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Cyclists cited, bikes impounded in Long Beach Critical Mass ride

Police in Long Beach shut down a recent Critical Mass bike ride of about 85 cyclists and seized more than 20 bicycles for various offenses, including riding unlicensed bikes, officials said Monday.

The Critical Mass ride is an international event that takes place on the last Friday of each month in hundreds of cities around the world, said Ronnie Sandlin, of Long Beach, a spokesman for Pedal Movement, a cycling rights advocacy group.

The Long Beach ride was shut down because organizers said riders lacked a special events permit, and many broke traffic laws, said Sgt. Dina Zapalski, a Long Beach Police Department spokeswoman.

The ride began at Cal State Long Beach and within 20 minutes cyclists met officers at the intersection of Anaheim Road and Palo Verde Avenue, Sandlin said.

Riders thought police were there to help move traffic along, but instead cyclists were cited and their bicycles impounded. About 60 citations were handed out to riders without proper night lighting, for running stop signs or riding unlicensed bicycles, among other violations, Zaplaski said.

Of the bikes seized, 11 did not have brakes, Zapalski said. To lawfully ride a bike on city streets, bicyclists must register their bikes with the city and have it inspected by the Fire Department.

“We take bicycle safety seriously in Long Beach and will not stand by idly while any person or group acts with blatant disregard for the safety of the residents of our community,” said Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell.

Those who lead the ride attempted for two months to secure a permit and tried to get the word out to riders to follow all traffic and bike laws to not “give the cops any reason to hassle us,” Sandlin said.

He was cited and his bicycle was seized for lacking proper registration. Sandlin said he had tried repeatedly to register his bike, only to be told by the city that it had ran out of stickers for the year.

Ride participants are organizing to retrieve their bicycles en masse Tuesday from the city warehouse where they were impounded. They also plan to attend the Long Beach City Council meeting Nov. 9 to voice their concerns.

“Not having a bike is a big deal for us,” Sandlin said, adding that for many riders, it is their only form of transportation.

-- Stephen Ceasar

Comments () | Archives (93)


Thank you LBPD. Now... let's bring this commonsense approach to civil disobedience to LA.

I'm a huge advocate for bicycles in the city of Los Angeles, but I've seen these guys in my neighborhood acting like they own the road, closing down intersections for more than 10 minutes, and basically behaving like a bunch of drunken fraternity boys at a football game. Drivers were rightfully angry, and the bicyclists didn't care. When bicyclists behave like that, I can't support the cause, even when it's close to my heart. Please keep-up the effort to help make cities more bike friendly, but do it in a way that doesn't make everyone else pissed-off!!!

Wouldn't want to worry about real crime or anything. Sounds like the freakin' gestapo to me.

That's one way to guarantee a massive turnout for the next event. And there will be another. Critical Mass is a monthly event.

Big praise to our brave officers out there patrolling the streets. The general public is now much safer!

If these Yahoos weren't so obnoxious, feel entitled to own the road, rude, cocky, etc, I'd feel sorry for them. They bring the heat down on themselves.

“We take bicycle safety seriously in Long Beach and will not stand by idly while any person or group acts with blatant disregard for the safety of the residents of our community,” said Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell.

I would like to say Thank You to Chief McDonnell for upholding the law instead of wimping out to political correctness. Why didn't LAPD do the same when they rode through Hollywood? Oh, yeah... political correctness. I forgot... it's LAPD. I'm glad Chief McDonnell didn't bring that with him from LAPD to LBPD. LBPD, Awesome! You guys rock!

voters should repeal that particular stupid ordinance. licensing bikes is pointless (other than giving the cops yet another policing tool they can abuse).

These Critical Mass hipsters seem semi-anarchists and often give cyclists a bad name -- but the response by police seems totally out of proportion, and solely intended to harrass and intimidate.

Impounding bikes for lacking a sticker? Come on!

Were the police only so attentive in dealing with the stolen bike epidemic, or when a motorist strikes a cyclist.

Am I to understand that if I ride my bike from my home outside Long Beach into the City of Long Beach, I am in violation of the law for riding my unlicensed bike into that jurisdiction? Bikes belonging to outsiders will be impounded for improper licensing? It makes me wonder how often I break the law by riding my bicycle from community to community without first licensing my bike in that community. I own several bikes bought in different shops around the country, and licensing was never mentioned. I did register them in anti-theft registries, but that was all that was offered. Perhaps Long Beach police should stop every rider entering the city and impound their bikes for lack of licensing. Just think how much money they could put in their coffers by fining cycle-riding offenders and putting them in jail. . .

you hard tax dollars at work!!!!

Register your bike with the city and get a fire department inspected? Who the hell does that? I would expect the fire dept. to laugh at me if I took a bike to them. I think they have lives to save or something like that. I guess I have been riding dirty on a bike my whole life.

Yeah, go after illegal cyclists but not real criminal illegals. Makes sense.

"To lawfully ride a bike on city streets, bicyclists must register their bikes with the city and have it inspected by the Fire Department."
That is outrageous I wonder how much the FEE/hidden Tax is!!! Why should i have to register my bicycle.

What is it about the So. California bureaucrat/kop mentality like McDonnel's that interprets its role as spending time keeping the world safe from bicycles at the expense of, for example, monitoring the safety of children?

If this is a ploy to attract attention to Long Beach, it won't work

What next, a permit to breath? This police state thing is getting out of hand. What ever happened to our freedom....Lost in the name of safety.

wow the police really dropped the ball on this one... way to continue to suck at bike policy

Having the Fire Dept inspect your Bike is like having a Chiropractor inspect you lungs. Blasphame!

I'm glad to see the cops finely do something with these law breakers. They have no respect for the motoring traffic.

Thanks Long Beach Police.

Dave L.

I hate Bike riders. They clog the road and if you have the right of way they will still take it from you cause they know they can't get in trouble for it. I don't want them on the road at all.
I had one guy come by my car and slap it with something. Glad I did not kill him. I had honked at him cause he was being in the way on purpose.
They abuse traffic laws like crazy. I'm surprised that they get away with so much. Maybe the police are finally wising up to their irresponsibility

I want to feel sorry for these guys, but they broke the law. On the other hand, the city set them up by dening them a permit and tags for their bikes! Sounds like a Mexican standoff!

Critical mass started out as a cool idea to raise awareness for cyclists, but sadly ended up being a monthly reminder of how awful cyclists can be. The vast majority of the people at those events blow through stop signs, change lanes or turning without signaling, and generally disrespect anyone else on the road.

I wonder if these bicyclists have to pay to register their bikes ? The Po-po impounded some of the bikes ? What the hell is that ? You people better wake up and see what is happening to your freedom !

I hate Bike riders. They should not be allowed to get away with all the traffic laws they break. They are in the way all the time. It's about time the police are finally wising up to their shenanigans.

In Regards to the 'Critical Massacre' :

The ride was stopped less than 5 minutes after it had departed from Cal state long beach. Leaders of the ride assumed the fleet of officers were blocking the streets to escort the 85+ riders safely across the intersection. LBPD strategically waited for every cyclist to roll the stop sign so that their sting operation could ensue.

One statement in Sunday's Press Telegram from LBPD spokesman Lisa Massacani claimed cyclists "blew through a stop sign". BLEW? How fast can 85 women and men on a bicycle really go? 5, maybe 10 miles an hour at the maximum? Sounds like the department is really trying to save their butts after the giant mess they've created.

One cyclist was told to put her bicycle against the fence and sit on the curb. She turned off both front and back lights before she stepped onto the sidewalk and was cited for "RIDING WITHOUT LIGHTS".

Every statement from police spokesman(s) and police chief is carefully worded so that it does not tarnish the PD's reputation with city council. Why? Just take a look at Police Chief Jim McDonnell's $217,000 salary. Recent budget cuts to the department has had officers scrambling to collect their overtime. The "CRITICAL MASSACRE" [in which it is now called] simply offered the 40+ officers at the scene 'Time and a Half' pay to write tickets for codes many were unfamiliar with. Wouldn't it have been CHEAPER for the city to have 3 officers to escort a petty bicycle ride? Unless you know the REAL facts, these statements are mere garbage.

What provoked the hungry beast that is LBPD? A video was recently released on the internet of officers harassing a cyclist who had broken no law. Shortly after, BikesideLa published an article that proved the officers had very little knowledge of vehicle codes in the city. The video and article can be found here:


My number one concern now is that you have the courts flooded with cyclist attempting to fight their ridiculous petty tickets, court time that could be used for REAL crime. Or perhaps money that could have been used on our schools, the recent inflation of homeless in the city, maybe even create jobs for desperate unemployed citizens of Long Beach, among several other major concerns. The city has worked so hard on their "Bicycle master plan" and sponsors have invested millions in funds to make the city the "Most Bike Friendly City in the Country". On the night of October 29, 2010 the police department shattered that title and stories of what really happened the night of the Critical Massacre has rippled throughout the country.

Dear Chief,
I love nothing more than walking with my 4 year old family member while he rides his tricycle throughout our Long Beach neighborhood. Are you going to give him a traffic ticket and impound his bicycle too? You're a bully on this playground, and citizens of Long Beach think you need a MAJOR time out.

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