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Mass Bicycle Rides Gain Media's Attention

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On two different days, in two different articles the LA Times profiles two mass bicycle rides. On one side, the large and boisterous Midnight Ridazz who mostly stick to Los Angeles city streets. On the other is the Santa Monica Critical Mass.

The outcome? Los Angeles is chill when it comes to dealing with the group rides. As for Santa Monica, as usual, everything from the height of your front yard hedges to a group of bicyclists becomes the biggest drama in the world.

Santa Monica Police and bicyclists have clashed. It's gotten so bad, the group may have to change its name to Venice Critical Mass. Cyclists at events are targeted and ticketed for various violations such as riding on the sidewalk, insufficient reflectors and lighting, running red lights and corking traffic. Yes, running red lights are bad, but the LAPD has learned to let it go.

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For Midnight Ridazz, the largest group ride in the area, encounters with the LAPD are often. And what happens? The cops get on their loud speakers and tell cyclists to stick to one lane, occasionally ticket a rider who is out of turn and investigate the random and large potato gun seen on one riders bike. As to running red lights, officers usually run them with the cyclists as an unofficial escort. "When we obey the lights," a bicyclist told the Times, "it's even more chaotic because the traffic is just insane for blocks and blocks."

For the City of Los Angeles, Councilman Eric Garcetti, who has ridden with the Ridazz before (his staff included), sums the culture up best. "There's this myth in Los Angeles that we lead solitary lives, but I think that Midnight Ridazz and the other bike groups run counter to that. Los Angeles is a place where you certainly need to be in the know to find out where things are, but once you do, you see as strong and deep a community as anywhere in the United States."
Santa Monica Critical Mass rides tonight and Midnight Ridazz next Friday.

Photo by digablesoul via Flickr