Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gascon "not satisfied with Critical Mass"

Police Chief Gascon is surely right (below in italics) that a ballot measure against Critical Mass would pass easily in San Francisco. Interesting that our police chief, not the mayor, is taking leadership on the issue: "Newsom has steered clear of strictly enforcing[sic] the leaderless movement, perhaps learning from his predecessor, Mayor Willie Brown, who approved a policy of confiscating bicycles---a policy that erupted in a violent citywide protest."

Instead, Newsom rolled over for the bike people by instituting a policy of city cops escorting Critical Mass through the streets of the city as they snarl traffic at a monthly cost of $10,000 to city taxpayers. Nor did Mayor Brown's attempt to stop Critical Mass result in "citywide protest," since the riots by the bike people were confined to the downtown area. As Gascon understands, Critical Mass doesn't have "citywide" support.

Now that the Bicycle Coalition has stopped listing Critical Mass on its online calendar, the next step should be their public disavowal of the demo to discourage their membership and other city cyclists from taking part. Instead of calling on the Bicycle Coalition's leadership to do that, Mayor Newsom is in effect legitimizing a policy that has little public support.

Gascon reviewing Critical Mass policies
By Brent Begin
San Francisco Examiner
01/30/10

A review of the SFPD’s policies regarding the monthly bike ride/protest, Critical Mass, is under way, according to police Chief George Gascón.

“I am not satisfied with Critical Mass,” said Gascón, who said he has been fielding complaints from drivers and bicyclists since becoming chief in August. “I get pounded regularly on both sides.”

But apparently he gets pounded more often by motorists. Gascón said he thinks a ballot measure banning Critical Mass would pass with flying colors.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, who was on hand for a news conference Friday when Gascón addressed reporters, was quick to point out that there was no such ballot measure in the works.

Newsom has
steered clear of strictly enforcing the leaderless movement, perhaps learning from his predecessor, Mayor Willie Brown, who approved a policy of confiscating bicycles---a policy that erupted in a violent citywide protest.

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