Matthew Lickona 11:49 p.m., Dec. 10
About these bicyclists. Several weeks ago, I was standing out on my patio when I heard people hollering, whooping it up, and then I noticed F St. was filled with bicyclists, riding around cars, running lights, making a LOT of noise. I was baffled. I even checked the City's calendar of events and found nothing about a bicycle race or gathering. I did not see any police within my line of sight, but I was told they were directing the bicyclists and giving them leeway.
Then, a friend told me about her encounter with bicyclists on Harbor Drive. She needed to get home, but the cars were being stopped as bicycles zig-zagged around cars. She was quite upset & had considered getting out of the car to confront the "inconsiderate fools".
On Friday, May 29, I was a passenger in my friend's car, coming back from an event at Balboa Park. We were on Park, wanting to make a right turn on A. All of a sudden we heard lots of noise and found ourselves surrounded by bicyclists. There was a police car blocking 2 left lanes & an officer directing cyclists to turn right and many were going thru the McDonalds parking lot, trapping a few cars in that lot. There was a pick-up truck beside us & the policeman advised us to stay put. My friend just shut the engine off. She was quite upset and angry, especially after I told her about the other incidents. The policeman finally got an order to get the vehicles moving. It took him several tries to get the bicyclists to stop. Our movement also allowed 2 cars from McDonalds to leave, followed by the pick up truck. I wondered aloud about what the heck was going on. My friend needed calming.
Then, this past Friday, I was at home when I hear the noise. I stepped out on my patio and realized there were lots & lots of riders heading south on 9th, which is a One Way street going north. A white car was caught in this mess so he just stopped in the right hand lane and waited for this ensemble to pass by. This took quite some time. Also, on this night, someone had a string of firecrackers that appeared to be thrown from a bicyclist, creating some real tension and encouraging dogs to start barking.
I did another website search and found that there is a gathering at Balboa Park and the cyclists take off from there and head into the downtown area. Based on police presence, it seems this must be a sanctioned event. I can say, with no doubt, that this is a dangerous, disorganized ride, especially on Friday nights when the Gaslamp is always busy. I wrote to our City Councilman, Kevin Faulconer, the Mayor, the police department. I did receive this response from the Mayor's office on 7/01:
"Dear Sandra, Thank you for emailing the Office of the Mayor. We have received many emails in the last few weeks concerning the critical mass cyclists, and we understand your frustration. We are currently looking into the matter with the Police Department, and we will let you know as soon as we have an update.
Best, Jeremy Patashnik Community Outreach Intern Office of Mayor Jerry Sanders City of San Diego"
This is an important safety issue and I will let you know how it is handled.