July 27, 1997 in Nation/World

Arrests Of Cyclists Defended San Francisco Mayor Says Wayward Riders Deserved It

Associated Press
 

A day after 250 cyclists were arrested during a rowdy mass bike ride, Mayor Willie Brown defended the arrests Saturday and said he won’t tolerate bicyclists who break the law.

“Civil disobedience is civil disobedience,” Brown said.

“It is clear that the city did its best to see that anyone who broke the law will pay the price. The San Francisco police did exactly what they should have done,” he said.

Some 250 of the 5,000 to 7,000 cyclists who took part in the Friday night ride dubbed Critical Mass were arrested.

The ride, meant to generate more respect for the two-wheeled travelers, quickly turned into chaos as thousands of whooping and whistling bicyclists defied an agreed-upon route.

They ran red lights, shouted at passing motorists, spat at stalled drivers and generally disrupted traffic.

“I think citizens are disgusted by the incredible display of arrogance and indifference,” Brown said.

The ride, held during the evening commute on the last Friday of each month, consists of thousands of bicyclists who ride en masse, flooding intersections and often infuriating motorists.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition had encouraged cyclists to keep the ride peaceful.

But the cyclists fanned throughout the city in splinter groups.

“We feel we don’t need to be herded by the police,” said Cassady Winston, 16.

“We have the right to ride wherever we want to. This is one day a month. There’s a car mass every single day of the year.”

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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