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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)

Land of the Free, eh comrade?

I understand that they may not have had the appropriate permit but come on COPS. This is ridiculous. There are real criminals out there selling drugs, gangster shootings, innocent people getting killed on a daily basis, prostitution etc. etc. etc. and you guys have the balls to target the bike riders. Not only do you cite them you confiscate their bike. This is our tax dollars HARD at work. I hope you guys call all sleep better knowing that you took some hardened criminals off the street. I bet that was a VERY SCARY and INTENSE moment. My hat off to your superiors.

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."

Yeah!!! You'd never catch any drivers speeding, or talking on their cellphones or doing California stops, or anything like that!!!!

All the drivers out there are going 55-65 mph or the freeway, have their cellphones turned off, and come to a COMPLETE stop, AND look both ways before proceeding. So it's about high time bicyclists take a note or two from the best drivers in the world!!!

So like I said the press release from the PD fed bull is a lye. I was there,,,they blew thru nothing and broke no law. They actualy were very cooperative and polite to the officers who betrayed them by faking them out by orders of the big Chief.
It was over 100 riders from age 19 to 60. And some were actual business owners in LB. This was a holloween ride that they tried to get permit and escort for weeks . The mayor just did not feel like allowing it, he felt it was cheaper to put half the police force on over time and lets not forget the helicopter.
Noone broke any law theeir ride was a grand total of 50 feet.
Nobody arrested nobody lipping off to the cops and about 60 bikes taken.
I saw the whole thing and then had to asist these kids witha ride home.
The ride leader spoke with the officers asking nicely if vthey would please escort. They said no because they were only there to ticket anyone braking the law. Fare enough. We beleived them because we were all told to obbey lights and stop signs and not litter. The minut we left the college ground they made us stop.
I assure you that these were no gangbangers or the Chief wants you to beleive. The issue is that LB wants to call itself bike friendly by dictATING A RIDE ONCE A YEAR wich by the way my son did it this year with the mayor 60k with no registered bike and no brakes ...go figure!!!!

What kind of training does the fire department undergo to qualify them to inspect bicycles?

I agree with many of the comments here: though there is nothing inherently illegal about riding bicycles in a group, the general attitude of the critical mass groups is pretty negative. I certainly see nothing wrong with a bike en masse, but these people are using the protection of a large group to blatantly break traffic laws, and generally add a negative energy to our city. It's fine to be proud that you are not using fossil fuels, or are getting some exercise, but don't take your personal anger out on on the rest of us. I wish they would crack down on these events more often.

1. Hahahahahahha!

2. Bike licenses and inspections were commonly required in the 60's and 70's by either the police or fire department, depending which city you lived in. The reasoning was for safety inspections and the obvious revenue stream. Remember revenue? It's how we pay for overspending.

3. "It's my understanding that the bike license program was suspended in early 2009." The blog lists the City of Los Angeles, this happened in the City of Long Beach. Two different cities, two different rules. Rules are what the most obnoxious of bike rider s can't follow and then gets mad when they are penalized for it.

4. Going through a stop sign, no matter what speed, without making a complete stop, is illegal. And cities who need money, will cite for broken laws. Bikes are vehicles, responsible to the vehicle code.

Good job LBC!!!

Make bikes illegal in this town if you want to go any place buy a car !!!
No one walks in LA!!

Bike licenses are another Bull S#$t tax. There is no need for a bike license, and for them to be citing people for not having them is stupid. As for running stop signs, riding more than two abreast, no lights... ticket away. Those are legitimate safety violations.

I hate cyclists with a passion!! I watch 4 of them, riding two abreast, smirk at each other and then all of a sudden moved to 4 abreast on a two lane highway. A young mother with a small child in a child seat in the backseat was beginning to pass them when the cyclists did this. The young mother had to swerve into on-coming traffic to miss the cyclists. Until then, I hadn't given cyclists much thought. Now I watch them. I have seen them force a school bus into the on-coming lane when they have had a 3 ft. to 4 ft. shoulder to ride on. You have no idea the burning hatred I have for these self centered egoists!

Those who have had their bikes impounded might want to read this:


Would the city even be able to prove that they HADN'T licensed them?

Good job LBPD. What a great chance to demonstrate your bravery and courage. Not just anyone has the guts to stand up to dangerous bike riders. I feel much safer now knowing that Long Beach is protected from bike riders.

Isn't it ironic that a lot of the same people always screaming about the government circumventing their interests seem to be the very same people who'll suddenly want bicycle licenses and registration?

There is no information about the group's behavior. But neither is there information about there purpose in rallying. As a journalist, it seems to me a sign of the times.

That's IT. The police have gone TOO FAR. This is the official start of war against the LBPD

"Paul" hit it right on the nail! He said, "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."

This is exactly why the LBPD came out in force to show them their disrespect for the rules of the road won't be tolerated in Long Beach.

LAPD got its ass kicked back in May and September when the cyclists decided to take matters into their own hands and start disregarding rules and laws. LAPD didn't respond aggressively enough like LBPD did. Instead what we ended up with was a video of an LAPD officer kicking a cyclist and in the Sept incident, the rowdy cyclists running amok inside a Ralphs store riding their bike inside the store, drinking outside and smoking pot. LAPD still didn't act aggressive enough then. I guess Chief McDonnell didn't want a repeat of LA. I respect Chief McDonnell and LBPD for enforcing the rules.

The cyclists act all innocent, but have you actually seen how aggressive and mean spirited they really are when they are in that mob mentality group ride? I got caught in one and it wasn't fun. They literally blocked the roads and prevented cars from moving. Light turns red for them,... they don't care, they kept on riding and we sat there waiting and waiting and waiting while the lights went from red to green to red to green.... and on and on. I have no sympathy for them. It's their own behavior that's turning people against them.

Another arcane law used by police to justify their existence, as well as seize property and generate income. It would be interesting to see the call logs during the time they were writing citations to bicyclists - how many assualts/property crimes were commited during this "blatant disregard for...safety.."?

Ridiculous! Friends of mine just completed a 480-mile mass bike ride for charity from San Francisco to LA, raising tens of thousands for paralyzed veterans.

Are you telling me they would need to "register" their bicycles in each and every city though which the fundraiser passed en route? How absurd!

And me, what if I want a Sunday jaunt to ride from Santa Monica down to Long Beach and have lunch, ride back? Really? I have to never go there, or take my car and bike down on a weekday just to "register" it beforehand? Impractical and burdensome!

Is there even room on a bike frame to paste all the cities in California?

Who are you kidding, Long Beach? Let's BOYCOTT LONG BEACH! Take our recreation spending elsewhere that is not run by Neanderthals!

it costs 3 bucks to get a license and the rules are here:

What a SHAME! Here we have a bike ride that welcomes everyone and the authorities shut it down! The police should have posted themselves to HELP this event by "serving" to shepherd the group. It's a community builder not a riot. I am discussed with those in charge who decided to flaunt their power. I sincerely hope that Long Beach's City Council will make necessary changes and invite the next group ride through their city!

Whether you agree with the rides or not, or have even had a negative experience related to one, there is no disputing that the LBPD has an agenda regarding cyclists:


The police department needs to educate itself on something other than how to generate revenue. Protect and serve? Not in this case.

It's about time and worth the tax money. I've gotten caught up in this traffic snarl because of the unruly riders. I say they deserve it and it only goes to put bicyclists in a bad light. I hope all cities continue to cite and impound for these events if the bicyclist can't follow basic traffic laws. I totally believe in bicyclists rights and they deserve to be on the road but these events are nothing but traffic chaos

Please do the same thing in Los Angeles...

"Are you telling me they would need to "register" their bicycles in each and every city though which the fundraiser passed en route? How absurd!"

you only need your bicycle registered if you live in the city/county that requires it.

Long Beach's bicycle registration law is itself illegal, and therefore unenforceable.

California Vehicle Code section 39002, which gives municipalities the authority to have license laws, reads as follows:

39002. (a) A city or county, which adopts a bicycle licensing
ordinance or resolution, may provide in the ordinance or resolution
that no resident shall operate any bicycle, as specified in the
ordinance, on any street, road, highway, or other public property
within the jurisdiction of the city or county, as the case may be,
unless the bicycle is licensed in accordance with this division.

The key words there are "no resident shall operate." Not "no person shall operate." No "resident." It's common sense--after all, if cities were given the authourity to require all *persons* riding within their limits to have licenses, people who lived in cities that don't have license laws wouldn't be able to cross the border into cities that do! More to the point, it's the law, and cities are not allowed to make restrictive laws concerning bicycle use on public streets unless expressly given the authority to do so by the CVC.

Long Beach's law is null and void.

you can get as pissed at bikers and sound like you know what you're talking about all you want, we're still gonna ride our bikes.

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