Monday, February 01, 2010

SF Police Chief: Another Critical Mass crackdown?

Back in 1997, then Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco was slipping in the polls. To direct attention away from his failing policies, he set out to crack down on the San Francisco Critical Mass. When 5,000 cyclists showed up at Justin Hermann Plaza in response to Brown's public challenge to Critical Mass, police responded by arresting (and eventually releasing without trial) 150 cyclists and pedestrians, violently attacking many of them without provocation.

In an apparent repeat of this history, newly appointed police chief George Gascón says a review of Critical Mass is under way at his department. “I am not satisfied with Critical Mass,” he says.

Gascón threw some fuel on the fire with a direct challenge to cyclists, suggesting a (clearly unconstitutional) ballot initiative to ban Critical Mass would "pass with flying colors."

The SF Chief's review is supposedly part of his plan to reduce crime in San Francisco by 20%. Cutting down on the number of red light cyclists just might do that!

H/T Murph.


Anonymous said...

I'm a serious cyclist, racer and bike enthusiast. I ride 15-18 hours per week and have lots of interactions with automobiles, positive and negative.

I'm also pretty open minded, yet I still fail to see how critical mass is a net positive for our two wheeled community in terms of PR or cycling advocacy.

Anonymous said...

It will be an interesting study in enforcement to see Gascon try to stop critical mass. When we are in a budget crisis it will take disproportionate police resources to make the attempt to stop it. It costs the city real money to try to stop CM, it takes nothing for bicyclists to go for a ride.

I suppose it is easy money for the police though. Much easier than fighting violent crime.