SFPD’s new chief, George Gascon, is reportedly considering putting an end to Critical Mass, the group cycling event that occurs the last Friday of every month.
Participants have, on rare occasions, engaged in vandalism of cars — but those incidents don’t compare in number with those in which vehicles damage cyclists’ persons or property. The real headache of Critical Mass comes from complaints from drivers and residents whose travels are slowed by the event, as SFPD acknowledges.
The police are now just looking into the issue, but they could opt to follow New York City’s lead: A judge there ruled last month that more than 50 cyclists riding together must get a permit.
What’s rich about that decision is that it stems from clashes between cyclists and police during the 2004 Republican National Convention — an event during which law enforcement is on record for gross violations of civil liberties.
Also in the Big Apple, a police officer faces charges for deliberately knocking a cyclist off his bike during a Critical Mass ride (video).
Is this an example San Francisco should follow, even as part of its seemingly ongoing war on fun? And is banning cyclists’ healthiest outlet for the fear to which they’re regularly subjected on the road in the best interests of public safety?