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Critical Mass cyclists re-surface in smaller numbers

Car drivers intimidated at Target in Mission Valley

"I have yet to see large groups of cyclists shopping locally."
"I have yet to see large groups of cyclists shopping locally."

It's bad enough that bike lanes take up parking spots near San Diego mom-and-pop businesses, discouraging shoppers from driving in and shopping. Now, locals say the massive bike groups—sometimes in the hundreds—are blocking access to businesses and putting San Diegans in a bad mood. 

On May 9, Phyllis Smith drove from her City Heights home to Mission Valley, approaching Target, where several cyclists pulled up to her stopped vehicle. "They surrounded my car, and one banged on it," she explained to me. "I’ll never forget the fear I felt that I would hit one of them or what they would do if that happened. I was even afraid to stop the car in case one of them ran into the back of it."

Because of the number of cyclists in Mission Valley that Thursday, some people on the internet estimated that there were about 70 cyclists — some motorists couldn't pull into Target to shop. 

Other motorists were "late for work," G.P. Vazquez said to me in a recent interview. "We couldn't move until they cleared out. My boss will probably dock my pay this next pay period — but oh well, they're my bros from CM (Critical Mass)." Vazquez is more forgiving, as he rode with the original Critical Mass bike group between 2010-2018. "Critical Mass is a monthly bicycle ride to celebrate cycling and to assert cyclists' right to the road," reads the group's Facebook page; other bike groups post ride-out dates on the page.  

Vazquez continued, "That Critical Mass group was much smaller than when we'd roll out. We'd have 2000-3000 bikes out. Once, we went into that Target in Mission Valley and rode our bikes inside the store. People were flippin' the fu@@ out. We had unicycles, mountain bikes, 10-speeds — and the brethren with the BMX bikes were the crazy [riders] who'd bunny hop on anything."

According to the Transportation Information System site, San Diego drivers spent an estimated 26.94 million extra hours in traffic. Some of these lag times were due to traffic lights, accidents, events, and other factors, such as the massive cyclist runs clogging traffic. 

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Bryan R. from San Marcos added, "As a taxpayer, this also upsets me and should upset everyone because all of the police in the area had to focus their attention on these bike riders. Everyone knows that the police have a lot more to worry about in PB than having to block traffic so these idiots don't get run over when they run red lights or beat up when they harass people both walking and driving."

Other folks up the hill from Mission Valley, in Normal Heights, North Park, and South Park, saw many cyclists on May 9. 

I. Olvera sees the bike groups regularly and said, "I have yet to see large groups of cyclists shopping locally."

But other San Diegans say the cyclist groups are spendy with local businesses. 

Roger L., the Critical Mass Facebook page administrator, says the cyclists rendezvous and spend money at Blind Lady Ale House on Adams Avenue. Niki O. said on a NextDoor post that the group of cyclists typically stops in "places that they know can accommodate them; next Sunday (May 19), Nice n’ Easy is organizing a group ride that starts and ends at my business, Seek Beer Co, if you’d like to join!"

Bob LaRose from North Park took photos of the cyclist groups. "One Sunday morning, I saw them organizing at Communal Coffee in South Park, which I hope was a big plus for the coffee shop. On the other hand, at least some of them drive their cars to these points and ironically take already limited parking. The bigger groups blow past all of the business and temporarily tie things up."

Vazquez, the old-school Critical Mass cyclist cited earlier, added, "When we'd block intersections back then, many of us would stop into the liquor stores or convenience stores to buy drinks and snacks. We'd spend 500 bucks in one spot sometimes. I remember once — a long time ago — a bunch of us rode across the Coronado Bridge, and the police wouldn't allow us to cross back [to Logan Heights]. Some of us went home through Imperial Beach, but I had my people pick me up, as did many others. We spent a lot of money in Coronado at that time."

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"I have yet to see large groups of cyclists shopping locally."
"I have yet to see large groups of cyclists shopping locally."

It's bad enough that bike lanes take up parking spots near San Diego mom-and-pop businesses, discouraging shoppers from driving in and shopping. Now, locals say the massive bike groups—sometimes in the hundreds—are blocking access to businesses and putting San Diegans in a bad mood. 

On May 9, Phyllis Smith drove from her City Heights home to Mission Valley, approaching Target, where several cyclists pulled up to her stopped vehicle. "They surrounded my car, and one banged on it," she explained to me. "I’ll never forget the fear I felt that I would hit one of them or what they would do if that happened. I was even afraid to stop the car in case one of them ran into the back of it."

Because of the number of cyclists in Mission Valley that Thursday, some people on the internet estimated that there were about 70 cyclists — some motorists couldn't pull into Target to shop. 

Other motorists were "late for work," G.P. Vazquez said to me in a recent interview. "We couldn't move until they cleared out. My boss will probably dock my pay this next pay period — but oh well, they're my bros from CM (Critical Mass)." Vazquez is more forgiving, as he rode with the original Critical Mass bike group between 2010-2018. "Critical Mass is a monthly bicycle ride to celebrate cycling and to assert cyclists' right to the road," reads the group's Facebook page; other bike groups post ride-out dates on the page.  

Vazquez continued, "That Critical Mass group was much smaller than when we'd roll out. We'd have 2000-3000 bikes out. Once, we went into that Target in Mission Valley and rode our bikes inside the store. People were flippin' the fu@@ out. We had unicycles, mountain bikes, 10-speeds — and the brethren with the BMX bikes were the crazy [riders] who'd bunny hop on anything."

According to the Transportation Information System site, San Diego drivers spent an estimated 26.94 million extra hours in traffic. Some of these lag times were due to traffic lights, accidents, events, and other factors, such as the massive cyclist runs clogging traffic. 

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Bryan R. from San Marcos added, "As a taxpayer, this also upsets me and should upset everyone because all of the police in the area had to focus their attention on these bike riders. Everyone knows that the police have a lot more to worry about in PB than having to block traffic so these idiots don't get run over when they run red lights or beat up when they harass people both walking and driving."

Other folks up the hill from Mission Valley, in Normal Heights, North Park, and South Park, saw many cyclists on May 9. 

I. Olvera sees the bike groups regularly and said, "I have yet to see large groups of cyclists shopping locally."

But other San Diegans say the cyclist groups are spendy with local businesses. 

Roger L., the Critical Mass Facebook page administrator, says the cyclists rendezvous and spend money at Blind Lady Ale House on Adams Avenue. Niki O. said on a NextDoor post that the group of cyclists typically stops in "places that they know can accommodate them; next Sunday (May 19), Nice n’ Easy is organizing a group ride that starts and ends at my business, Seek Beer Co, if you’d like to join!"

Bob LaRose from North Park took photos of the cyclist groups. "One Sunday morning, I saw them organizing at Communal Coffee in South Park, which I hope was a big plus for the coffee shop. On the other hand, at least some of them drive their cars to these points and ironically take already limited parking. The bigger groups blow past all of the business and temporarily tie things up."

Vazquez, the old-school Critical Mass cyclist cited earlier, added, "When we'd block intersections back then, many of us would stop into the liquor stores or convenience stores to buy drinks and snacks. We'd spend 500 bucks in one spot sometimes. I remember once — a long time ago — a bunch of us rode across the Coronado Bridge, and the police wouldn't allow us to cross back [to Logan Heights]. Some of us went home through Imperial Beach, but I had my people pick me up, as did many others. We spent a lot of money in Coronado at that time."

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