Rush-hour bicycle run puts police on streets
The Critical Mass ride this afternoon follows an event last month that fomented conflict
Police plan to increase their presence on Honolulu roadways today for a monthly bicycling event after last month's event ended with a clash between police and cyclists.
In a news conference at the Capitol yesterday, a police official asked motorists to be patient and respectful of the bicyclists on the road during rush hour between downtown and Waikiki.
An undisclosed number of additional officers will be on hand to ensure bicyclists and motorists are following traffic laws, said Honolulu police Maj. Clayton Saito, of the downtown district.
"We just want to ensure that everybody is operating on the road safely, whether it's the bicyclist or the motorist," he said. "We're not out there just to look at bicyclists. We want to make sure the motorists are also respecting the bicyclists' rights of way."
The bicycling event is called Critical Mass. It started in San Francisco in the 1990s to promote the right of bicyclists to ride on the street. Critical Mass Honolulu has no leadership and central organization, according to its Web site, and is held the last Friday of every month.
Police expect the event to start on Beretania Street at the Capitol at 5 p.m., head down King Street to Waikiki, and return along Beretania Street.
Last month about 50 bicyclists traversed the roads between Kakaako and Waikiki during rush hour.
The clash between police and bicyclists occurred on the last stretch of the event, in front of police headquarters on Beretania Street. A video was posted online afterward depicting a police officer answering questions from upset bicyclists after a police officer collided with a bicyclist.
Saito said the incident started earlier when several phone calls were received about cyclists blocking traffic. Police responded in Waikiki, arresting one man on an unrelated warrant and confiscating several unregistered bikes.
As the group traveled on Beretania Street, an officer tried to stop a bicyclist and tripped, colliding into another rider, Saito said. The woman is seen talking to paramedics in the video, but declined an ambulance ride to the hospital.
Saito said police will watch for bicyclists or drivers breaking traffic laws.
Violations for bicyclists include not riding on the right-hand side of the road, not staying to one side on a one-way street, and ignoring traffic signals and signs. He said bicyclists generally are required to ride single file.
Fearing that bicyclists obstructing packed rush-hour traffic could cause drivers' tensions to flare and lead to altercations, police have asked the Hawaii Bicycling League, the state's largest bicycling group, to make contact with Critical Mass members.
Mitchell Nakagawa, executive director of the Hawaii Bicycling League, said they have not been able to reach anyone organizing the event.
He said he supports the group's efforts to raise cycling awareness, but that it should be done with respect for other forms of transportation.