Saturday, August 03, 2013

City taxpayers pay $188,000 a year to police Critical Mass

Photo: Laura Morton for the Chronicle

In his recent story on Critical Mass (Spinning Its Wheels: Critical Mass' Long Ride from Relevance) in the SF Weekly, Joe Eskenazi cited $188,000 as the annual price city taxpayers pay for the SFPD to babysit Critical Mass every month. I've been using an outdated and lower number---$125,000---based on a Joe Vazquez piece back in 2009 on Critical Mass for CBS 5.

The original link to his piece stopped working, and my inquiries to Vazquez and Channel 5 about that got no response. (My theory: Like Leah Shahum, Vazquez had an epiphany during the demo, became a bike nut himself, and flushed the story down the old Memory Hole to serve the cause.)

Which is why I now link instead to a Streetsblog piece reacting to the Vazquez story by one of Critical Mass's founders, Chris Carlsson.

I asked Eskenazi for his source for the higher number and he responded:

This was the number[$188,000] provided by the SFPD following a public records request. That was for calendar year 2012. If memory serves, however, there were higher costs reported when the rides were bigger and more cops were assigned to them.

Carlsson on the police escort for Critical Mass:  

...there's this curious idea of "police protection"! We're NOT protected by the police! We're being POLICED by the police! If they want to spend their money that way, which we've often encouraged them to forego and just leave us alone, that's the Police Department's problem, not ours!

The cops are protecting the public from the cyclists, not vice versa, since there were some violent incidents back in 2007 that prompted Mayor Newsom to increase the number of cops:

Newsom has ruled out any attempt to stop the rush-hour ride, contain its route or keep cyclists from their mass running of red lights. Instead, police will beef up the number of cops monitoring the monthly ride to 40 officers on bicycles, Hondas and Harleys. That's about twice as many as rode along with last month's ride. Cmdr. Stephen Tacchini, who will be in charge of the police force Friday night, said there will be no change in the department's hands-off policy when it comes to trying to control the ride. The cops, however, will be there to prevent or stop property damage or fights if they break out between cyclists and frustrated motorists.

The people of San Francisco have to pay for police protection from being attacked by the city's bike people. 

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At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This disease has spread to other cities as well, and Leah loves to fly around the country wagging her finger at auto users and telling how much better San Francisco is becoming than most cities because of her policies and ideas.

I was trapped recently in a huge traffic jam near the Children's Hospital in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago on a street at a standstill because of the Critical Mass way up ahead running red lights for over 15 minutes stopping all traffic. What shocked me was that TWO ambulances were stuck in the traffic with their lights and sirens on and they could not get through to the hospital, even though the Chicago police escort tried to assist. When a pedestrian tried to stop the bike flow various four letter words were shouted at him, so the ambulances just had to wait until the bike parade passed through.

Being that it is summer here in Chicago, like San Francisco, the Critical Mass here has become an opportunity for hipsters to ride on bikes with as little clothing on as possible showing how "alternative" they are I guess.

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous James said...

Any more fish in a barrel you want to shoot? I'm a biker and I don't agree with this foolishness. There's plenty of stupid shit this city pays for and this is certainly one of them.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's a pretty healthy fish, since it's been swimming here in the Progressive Land barrel for more than 20 years. The city could try to exercise some leverage with the Bicycle Coalition: no more city contracts until you publicly urge your membership and other cyclists to stop taking part in Critical Mass.

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Marcus said...

The city could try to exercise some leverage with the Bicycle Coalition

I will guarantee you right now that if the city actually executed a full commitment to biking and hundreds of miles of off-street bikeways (heck, let's just say 33% as much as cars), the bike coalition would indeed agree to urge their riders to stop taking part in Critical Mass.

The city spends way more on Pride than Critical Mass, but until the LGBTQ community has full equal treatment under the law and in society in our country, Pride will continue.

Until bikes are treated as first-class citizens, Critical Mass will go on...

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

The city was built around cars, then public transit, then pedestrians/handicap people. Then coming in at a distant fourth, are cyclists. But when a city has been set up for all these other transits and not bicyclists, why do bicyclists assume that it's prejudice rather than extreme cost and disruption that causes people to push back on the bicycle lobby? If the city were flat, and over the last fifty years had been bicycling centric, then I'd have no problem riding a bike to work. But everyone who has lived here over the last fifty years has done so tailoring their lives, home location, and daily routines NOT expecting to have it all modified. Cyclists have the burden of proof here that their method is good for everyone, NOT the motorists.

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous James said...

The Bike Coalition has never been a sponsor of critical mass and hasn't been promoting it. Your attempt to link the two just because they both ride bikes is a stretch. Lately they've been given flack because they didn't even mention to Critical Ass movement.

At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The city was built around cars, then public transit, then pedestrians/handicap people. Then coming in at a distant fourth, are cyclists.

That's why the football team is called the San Francisco 49ers, because of all those cars zipping around in 1849.

Had you said Horses, maybe you'd have a point.

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Cry me a fucking river

At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Brad said...

Wow! Each resident pays $0.26 a year for this travesty that is free speech? How horrible.

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Until the LGBTQ community has full equal treatment under the law, Pride will continue. Until bikes are treated as first-class citizens, Critical Mass will go on..."

A completely wrong analysis of both events. The annual Gay Pride demo is not really a protest demonstration; it's more of a celebration of the achievements of the gay rights movement. And it is a legal, permitted parade, since it has a sponsoring organization that takes responsibility for it.

Critical Mass, on the other hand, is an illegal, bullying demonstration that no organization takes responsibility for. Cyclists of course have equal rights to use city streets now. What cyclists---a small minority, even in SF---really want is to redesign city streets on their behalf against the interests of an overwhelming majority of those who use city streets. Alas, they are having some success in that.

Until a few years ago, the Bicycle Coalition did endorse Critical Mass by listing it on their website's calendar, although the listing was accompanied by a weasly disclaimer.

At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And it is a legal, permitted parade, since it has a sponsoring organization that takes responsibility for it. Except for all the nudity, of course.

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Scott Louser said...

I'm with Rkeezy. The city was built around cars. Don't let the idiots tell you otherwise just because many of our streets existed before cars and back when public transit was big. Also, pedestrians & handicapped people are basically the same category, as Rkeezy suggests.

I'm tired of hearing about all this "Change" crap. Everything's always been about the car since the early 1800s and always will be about the car. Bicycles are obsolete technology. Walking is for losers. Cars are the only sensible way to live, plus it keeps you from having to interact with all the freaks and losers outside LOL my car is like an extension of my home. I can leave my home and still feel safe and protected from the crazy stuff that goes on.

We should start a critical mass of car drivers!!! We could take over the streets with cars and fill them all with cars!!!!


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