in Bristol usually consists of a majority of people from stokes croft/montpellier who have scant regard for other people. I went once, stayed for 10 minutes and left because I didnt want to be assosciated with it.

It should be used to promote the joy of cycling and how it can be a better choice than driving but it seems to highlight how a lot of people on bikes (are they cyclists?) dont care for other road users or pedestrians and generally give drivers a reason to be p****d off at us all.

Heavy handed police tactics are not welcome or acceptable but as cyclists, we collectively need to show the benefits of what we love and not give those whoa re yet to be enlightened more reasons to dislike 'us'.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1080 posts]
2nd November 2010 - 18:20

like this
Like (0)