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Do you participate in Critical Mass?

Old 03-07-13, 10:14 AM
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CenturionIM
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Do you participate in Critical Mass?

Now that weather is getting better I am looking to ride more. Perchance I heard about Critical Mass from a friend, so I looked it up online. Seems to be a popular and polarized event (like everything else in the US). There are many enthusiasts who raves about it and many nay-sayers who wish it is obliterated into oblivion. Wikipedia even has an article on the conflicts. Interestingly, it is not a motorists vs cyclists divide but with people on both side of the fence. I really like the idea of not having to watch out for danger every milli second of my commute but can see why the motorist are frustrated.

What was your experience like with Critical Mass?
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Old 03-07-13, 10:25 AM
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Past Tense : Did. At the time the event seemed to enable some antisocial behavior on a bike,
( Kids too young to be Police Agent-Provocateurs) to act out.
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Old 03-07-13, 10:30 AM
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I've been riding in CM's for almost a year now. I've enjoyed my rides. Mainly because of the atmosphere of all the cyclists and many of my friends participate as well.
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Old 03-07-13, 10:38 AM
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Last time I've heard of such event, it does not seem to contribute a positive image for cyclists.

I'd stay away.
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Old 03-07-13, 10:41 AM
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i've never participated in one. it's always seemed counterproductive to me.

and i'm not a joiner by nature.
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Old 03-07-13, 10:46 AM
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It's basically to raise awareness of cyclists on the roads. For the most part, the drivers will be patient with the ride as long as the cyclists behave. Which is always hard to manage depending on the size of the group. The rides here gather close to 3000 cyclists all hitting major roads at the same time. We even had a nice police escort on one of the rides. But obviously in that many people, there will be some misbehaved people. I'd say try it once before coming to any conclusions. But that's me.
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Old 03-07-13, 10:48 AM
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I've been riding in ours for about a year now. We strive to have it be more of a "courteous mass", however. We are just doing it as a social ride and to increase awareness of cyclists. Ocassionally we'll encounter an angry driver who is irritated at us taking up some road space, but usually it is friendly honks and waves as we ride through downtown Cowtown. Our Mayor rides and she has suggested she may show up sometime, but I haven't seen her on one yet.
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Old 03-07-13, 11:07 AM
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A few years ago I promised in this forum that I wouldn't comment on CM until I'd ridden in one. So...
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Old 03-07-13, 11:09 AM
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If I find out there's a Critical Mass event nearby, I make sure to stay far away from it, and may decide to drive that day. I don't want to be associated with them even as much as being on a bike on the same day as their even within miles of it.
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Old 03-07-13, 11:46 AM
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When I first heard about it back in the 90s, I thought it was a great idea and sounded like fun. But I was not living in the SF area at the time, so I never got the chance to participate. Now, 20 years later, it doesn't seem like such a novel idea anymore, and it does further strain the relationship between motorists and cyclists. Another large group ride has cropped up in the Bay Area called the Bike Party. It occurs one Friday night a month, well after the commute traffic has died down, and it stops at traffic lights. I've been on a few of those, and it's been great fun with a lot of positive feedback from bystanders, and even some motorists.
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Old 03-07-13, 11:55 AM
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Yes.....Daily.....I live in L.A.
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Old 03-07-13, 11:56 AM
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I did two of them here, and I am not a huge fan. I feel like if you're trying to raise awareness for cycling and the rights we have on the road, you shouldn't be running red lights and taking 4 lanes of traffic through downtown. The route always involves left turns at traffic lights, so you end up having 200 bikes stretched across 5-8 lanes of travel, blocking everyone.
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Old 03-07-13, 12:09 PM
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I really do believe that critical mass helped teach (some of) the raging cager minority that cyclists belong on the road. While CM is no longer needed in PDX, I think critical mass-style protests are badly needed in the suburbs (looking at you, Clackistan and Vantuckey).

(In PDX we now have bike-swarm which is a more fun and political form of cycling protest.)

Last edited by spare_wheel; 03-07-13 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 03-07-13, 12:17 PM
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I did a couple, but I found the people in charge to be promoting the wrong idea.
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Old 03-07-13, 12:26 PM
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Only once, and it was by accident. Back when I lived in Portland, Oregon, I was riding my normal commuting route home when I got caught in a CM ride slowly trudging west on Burnside. I couldn't pass them, it was too congested! I suddenly understood how frustrated drivers must feel when they get caught in CM demonstrations.
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Old 03-07-13, 12:39 PM
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Had the displeasure of attending one a few months back and bailed out quickly because of the ridiculous anti-social behavior of a large majority of the riders; towards cars, pedestrians and even fellow riders. I'm pretty sure that most if not all car occupants which came into contact with the CM mob now have a very negative idea on cyclists.

Some of the behavior witnessed:

* Total lack of following traffic regulations; running red lights, salmoning, riding on sidewalks dodging pedestrians
* Ninja cyclists without lights, reflectors or helmets
* morons showing off by popping wheelies and other stupidities while surrounded by other cyclist
* abusive behavior towards cars even though there was no provocation on their part

In other words a circus taking place on pavement, made me ashamed of being a cyclist.
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Old 03-07-13, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by George Bliss
in China, both motorists and bicyclists had an "understood" method of negotiating intersections without signals. Traffic would queue up at these intersections until the backlog reached a "critical mass", at which point that mass would move through the intersection

yeah Chinese intersections are totally what I want to have as a bike rider
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Old 03-07-13, 12:55 PM
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If I am going to protest something I am going to stand up for what I believe in, take responsibility, identify myself, and get arrested if need be. I do not hide in an "anonymous" gathering with no leader. That's called a mob and mob's suck.

So no. Never have, never will.
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Old 03-07-13, 01:06 PM
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I never even heard of it until now. We certainly do not do those here. Its a bike friendly state in general so I guess there hasn't been a need.
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Old 03-07-13, 01:23 PM
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Critical Masses are for Asses. In St. Louis they tried to block an Interstate at night. The leaders got hit by a car just after the sign saying that no bicycles were allowed. Alcohol was NOT involved which means they thought up such a stupid stunt while sober.
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Old 03-07-13, 01:28 PM
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Dayton has a monthly courteous mass ride. Same concept but with a different agenda. We basically cruise through downtown obeying traffic laws, trying to encourage biking to other cyclist and to coexist with cars. I think they are on Facebook if you want to check it out.
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Old 03-07-13, 01:36 PM
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I have done a few here in Vancouver, BC, a few years ago, and am still really torn about it.

- The vibe was super positive, and it was a LOT of fun!!
- Even 99% of drivers/pedestrians were positive about the event, and there was a lot of cheering. A few dicks, but not many.
-Most of the corkers were polite, well-spoken individuals who carried a good dialogue with the motorists and pedestrians, and things remained very civil on both sides. (This is in the same City that rioted/burned a part of the City when we lost the Stanley Cup--that was an anomoly.)
-Cycling awareness was created, and the City poured $$ into cycling infrastructure...maybe CM helped create that awareness?

But maybe I shouldn't participate:
-The City of Vancouver has poured a lot of $$ into cycling infrastructure (and they still are), so CM is not really protesting that.
-Most Vancouverites are very 'aware' of cyclists so we are not creating any (positive) awareness. Some drivers are still just plain stupid/inattentive/unaware and some are rude, but CM won't help that. Generally the attitude is fairly positive towards cycling already.


------------------------------
So...should I be doing it just because it was FUN for me? (At the expense of a lot of people's time.) Not really, so I haven't gone in a few years. But I'm still torn. Awareness/advocacy is important, and CM is another method...maybe not the right one though.

Last edited by timvan_78; 03-07-13 at 01:38 PM. Reason: forgot a point
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Old 03-07-13, 01:46 PM
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never done it, but it sounds awful
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Old 03-07-13, 02:08 PM
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No. I don't think irritating every other demo is the best way to improve cycling conditions. And I don't believe it 'raises awareness' of anything. That being said, I know they're probably not all the same.
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Old 03-07-13, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by modernjess View Post
If I am going to protest something I am going to stand up for what I believe in, take responsibility, identify myself, and get arrested if need be. I do not hide in an "anonymous" gathering with no leader. That's called a mob and mob's suck.
Because a demonstrator does not carry a large placard with their name on it does not mean they are some sort of hoodlum or thug. Protest is a critical part of democratic life. People who demonize protestors should try living in a non-democratic state. I have and its not pleasant.
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