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Santa Barbara Police to Be Out in Full Force for Fiesta Cruiser Ride

Law enforcement officials warn participants that they'll issue hefty fines to those caught violating bicycle-related traffic laws

The Santa Barbara Police Department is warning participants of this year’s Fiesta Cruiser Ride that they’ll be out enforcing bicycle-related traffic laws on Sunday and that hefty fines are in store for those who are caught offending.

Each year, the unsanctioned event draws hundreds of cyclists who traditionally begin their ride from the waterfront area, then ride up State Street to Isla Vista and return to the waterfront area midafternoon.

In years past, the event has been alcohol-fueled, with several liquor stores marked along the way for riders. The 30-mile ride has been a tradition for more than 30 years, but the decentralized event has no clear leader, and although local officials say the event technically needs a special-event permit to operate, enforcement of the ride has been difficult.

In 2011, dispatchers received more than 90 calls about the cyclists during the two hours of the ride.

“During past events, the Police Department has received complaints from the public about disorderly and hazardous conduct by the bicyclists participating in the ride,” Sgt. Riley Harwood said.

He said additional officers will be deployed to monitor the event, which is expected to take place on Sunday, adding that bicyclists are legally required to obey all traffic laws and violators will be cited as appropriate.

“In the past, some of the participants have disobeyed traffic laws resulting in unsafe conditions for themselves and motorists,” he said.

Harwood said that some of the most common bicycle-related Vehicle Code violations include failure to ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb, which carries a $194 fine, failure to obey a stop sign, which also carries a $194 fine, and failure to obey red signal light, a whopping $480 fine.

“To ensure a safe and enjoyable Fiesta, the Santa Barbara Police Department encourages all motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians to be courteous and to follow the rules of the road,” he said.

Since part of the ride has cyclists riding through the county, Noozhawk checked in with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

The Sheriff's Department is assisting the Santa Barbara Police Department with enforcement operations for Fiesta, providing more than 200 positions on contracted overtime, according to Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

She said the department is providing six deputies total to help with enforcement efforts for the Fiesta Cruiser Ride.

"We will be monitoring the crowd when they come through our jurisdiction and will be proactively enforcing any violations," she said. "If the same offender is committing the violations, the bicycle will be confiscated and booked into evidence. Participants are welcome to enjoy the ride but must abide by tall traffic rules and regulations."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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