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Critical Mass gatherings--Opinion of the Board?(17 posts)

Critical Mass gatherings--Opinion of the Board?xxl
Mar 30, 2002 2:57 AM
It came out in another thread, and got me wondering; what's your opinion of critical mass protests? Have you had any personal experience with one? And how does the local media tend to treat coverage of these? (Here in Cincinnati we're too busy dodging cows and rioters to "get critical" ourselves, but we are curious; Enquiring minds want to know!)
very cool in my books....Spirito di Finocchio
Mar 30, 2002 6:17 AM
im always happy to lend an ear and offer a few bob as where i am they work closely (although unofficially) with transportation alternatives.

they have made new york city a better place for cyclists of all description in many different ways and for a single agenda organisation they get noticed and make things happen.

ive never been on one their mass rides but i have witnessed one and not only did i really feel proud but i could sense that all the onlookers to the spectatcle could understand the method and the aim with which they voiced their desire and solidarity. a small donation with them for a membership has saved me 10 times the amount thru discounts (8-10% on most items and labour) in any lbs i care to drop coin with.

the mass rides are perhaps just 10% of the work and voice that they strive for. they are neither renegades or treehuggers but merely practical and forward looking. giro's off to them!

an odd spectacle and bewilderment often prompts people to think and question with greater effect.

all cyclists are family

till they get out of control...dustin73
Mar 30, 2002 7:35 AM
like it did here in austin not too long ago...
so what happendishmael
Mar 30, 2002 8:02 AM
what happend to the guy who got run over and the driver? i think he should definately spend some long jail time.
ive been on a couple in san franciscoishmael
Mar 30, 2002 7:50 AM
there were huge amounts of bikes. its always very slow and they disregard all traffic laws. A helicopter followed us everywhere to keep tabs on where the mob goes so they can be ready with cops if they need to. and i hear they have cops posted on the bay bridge since once traffic was snarled for hours when they went over it. the response is mostly positive but ive seen really pissed people yelling at all 2 or 3 thousand of the bikers. its deffinately worth doing, san francisco's is probably crazier than others though.
mostly positive?mr_spin
Apr 1, 2002 8:34 AM
Because I do kinder, gentler posts now I'm not going to call you insane or suggest that you are oblivious. That would be rude.

I don't know about anywhere else, but the only positive response to critical mass in SF is from the participants. Those who aren't arrested or killed (yes, I said killed). Drivers, pedestrians, cops, other cyclists--in short, everyone else--hates it and sees absolutely no value in it.

I guess there are a handful of cyclists who are dead serious about whatever it is supposed to represent, but I believe that most of the others do it because it is a rolling party, and a good way to give the finger to "The Man."

Bikes snarling rush hour traffic is not a good thing. There is no way you can convince me there is anything positive about that. If there is, then I suggest you invite Woody Harrelson back to climb the Golden Gate Bridge.

To see how effective Critical Mass is, ask a dozen people what the purpose is. No one will know. The typical reaction will be of total disgust. If the person is not a San Fransisco commuter, there will also be signs of great joy that they don't have to deal with it.
ive heard differentlyishmael
Apr 1, 2002 2:12 PM
lots of people i know who dont ride would like to do it and see it for what it is...its people showing the rest of the city that bikes are a good source of transportation ...especialy in a city with the bart public transportation system cars arent necessary...youre talking to different people, i too am a kinder and gentler poster so i want call you oblivious
re: Critical Mass gatherings--Opinion of the Board?Me Dot Org
Mar 30, 2002 8:49 AM
I'm speaking of San Francisco Critical Mass Rallies only, because that's where I live.

If the object of the protests is to draw attention and feel solidarity with your fellow bikers, they are a success.

If the object is to raise the general public's awareness about the rights of cyclists in a positive way, I think the rallies are counterproductive. With respect to non-cyclers, I think they create more animosity than good feelings.
Mar 30, 2002 9:41 AM
I participated in several SF critical masses during the first few years (last one I did was in '95). I think they got out of control and obnoxious. When they get too big, you can get a situation like the WTO protests in Seattle--a small percentage of idiots ruining what should be a positive, constructive thing.
speaking of Seattle...sprockets2
Mar 30, 2002 10:05 AM
The rallies here have often had just what was described above. A good idea, but it just turns off uninformed civilian people with the obnoxious behaviors. I am mad as hell too, but spitting and hammering on cars and news cameras sort of poisions the atmosphere.

I think mainline bike shops and orgs have got to get involved and make these goofs seem like the fringe they truely are.
re: Critical Mass gatherings--Opinion of the Board?Alexx
Mar 30, 2002 9:36 AM
For the most part, Critical Mass has damn little to do about cycling, and a lot to do with giving authority "the finger". Because most critical mass demonstrations are primarily designed to pi$$-off motorists, I will have nothing to do with them. This kind of cr@p just causes animosity from the motoring public against cyclists. In the end, it accoplishes nothing, and makes the roads just a bit more dangerous for the rest of us cyclists. I wish these radicals would just grow up.
crowds breaking the law..colker
Mar 30, 2002 10:02 AM
history needs it but i'd rather stay away.
crowds breaking the law..Me Dot Org
Mar 30, 2002 10:03 PM
"Crowds breaking the law: History needs it but I'd rather stay away."

That is a great turn of a phrase. I'm going to save it.
Mar 30, 2002 10:55 AM
They had one in OKC last fall and practically no one showed up. The local news covered it , but they really shouldn't have because there weren't enough people involved to really call it a rally. It was more like a small gathering. The Spokesman was your standard 70's looking radical with long hair and an unkempt beard. He wasn't very articualte, and from all appearances just wanted to stage a little protest for old times sake. Over all, from what I gather about the rallys in other cities, they just piss off the public and do little to promote bicycling.
orderly and semi-effective in Reno; plus a scary storycory
Mar 30, 2002 12:50 PM
We've had people of all ages, from little kids to 70-plus, and the mountain bike cops sometimes ride along to keep order. They do a good job of keeping the crowd (varies from a dozen or so to 150) between the lines. The motorcycle cops are toughest to deal with, but that pretty much figures.
Last year a pack of us stopped at a red light, and an older (70s) woman in a car squeezed up through us to the front of the line, honking her horn and waving us out of the way. What else can you do? We moved over.
When she got to the front, a guy next to me leaned down and told her something like, "Ma'am, bicycles are legal vehicles and you're required to give us the right of way," blah blah blah. She had both hands on the wheel, head locked, looking straight ahead. Then she turned and snapped, "If you're not looking for trouble, why are you wearing helmets?"
Note to XXL if you read this far: The editor of the Enquirer, Ward Bushee, is a former boss and friend (his first mountain bike was my old one). He's a closet runner and cyclist, and he'd probably do a Crit Mass story without automatically slamming the cyclists if you let the paper know what's going on.
Gee, I'm a biker and an A-Holepmf1
Mar 30, 2002 7:56 PM
This is just a terrible thing to do. It PO's motorists and just makes things worse in the end. Would you think it was cool if a bunch of runners did a critical mass jog (at 5 mph) where you ride? To live in an urban area and cycle (I live in DC), you need to be courteous and not piss folks off. Yeah, its great on that day, but for some Joe driving to work, what will his lasting impression of cyclists be? I wave, smile and say thanks to motorists even if I have the right of way. And messengers in town do not help. These guys are running red lights, going down one-way streets the wrong way, etc. Like critical mass dorks (who commute once a year) They give us a bad name.

If you want to make a difference, show motorist that we can function on the same road together. Encourage your organization not to do this.
Gee, I'm a biker and an A-Holexxl
Mar 30, 2002 8:18 PM
Just to assuage your nascent fears, I'll let you know; I don't have an organization, just a curiousity of others' feelings on this. I appreciate the posts.