ST. LOUIS – It’s been around for decades, but the Moonlight Ramble was canceled over the weekend due to safety concerns.
The chaos unfolded near Market and 7th streets, drawing in not only cyclists, but a rowdy crowd of 4-wheeling riders in the downtown area while the late-evening bike ride was supposed to be taking place.
“I saw something this past Saturday night that I’ve heard about but never witnessed myself. And that was a large a number of young people on four-wheelers and smaller mini bikes with their lights off, basically raising Cain all through the streets,” said Ed Rich, communications director at the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District.
Rich has participated in the event for 16 years.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of riders were expected to bike the 12-mile route, beginning in The Grove and going downtown toward the riverfront before looping back around to Manchester.
This year’s Moonlight Ramble looked a lot different.
“A rider on a four-wheeler circled a St. Louis City police SUV, clearly baiting the officer to chase him,” Rich said.
In a statement, Moonlight Ramble co-founder Matt Helbig says the third party security team, which is used to shut down intersections and protect bike riders, did not give any notice that they could not maintain safe streets. That notice came at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, just before the ride was set to commence.
“Why in the world did they not know that they didn’t have adequate security before the race started?” Rich said.
Once cancelled, some bikers decided to continue on, including Rich.
“At first, it didn’t seem unsafe, but very few public safety officers. Far few police officers than I’m accustomed to seeing,” he said.
Those safety concerns soon increased
“We started seeing cars passing us, doing 20-30-35 miles an hour just feet away from riders,” Rich said.
Organizers are working on refunds, and say the fate of the fun-spirited bike ride is still up in the air for next year.