Many of the bike community say police over reacted and wonder why so many resources including a helicopter and over 30 officers were deployed to target their ride through Modesto including one bicyclist who was knocked off of his bike by an officer on a motorcycle before being arrested, when there are more serious issues like gang violence and homeless camping out on the freeways.
MPD has released the following statement:
“Over the past year members and associates of a bicycle club have had several large group rides throughout Modesto. Many of these rides have grown to include over 300 bicyclists. Many of those participating in these group rides fail to follow the law, rules of the roadway and common courtesy, which is very unsafe for the public. On multiple occasions over the past year, the Modesto Police Department have received 9-1-1 calls from citizens who have reported that members of this bicycle group do not stop for stop signs or red traffic signals, take over all lanes of the roadway, dangerously block vehicles on the roadway and fail to wear helmets as required for anyone under 18 years of age. This behavior is extremely dangerous and has resulted in at least 63 documented calls for service reporting this behavior to the Modesto Police Department. When Officers have arrived at these calls for service, the bicyclist have failed to stop for Officers and became defiant when Officers tried to get them to follow the rules of the road.
Over the past year, members of the Modesto Police Department have contacted organizers of this group and sought a collaborative solution to these group rides. These meetings and collaborative efforts have resulted in very little improvement to these dangerous and unsafe group rides. During the most recent attempt, it was relayed that the group leadership had no interest in communicating with the Modesto Police Department.
We became aware that this group had planned their first group ride of 2021 to take place on Saturday January 23, 2021. Members of the Traffic Unit set up a bicycle and pedestrian safety booth at the park where the group was meeting. Several bicycle helmets were distributed to those in attendance, and Officers had the opportunity to share information on rules of the roadway and how to ride safely in a group.
The group grew to approximately 300 bicyclists and Officers monitored the group as it left the park. Shortly after the group left, the Modesto Police Department began to receive 9-1-1 calls from citizens reporting that the group of bicyclists were not stopping for stop signs, taking up the entire roadway and blocking the movement of vehicles. Officers attempted to stop the group, however many of the riders fled. For the next three hours, this group rode throughout Modesto as they continued to ride in all lanes of traffic, go through red traffic signal and stop signs and fail to wear a helmet if their age required them to do so. In an effort to protect the public and the riders, Officers continued to try to stop members of the group. Throughout the afternoon, Officers were able to issue 14 citations and arrest 5 of the bicyclist. Officers also impounded 19 bicycles. Many of those contacted today are not Modesto residents.
An 18-year-old male resident of Empire fled when Officers attempted to stop him. A bicycle pursuit ensued, and minor force was used to take the male into custody. After being taken into custody, the male spit on Officers. Neither the Officer nor the male were injured during this incident. The male was booked into the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center for resisting arrest.
With the assistance of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Air Support Unit and the Modesto Police Department’s Unmanned Arial Vehicle Unit, video footage of the group’s disregard for public safety was captured during today’s ride.
The Modesto Police Department fully supports wholesome outdoor activities, including bicycle riding if those participating do so in a safe and lawful manner. The continual disregard for public safety will not be tolerated. We are hopeful that at some point soon members of this group will be willing to have a meaningful conversation with us about their group rides.
Aerial video provided by Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office Air Support Unit and Modesto Police Department UAV Unit”.