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When I first moved to NYC 5 years ago, I got involved in the Critical Mass and was all about it. There's very little that's as exciting as riding around the city with 800 people making a huge racket and annoying drivers..........BUT...........over the past several months, I've come to reason it as being counter-productive in terms of making people aware of bikes as a viable means of urban transportation. Recently, I've begun thinking it is doing a great disservice to the image of the urban bicyclist.

I'm just curious to hear what other people think about the Critical Mass.
Pro, con or indifferent.

Thanks
 

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I think they do major harm to bicylists. What better way to make drivers want to run a bike rider over than to block their way and cause them to be stuck an extra 2 hours in traffic on a Friday afternoon.
 

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The intended message is good and seeing bikers in that numbers is impressive and I'm sure it raises awareness in a good way. Every so often it spirals into mayhem, around here at least (SF Bay Area), when the route goes thru congested areas during commute and a few select individuals get out of hand. At those times it does the movement a great disservice IMO. Doesn't look good when people are arm locked on freeway entrances and chucking stuff at cops in riot gear on the 6:00 news.
 

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rohloff rich
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I agree Biblebasher. I used to think it was worthwhile for cyclists to get exposure like that, but now I think it's confrontational and just pisses off motorists. Why give some madman behind the wheel the opportunity to mow down 100 cyclists at once? We're harder to hit if we're spread out.
 

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Agreed, bring back the Macy's / AYH ride...

<i>THAT</i> was positive visibility & exposure to new cyclists.

Macy's sponsored an event benefiting American Youth Hostles back in the early 80's that signed up thousands of cyclists for an early-Sunday morning ride along pre-mapped San Francisco streets <i>and sections of Freeways</i>. They included T-shirts, boobie-prizes, shortcuts, rest stops, sag wagons and a big picnic/party afterward.

With Macy's sponsorship in the major newspapers, huge numbers would turn out — whole families, roadies, mountain bikes, tandems, cycling teams, kids on BMX bikes (I was one 'o dem).

Those events sold more bikes (even if they were cheapie Montgomery Ward bikes), caused others to dusty off their rusty hanging garage trophies, reinvigorating occasional cyclists and introducing new ones to the sport, and that night's news coverage and front page newspaper photo the following day was all positive.
 

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biblebasher said:
When I first moved to NYC 5 years ago, I got involved in the Critical Mass and was all about it. There's very little that's as exciting as riding around the city with 800 people making a huge racket and annoying drivers..........BUT...........over the past several months, I've come to reason it as being counter-productive in terms of making people aware of bikes as a viable means of urban transportation. Recently, I've begun thinking it is doing a great disservice to the image of the urban bicyclist.

I'm just curious to hear what other people think about the Critical Mass.
Pro, con or indifferent.

Thanks
Con.
Buncha crazy extremists.
 

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beer *****es n' bikes
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Personally I love the concept of CM. I am really, really, really sick of the stupid ass kids driving to school around here putting me in serious danger every single freeking day with their fun behind the wheel scare the cyclist antics. People need to be aware we have rights to full usage of a lane and that there is more than just one of us out there.
 

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just along for the ride
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Just wait until the CM crowd gets some trail riders manual-in up and and over the melted bar soap shaped 4 wheeled "technical sections", personnally I'd love to run over those clowns all stuck in gridlock for a change, just kidding :)
 

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Ride what you want!!
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f*nætik said:
They included T-shirts, boobie-prizes, shortcuts, rest stops, sag wagons and a big picnic/party afterward.
Is that where you get a prize for showing your boobies?

george
 

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Taken out of context...

seely said:
Personally I love the concept of CM. I am really, really, really sick of the stupid ass kids driving to school around here putting me in serious danger every single freeking day with their fun behind the wheel scare the cyclist antics. People need to be aware we have rights to full usage of a lane and that there is more than just one of us out there.
What exactly is the concept you love? CM completely puts a cyclist's power completely out of context in relation to a motor vehicle. Critical Mass aside, a cyclist/automobile relationship is usually a one-on-one affair, and while it takes a whole gaggle of cyclists to piss off a motorist, it only takes one of those pissed-off motorists to ruin a single cyclists day — or life:

<a href="http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/7998083.htm"><b>Cyclist killed, another injured</b>
VAN DRIVER SOUGHT IN HWY. 9 HIT-RUN</a>

Now, there's no way I'm suggesting this was the case yesterday in Los Gatos, but the point is the same: We don't need to make any enemies behind the wheels of the car we share the roads with. Critical Mass is purely antagonistic.
 

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Here in Italy, the government occaisonally decides that there's too much air pollution in the major cities and orders a car-free Sunday. This means that, on the appointed day, no private cars WHATSOEVER are allowed in the larger urban centers, and bikes effectively take over in a street-pary atmosphere. It's cool!! Wouldn't hold your breath for anything of the sort in the US, though....pity.
 

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That is awesome, even a city the size of Rome??? I also hear europe has way more bike trails/paths to get around. Here in California I'm lucky enought to live near a few dozen miles of singletrack that is state owned, eazy access. Otherwise enjoy those car free ride. Must be a party!
 

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(school of funk that is)
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I did the Critical Mass thing once in Fort Collins.

There were a total of 10 or so bikes. I had two kids in a burley trailer. It all started out great... until the group ran the first stop sign and then headed towards a very bike un-friendly boulevard. That's when I left.

On the other hand, my Dad has participated in the SF Critical Mass since almost it's inception. He bike commuted on his old 3-speed for decades. He's 75 now and still participates. We've tried to buy him a new bike, but he will not have anything to do with it.

Cheers,
Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #16
it's a bummer alright

Yeah, I pretty made up my mind about the whole thing.
Without education on the cause, it's just a big dumb mob scenario that either entertains pedestrians or pisses off the motorists.
Maybe if it were a financially organzed thing that lobbied for biker advocacy via ads or through meeting with local legislation, it may have a bigger (and less negative) impact on those who are out of the know.
I'm sure NPR or BAI or such stations would lend an ear and some airtime to the cause.

Of course, I'm just speaking for the NYC situation.

Thanks for the feedback.

bill
 

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IMO, Crital Mass has done more to alienate

biblebasher said:
When I first moved to NYC 5 years ago, I got involved in the Critical Mass and was all about it. There's very little that's as exciting as riding around the city with 800 people making a huge racket and annoying drivers..........BUT...........over the past several months, I've come to reason it as being counter-productive in terms of making people aware of bikes as a viable means of urban transportation. Recently, I've begun thinking it is doing a great disservice to the image of the urban bicyclist.

I'm just curious to hear what other people think about the Critical Mass.
Pro, con or indifferent.

Thanks
people than anything else. Annoying people and blocking traffic does nothing to help the bike riders causes. It gets publicity all right....bad publicity. I think that it makes confrontations on the road more likely, not less. Now you have a bunch of pissed-off drivers.......many of them may have previously been sympathetic. Now they're just angry for being inconveinced for no apparant reason.

I think that many of the CM folk could care less about making things better for cyclists. They just want to have fun by creating a little anarchy.
 

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from the east
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that's funny...

biblebasher said:
When I first moved to NYC 5 years ago, I got involved in the Critical Mass and was all about it. There's very little that's as exciting as riding around the city with 800 people making a huge racket and annoying drivers..........BUT...........over the past several months, I've come to reason it as being counter-productive in terms of making people aware of bikes as a viable means of urban transportation. Recently, I've begun thinking it is doing a great disservice to the image of the urban bicyclist.

I'm just curious to hear what other people think about the Critical Mass.
Pro, con or indifferent.

Thanks
Hey Bill,
this is eric whiteley from art school. I would never expect to run into someone here from real life. things are good?

As for Critical Mass.....

I'm conflicted as well. I would like to believe that it is a good thing, and I think it usually is. There are way more positive responses than negative, and it's the few negative occurances that really stick in your memory.

When drivers are really out of line, I'm inclined to believe they've already had a bad experience with bikers. When the mob effect takes over and the bikers are really out of hand...well, isn't the power you feel as part of a 800-strong gang similar to that you feel behind the wheel? I'm sure the number of smashed side-views and punched hoods from Critical Mass is miniscule compared to the number of violet altercations between drivers.

Nobody is held up for two hours (in NYC, anyway). Closer to 10 minutes sometimes? Way less usually? I can't see how this is enough to REALLY piss somebody off. Critical Mass doesn't monopolize the city. It's definitely enough to make them notice, though - and what better method of increasing awareness is there than parading a huge freaking number of cyclists through the city? No number of additional bike lanes or posters has the same message.

No, it's not perfect. It is a bit reactionary - "Mess with us, we'll mess with you!"

But I also don't see it as ultimately negative.

That could be because I also think it's a blast.

eric.
 

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I don't see anyone running over gay people when we have Gay Rights parades, but we shouldn't have Bicycle Rights parades? Maybe Martin Luther King Jr. should have considered he was holding up traffic when he led civil protests in the 1960's? I bet the Women's Suffrage movement held up traffic too back in the early part of the century. They shouldn't have done anything to further their cause that might inconvenience someone for a few minutes.
 

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Yup its true bicyclists are f*ked by gas depended fat/bitter/I'm just in a hurry people when it comes to the road. Best face the facts and stay on the trails, for one's own good! CARS ARE EXPENSIVE COFFINS ;)
 
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