Monday, November 12 , 2018, 9:42 pm | Fair 50º

 
 
 
 

Fiesta Cruiser Run Hits State Street, with Police Presence More Than Just the Ticket

Traffic law warnings appear to take control of unsanctioned post-Fiesta bike ride to Isla Vista from Stearns Wharf

"Don't die, Dad!" one concerned son yelled Sunday as he watched his father set off for the annual Fiesta Bike Ride, also known by the local bike community as the Fiesta Cruiser Run.

Known for its lack of organization and frequent liquor store stops, the mad dash between Santa Barbara and Isla Vista, 15 miles away, is notorious for causing heavy traffic on State Street on the last day of Old Spanish Days Fiesta. Bicyclists have a reputation for ignoring red signal lights at intersections, cutting off crossing cars and riding in the middle of the roadway.

Police warnings  to strictly enforce bicycle traffic laws during the run and to hand out tickets with fines up to $500 did not deter riders from coming out Sunday. As many as 2,000 bikers gathered at edge of State Street and around the famed Dolphin Fountain at the base of Stearns Wharf.

"It's just like any other obstacle," one biker, who declined to give his name, said of the police warnings.

"What can they do? There's more of us than there are of them."

As the bike ride got under way a little before noon, Santa Barbara police followed up with the warning, stopping cyclists who attempted to cross at the intersection of Cabrillo and State streets on a red light. One local who had seen the bike ride go on for the past few years was contemplating whether to ride out with the rest of the bikers.

"It just seems too crazy," he said after watching thousands of riders clog up Lower State Street at the start.

A Santa Barbara police officer writes tickets to two bicyclists he pulled over for riding through a red light at Cabrillo Boulevard and State Street on Sunday during the annual Fiesta Cruiser Run. (Frankie Victoria / Noozhawk photo)
A Santa Barbara police officer writes tickets to two bicyclists he pulled over for riding through a red light at Cabrillo Boulevard and State Street on Sunday during the annual Fiesta Cruiser Run. (Frankie Victoria / Noozhawk photo)

While it seemed as if there was little the police could do about the sea of bikers riding up State Street, it was apparent that enforcement was having an effect as the ride went on.

Cyclists heeded the traffic lights as they passed the intersection at State Street and Las Positas Road, although not for no reason. Law enforcement escorts followed the ride up to Ellwood and stopped at intersections, ready to ticket those who did not follow traffic lights and signs. Many participants watched out for each other as they rode up, cautioning each other to stay in the bike lane or asking each other if they thought they could make it to a traffic light before it turned red.

Despite the reputation of the ride as dangerous and alcohol-driven, many riders and bystanders alike say the event is all for fun.

"We live right up the street and come down every year (to watch)," said a woman watching the cyclists ride by at the intersection of State and Las Positas. "You know, it's the day after Fiesta ... It's always fun."

Noozhawk intern Frankie Victoria 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.

Cyclists and spectators jam the intersection of State Street and Cabrillo Boulevard before the start of the annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride to Isla Vista on Sunday. (Frankie Victoria / Noozhawk photo)
Cyclists and spectators jam the intersection of State Street and Cabrillo Boulevard before the start of the annual Fiesta Cruiser Ride to Isla Vista on Sunday. (Frankie Victoria / Noozhawk photo)

A show of force by Santa Barbara police backed up warnings to Fiesta Cruiser Ride participants that they were expected to obey traffic laws. (Frankie Victoria / Noozhawk photo)
A show of force by Santa Barbara police backed up warnings to Fiesta Cruiser Ride participants that they were expected to obey traffic laws. (Frankie Victoria / Noozhawk photo)

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