Success! Critical Mass & LAPD Take to the Streets

By all accounts, Friday night's first Critical Mass ride that shared the road with hundreds of cyclists and cops was a success. And it was also a completely opposite scenario from last month when the LAPD used force against cyclists, causing an uproar within the bicycle community and Chief Charlie Beck promising that things would improve.

Surrounded by a small group of excited cyclists on the subway late Friday night, Sgt. David Krumer had a positive outlook on the event. "We were happy that it went as well as it did," he said, "but of course it could have gone better." He said there were only a handful of incidents, including some arrests for vandalism, fireworks set off in Hollywood and a cyclist who was hit by a car in West Hollywood.

"It'd be cool if you guys come out more often." chimed in a cyclist also on the subway. Others agreed, as well many others on Twitter.

Damien Newton at Streetsblog called the night an "overwhelming success." "For one night, the fractured bicycling advocacy community put aside it's own internal divisions and rode as one," he wrote.

Some had mixed feelings, a sense stemming from anticipation of how this will all play out in the future. "I feel a little uneasy with what happened tonight - it’s hard for me to believe that such a positive relationship can persist," wrote Alex Thompson at BikesideLA. "But today I believe that I witnessed the death of antagonism between two great powers in Los Angeles, the two gutsiest powers in LA’s streets - cyclists and LAPD. I look forward to, with courage and clear purpose, exploring this new and undiscovered country of friendship and support."

Commander Jorge Villegas said the ride was a success from the police department's perspective. "We learned a lot and will use the lessons learned to be even better prepared. We look forward to our continued relationship/partnership. With this partnership, Im hopeful that we will continue to work on our short and long range issues," he wrote in an e-mail Monday morning to cyclists. "Further, Im hopeful that with what the cyclist community experienced this Friday, it will continue to ride in lawful manner illustrative of integration with the flow of traffic. By doing so, cyclist demonstrate a solution to traffic congestion and possible solution to our city's traffic problems."

One issue the LAPD will be facing is how to deal with corking intersections. On Friday night, the front of the group obeyed red lights, but once the mass of cyclists was flowing, it was hard to stop. "Although it wasn't our intent, it was kind of an organic thing," Krumer explained.

Krumer and other officers will meet this week to debrief and figure out how they can improve the ride even more.

Cyclist Joe Borfo, who called for a project called "Civil Obedience" thanked the LAPD publicly. "I think this really is a symbol of the LAPD reaching out and showing that they will support and respect the bike community," he wrote. "In return, let's show them that we can ride in traffic AS TRAFFIC by following all the rules of the road."

Critical Mass, a large monthly bicycle ride, meets the last Friday of every month at 7:30 p.m., starting above ground at the Metro Wilshire and Western stop.