A crowd swarmed and blocked in RCMP vehicles as burnouts took place near a mall parking lot on Friday night in downtown Langley.
Langley Mounties announced in advance that officers would be out in force and would restrict traffic on Industrial Avenue on Sept. 8, the night before the Langley Good Times Cruise-In.
Although Cruise-In has never sanctioned burnouts, and has opposed dangerous driving, the night before the big Aldergrove car show has seen crowds gather to watch informal stunt driving. Industrial Avenue, a wide but short street lined mainly by auto shops and parts dealers, has been the center of this activity on and off for some years.
But shortly after 5 p.m. on Friday, the RCMP made the decision to shut the road down entirely, blocking both ends with sawhorses. Crowds who had arrived hoping to see a show drifted away.
At around 9 p.m., reports came in that crowds and cars were gathering near the 6200 block of 200th Street, in mall driveways near the A&W restaurant and the Safeway grocery store, said Cpl. Craig van Herk, spokesperson for the Langley RCMP.
Officers arrived to find a large crowd had already gathered, but the crowds and several drivers stopped police from driving in.
“We had several of our officers get swarmed and blocked in by other vehicles,” van Herk said.
One driver blocked several lanes with a vehicle and then walked away to impede police access.
Others jumped onto the hoods of police vehicles, said van Herk.
It took until just before 11 p.m., with more officers called in from other nearby detachments and police units, before the crowd began to disperse, van Herk said.
There were at least two arrests on the night of the incident, one for impaired driving and one for obstruction.
“There will be other violation tickets and further arrests pending investigation after the fact,” van Herk said.
The incident was one of several across the Cruise-In weekend.
Some local set up a “burnout zone” outside the car show as vehicles were leaving on Saturday.
There were also more burnout incidents on Industrial Avenue Saturday evening, but as police arrived they found smoke and fresh tire marks, but few onlookers. The drivers had quickly dispersed.
Van Herk said police attempt to put a stop to burnouts and other stunting in unsecured locations because it’s unsafe. There are no barriers between people watching from the streets and sidewalks and the powerful cars in the roads.
“It is ridiculously dangerous,” van Herk said. “It doesn’t take much for a driver to lose control,”
It’s fortunate that there have not been any injuries or deaths so far, he said.
Given the incidents before and after Cruise-In this year, the police will consider their strategy for next year, van Herk said.
“We’ll be sitting down to debrief the response… later this week,” he said.
Langley is not the only area that has seen issues with stunting and street racing.
Surrey RCMP have responded multiple times to incidents in Campbell Heights near 192nd Street this year. In July they impounded six vehicles and handed out 21 violation tickets. That followed a May 12 incident in which a 1937 Chevrolet was stunting, lost control, and smashed into a semi-truck.