A number of individuals in bicycling mobs popping up in Manteca since October have been “outright rude”, “blatantly defiant to orders” and spewing profanities when police officers have taken steps to try and address unlawful behavior.
Interim Police Chief Mike Harden provided Manteca City Council and the public Tuesday with an update on the bike mob phenomenon that has made its way to Manteca in recent months and how his department is working to try and address safety issues.
Harden said the most recent incident was Sunday at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley. The police chief reported that some of the riders were harassing merchants in addition to illegal and unsafe traffic movements.
The department has been issuing citations when warranted and when they are able to safely stop offending riders.
The department is monitoring social media so they can be ready to respond to mob bicycling events. However, not all of the rides are posted on social media. The Manteca Police are asking citizens that do see them occur to contact the department.
The department has responded when it is able to with bike patrols and additional manpower. Harden noted they have learned that simply responding with one or two officers is difficult to be effective. As such, when possible, they will send more officers.
Manteca Police indicated they have observed that many people in the large group rides are:
*ignoring traffic laws
*disregarding the rules of the road
*not showing common courtesy.
*not stopping at stop signs or red traffic signals
*dangerously blocking or impeding vehicles
* taking over multiple lanes of the roadway.
*riding against the flow of traffic
*failing to wear helmets which are legally required for anyone under 18 years of age.
The police chief said the “behavior is extremely dangerous.”
Harden estimated about two thirds of the groups that are creating safety issues such as popping wheelies, running stop signs and red lights, and/or cutting in and out of traffic number between 2 and 20 riders.
The rest of the mob events officers have dealt with “involve 30, 500, 100 and 300 riders.”
The police chief added that some of the riders are being brought by parents from cities outside of Manteca and dropped off with bicycles to join the local events.
While the mob rides started in 2007 in Europe as a grassroots effort to “take back the pavement” from cars in inner cities, after spreading to the United States in recent years it has morphed into events where traffic laws are ignored on a wholesale basis and participants pop wheelies and often take videos of others doing so going down heavily traveled streets. Those videos are posted on social media with riders doing daredevil moves while bicycling on public streets in a bid to gain more viewers.
Manteca Police are asking organizers of mass bicycle rides — consisting primarily of tween and teen boys — to contact them in order to have a “meaningful dialogue.”
Organizers are being asked to contact Sgt. Gregg Beall at (209) 456-8164 to discuss the proper way to conduct such rides.
The public is being asked if they observe a large bicycle group breaking traffic laws or creating a public hazard in Manteca, to call Manteca Police Dispatch at (209) 456-8101.
Harden said police will continue to monitor these mass gatherings of bicyclists.
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