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    Senior Member biodiesel's Avatar
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    A better critical mass

    Critical mass rides are getting a lot of flack these days and it seems inspiring less people than they annoy, so i propose a new critical mass.
    We are frequently critizied for being negative and obstructive, so i figured we should look for ways to be positive and capture the hearts and minds of the average commuter.


    Anyone with ideas???

  2. #2
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    First thing that would need to be done is call is something other than Critical Mass. That name has been sullied by irresponsible behavior. The approach need to be to educate, rather than stuff cycling in the faces of drivers, and at the same time educate and encourage cyclists about riding safely and courteously.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  3. #3
    Senior Member biodiesel's Avatar
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    my 2 cents;



    What about staging a ride (that does not slow traffic) during rush hour in a part of the city that's really slow those times. Rideing past cars that are almost parked in 5 mph city traffic could be more effective than slowing down already moody drivers.

    Along the same note, a few rack equipped bikes with coolers of coffee or lemonade, with cups printed with happy logos to give out to motorists.
    "thanks for shareing"
    "we may be slow but we're smaller than another SUV"

    Or bikes with posterboard banners on a chosen (slow) route with pro-carpool, pro-cycle and pro-sustrans logo's. Held over bridges on a stop and go section of the highway, standing at intersections for 15 minutes during the peak of the rush.
    Logo's like
    "average city speed 15 mph, good use of 204 horsepower isn't it?"
    "when's the last time your 4 wheel drive got mud on it?"
    "why pay $30,000 for a sports car that sits in traffic?"
    "your driving the number one cause of air pollution"
    "if you think second hand smoke is bad, sit next to an exhause pipe."
    "doing my part to reduce forign oil dependance, what's your MPG?"

    I'd like to combine all three. Probably catch more flies with honey...

  4. #4
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    Critical Mass suffers the problem of not having a very clearly defined purpose, which participants seem to actually revel in.

    Some see it as a celebration of cycling: fine. hold it on a Sunday afternoon when onlookers and driver are more inclined to feel the spirit rather than resent it.

    Some see it as a reclaiming of the streets: fine. Use the streets in the prescribed fashion by following the rules. Some will still undoubtedly resent being 'held up' but if you're obeying the rules they really don't have a valid complaint.

    Some see it as a parade: fine. Get a permit like everyone else that want to hold one.

    Some see it as an act of rebellion: fine. Don't whinge when you get arrested.

    I personally think if all these CMers actually rode every day on these same streets as part of their normal daily business, rather than just once a month it would speak far greater volumes for the case of cycling as a normal accepted part of city life rather than a once a month inconvenience.
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  5. #5
    Senior Member biodiesel's Avatar
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    totally agree, i've done a few and most seem more angry rebellion than trying to change people's perceptions. The last CM didn't have t-shirts or logos or anything. Traffic just thought it was a group of cyclists in the way.

  6. #6
    Senior Member larue's Avatar
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    yes unfortunately critical mass has been tainted. with organization every other group ride will end up the same way. if you want to celebrate cycling with a large group of people it's better to have an actual event.
    Ride Of Silence is coming up in May, try organizing one for your city if one does not already exist.
    More info at www.rideofsilence.org and I also posted a thread on the local ROS I'm organizing for Fort Myers, Florida in this Advocacy forum.
    Leave your treadmill power trip behind.

  7. #7
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  8. #8
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by larue
    Ride Of Silence is coming up in May, try organizing one for your city if one does not already exist.
    More info at www.rideofsilence.org and I also posted a thread on the local ROS I'm organizing for Fort Myers, Florida in this Advocacy forum.
    That's a nice idea. My question is, with no flyers, no T-shirts, and no talking, how are observers expected to understand what it's about? Will you have a banner? Publicize the hell out of it in the media?
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  9. #9
    Senior Member larue's Avatar
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    even though flyers are discouraged I do plan on leaving flyers at the lbs's and whatnot. and media awareness is encouraged.
    Leave your treadmill power trip behind.

  10. #10
    Senior Member royalflash's Avatar
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    The street, at best, is a living place of human movement and social intercourse, of freedom and spontaneity.

    The car system steals the street from under us and sells it back for the price of petrol. It privileges time over space, corrupting and reducing both to an obsession with speed or, in economic lingo, "turnover". It doesn't matter who "drives" this system for its movements are already pre-determined. The privatisation of public space in the form of the car continues the erosion of neighbourhood and community that defines the metropolis. Road schemes, business "parks", shopping developments - all add to the disintegration of community and the flattening of a locality.

    Everywhere becomes the same as everywhere else. Community becomes commodity - a shopping village, sedated and under constant surveillance. The desire for community is then fulfilled elsewhere, through spectacle, sold to us in simulated form. A tv soap "street" or "square" mimicking the arena that concrete and capitalism are destroying. The real street, in this scenario, is sterile. A place to move through not to be in. It exists only as an aid to somewhere else - through a shop window, billboard or petrol tank.

    from http://www.reclaimthestreets.net/
    only the dead have seen the end of mass motorized stupidity

    Plato

    (well if he was alive today he would have written it)

  11. #11
    Senior Member biodiesel's Avatar
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    yeah, i'm all for free and spontanious human intercourse socially...

    or what you said.

    hehehe

    On a serious note... one of the things i've noticed is the unstapable economic reality of urban sprawl. There are reasons for this and those we can modify to help evolve a better future. Take greenville, nc for example. The downtown is tiny, just a few bars and the college. The college is most of the money in town. The shopping, restaurants, mall... everything is just outside of town. Yet that same area that does not pay city taxes (one of the large advantages to sprawl.)
    However, where do you think the fire, ambulance, hospital, road repairs etc come from. Taxes.
    This is why area's are constantly getting annexed. To pay for the services that have expanded to accomadate them.

    All the while the sprawl is built without urban planning, bike lanes, traffic control, sidewalks, proper zoning. So in this area apartments and homes are on a 5 lane, 55 mph road that rings the city and are surrounded by liquior stores and malls. This area is actually larger than the city and most of the population lives there.

    So if most of the population lives in the sprawl, but the city is the only area with services...

    My solution is an old fashioned one.
    The sprawl should get to be the city.
    An unincorporated area should not get expanded school, fire, police, road funding unless that county, township or area funds it.
    It's a huge drain on the town they surround and encourages irresponsible growth. You wouldn't move to the suburb with no sales taxes and cheaper property taxes if they had only tiny police forces and overcrowded schools, slow ems and sparse fire dept coverage.
    More importantly, if the highway expantion must be payed for locally, the population growth would be directly tied to highway growth, not the latter catching up with the former.

    Noone likes city taxes, but we like what they pay for.

  12. #12
    kwv
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    Quote Originally Posted by twahl
    First thing that would need to be done is call is something other than Critical Mass. That name has been sullied by irresponsible behavior. The approach need to be to educate, rather than stuff cycling in the faces of drivers, and at the same time educate and encourage cyclists about riding safely and courteously.
    The following is from a CM web site:

    +Critical Mass continues through traffic lights after they turn red. This would be legal if we got a demonstration permit from the police, however that has not been required in the past.

    Continuing through traffic lights is done for the safety of cyclists. A car stuck in the middle of the mass can become dangerous, and it can be intimidating for the driver to be stuck in the midst of hundreds of cyclists.+

    So I don't know if continuing through traffic lights after they turn red is the right way to educate and encourage cyclists and is for the safety of cyclists.

    And is the way to educate drivers to share the road with cyclists is allowing them to see a group of cyclists ride through the red.

    Yes drivers run the red but is this an excuse for some cyclists to do the same?


    But then again from the same web site:

    +You will often hear, "Let the pedestrians through", being yelled out while Critical Mass is going through a pedestrian crossing. Cyclists stop, let the pedestrians through and then keep going.+

    It is good they stop for pedestrians why can't do the same for Red Lights as isn't it required by law for both?
    Last edited by kwv; 04-10-05 at 03:10 AM.

  13. #13
    kwv
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    Quote Originally Posted by biodiesel
    Critical mass rides are getting a lot of flack these days and it seems inspiring less people than they annoy, so i propose a new critical mass.
    We are frequently critizied for being negative and obstructive, so i figured we should look for ways to be positive and capture the hearts and minds of the average commuter.


    Anyone with ideas???
    A web site you might interested is the following:

    The Marin "Share The Road" Program at http://malcolmfoster.com/

  14. #14
    Senior Member larue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwv
    It is good they stop for pedestrians why can't do the same for Red Lights as isn't it required by law for both?
    Exactly, you can't pick and choose which laws you want to obey. The red light nonsense has actually very little to do with safety in my opinion, when cars get a green light they want to go and holding them up is dangerous. If it's a large enough mass that the possibilty exists where traffic lights can break the mass then it's entirely possible for the half that makes it through to slow down until everyone is joined up again. Also if the mass is that large then a permit is really necessary because it's no longer a friendly group ride, I've never seen a mass of 150 cars drive through the city together. The red light nonsense is really about cars, a large number of the riders seem to hate cars and the people who operate them and the safety exuse is just that. An excuse.

    Laws exist for a reason and if we want to use public roads then we must obide by them. If you are in a position where the laws become a resonable issue then that is when permits come into play.
    Leave your treadmill power trip behind.

  15. #15
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    Laws exist for a reason...

    So do judge's rulings...

    I'm starting to wonder if the police won't honor the rulings that say the rides can go on, what's the point of following the laws anyway? People are being wrongly arrested for being on bikes in violation of a federal court ruling, and yet Critical Mass riders are expected to be angels.

    Who's policing the police?
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  16. #16
    Senior Member larue's Avatar
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    well you are certainly correct about that vincenzosi, some real travesty's of justice have occurred in nyc and abroad. someone thought it was necessary to make an example out of the cm crew there, why I'm not sure. Yes some laws were broken but when was the last time a car driver was caught in a net for running a redlight, thrown in a van and taken to jail, had their car impounded, and fined on top of it.
    Leave your treadmill power trip behind.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allister
    I personally think if all these CMers actually rode every day on these same streets as part of their normal daily business, rather than just once a month it would speak far greater volumes for the case of cycling as a normal accepted part of city life rather than a once a month inconvenience.
    I do ride nearly every day as a commuter. That's one of the reasons I ride CM as often as I can.

  18. #18
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allister
    I personally think if all these CMers actually rode every day on these same streets as part of their normal daily business, rather than just once a month it would speak far greater volumes for the case of cycling as a normal accepted part of city life rather than a once a month inconvenience.
    Oh really? Like the bike messenger who was killed when he was doored by a double-parked truck in Manhattan in front of two police officers who didn't even ticket the truck?

    Yeah... That spoke volumes.

    I'm sure the guy who doored him or the cops who didn't ticket the truck were pondering how regularly he rode that route, or how admirable it was that he did it everyday.

    Give me a break.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member biodiesel's Avatar
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    side thought,
    though i think (imho) that the traffic blocking model of CM is outdated and ineffective, i wonder at the emotion blocking traffic raises.

    Whenever i hear about CM's i always hear complaints about traffic tie ups.
    Whenever i hear about peace marches etc no-one seems to complain.

    Does'nt a bike protest block traffic less than a pedestrian march?

    so why the grumbles?

  20. #20
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biodiesel
    side thought,
    though i think (imho) that the traffic blocking model of CM is outdated and ineffective, i wonder at the emotion blocking traffic raises.

    Whenever i hear about CM's i always hear complaints about traffic tie ups.
    Whenever i hear about peace marches etc no-one seems to complain.

    Does'nt a bike protest block traffic less than a pedestrian march?

    so why the grumbles?
    Usually because, unlike CM, the organisers of the peace march have a coordinated route with the city, pay for the extra police required to close off streets and divert traffic around the marchers, and announce the details of their event in advance so motorists can plan around the area of the march.

    Oh, and they usually conduct the peace rallies on Saturday morning, not friday afternoon rush hour.

  21. #21
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    Usually because, unlike CM, the organisers of the peace march have a coordinated route with the city,
    Wrong.

    pay for the extra police required to close off streets and divert traffic around the marchers,
    Wrong

    and announce the details of their event in advance so motorists can plan around the area of the march.
    Maybe

    Oh, and they usually conduct the peace rallies on Saturday morning, not friday afternoon rush hour.
    Wrong.

    What city do you live in again? I can tell you for sure it don't work that way 'round these here parts.
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  22. #22
    Muddy old fart flyingCoyote's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by larue
    Exactly, you can't pick and choose which laws you want to obey. The red light nonsense has actually very little to do with safety in my opinion, when cars get a green light they want to go and holding them up is dangerous. If it's a large enough mass that the possibilty exists where traffic lights can break the mass then it's entirely possible for the half that makes it through to slow down until everyone is joined up again. Also if the mass is that large then a permit is really necessary because it's no longer a friendly group ride, I've never seen a mass of 150 cars drive through the city together. The red light nonsense is really about cars, a large number of the riders seem to hate cars and the people who operate them and the safety exuse is just that. An excuse.

    Laws exist for a reason and if we want to use public roads then we must obide by them. If you are in a position where the laws become a resonable issue then that is when permits come into play.
    I think you're wrong about the red light issue, keeping the pack together is much safer and much more effective as a demonstration. Who agrees with me? I guess the police - we just had Brooklyn Critical Mass on Friday and they corked the intersections for us. No drivers complain when it's a cop blocking the side street, and this kept the delays to half a minute or less.

    There was some Bit**ing about the 'escort', but for this ride they were polite and helpful, and I think seeing the police blocking sidestreets for the ride to pass actually does a LOT for biking as a legit activity int he eyes of onlookers.
    Last edited by flyingCoyote; 04-11-05 at 01:57 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    This whole concept of people looking on and legitimizing the action belies one fact:

    People walking by don't give a crap what you're doing.

    It's vain to think that riding a Courteous Mass means anything to a pedestrian walking by.
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  24. #24
    Muddy old fart flyingCoyote's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincenzosi
    This whole concept of people looking on and legitimizing the action belies one fact:

    People walking by don't give a crap what you're doing.

    It's vain to think that riding a Courteous Mass means anything to a pedestrian walking by.
    I dunno, I have seen a lot of cheering, waving, and horn-honking of the encouraging (as opposed to "get the f out of my way") kind, and I've seen quite a few onlookers ask what the ride is about. A lot depends on attitudes; certainly there are people at CM who treat pedestrains the way we hate getting treated by drivers, but they're a pretty small minority and I think a great many observers are left with a positive impression.

  25. #25
    Senior Member larue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyingCoyote
    I think you're wrong about the red light issue, keeping the pack together is much safer and much more effective as a demonstration. Who agrees with me? I guess the police - we just had Brooklyn Critical Mass on Friday and they corked the intersections for us. No drivers complain when it's a cop blocking the side street, and this kept the delays to half a minute or less.

    There was some Bit**ing about the 'escort', but for this ride they were polite and helpful, and I think seeing the police blocking sidestreets for the ride to pass actually does a LOT for biking as a legit activity int he eyes of onlookers.
    No actually you just proved my point by calling it a demonstration, and demonstrations need permits. The major argument CM riders have against what I said earlier is that it's not illegal to ride a bike on the road and that CM should be considered just a bunch of people who happen to be riding at the same time. Well it's gone way beyond that and is now at the point where it's apparently unsafe to stop at lights, therefore it needs a permit.
    The Brooklyn CM is lucky they had the cops to do that for them, usually you have to pay for such an escort.
    Leave your treadmill power trip behind.

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