By ELIZABETH HSING-HUEI CHOU
City News Service
Organizers said today they had to put the brakes on an unsanctioned bicycle race that would have started just before the Los Angeles Marathon and traveled along the same route.
The "Marathon Crash Race" was to begin at 4 a.m. Sunday on streets already barricaded for the 26.2-mile foot race to start later that morning, according to Wolfpack Hustle, a group made up of bicycling enthusiasts.
The city's Bureau of Street Services sent Wolfpack Hustle organizer Don Ward a cease-and-desist letter stating that going through with the race without a permit could result in misdemeanor charges and fines.
Bureau of Street Services officials learned of the planned race on Monday, after the city's police and transportation departments alerted them of "public safety" concerns, according to a BSS statement.
Ward said he is worried there will be bicyclists out on the course despite the cancellation. Between 3,000 and 4,000 cyclists participated in the unofficial race last year, and the majority of them had not signed up ahead of time, Ward said.
This year, more than 1,000 had signed up for the now-canceled race, he said.
After the Los Angeles Marathon dropped its official bicycle event in 2010, Ward said Wolfpack Hustle stepped in to offer cyclists an alternative, safe event with rules such as separating "competitive" riders from the rest of the pack and carrying event insurance, though the group lacked a permit.
Ward said his group in previous years had worked with the Los Angeles Police Department, which sent squad cars to escort riders and took other steps that "kept the race protected, and all indications were this was going to happen again this year."
The event had been free, but this year the group had planned to charge $5 to cover liability for casual bicyclists and $20 for competitive racers, Ward said. He said his group could not afford the cost of a permit, which could run as high as $250,000.