A BMX rider is stopped for not having lights on his bike.

Several cyclists on the Tuesday Night Bike Ride were cited for various infractions including running red lights and stop signs as well as riding without lights.

Erik Ryberg of TucsonBikeLawyer.com suggested in a recent post that there would be an increased police presence because of a recent incident on the ride in which a dog was run over.

The ride which went south on Fourth Avenue, split into two when a large group of riders waited at the stop light at Sixth Street. The ride regrouped just before the highway on Congress, but quickly split up when riders didn’t make the light under the highway, despite people at the start of the ride suggesting the leaders wait often for the back of the ride to catch up.

The ride turned north on Grande Avenue and then east on St. Mary’s Road. The police showed up after the riders passed under the interstate heading east.

Police used their loud speakers to instruct the group to stay in one lane and ride two abreast.

Ryberg said it could be confusing to tell people to stay in one lane while also telling to them to ride two abreast.

TNBR rider, Ellen Fischler said at one point the police said to ride in the bike lane, but there wasn’t a bike lane to ride in.

Farther up, Fischler said an officer sped around the group and started to move right into a BMX rider to try to get him move over.

“It was like they were trying to herd sheep,” Fischler said.

A BMX rider was pulled over by police for riding without lights. He argued that a lot of people were riding without lights, yet he was the only one who had been pulled over.

At Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street, another rider was stopped for running the stop sign at the intersection. The biker got on the multi-use path, but was followed by the officer who followed him by driving on the dirt next to the path.

Ryberg said the police actions were much more subdued than when the police cracked down on the ride two years ago.

Were you on the ride? What did you see and hear? Leave a comment below.

Editor’s note: Fischler, who is quoted in the post, is my sister-in-law.

23 thoughts on “Police present at Tuesday Night Bike Ride, several cyclists cited”
  1. I don’t think the police planned this ahead of time.

    At 9pm, there was a police call on a “Traffic Hazard” at Congress/I-10 (case #1008170719 if you want to do a records request, but I suspect it was an officer calling it in rather than a 911 call). I remember pointing out a police cruiser stuck in the stopped traffic by the freeway at about that time.

    The other officers responded to that, they weren’t specifically out looking for us. If we had taken a different route, I doubt we would have seen anything from them.

  2. Thanks for being on the ride and posting this Mike,

    Last night was my first night on the TNBR and I plan to return. Most people were friendly and it was exciting to see so many cyclists at once. The multiple car police presence did put a damper on things but I was expecting it after reading what happened last week.

    I don’t have sympathy for riders cited for riding on sidewalks or without lights but citing for running stop signs / lights is a little too far. Coming to the ride I was in the mindset to stop at red lights, but once on the ride I enjoyed being in a giant, continuous group and stopping at every intersection would take away from that. I know it’s hypocritical to support some safety precautions (sidewalks, lights) but not others (stop lights), but maybe the ride can pick routes that have less stop lights.

    I liked that the ride went down Fourth and Congress – having people see so many cyclists can only be good for biking in Tucson. However, if the ride avoided such major roads there would probably be less of a Police presence.

    And again, this was my first ride so take my input with a grain of inexperienced salt.

  3. Thanks for the feedback. Now that I am father, I don’t get to the ride as much as I used to, but that is the first time I saw the ride take those busier streets.

  4. If you are going to run lights and stop signs you should be cited. If you are going to claim that you are traffic then you must act like traffic. We don’t want anything like Critical Mass in this town. That just antagonizes drivers. I have been to the TNBR, but when I went the route was on kike paths.

  5. Last night was only my second TNBR ride, but here are a few observations.

    1. Route – I agree with Andrew in that I think the route selection plays into some of the issues. I enjoyed my previous ride more as we rode through primarily residential/side streets and avoided many of the red lights/stop signs (& when we did encounter them there was little cross traffic).

    2. Regrouping – last night I found myself riding for much of the way in a group of about 3-4 because it got so strung out. I think stopping occassionally helps keep the ride more compact & adds to the social aspect of the ride. It also reduces some of the intersection conflicts as it gets the group thru the lites quicker.

    3. Police – I agree that it didn’t appear to be a targeted response. I saw one cop car stuck behind the traffic at 4th Ave/Toole/Congress as the ride blew thru that red light (& was already strung out), which probably started the response. I also heard the bull horn order to ride in the bike lane when none was present. Overall I think they did fine – you gotta know that if you ride without lights or run lights/stop signs, there’s the chance you might be the one out of a hundred who gets the ticket.

    4. Weather – what a beatiful night!

    Good job Mike – Peace!

  6. One trick for signalized intersections we learned in the past is to get everybody as tight as possible to the intersection (and paying attention). That way we maximize the number of people through the light.

    Lots of times, we’ll be stopped but only loosely grouped — the first quarter of the group gets started and through the light but the remaining people miss it because they still had to ride up to the intersection.

  7. As a long time TBNR’r, I have a lot of experience with these rides and i have been noticing a trend- we follow whomever is at the front (duh) but the front is usually dominated by those who just ride faster (ie.the bmxers), not necessarily by those who actually want to lead a nice ride. I’ll plan a route and wear a stupid orange vest or something the next time i go, and i encourage other thoughtful folk to do the same. I think we’re all a little tired of people wrecking on the tracks 5 seconds into the ride. let’s mix it up, yo!

  8. What is the TNBR?

    Is it critical mass?
    Is it a rolling beer drinking party ?
    Is it a community ride for all ages, styles, and riders?

    Whatever it is, I see it a great vehicle to spread the good name of riding bikes. It has the potential to bring along hundreds, possibly thousands of people all enjoying being out on bikes.

    However I see this as a possibility only if the greater ride is “behaved”. Back in the day there were ride leaders that made sure the group was compact, they stopped on the other side of red lights so the group could rejoin. We had side and rear “marshals” that helped people along. The ride was slow so all could enjoy the comradery of the group.

    Then it started to fall apart and the “leaders” got discouraged. The mob mentallity took over, then whomever was fastest was the leader, the sentiment of, “to hell with the group took over.” This unruly- ness then brought the attitude of do whatever you want, and the beer party started.

    So what we have now is a ride of a hundred or so young people, trying to chase down the fastest rider on the ride while trying not to spill there beer.

    This does nothing to promote cycling, angers other road users, and further demonizes cyclists as law breakers.

    That is where I see the ride now.

    However do we not have a chance with the ride to get thousands of people out just enjoying the night with friends? I believe that with simple self control and courtesty this ride could be a huge engine in creating the cycling city we all want to live in.

    Just my thought.

  9. Seems like there is some consensus (at least on this site) as to the desire for a more controlled/mellow ride. There already is the earlier ‘fixie’ ride {anyone ever gone on this?], so do we organize a 3rd ‘mellow’ ride? Do we kick out the rowdies to the earlier ride? Do we want 3 different groups – is that defeating the purpose?

    I stop asking question now.

  10. Vic

    I think someone need to take charge in front . the fucken BMXes should lay off there aways the same asshole ya youu have a bike bike but other what to ride at a nice pace . Something has to change. I would really like to see 1,000 people on the ride then who know what would happen in the streets of Tucson……..

    Long live the So-Cal cruiser and the Cadillac cruiser!
    VicAlicous is Out!!!!!

  11. I think everyone keeps a good pace. You’ve got people from start to finish that keeps an individual pace. Some faster, some slower, some with more riding exp. and some with less. All and all, it’s always a great ride. Sometimes I finish towards the front and others at the back. It’s just a bike ride, with a 100 plus others that share in the same interest. If you don’t like it, don’t go….

  12. I’ve only been to a few TNBRs… some at the start of this summer, and some more recently. I was not on the ride mentioned in this article, however I did notice that the 8/11 ride was waaay more rowdy and disruptive than my earlier experiences. Honestly I did not find it very enjoyable. On more that one occasion I was nearly taken out by people darting through the group and did witness a fall caused by that kind of behavior.

    My hope is that things chill out a little…

  13. I walked past the group as they were gathering at Old Main and was walking up 4th when they came by. It was total chaos. They were taking up the whole road, some with no lights, bmx and mountain bikers on and off the the sidewalks. There were no police waiting for them on 4th. I seriously doubt the police planned this ahead of time. Much more likely a response to the foolishness.

  14. The TPD officer who is running the increased bike and pedestrian enforcement said they weren’t involved and believes the police were reacting to a call they got last night.

  15. I don’t think drawing a distinction between certain types of violation is hypocritical at all:
    * Sidewalks are for very slow-moving traffic (pedestrians!), and generally don’t have much visibility down them from the POV of people “entering” the sidewalk from buildings. To have bicyclists zipping down them is a potentially hazardous situation, especially at night. (Then again, this being Tucson, except for very specific areas, sidewalks are often completely deserted… especially at night.)
    * For lone riders, both the lights issue and the running signs/lights are potential hazards. But as part of a giant group?

  16. Please don’t speak for everyone. *You* don’t want anything like Critical Mass in Tucson. Others may disagree. I’m indifferent, myself; and I count myself as an avid driver as well a cyclist.

    I actually prefer the ride stay off the multi-use paths (Reid Park, Aviation Bikeway); they’re just too narrow to accommodate much social interaction, and having to dodge pedestrians with no lights wandering around in the dark makes it even less fun. If you meant bike “routes”, as in roads specially designated for bike traffic, sure.

  17. As cyclists we should be expected to follow every law that anyone else would have to follow, that includes stopping at stop lights and signs. I want to be treated with respect as a cyclist so I follow all the laws. I really hope more people do as well.

  18. really sorry to hear that. would bike wheel lights be legal? http://www.geekled.com/led-wheel-lights

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