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Two-Wheel Drama In The LBC: Bicycles Impounded, Critical Mass Riders Cited By Long Beach Police

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Photo by melissssaf via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

Photo by melissssaf via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
On the last Friday of every month, hundreds of Earth cities mobilize on two-wheels to celebrate the joy of cycling and gather for pedal rights during organized Critical Mass rides.However, last Friday, police shut down the inaugural Critical Mass ride in Long Beach citing the majority of the riders for a variety of infractions (registering your bike with the city??) and impounding dozens of bicycles.

According to the Los Angeles Times, "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."

"The action is a big black eye for a city that touts itself as the most bike friendly city in the U.S. 'It appears being bike friendly only applies to a limited part of the city,' said June Kaeswith, one of the organizers" in the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Police Chief Jim McDonnell justifies the activity claiming Critical Mass, "engages in dangerous conduct, violating every rule of the road and endangering the public."

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Organizers are taking issue with what they believe is an illegal seizure of property, and 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," reports the Los Angeles Times.

Ronnie Sandlin, a promoter of last Friday's ride (and one of the cited participants), said his group tried unsuccessfully for more than a month to gain a permit for the ride. He also claimed to have attempted to register his bike before the ride only to be told by the city that it had run out of stickers.