A look at tonight’s Critical Mass

I confess. I’ve never ridden a single Critical Mass.

It’s not that I’m against it. Although personally, I don’t think we win friends by reinforcing the motoring public’s perception that bikes never stop for red lights or that we inconvenience drivers needlessly.

And it would be fun to celebrate our right to ride with a few hundred — or in tonight’s case, more likely a few thousand — like-minded riders. Especially when there’s a point to be made following last month’s Critical Mass Takedown.

If I was still single, I’d probably be a regular at rides like this.

Then again, if I was single, there’s a lot of things I’d do that I don’t do now.

However, as a married man, I have other obligations. Which means that events that take place on nights and weekends are usually out for me, as much as I might like to join in on the fun.

But in my book, family comes first.

Then again, it’s not like anyone is likely to miss me. Tonight’s CM promises to be one of the largest the city has ever seen, including a number of the local biking community’s more prominent members who don’t normally participate on a regular basis.

Representatives from the LACBC will be there. Bikeside will undoubtedly be there, along with the Ridazz. And the rapidly growing Eastside Bicycle Club — which celebrates its second anniversary at Lincoln Park on Saturday — will no doubt be represented.

Even the LAPD’s point man for bike issues, Sgt. David Krumer, will be there — in fact, he’s hoping to have his picture taken with Plebis Power, author of the popular CM poster parody.

And he won’t be alone.

The Los Angeles Police Department will not only be attending the ride, they expect to participate in some way. While they readily acknowledge that this is an experiment, they’re committed to finding a way to more effectively police and support the ride, without the heavy-handed problems of last month.

Police cruisers, they promise, will be kept in the background unless needed. And there won’t be a crackdown on “ticky tacky” violations as some riders have feared — such as bikes without side reflectors, for instance.

But cyclists will be expected to have lights and brakes — defined as being able to skid on dry pavement, for you fixie aficionados. And anyone under 18 needs a helmet, as required by state law.

The department is encouraging leaders within the ride to step — or maybe roll — forward to help self-police the ride to keep officers from feeling the need to step in themselves.

And they offer three key points to remember as you ride tonight —

  • People are encouraged to follow the rules of the road
  • The police will not be corking intersections — though they reserve the right to change their mind if it becomes necessary
  • Riders will be expected to stop at all red lights unless instructed otherwise

I’d also like to add a little advice that Sgt. Krumer offered earlier this month, not just for Critical Mass, but anytime you find yourself dealing with the police —

  • Stop if a police officer instructs you to
  • Be polite and respectful, even if you don’t think you did anything wrong — “No sir” or “Yes ma’am” will go a long way towards avoiding any problems
  • Don’t try to correct the officer, even if you know the law better than he or she does — some officers may see that as being combative, which could cause things to escalate unpleasantly
  • If the officer writes a ticket, just accept it quietly and fight it in court later

Finally, if you think you’ve been treated unfairly, contact the watch commander at the officer’s precinct. Or contact anyone involved with the department’s Bike Task Force — such as myself, the LACBC, Bikeside, Carlos Morales or bike activist extraordinaire Stephen Box, just to name a few, and we’ll contact the department on your behalf.

And yes, you do have a right to film or photograph any police officer in the performance of his or her duties — despite what you might have seen — as field officers were recently reminded.

But you might not want to push the point, especially if you value your iPhone.

Now have fun.

And stay out of the news.

………

The teenage suspects in the car racing death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado plead not guilty. The LACBC calls on LADOT to do sharrows right, and endorses the Wilshire Bus (and bike) Only Lane along with the Green LA Transportation Working Group. Council Member Tom LaBonge’s police-accompanied group ride along the new 4th Street sharrows was “like Critical Mass, but with gray hair and guns.” Your tentative route for CicLAvia is unveiled. A Bay Area cyclist is killed after broad-siding a truck, possibly while trying to set a downhill speed record. A Folsom man dies shortly after falling from his bike on a local bike path. Bike Attorney Bob Mionske looks at the Black Hawk bike ban and not surprisingly, finds it violates Colorado law. A leadership vacuum on bike issues in Chicago; sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Ikea tries to veto bike lanes in Brooklyn.­ Even in Missouri, you can have a ride from hell — although that loud long horn could be a friend trying to say hi. A student riding across country to raise money for charity is killed by a car in New Mexico. The new Oklahoma law that allows cyclists to run red lights that don’t change doesn’t actually allow cyclist to go through red lights after all. FedEx says call the police if one of their trucks blocks a bike lane because their not going to do anything about it. A Pittsburgh area cemetery — final resting place of perhaps the greatest player in baseball history — opens its gates to cyclists. Who needs bike parking when you’ve got a good fence? UK cycling rates are up, while deaths are down. If you’re planning a bike ride, it helps to know where the keys are. A driver loses her license for killing a cyclist while trying to toss a spider out of her car. A woman barely survives a brush with a massive truck as horrified bystanders look on.

Finally, I dare anyone to run you off the road on this bike.

9 comments

  1. danceralamode says:

    I can’t wait to ride with LACM tonight! I have my “1st Amendment” outfit all planned!

    I really hope this is a turning point for LACM being more positive.

  2. Digital Dame says:

    I’ve never ridden in a CM event either, eager to hear how it goes for you all. Good luck!

  3. Sirinya says:

    Tonight will mark my first LACM. I’m excited, and more nervous about riding so many miles than anything else. Thanks for the great coverage here!

    • bikinginla says:

      You’re quite welcome; I’m glad to do what I can. Hope you had a great time tonight — let us know how it went if you get a chance.

    • danceralamode says:

      Hey, are you the Sirinya who made a twitter pledge with me two days ago? Lol, small world, didn’t see you on the Mass though. It was huge!

      • Sirinya says:

        Hey @danceralamode,
        YES, I am that same Sirinya! I saw you arrive with Birdman but it was so crowded that I couldn’t get over to you in time to introduce myself. We’ll meet another time.
        And Ted (I mean, BikinginLA)-
        Like Amanda, I thought it was pretty uneventful and I had a great time. I lost track of the bulk of the riders at Pan Pacific Park because the pitstop was pretty short. As a result, I wound up riding with the cops through the Fairfax District and some of WeHo, which was pretty interesting. (We were a good match: They had mountain bikes loaded with heavy gear, and I’m slow.) I was in awe of the diversity of the cyclists and their bikes.

        • bikinginla says:

          Glad you had such a great time, Sirinya; I’ll link to your blog post tomorrow.

          And feel free to call me Ted — I think my secret identity was revealed a long time ago.

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