The City of Long Beach, California has issued a statement in regard to the recent Critical Mass event in the city, which was forcibly shut down by police on October 29th. Law enforcement officials confiscated bikes and issued more than 70 citations to the small group of cycling advocates, claiming riders disobeyed road rules and failed to properly register their bicycles.
The statement makes generalized references to various improvements the city has planned for Long Beach, including cycling lanes, bike racks, and road-safety awareness initiatives. Police stressed the importance of compliance with established cycling regulations, saying:
“Cyclists that do not follow the rules of the road create motorist animosity towards cyclists, which directly conflicts with Long Beach’s goal of being America’s Most Bike-Friendly City. Riding responsibly is the duty of every cyclist, just as we expect every motorist to respect our cyclists.”
On October 29th, around 85 cyclists gathered to ride around the city in recognition of the Critical Mass movement, which aims to encourage cycling in urban areas. When the riders encountered police, they assumed the officers were there to assist them with traffic safety and road-closures. Conversely, the cyclists were forced to surrender their bicycles, and many were issued with traffic citations for alleged road safety violations.
The cyclists later discovered that, among other reasons their bikes were impounded because they lacked registration documentation. Long Beach requires bicycles to be inspected by the Fire Department and to have working brakes in order to receive legal registration. Some cyclists complained that the city had refused to issue them with registration stickers well in advance of the event. Police claim that the riders had not obtained the required permits for a group ride.
Participants of the event are planning to attend the Long Beach City Council meeting scheduled for November 9th. They expect to make their concerns heard. Ronnie Sandlin, of Pedal Movement, stressed the reality that bikes represent the main form of transportation for many people in Long Beach. On having his bike impounded, he added, “Not having a bike is a big deal for us.”