The organizers of a popular bicycle ride that has preceded the Los Angeles Marathon for the past few years say they have canceled the 2014 event under pressure from the city.
Wolfpack Hustle, a group of cyclists that organize rides in L.A., announced via its website and its Facebook page that the "Marathon Crash Race," which traces the same route as the official marathon but earlier, will not be held this year:
I REGRET TO REPORT THAT
THE MARATHON CRASH RACE IS CANCELLED.
Today. (sic) the Chief of Investigation and Enforcement of the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services made contact with Wolfpack Hustle and demanded that this event be cancelled or we may face criminal charges and bear liability for the costs of enforcement. This comes as a shock and disappointment.
The post was attributed to "Roadblock," which is the nickname for Don Ward, who is something of a fixture in the L.A. cycling scene.
In the past, the "Marathon Crash Race" has been very popular, attracting hundreds, if not thousands, of riders. Wolfpack Hustle posted a YouTube video purporting to show 2,000 cyclists crossing through the intersection of Hollywood and Vine on the way to Santa Monica in the 2012 ride (we didn't count, but it's clearly a lot).
As the Los Angeles Times points out, these rides have enjoyed the support of local law enforcement even though they are not entirely legal:
But in past years, Wolfpack Hustle has worked to build support inside City Hall and with the Los Angeles Police Department. For the past three years, squad cars have cruised alongside cyclists, lights flashing, to separate bicycle and car traffic. Ward had also arranged for event insurance to cover up to $10,000 of medical expenses for uninsured cyclists. They have never been required to obtain a permit, [Don "Roadblock"] Ward said.
In a post on Wolfpack Hustle's website about the 2012 ride, the group gave special thanks to law enforcement for their assistance:
We give a big huge special thanks and salute to the LAPD especially Police Officer Gordon Helper for assisting in keeping the riders safe. It was truly a sight to behold. Additionally, Officer Helper championed the cause internally and paved the way for communication between us, LAPD, the Marathon Organizers, the SMPD and the Bureau of Street Services.
"Roadblock" notes in the Facebook post that the city told the group it would not be possible to apply for an expedited permit, adding that they had never needed one in the past.
This year's ride would have followed the same "Stadium to the Sea" course as the marathon, which begins Sunday morning at Dodger Stadium and finishes just before the Santa Monica Pier.
Some cyclists had already taken to social media to complain on Wednesday, and there were hints that some would make the ride despite the city's warnings.
How the city will respond remains to be seen, but we'll bring you updates as we learn more.