Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Santa Monica Critical Mass: December

Santa Monica Critical Mass December

Critical Mass in Santa Monica this month, was again tailed by police using selective enforcement of the law, giving citations for things ignored in other contexts or given as warnings.

Santa Monica Critical Mass December

Apparently less police force then last months ride & far fewer citations, although some believe that had more to do with a SMPD Christmas party that night then an effort to ease up the crack down. This is in fact a crack down, in the words of our mayor, who was interviewed by Fox news, which covered this months ride along with several other news stations.

Santa Monica Critical Mass December

Although I am a Santa Monica local I never made it out to SMCM in the past due to it conflicting with Ride-Arc, an architecturally focused ride, usually starting downtown that I was attending regularly. When I heard about the political situation brewing back home though, I wanted to come out to represent and also to see for my self what the fuss was about.

Santa Monica Critical Mass December
(She received a citation for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, and a warning for being under 18 without a helmet. Seen here being interviewed by TV news after the ticket was given)

As someone who has been on many mass rides now, and read up on some of the history of the critical mass movement, I was shocked at the police attention to such a tame group. Santa Monica critical mass is so peace loving compared to any mass ride I'd ever been on, or any of the Critical Mass rides I'd read about in other cities. They stay in one lane, stop at reds without corking, let cars through at stop signs, and the route for the most parts did not follow busy streets.

Santa Monica Critical Mass December
(citation for "lack of forward facing lights" of which the rider had two, seen glowing on his fork)

The mayor apparently feels it is an effective use of our tax money to use the police force and clog the judicial system, in his political agenda to squash this group bike ride. A ride that has now existed for several years and done so peacefully. Why it has become such an agenda is not entirely clear, and seems to run counter to Santa Monica's supposed environmental leadership and efforts to reduce car commuting, which clogs our city far more then any bike ride can.

Santa Monica Critical Mass December
(Santa was apparently riding to far to left. SMPD seen here spreading the holiday cheer)

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