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At 9:30 p.m. on Friday February 27, whoops and shouts could be heard near the Children’s Museum at the intersection of West Island Avenue and Front Street.

On Harbor Drive, a police car cruised silently with its emergency lights flashing, pacing the leaders of a huge pack of cyclists, many of them yelling as they rode. Critical Mass!

Critical Mass, which began in San Francisco in 1992, takes place in San Diego and other cities on the last Friday of each month.

Most if not all of the San Diego cyclists sported headlights, and many were kitted out with neon-like lighting. As the lead riders reached the Marriott Hotel, someone yelled “Marriott!” and several bicyclists turned right to detour up through the large curved driveway. Most of the mobile mob, however, kept going straight on Harbor Drive.

Near the Marriott, the patrol car seemed to take a left at Fifth Avenue to stay at the lead of the pack. Those riders who’d taken the brief driveway detour rejoined the main contingent, and Critical Mass turned up Fifth and continued out of sight.

When the light turned red on Harbor Drive, remaining riders in the pack disregarded the light and continued through the intersection. Not long after, a motorist’s sustained honking could be heard on southbound Fifth Avenue; as the driver tried to turn onto Harbor Drive, the long string of riders traveling against the light impeded their progress.

This night’s Critical Mass was estimated at about an eighth of a mile in length and seemed to take three or four minutes to pass, even at their rapid speed.

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Comments

jaymez619 March 1, 2009 @ 1:44 p.m.

I've always wanted to participate in one of these, but I don't believe in violating traffic laws and obstructing traffic.

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Burbclaver March 29, 2009 @ 10:34 a.m.

I was in Little Italy with my wife when one of these rides crossed India at A Street. Although it was dark, many riders didn't have lights. Although the traffic lights were red, they continued to pour through the intersection against traffic. Many rode on the sidewalk and we had to take shelter behind a pole to avoid being hit. Later, we say the same group riding along India Street. The riders were shouting at a car driver caught in the middle of the ride and were thumping on the roof of the car as they passed. This is not a fun, family occasion, but anti-social behavior caused by a mob that delights in bullying its way around town and disrupting the lives of residents. The route they take often crosses and re-crosses itself until the have caused considerable disruption. They are noisy, unruly, dangerous, and frightening crowd that tie up police time and should be stopped.

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