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Cyclists Use Pack Mentality to Make a Point

August 20, 1994|JODI WILGOREN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

HUNTINGTON BEACH — Clad in spandex, plastic helmets clasped under their chins, two dozen bicyclists rode Beach Boulevard Friday in protest.

Though they carried no signs and sang no slogans, the demonstrators were united in purpose: to remind motorists of cyclists' rights on the road. And so they rode through rush-hour traffic, side by side, up and down the construction-clogged boulevard, as bewildered drivers slowed and swerved, leaving the riders a lane to themselves.

There were bicycle commuters and high-speed racers, beach-going cruisers and even a tandem bike with couple in matching fuschia shirts patterned with lemons and oranges.

"I don't own a car; this is the way I get around," said Mike Mott, a Midway City engineer who, like several of the other riders Friday, commutes daily on two wheels to McDonnell Douglas. "I just want to have fun and let the motorists know that we have the right to the road. We're vehicles too."

Modeled after San Francisco's "Critical Mass," a monthly event in which as many as 1,500 cyclists cram downtown streets, blocking traffic for hours, Friday's was Orange County's second bike-in. The inaugural event last month drew seven riders. Participants in the loosely organized ride Friday promised an even bigger show next time.

In general, the cyclists complain that there are too few bike-only lanes in Orange County. More specifically, they are upset with the reconfiguring of Beach Boulevard into four lanes--lanes too narrow for a cyclist to share safely with a wide car.

Friday, the cyclists took over the right lane of Beach as they cruised from Edinger Avenue down to Garfield Avenue and back. Most drivers simply avoided them, although when they crossed three lanes of traffic to make their left turns, one person made an obscene gesture and another called out something crude.

"All right! Way to go everybody," Mott called out as the crowd rejoined at a strip mall parking lot after being split up several times by traffic. "Way to go, everybody safe and sound! I had a ball!"

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