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Cyclists cited, bikes impounded in Long Beach Critical Mass ride

November 1, 2010 |  3:23 pm

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