Critical Mass is the loose-knit group of bicyclists that clashed with the LAPD at a ride in late May. At least one confrontation was caught on tape, officers were put under the microscope, and the city started to take a kinder, gentler stance toward riders.
In New York, the roads haven't been so friendly for the two-wheeled species, and this week that city announced a $1 million settlement for some participants of Critical Mass rides there who said police wrongly stopped and arrested them.
A cautionary tale? Not sure: The LAPD took proactive steps to try to end animosity between the boys and girls in blue and the bicycle brigades who ride wherever the group takes them on the last Friday of each month.
The department has reached out to riders at meetings and appeared to stop enforcing traffic laws — letting the group run red lights — during Critical Mass rides.
Still, there's bitterness. A videographer who caught the cop-kick on his iPhone says he was tackled and assaulted. He has filed a claim against the LAPD.
Riders say the LAPD continues to be inflexible. Police have a laundry list of warnings for Critical Mass riders (no drugs, vandalism, alcohol).
In any case, the rocky relationship doesn't seem half as bad as the scene in New York.
The New York Times:
The Critical Mass riders and the Police Department have a long, antagonistic history. Since 2004, riders have claimed that police officers harass them, take their bicycles and arrest them without reason. The police have said the cyclists violate traffic laws. The department has deployed hundreds of officers, a mobile command unit and a helicopter to monitor the rides, which wend their way through Manhattan on the last Friday of each month.
The next area ride happens on a fright night — Oct. 29 — in Long Beach. Are they giving the LAPD a break?