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  1. #1
    Skidmaster teadoggg's Avatar
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    why i'm against critical mass

    i just PM'ed this to someone, and i've decided it's one of the only worthwhile things i've said in some time, so i'm posting it here, also.

    "i've come across you anti-critical mass postings. after a lot of thought, i agree with you completely. it's a bad idea. there are better ways to support cycling. Critical Mass is the Fahrenheit 9/11 of the cycling world. the only thing it's going to accomplish is make the proponents happy they're pissing off the opponents, and make the opponents even madder. You catch more flys with honey. While I understand the basis of critical mass, i disagree with the execution. There are much better alternatives."

    I agree that the way motorist's treat cyclists is often bad, and that we need to do everything we can about supporting cycling as a viable form of transportation (especially in a city like Chicago that has a more than adequate system of public transportation. GET OUT OF THE CAR!), but there have to be better, more appropriate ways of raising awareness.

    What if all the CTA bus drivers decided that in order to promote public transit, once a month they would drive 500 busses into the downtown area, group together, and hold up traffic so they can go through red lights and disrupt automobile traffic for an hour. It's almost the same thing.

    that being said, i still respect participants of the Critical Mass. I just won't ever do it myself. I'll be looking into alternative forms of cycling advocacy.

  2. #2
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    I will only say one thing and one thing only... It's gotten to a point in NYC where nothing else has worked and everything else has been tried. Ask any of my fellow New Yorkers here. Cycling is under attack in this city.

    I was skeptical about what I heard of CM rides in downtown Manhattan until I actually went to a recent one (hadn't been to one in ages) and you know what? The riders who told horror stories had one thing in common: They were right.

    Sometimes you need to rattle cages to get results. They've tried the "follow the traffic, don't run reds" stuff here, and it got them nowhere. Frankly, 500 riders going up any street should not be a problem for any reason as long as they follow traffic laws.

    Bikers are traffic just like scooters, mopeds, motorcycles, cars, buses, trucks, and cabs. It's cliche but it's true: they aren't blocking traffic, they are traffic, yet cyclists are treated like an obstruction or a nuissance instead of being given respect while on the road.

    I happen to belong to TA, a group that's very heavy into the "by the book" lobbying and legislation and all that. But everything has its place, and the more I see what's going on here, I think CM not only has a place, but is necessary.
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  3. #3
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    If Critical Mass did their rides legally by stopping at red lights and stop allowing liberal whacko groups to hijack their rides, I would be for it. If the group gets divided, then they can regroup in a few miles rather than break traffic laws. The police appear to be very cooperating as long as the CM folks are cooperative as well. I would love to see a cross-country ride into major cities via CM style but again, staying 100% within all traffic laws.

  4. #4
    Skidmaster teadoggg's Avatar
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    yeah, what's up with that? all that bullsh*t anti-cycling legislation that seems to be going on in NYC. it's terribly unfair. I agree with you completly that cyclist are traffic, and should get the same right-of-way. it's sad that people, especially aduts are so put-off by bikes on the road. it enrages me. i do my part by being a pain in the arse and riding right down the middle of the road, if conditions warrant. i'm immune to car horns and shouting now. i'm tired of being hit by mirrors, run off of roads, and not being noticed.

    i just personally doubt the effectiveness of CM, i guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by vincenzosi
    I will only say one thing and one thing only... It's gotten to a point in NYC where nothing else has worked and everything else has been tried. Ask any of my fellow New Yorkers here. Cycling is under attack in this city.

    I was skeptical about what I heard of CM rides in downtown Manhattan until I actually went to a recent one (hadn't been to one in ages) and you know what? The riders who told horror stories had one thing in common: They were right.

    Sometimes you need to rattle cages to get results. They've tried the "follow the traffic, don't run reds" stuff here, and it got them nowhere. Frankly, 500 riders going up any street should not be a problem for any reason as long as they follow traffic laws.

    Bikers are traffic just like scooters, mopeds, motorcycles, cars, buses, trucks, and cabs. It's cliche but it's true: they aren't blocking traffic, they are traffic, yet cyclists are treated like an obstruction or a nuissance instead of being given respect while on the road.

    I happen to belong to TA, a group that's very heavy into the "by the book" lobbying and legislation and all that. But everything has its place, and the more I see what's going on here, I think CM not only has a place, but is necessary.

  5. #5
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    Teadogg,

    I agree. Look at the story of the double parked truck that doored and killed a local messenger. He didn't even get a ticket for being doubleparked.
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  6. #6
    Skidmaster teadoggg's Avatar
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    and i have no problem at all with critical masses, providing they do obey traffic laws. the pro-CM websites seem to say that by blocking traffic at intersections it's safer for the riders. common! that's hooey. maybe if there were only a few riders (cars would be more apt to try to pass 10 riders, than 50), but i am pretty sure you can squeeze a bunch of people through a green light. If it's a tight fit on the block ahead, then just stay parked at the green light until there's room to get a bunch of riders through. just don't keep running all the red lights.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by teadoggg
    and i have no problem at all with critical masses, providing they do obey traffic laws. the pro-CM websites seem to say that by blocking traffic at intersections it's safer for the riders. common! that's hooey. maybe if there were only a few riders (cars would be more apt to try to pass 10 riders, than 50), but i am pretty sure you can squeeze a bunch of people through a green light. If it's a tight fit on the block ahead, then just stay parked at the green light until there's room to get a bunch of riders through. just don't keep running all the red lights.
    If it were a 50 person ride, that would work. My feeling is that the mass should be treated like any motor vehicle. If the front gets through the light, the rest should follow. If the front comes to a red, the whole mass should stop.
    In NYC it's important to keep the mass tight because there can be many hundreds or even thousands of riders. A mass that broke up and reformed throughout the course of the ride would be way more disruptive than one that stayed in one tight bunch and moved quickly along its way. I've been on both kinds of rides and, believe me, the mass that stays together is much less of an inconvenience and is much safer for everyone than the masses that get broken up into pieces.

  8. #8
    Skidmaster teadoggg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laika
    In NYC it's important to keep the mass tight because there can be many hundreds or even thousands of riders. A mass that broke up and reformed throughout the course of the ride would be way more disruptive than one that stayed in one tight bunch and moved quickly along its way.

    this isn't a personal attack or anything, just playing devil's advocate, but isn't this the point, though? to be disruptive? isn't that why it's held in manhattan, on a friday, DURING RUSH HOUR?

  9. #9
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    It's not during rush hour. It usually doesn't get rolling until about 7:30. Awfully considerate of them. Rush hour generally ends around 6 on Friday... Maybe 7 or later the rest of the week.
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  10. #10
    monster
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    I guess my big problem with CM is that I believe in the old saying of "show respect and you will get respected"
    From what I have heard from a few of my friends who have attended the NYC CMs is that it is usually a bunch of idiots on beaters looking for a "scene" or a party. I am a native NYer and have been commuting from the Bronx to Manhattan for close to 8 years now. I have seen a lot of idiot motorists and I have seen a lot of idiot people on bikes. What I am getting at is I don't think CM has my best interest at heart. I surely don't want to be associated with a bunch of law breaking trouble makers. I just want to ride my bike. Seems like everyone needs a group to back them up now days....No Thanks

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpsblake
    If Critical Mass did their rides legally by stopping at red lights and stop allowing liberal whacko groups to hijack their rides, I would be for it. If the group gets divided, then they can regroup in a few miles rather than break traffic laws. The police appear to be very cooperating as long as the CM folks are cooperative as well. I would love to see a cross-country ride into major cities via CM style but again, staying 100% within all traffic laws.
    You obviously have no idea what is happening in NYC. I don't blame you, a lot of it sounds like hype and exaggeration, but I assure you, it's not. At the last Brooklyn CM (with a total of 7 people showing up, and 3 riding) Laika was physically pulled of his bike by a cop less than 10 seconds into the ride (seriously, I had barely started moving) and put into cuffs. When he asked why he was being cuffed, he was asked where his headlight was. Here's the thing - he HAD a headlight. If I may make an assumption, I believe the cops grabbed him for no reason, and found one later - his headlight was off. Is this what you mean by "the police appear to be very cooperating?"

    And how about the last Manhattan CM? We weren't even given a chance to obey traffic laws. We were told by the police before the ride that we are not allowed to ride in a procession (a dubious statement at best) and that a procession was "more than two." If we rode in a procession we WOULD be arrested.

    CM isn't be hijacked by "Liberal Whacko groups." First off, NYC as a whole already is a Liberal Whacko group. Secondly, I don't see any real radicals among CMers. Sure there are some people cursing out the police and being confrontational, but honestly the police instigated the whole thing. At the more pleasant CM rides I've been on where there were police, most people were thanking the officers for blocking intersections for us, and chatting with some of the offices on mopeds.

  12. #12
    Skidmaster teadoggg's Avatar
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    Sorry, but hereís one more Michael Moore reference.

    Think back to ďBowling for ColumbineĒ. He was much more powerful and had a much larger effect by, being reasonable and confronting the executives at K-mart by showing them exactly what damage had been done by bringing in the victims of the crisis and having them talk. He didnít cause a huge scene, was entirely respectful, and was very direct. He was able to get what was at the time the I think the 3rd largest seller of bullets in the united states to discontinue the sales of ammunition within I think it was 90 days. Thatís powerful. What did Fahrenheit 9/11 do, other than rile people up?

    We need to get all Gandhi-like. Round up some people who have been victims of crimes against cyclists (families of dead cyclists, cyclists who have been hit by cars, mangled bikes that got run over) and go camp out at City Hall, or something like that, and demand change. We need to show WHY weíre so upset, not use vigilante action to repair whatís been done to us, the cycling community. And if you are already doing that, keep it up. Recruit your friends. Iím certain that there are enough people in LA, Chicago, and NYC that if everyone showed up on city hall property with a nice 16x20 glossy photograph of a major injury sustained from getting hit by a car, people would start to listen. You would generate much more respect than just messing up traffic will.

    Like it or not, if a couple of people on critical mass rides smash car windows, taunt drivers, and kick car doors, people will naturally assume thatís what the riders support. People always remember the bad stuff. I personally know thatís not what CM is about, but thatís what gets all the air time on the news, like it or not.

    Iím terribly to hear all the anti-bike bullsh*t that seems to go on in NYC, but there are other avenues than critical mass to address that.

    Just remember that your rights as a human end, where they next personís rights begin.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by teadoggg
    this isn't a personal attack or anything, just playing devil's advocate, but isn't this the point, though? to be disruptive? isn't that why it's held in manhattan, on a friday, DURING RUSH HOUR?
    The ride is held on Friday all over the world, but in NYC the 7pm call is hardly rush hour and the 7:30pm-ish actual start isn't rush hour at all. The NYC ride is actually held much later than most. And as long as we're playing devil's advocate, if a city's rush hour is extending all the way to 7:30 pm on a Friday, doesn't that bring up a whole other discussion about what's wrong in that city?

  14. #14
    No, GIR, thatís bad. Konakazi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpsblake
    The police appear to be very cooperating as long as the CM folks are cooperative as well. I would love to see a cross-country ride into major cities via CM style but again, staying 100% within all traffic laws.
    You can't possibly have ridden in a Critical Mass ride in NYC in the past four months if you think that the police are cooperating with cyclists at these events in any way.

    Hell, in July, we rode down the FDR with police zipping along side us on scooters. No problem. They even honked politely as they passed us or gave us thumbs up.

    That's a far cry from the police state set-up that was waiting for any cyclists who approached Union Square Park last Friday.
    "Ooooo! You've got CHICKEN LEGS!"

    "Those darn liberal wackos! Why do they always try to get involved in just causes?"

  15. #15
    Skidmaster teadoggg's Avatar
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    Touchť! But i imagine it still snarles traffic.
    and yes, if a city's rush hour went to 7, that would definitly be a problem. Ouch.


    Quote Originally Posted by Laika
    The ride is held on Friday all over the world, but in NYC the 7pm call is hardly rush hour and the 7:30pm-ish actual start isn't rush hour at all. The NYC ride is actually held much later than most. And as long as we're playing devil's advocate, if a city's rush hour is extending all the way to 7:30 pm on a Friday, doesn't that bring up a whole other discussion about what's wrong in that city?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by teadoggg
    We need to get all Gandhi-like.
    Gandhi may have been a pacifist, but he was an egregious lawbreaker. Don't buy into the myth of Gandhi as a meek, mild lamb. Gandhi and his comrades broke laws and took real physical abuse for their civil disobedience on a scale that makes CM riders look like absolute dilletantes.[/QUOTE]

    Just remember that your rights as a human end, where they next personís rights begin.
    I'll remeber that if you can convince motorists that my rights begin when my wheels hit the asphalt, same as theirs.

    Namaste, brother.

    -Laika

  17. #17
    Skidmaster teadoggg's Avatar
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    you're correct. i over simplified Gandhi. Just tell people to stop kicking cars on CM rides and i'll be much happier. Like i said early, i support the riders (not the destructive ones, though) i just am going to look for alternate methods of voicing my support of cycling.

    excellent comment, bro!

    Quote Originally Posted by Laika
    Gandhi may have been a pacifist, but he was an egregious lawbreaker. Don't buy into the myth of Gandhi as a meek, mild lamb. Gandhi and his comrades broke laws and took real physical abuse for their civil disobedience on a scale that makes CM riders look like absolute dilletantes.

    -Laika

  18. #18
    No, GIR, thatís bad. Konakazi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teadoggg
    Just tell people to stop kicking cars on CM rides and i'll be much happier. Like i said early, i support the riders
    I think people make too many assumptions about the CM riders. I ride in CM every chance I get and I have never kicked a car, thrown anything at anyone , randomly cursed people out or burnt a flag.

    This is purely a situation where a few "bad eggs" give the entire ride a bad name and the city and the media love pointing a finger but then neglect to work with the community or help present a solution.

    Turning the City in to anti-bicycling police state where three girls riding together near Union Square Park get wrapped in orange netting like some sort of animals, have their bikes tossed in a heap, and arms cinched with plastic handcuffs, while helicopters buzz overhead, just for riding on the street together does not present an atmosphere that is viable for discussion or compromise.
    "Ooooo! You've got CHICKEN LEGS!"

    "Those darn liberal wackos! Why do they always try to get involved in just causes?"

  19. #19
    Skidmaster teadoggg's Avatar
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    Oh, i understand that it's just a case of some bad eggs. Those bad eggs are one of the reasons I don't want to ride critical mass. you said it yourself : the media loves point a finger. that's an issure for another thread in itself. it's crap that that happens. but while the media is pointing fingers, i don't want to be in the direction of the pointing.

    why on earth is the NYPD so anti-cycling? they're treating you guys like terrorists!


    Quote Originally Posted by Konakazi
    I think people make too many assumptions about the CM riders. I ride in CM every chance I get and I have never kicked a car, thrown anything at anyone , randomly cursed people out or burnt a flag.

    This is purely a situation where a few "bad eggs" give the entire ride a bad name and the city and the media love pointing a finger but then neglect to work with the community or help present a solution.

    Turning the City in to anti-bicycling police state where three girls riding together near Union Square Park get wrapped in orange netting like some sort of animals, have their bikes tossed in a heap, and arms cinched with plastic handcuffs, while helicopters buzz overhead, just for riding on the street together does not present an atmosphere that is viable for discussion or compromise.

  20. #20
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    personally i think the CM rides should occur more often. i think by having them (weeky?) people would begin to accept it as commonplace, it wouldn't be a 'special' event, and the rides wouldn't be so massive and draw the kind of police presence they are now.

  21. #21
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Konakazi
    Turning the City in to anti-bicycling police state where three girls riding together near Union Square Park get wrapped in orange netting like some sort of animals, have their bikes tossed in a heap, and arms cinched with plastic handcuffs, while helicopters buzz overhead, just for riding on the street together does not present an atmosphere that is viable for discussion or compromise.
    I couldn't have possibly said it any better than that. You know, on most weekends, motorcycles, sometimes lines of which go four wide and 30 deep go riding up the West Side Highway, and yet I have never once seen the police stop them, order them aside, or say they're "blocking traffic."
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  22. #22
    Skidmaster teadoggg's Avatar
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    timmhaan,
    that's an excellent idea. i think weekly (naturally smaller) critical masses that obeyed traffic signals would be much more powerful tool in raising driver awareness.

    if i was a close-minded driver, i would be more apt to respect and pay more attention to suddenly seing an apparent increase in well-behaved cyclists, than I would a monthly large mass that goes through lights.

  23. #23
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teadoggg
    timmhaan,
    that's an excellent idea. i think weekly (naturally smaller) critical masses that obeyed traffic signals would be much more powerful tool in raising driver awareness.

    if i was a close-minded driver, i would be more apt to respect and pay more attention to suddenly seing an apparent increase in well-behaved cyclists, than I would a monthly large mass that goes through lights.
    i think drivers would be happier, i'd be happier (get to ride with people more often), police would be happier, and i'm certain less laws would be broken. i just think too much time passes between the rides and everyone gets all riled up about it and then they end up blowing too much steam (cops as well as the cyclists).

  24. #24
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    Teadogg, I don't know from whence your obsession with traffic lights comes, but let me explain something to you that has nothing to do with drivers or lights...

    At the last CM, we were told that if we even stepped on pedals, we were being arrested.

    Period.

    No traffic violations. No reckless riding. No light/helmet/horn tickets.

    I don't give two sh!+s about what a driver thinks of me when I'm on my bike any more. The drivers in this city treat cyclists like crap. Police treat cyclists like crap. Politicians treat cyclists like crap.

    Enough trying to placate everyone. What for? So they can treat you like crap afterward?

    The "nice route" has been tried.
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  25. #25
    VegetarianBikeRider coney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincenzosi
    Bikers are traffic just like scooters, mopeds, motorcycles, cars, buses, trucks, and cabs. It's cliche but it's true: they aren't blocking traffic, they are traffic, yet cyclists are treated like an obstruction or a nuissance instead of being given respect while on the road.

    I happen to belong to TA, a group that's very heavy into the "by the book" lobbying and legislation and all that. But everything has its place, and the more I see what's going on here, I think CM not only has a place, but is necessary.
    Amen, brother.



    Quote Originally Posted by Laika
    My feeling is that the mass should be treated like any motor vehicle. If the front gets through the light, the rest should follow.
    Think of it as a funeral.

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