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  1. #1
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    Critical Mass Arrests

    There was a Critical Mass event in Portland, Oregon today, and the news showed that there were about 7 arrests. There were a lot of cyclists there, and a bike shop owner was interviewed. He responded that Portland is one of the nicest cities for bicycling in the USA. But the depiction of arrests was not pleasant for me to see. They also showed one cyclist, shot from the air, going up on a curb. The TV commentator asked us to watch how close he came to a pedestrian. It was not too close in my observation--about 10 feet--but close enough to be used as a poor example on TV. There were hundreds of peaceful riders there, but only the handfull who "disobeyed the rules" were arrested. Some of them spit on the police, which made for a very poor presentation on TV of bicyclists. I have never participated in this kind of event, and was wondering about the reaction of other cyclists to what I have described.

    John
    John Ratliff

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    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    They sure don't represent me. :irritated It's hard enough for me to get accepted as a road user without people acting like that.

    If they really want to make a change in peoples' perception of bicyclists, they should all take an Effective Cycling course and then go ride their bicycles vehicularly all over the city. The sight of hundreds of cyclists stopping at stop signs, signalling turns and lane changes, and generally practicing good citizenship, would be a real change of pace here in Spokane, I can tell you that! Of course, this would be much harder than just clogging a street en masse...

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    Then, why can 8000 of us ride Seattle to POrtland where there is more disruption of traffic and at least as much illegal riding as on CM and get HELPED constantly by cops instead of harrassed?
    Is it that we're all middle-class and middle-aged, on road bikes with numbers on our asses, or is it just that PDX has an out-of-control Nordic thug as a police chief? An inquiring mind wants to know.

  4. #4
    Senior Member John C. Ratliff's Avatar
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    Bike riders criticize police after clash
    The Oregonian
    09/01/02
    LAURA OPPENHEIMER AND STUART TOMLINSON


    Bicycle enthusiasts who gathered Saturday night to celebrate two-wheeled travel bemoaned that their monthly Critical Mass ride exploded into a confrontation with Portland police 24 hours earlier.

    Officers from three precincts issued 47 citations and arrested nine people during the activist group's bicycle ride Friday in downtown Portland.

    Sgt. Brian Schmautz, spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau, said the accusations against the nine arrested included disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, interfering with a police officer, criminal mischief and attempted assault on a police officer.

    "There may be additional charges," Schmautz said.

    Dozens of Critical Mass participants gathered Saturday at City Bikes in Southeast Portland for a book signing.

    Most said police had no right to use pepper spray, stun guns or brute force against bike riders Friday. Some acknowledged that Critical Mass riders sometimes run red lights to keep the group together.

    "I know why they were there," Ethan Jewett, a Portland resident who regularly participates in Critical Mass, said of the police. "But they didn't need to be there like that."

    For the past several months, Schmautz said, complaints have increased about vandalism and theft tied to the monthly event. He said officers were spat upon and rocks were thrown during Friday's three-hour ride, which drew hundreds of bicyclists.

    Jewett said he has left Critical Mass rides in the past when a few people banged on cars or intentionally rode down streets the wrong way. But Jewett and others said most Critical Mass riders don't cause problems and simply want to promote biking as a good alternative to cars.

    Fred Nemo, a longtime participant and organizer, said Critical Mass doesn't plan to file formal complaints about police conduct. But riders network with lawyers who likely will provide free service to those cited or arrested, Nemo said.

    Schmautz said the names of those arrested were not available because the arrests were handled by officers from separate precincts and after-action reports had not yet been filed.

    Police said about 200 riders participated Friday; organizers put the number at 650. Either way, Portland's monthlong BikeSummer activities, which drew participants from New York City, San Francisco and elsewhere, may have contributed to the high numbers.

    Riders at the book signing Saturday viewed a homemade video that showed officers subduing riders on the ground to be handcuffed and dragging one man upside down toward a police car. They said police tied up traffic more than the bikers did.

    "In my opinion, they broke more traffic laws than we did," said Michael Green, a rider from New York.
    John Ratliff

  5. #5
    It's in my blood Pete Clark's Avatar
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    We have some good Critical Mass riders on this forum I respect. I wonder why things sometimes go wrong on these rides. Could it be that it attracts a few people who have the wrong vision?

    The term, "critical mass" implies something explosive. Is the purpose to attract the attention of the media? Yet the media often focus on the negatives and the police confrontations.

    I suppose it's a double-edged sword: the conflicts can provide needed attention, but the negative attention can have unintended results.
    Last edited by Pete Clark; 09-01-02 at 01:14 PM.
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    Bear in mind that Portland is afflicted with a mayor who listens to the real estate development community a bit too much, and who has brought in a police chief formerly from the LAPD schooled by paramilitary right-wing psycho Darryl Gates.

  7. #7
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    This whole affair sounds counterproductive to me. I like most people as individuals, but this report simply reinforces my hatred of crowds, mobs, etc. I want/expect to be accommodated on our public roadways; my price of admission is lawful vehicular cycling and respect for other road users. (I did yell this morning at a pickup truck driver who honked me obnoxiously for taking the outside lane on a 4-lane stretch of Pacific Coast Highway 101. I was simply maintaining a straight line about a meter away from the parked cars, in a lane too narrow for safe side-by-side bike/car sharing.) We desperately need the support of law enforcement, traffic engineering, and legislatures at all levels of government.
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  8. #8
    Chicago Cyclist ViciousCycle's Avatar
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    Chicago Critical Mass currently has a fairly good relationship with the police. In the couple of years that I've been riding , the police have generally been helpful to us. Several factors play into this:

    1) Tourists enjoy Chicago Critical Mass and it helps promote a good image of the city. They smile when they see a three-piece band being pulled by a bicycle. They smile when they see bicyclists on 19th century high-riders or modern day novelty bikes. They laugh when they see bicyclists wearing silly costumes. They take lots of pictures and have stories to tell their friends. They enjoy the festive party atmosphere which leaves a much better image of Chicago than the tail pipes exhaust from SUV's.

    2) A street on which a Critical Mass ride is taking place is safer and has less accidents on it than an automobile-clogged road. Statistically a lot of people die every year getting run over by automobiles, whereas it's statistically rare to die in a collision with a bicycle. And the Massers aren't distracted by cell phones or by the claustophobia of being stuck insider a car -- so they are paying more attention to what they are doing than they typical motorist.

    3) The Loop is maxed out in terms of how many cars that it can handle. Studies by the City of Chicago now suggest that Loop real estate is too valuable to keep building more parking garages. So being helpful towards events that get people enthused about alternative forms of transportation is considered valuable for the future of the Loop.
    The Easter Island people were clever, but their civilization collapsed after they chopped down the last tree on their island. You can't be 'resourceful' if you've used up all of your resources.

  9. #9
    It's in my blood Pete Clark's Avatar
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    Originally posted by ViciousCycle
    Chicago Critical Mass currently has a fairly good relationship with the police. In the couple of years that I've been riding , the police have generally been helpful to us. Several factors play into this:

    1) Tourists enjoy Chicago Critical Mass and it helps promote a good image of the city. They smile when they see a three-piece band being pulled by a bicycle. They smile when they see bicyclists on 19th century high-riders or modern day novelty bikes. They laugh when they see bicyclists wearing silly costumes. They take lots of pictures and have stories to tell their friends. They enjoy the festive party atmosphere which leaves a much better image of Chicago than the tail pipes exhaust from SUV's.

    Chicago Critical Mass sounds like a model for all the others.

    Wow. :thumbup:

    That's the kind of thing we need!
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  10. #10
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Vicious cycle.. In July We were in Singapore.. A city that crowded must restrict the use of autos..They are big objects taking up limited space and are considered unnecessary by urban planners in Singapore.. There cars have meters and responders that track the locations of autos. You enter the central business district, you are charged for occupying space, much as if you were parking.
    The government tries to discourage auto useage during rush hours, since it is such an ineffective means of mass transport.
    But, it was odd. Bicycles could so much more effectively minimize spacial needs and parking needs reduced..
    The government is obviously trying to promote mass transit.. I did recall reading,that a member of the Singapore cabibet was trying to promote cycle lanes on a major east- west highway so cycle commuting would be encouraged. Did not see much cycling there really- streets too hectic..

  11. #11
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    I have never condoned critical mass rides.
    Like many others here, I think cyclists have a hard enough time getting motorists to share the road with them or respect their right to ride on the road.

    CM generally pisses off more motorists than it persuades to our point of view. I guess that's why I've never participated in one of these rides.
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

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    I don't do CM rides but have done many, many mass rides of other kinds and for a few years did some ABL of A road racing;
    EVERY group of cyclists annoys motorists--WE ARE ALL CRITICAL MASS RIDERS, EVERY ONE OF US, UNLESS WE ARE MOUNTAIN BIKERS WHO NEVER RIDE ON PAVEMENT OR TRACKIES WHO NEVER TRAIN ON THE ROAD! There is no damned difference between the century rider, the licensed racer, the tourist in a group, and Critical Mass. When will you all wake up about this?

  13. #13
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    If we were to be completely candid about it, motorists hold their own "critical mass" rides every weekday, twice daily.

    No worries

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    Good point there, LBM!

  15. #15
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    Originally posted by LittleBigMan
    If we were to be completely candid about it, motorists hold their own "critical mass" rides every weekday, twice daily.

    Yes indeed. And they outnumber us. They outweigh us. And their political influence is by far stronger than ours. Only solution I see is more well behaved cyclists on the roads. Not at all sure about the apparent strategy of confrontation.

    Carl
    Just Peddlin' Around

  16. #16
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    Again, passive/aggressive resistance--if you see a car theft happening, walk away and say nothing.

  17. #17
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Feldman
    Again, passive/aggressive resistance--if you see a car theft happening, walk away and say nothing.
    Not sure whether this was in response to my last post. If so, let me say this.

    Were I to witness a felony in progress, I would stop my bike and use my cell phone to call the appropriate authorities.

    To respond in like kind to all too common incidents of minor misbehavior and discourtesy or petty legal offenses, I'd be a walker rather than a cyclist as I stopped to react to each one.

    I'm neither passive nor aggressive. Just practical. I am also aware that my efforts would be very unlikely to bring about behavioral changes in others. Rather, I expect otherwise minor situations would escalate at my expense.

    Carl
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  18. #18
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Life itself is a confrontration for resources.. Motorists would much prefer that bike lane not exist- and they are convinced; if we had ANOTHER highway lane the traffic problem would go away.
    From what I see road construction and improvements only bring on the development of more construction and very soon more overcrowding of everything.
    My point, whether it is the methods of CM or the more civil methods of cycling advocates, such as bicycling coalitions- getting what you want from the government is by its nature confrontration.
    You don't fight for your needs and make your stand for your rights- you will be left without.. I am sure most motorists would rather we go away and let them have their road to themselves.. One less obstacle for them to handle in thier rush home. I do mean rush..
    Just the other day, I took some abuse at a shopping center parking lot in Temecula.. Started with cat callls...Some A. holes insulted me just because I have a cycling roof rack on my car. Punk kids talked about running me over, when not in the car. Looked like fat slobs about early 20's.. Also made accusations about my sexuality..

  19. #19
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    And, let's make Sept 11, 2002, a carless day--keep money out of the hands of terrorists for a day. Why, oh why won't the alt-trans community get it's neck a little red and pick up this ball and ****ing run with it?

  20. #20
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Critical mass is a total and complete waste of time. It's all well and good to talk about 'standing up for your rights' and all the rest of it, but what does critical mass actually achieve? The answer is nothing. All it does is p!ss people off. It's not going to change the mind of drivers who dislike cyclists, but it might just change the mind of those who are on our side. Yes, the media coverage may well portray it inaccurately (wouldn't be the first time) but the media coverage is what people are going to see.

    I can't believe any rational cyclist would participate in this farce.
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  21. #21
    The Flying Scot chewa's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Chris L
    Critical mass is a total and complete waste of time. It's all well and good to talk about 'standing up for your rights' and all the rest of it, but what does critical mass actually achieve? The answer is nothing. All it does is p!ss people off. It's not going to change the mind of drivers who dislike cyclists, but it might just change the mind of those who are on our side. Yes, the media coverage may well portray it inaccurately (wouldn't be the first time) but the media coverage is what people are going to see.

    I can't believe any rational cyclist would participate in this farce.
    I agree with you there Chris, but can sympathise with those who want to be a bit more militant in standing up for their rights. Otherwise the groups with more effective advocacy and better backing (in this case the motor and oil industry) push governments to promote their interests.

    CM sometimes makes me wonder if they leave others with the image that all cyclist are weird lefty sandal wearing veggies. (For the avoidance of doubt I don't wear sandals )
    plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens

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  22. #22
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I do not agree with the methods of CM, but I do suggest, we do not just ride and think elements will not attempt to take that right away from us.. Don't endorse being redicilious, but we should be involved..
    My advocacy group is Adventure Cycling.. If I lived closer to San Diego I would be active in the San Diego Bicycle Coalition.

  23. #23
    Chicago Cyclist ViciousCycle's Avatar
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    Originally posted by chewa

    CM sometimes makes me wonder if they leave others with the image that all cyclist are weird lefty sandal wearing veggies. (For the avoidance of doubt I don't wear sandals )
    When I go to a Critical Mass, I see a wide cross spectrum of the cyling community: mothers who bring along their children, teachers, lawyers, transportation advocates who have devoted their careers to working for non-profit organizations, professionals, students, bike messengers, public servants, writers, and many more. When I see Critical Mass being described in an online forum, it seems like I've stepped into some virtual reality that bears little relationship to the real thing.

    Critical Mass has provided me networking for volunteer and advocacy opportunities in the area where I live. I can't say the same for any online forum that I've ever been on.

    For a second time in BikeForums, I say, "Good-bye all." I need to put more energy into some upcoming volunteer opportunities, and I need to get out of cyberspace.
    The Easter Island people were clever, but their civilization collapsed after they chopped down the last tree on their island. You can't be 'resourceful' if you've used up all of your resources.

  24. #24
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Vicious cycle has a very valid point. We all get so engaged in sterotyping.. We make judgements, have we ever been first hand to their functions. Then you can make your own assessments..
    News reports are often totally off base. Yes, there are always side-liners who go too far; but that is very likely inaccurate of the actions of the whole group..

  25. #25
    BikeForums Founder Joe Gardner's Avatar
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    Originally posted by ViciousCycle
    For a second time in BikeForums, I say, "Good-bye all." I need to put more energy into some upcoming volunteer opportunities, and I need to get out of cyberspace.
    VC, It was nice to see you drop back in, i love reading your posts. Good luck with your latest project, see ya in a few!

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