Cyclists Expect Peaceful Co-Existance between LAPD and Critical Mass Tonight (Updated: 3:10 P.M., So Does LAPD)

One year ago, the LAPD sent a small army to “escort” Los Angeles Critical Mass after an ugly incident where an LAPD officer was caught on tape kicking at a cyclists’ tires and then assaulting the man operating the camera at the May 2010 Critical Mass. The escort has stayed with the ride, changing the nature of Critical Mass for both the good (there are less crashes reported despite the ride swelling from 400 riders to well over 1,000 monthly) and bad (many long-time riders claim the LAPD are taking too large a roll controlling what is supposed to be a ride that highlights the specific challenges cyclists face.)

That new relationship could be challenged tonight because of the initial report filed by the LAPD in the “Christine Dahab v Koreatown Riders” crash in Culver City last week. However, many riders believe the relationships formed between the LAPD bike police who ride the mass and the Ridazz is strong enough to withstand one poorly written crash report, and the LAPD officers that accompany the ride also expect relatively peaceful evening.

“To my knowledge nothing special is planned,” said Sgt. David Krumer of the LAPD, “There was talk of possibly riding by the crash site and UCLA from ride organizers, but nothing is certain.”

Cyclists don’t see tonight’s Critical Mass to be any different than the other 12 they’ve already ridden with the Ridazz.

“One of the reasons Critical Mass even exists is to show that cyclists have a place on the road; that we are traffic. That message is even more important now in light of last week’s events in Culver City. Tonight’s Critical Mass ride should not be seen as a protest, but rather, a celebration of cycling and an affirmation of our right to ride in peace and to return home safety,” writes Alexis Lantz of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

In fact, Midnight Ridazz “Roadblock” sees an opportunity in tonight’s ride and people’s reactions to last week’s crash, “My hope is that in some way we can direct a lot of the anger and emotion resulting from the incident towards changing the political climate in a city that gives drinkers little choice other than to drive to and from the bar.”

Mark Didia, who is leading an effort for cyclists to respond to the Dahab Crash took a different tact, and didn’t even mention the police presence when I asked him about what he expects tonight from Critical Mass. “The questions I ask myself after the recent collision are: can the new generation take this badass bike culture to the next level? Will more kids rise up? Will their direct connection to an environment that is hostile against them, trigger the will to stand up? If thousands attend, as I imagine will, I see it as a testament to this generations unwillingness to give into fear nor the inaction of our leaders who have direct power to initiate systemic change. LACM is call to: RIDE ON!”

If you want to ride with Critical Mass, it leaves from the Wilshire/Western Subway stop at 7:00 P.M. tonight.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Newest Group of Ridazz: The LAPD

|
For a full size version of the flyer, click here. Traditionally, small groups of bike riders from around the city gather together on the fourth Friday of the month and head to the Wilshire/Western Red Line Station to gather for Los Angeles Critical Mass.  This month, following what Streetsblog is calling the "Critical Mass Attack," […]

Critical Mass: A Calm Ride Through the Streets of L.A.

|
Critical Mass avoided controversy on Friday night, rolling to the Westside to UCLA Medical Center (where the last hospitalized victim from the Culver City Crash a couple of weeks ago is still recovering) to the traditional stop at Western and Sunset.  Tickets were kept to a minimum, I could count on one hand the number […]

What to Expect at Friday’s Critical Mass

|
Believe it or not, this was done with the officer’s consent. Photo: Digable Soul/Flickr Critical Mass has gone mainstream.  Following last month’s "Critical Mass Attack," where an officer was caught on tape kicking at cyclists’ bikes before the cameraman was tackled to the ground, it seems you can’t go anywhere without reading or discussing Critical […]

Group Rides and the LAPD, Still Working It Out

|
While the relationship between the Los Angeles Police Department and large group bike rides, such as Critical Mass or CRANK Mob, have improved by leaps and bounds over the summer; reactions to last Saturday’s CRANK Mob ride, aka CRANKMAS III, shows there is still some work to do. Readers may remember that after an ugly […]

Critical Mass Rides West, More Problems with “Escort”

|
(editor’s note: Nope, I wasn’t there this month.  This is all second-hand reporting.  Alex de Cordoba did attend the mass and offers a report on the ride and thoughts on how it can move forward at The Engaged Observer. – DN) Last Friday saw the fifth installment of the Los Angeles Critical Mass/ LAPD rides.  […]

LAPD Tackle Cyclists at Friday’s Critical Mass

|
Photo from of cyclists going through Second Street Tunnel via LACM’s twitter feed. Bike discussion sites have been abuzz since last Friday with news that things got ugly when Los Angeles Critical Mass breezed onto Los Angeles Street and ran into an LAPD Squad Car facing against traffic with its lights flashing.  According to eye […]