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Thread: Critical Mass

  1. #1
    RAGBRAI. Need I say more? Steele-Bike's Avatar
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    I'm wanting get some view points here...

    How does everyone feel about Critical Mass?

    I have never experienced such a rally, but would like to. The town I live in is 60,000 and in the past I have seen flyers for a local Critical Mass, but I don't think it was too successful, as I have not heard anything in recent years.

    Experiences--Good, Bad?

  2. #2
    Carfree since '82. Grrr! JonR's Avatar
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    There is a monthly Critical Mass in Kansas City. As far as I know, nobody's been arrested yet.

    I haven't even gone to witness one, let alone ride, because my feelings have changed about that kind of in-your-face demonstration--it's the same reason I don't participate in Gay "Pride" parades anymore. I think it does more harm than good, by alienating people who might have been teetering on the border of support or understanding.

    Just my own personal feeling.

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    The difference between critical mass and a Gay Pride demo is that CM is a bunch of vehicles lawfully progressing along a highway. Its not a demo as such.

    In my town CM used to attract some minor problems from the police (including the downing and arrest of a disabled minor, which I captured on film). After that event, and faced with evidence of their behaviour, the police took a softer line and let it be.

    Before the CM ride, there would be a mass of cars going very slowly. During CM, the rate of traffic would increase as bikes swooped past, then after the CM, the rate of flow would grind back down to its usual Saturday morning gridlock.

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    Originally posted by MichaelW
    The difference between critical mass and a Gay Pride demo is that CM is a bunch of vehicles lawfully progressing along a highway. Its not a demo as such.

    Not Critical Mass here in San Fran. It's a free for all which I believe has the opposite effect of it's original intention. All it does is infuriate drivers even more causing them to hate bike commuters that much more. Plus it turns off people who may have been sympathetic until seeing way people behave during CM.

  5. #5
    Carfree since '82. Grrr! JonR's Avatar
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    I agree with Joe on this...

    Although the bikes are technically progressing lawfully down the thoroughfare, in realistic terms here in the US and I believe also in England, there are never such masses of bicycles going down the street normally. So it really is a demo, in my opinion, and one that serves to upset drivers with cyclists even more than they already are.

    It wouldn't be such much of a demonstration as just normal traffic in China, where there are masses of bicycles every day, but now the news has stories of Chinese authorities banning bicycles from town centers because they interfere with motor traffic.

    As long as there is petroleum, cyclists don't have a chance. I don't think they need to make things even rougher for themselves by provoking motorists unncessarily.

  6. #6
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Water dripping on a rock can wear a hole into it in time.
    A ton of water dumped on a rock does nothing.

    I believe that individual cyclists who demonstrate competant traffic skills day after day do more to influence people than an occasional critical mass, which appears for a moment, then vanishes.

    I would like to get all critical mass participants to commit to a daily demonstration of commuting alone on their bikes, flowing and blending competantly with traffic.

    Perhaps the best thing about Critical Mass is the power that comes by joining forces. But I can't see what their strategy of crowding the streets is going to accomplish. It's sort of like yelling when you get frustrated: it feels good for a moment, but doesn't help the problem much.
    After all, motorists have their own "critical mass" every day. All their "demonstration" does to influence us cyclists is convince us there are too many cars.

    On the other hand, there is power in numbers.
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 05-11-01 at 05:27 PM.

  7. #7
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Critical mass simply does nothing for our cause. All it does is infuriate people on talk-back radio and give the media generally more sh*t to throw at us. The fact is that cycling in a law abiding, effective manner is going to get more support from rational people than some kind of wacko protest.

    And another thing, a friend of mine rode in a critical mass in Brisbane a couple of years ago. They pointed out that very few of the people there were all that interested in cycling (or even particularly competent at it), they were basically a bunch of rent-a-crowd cranks who were trying to draw attention to themselves.

    Chris
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    Originally posted by Pete Clark
    Water dripping on a rock can wear a hole into it in time.
    A ton of water dumped on a rock does nothing.

    I believe that individual cyclists who demonstrate competent traffic skills day after day do more to influence people than an occasional critical mass, which appears for a moment, then vanishes.
    I completely agree with this. I believe that a cyclist demonstrating traffic skills will have a bigger effect than a bunch of cyclist breaking every traffic law known to man. Yes, there will always be idiot drivers who will never accept bikes on the road. But I believe that those cyclist blending in with traffic will win many more people over.

    Like Chris said, all that Critical Mass accomplishes is pissing people off.

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