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View Poll Results: Your opinion on Critical Mass rides:
have participated. good for cycling 6 14.63%
have participated. gives cyclists bad name 1 2.44%
have not participated. like the idea 8 19.51%
have not participated. wrong way to make statement 25 60.98%
waste of time. autos dominate. 1 2.44%
Voters: 41. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-26-02, 06:00 PM   #1
urban_assault
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Critical Mass Rides

I have ridden in Critical Mass rides off and on for about 6 years now and I still have mixed feelings about them. Do they help or hinder the cause for cycling?
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Old 05-26-02, 11:28 PM   #2
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I have found no need to yet. However, cyclists need take heed and expect actions from certain authorities that restrict our right to the road... Don't take it for granted.....
Should it be necessary, take a lesson from the civil rights movement of the 60's. Don't sit by and let your freedoms be whittled away. My biking is sacred to me- should be a part of my first amendment rights Right to associate..... Have not participated in a Critical Mass action. However, if put to the wall and think chance, my access to the road is threatened......I will be a part of and encourage others to participate in civil disobediance. But only as a last resort.
Would not you ? Or loose what is so important to you.
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Old 05-27-02, 12:51 AM   #3
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Now, more than ever, Critical Mass rides are a positive thing for Edmonton. The police are cracking down on bicycles on the sidewalk. Many people are afraid to ride on the road so they won't ride at all. Critical Mass rides give people enough confidence assert a portion of the road to themselves to ride on and to resist bullying. The rides here only take up one lane as was requested by the police. We're proving that you don't have to race at a 30kph pace in order to not get run down on the road. It's not so much a "one less car" movement as it is a "one less terrified cyclist" movement. It's like swimming with a school of fish.

I can't speak for other cities because people and the authorities are extremely different in other cities. As far as Edmonton goes, Critical Mass works without touble with the police.
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Old 05-27-02, 02:20 AM   #4
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i feel about the same... i've ridden about 6 rides in the last 3 years or so (Portland and Austin) and think the idea is great, but it's less productive than it could be and sometimes it's counter-productive.

when i rode, i printed up signs and handed them out ('one less car' or 'cars kill' or 'ride a bike' or travel green') so that the car drivers we were getting the attention of by slowing them down at least got the message WHY... in Portland the support from motorists was pretty high and most drivers honked for support or yelled/chanted positive things...

but the Police often made trouble, one time ramming a girl on a bike at about 10mph from behind with a squad car bumber and knocking her to the ground while she was riding correctly the right way on a street with lights etc. the police had 'instructed' her to ride further to the right 3 times and she continued to ride in the left of the lane... she was disobeying a police order but aggressive/violent action was not prudent as she wasn't a threat to anyone... it was one of the most dangerous things i have ever seen AND from a law-enforcement officer (usually i think police do a great job...) ---- i was surprised at the treatment

i think it would be cool to have something similar that drew cyclists from all domains -- CM is cool b/c cyclists w/o Lightspeeds or OCLV 'Lance' Trek bikes and 6-figure salaries are there with beat-up bikes that they ride everywhere - these guys should be just as important to cycling as those with all the dollars but of course the US doesn't work that way...

a public ride that drew support for cyclists to use the streets for transportation... but not just a flashy recreational ride on Sunday morning soas to least disturb motorists like what is often done for 'recreational' rides
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Old 05-27-02, 10:22 AM   #5
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I think CM is a great way of making motorists respect cyclists, but I wouldn't support one in Montreal where I think motorists already respect cyclists.

Next Sunday there will be the 'Tour de l'Ile' a 70 km recreational ride by 45000 people on bikes on a loop closed to all motor traffic. I think it would be a much better educational experience, for both riders and motorists, if the loop were made into a one-way street for both motorists and bikes. People would learn how to let cars merge and cross lanes. Motorists who want to get in or out of the loop could do so without feeling trapped.
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Old 05-28-02, 12:20 AM   #6
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Keep in mind, any critical Mass action, should always concentrate on first of all, being positive. Attempt to make bonds to motorists- not all of them are nuts- that encourages us to understand each others needs. Abrasive actions only come when our right to the road is totally threatened... The recent thread regards cops, bridges, and bikes access to roads in Jacksonivlle, Fl.. I certainly would advocate some Critical mass action if necessary to counter the cops; should they be in the wrong..
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Old 05-28-02, 05:44 AM   #7
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it all depends if the cyclist are riding in an orderly manner, then they can get the message accross, if not they will just allienate themselves and give the cycling population a bad name,
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Old 05-28-02, 06:04 AM   #8
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i have participated.. twice.. since i have been riding less than a year.. it is darn cold in winter..lol
organized, police participation.. for cyclists safety, and general good feelings among the cyclists.
a lot of puzzled faces on the motorists and pedestrians.. but once they are informed their face takes on a "good for you" look.
since it takes place right downtown amid heavy traffic the last friday of every month.. some ppl are aware but most are tourists lol.. ppl just should not drive downtown on a friday night
nothing bad has ever happened here.. no arguments that i saw and lots of cyclists getting together.. i think there was almost 800 one night last summer.
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Old 05-28-02, 09:25 AM   #9
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I think Critical Mass is a great idea - I think most riders would agree that there are some tough issues that need to be addressed. Drivers think that I'm paying taxes for roads that are just for them, and that I have no right to be there. People rev their engines when I exercise my right-of-way at a traffic stop to show me how irritated they are that they had to wait 2 seconds for my slow vehicle. Critical Mass is in-your-face advocacy that needs to exist. We could be polite about it and go about things the "right" way, but sometimes the "right" way is just a fancy way of allowing yourself to be ignored.

Unfortunately, to participate in a Denver CM ride I would have to drive 60 miles. To me, this is counterproductive. Maybe one day I'll ride my bike down there.
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Old 05-28-02, 09:38 AM   #10
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I have never participated in CM. From all my observations it is just another way for cyclists to alienate (sp??) motorists and piss then off.

Many motorists are already against cycling in any form (road, mtn, bike trails, etc.).

I'm in favor of more positive methods of swaying them to our side.
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Old 05-28-02, 10:45 AM   #11
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My understanding is that most CM rides involve large numbers of cyclists taking to the streets and riding as a mass. This is good. Unfortunately, they tend to view "riding as a mass" as meaning that they run stoplights and stopsigns in order to stay together as a group. When they behave recklessly, CM riders are doing nothing to help the image of cyclists.

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Old 05-28-02, 03:45 PM   #12
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You know, I really wish that those Critical Massers would switch to using razor scooters. You can be an even bigger pain in the @$$ blocking traffic with them, they go slower, and there would likely be more martyrs when they get plowed over by Joe SUV. The added advantage is that motorist's rage would then be directed towards scooters, rather than toward cyclists. Maybe the d@mn things might even get banned!
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Old 05-28-02, 08:33 PM   #13
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I admire CR riders but don't have the nerve to go on one of the rides--yet. For 30+ years I have participated in covert Critical Mass rides of the touring and (long ago) racing variety. My wife and I will ride the biggest Northwestern Critical Mass ride of them all in a couple of months--the Seattle to Portland ride. What I believe is this--all of us except for track racers who never ride the road and mountain bikers who drive to trailheads are ALL Critical Mass riders. I don't think that CM makes cycling any worse for the rest of us. I just wish that they'd quit thinking that any US driver respects the "clean and green" argument, and carry signs that say "Allah blesses your car" and/or "Osama bin Laden loves Chevys and hates Cannondales!" If I ever ride the Portland CM, I'll be the guy on the old green bike with a slogan like that taped across the saddlebag.
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Old 05-29-02, 06:07 AM   #14
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aturley..until you actually participate in a cm.. you should be less critical.. even participating in the area of refreshments afterward would be helpful.
maybe the cm in ca are not so peaceful.. i have heard about big fights in the Bay area during one..
a cyclist(then driver) said she was angry at the bikers and some had hammered the roof of her car as she honked at them to get out of her way and to let her get home..
must have been an off day.. who was wrong.. blocking the traffic or angrily honking and shouting obcenities at the cyclists?
we have many police on bikes here in Toronto.. they ride along and it has always been peaceful.. right smack in the middle of downtown.. we have been lucky i guess.. or maybe the ppl here are more peaceful.. i do not know
like the idea of scooters tho.. but it wouldn't do a heck of a lot for the cycling community..lol
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Old 05-29-02, 06:42 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Feldman
I don't think that CM makes cycling any worse for the rest of us. I just wish that they'd quit thinking that any US driver respects the "clean and green" argument, and carry signs that say "Allah blesses your car"
I suppose carrying signs like that might attract a few small-minded intolerant religious bigots away from cars, but do we really want to encourage them? Personally I'd rather see the enviromental argument.

In my neck of the woods CM doesn't seem to have a prescence (London's the only place I know of CM rides). In a few weeks time there's a mass cycle ride converging on Canterbury from all over Kent that's been organised by a consortium of environmental groups and the local cycling advocacy group - the important thing though, is that it's supported by all the local district/borough/city councils it passes through. I think that's a better way.

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Old 05-29-02, 06:55 AM   #16
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If you lived where I do you'd realize the validity of my sign idea.
Too many giant pickup trucks with US flags on them--the people I live around do NOT give a damn about environmental causes and they would respond to an anti=Islamic argument.
"Adolf Hitler on a bicycle would be a better person than Albert Schweitzer in a car"
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Old 05-29-02, 07:04 AM   #17
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you can't teach a guy in a 2-ton vehicle something that he doesn't want to know.

in order to catch a car driver you have to think like a car driver.
how many converts to you think that critical mass gets by slowing traffic even slower than it already is?

when i am riding in the morning, i get car drivers that rush to get past me (even though traffic is slow to a 4-way stop) only to have me shoot by going 20 mph while they still sit. that tells me that they regard me as just another 'vehicle' in their way as they go to work.

besides, almost all of the bike riders in the US are car drivers. like smokers, i don't want to curb their rights....i just want them to practice their actions with some restraint.
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Old 05-29-02, 07:14 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Feldman
If you lived where I do you'd realize the validity of my sign idea.
Too many giant pickup trucks with US flags on them--the people I live around do NOT give a damn about environmental causes and they would respond to an anti=Islamic argument.
"Adolf Hitler on a bicycle would be a better person than Albert Schweitzer in a car"
I'm not saying they wouldn't respond but it's not a road I think we should be going down, and bringing religious intolerence into something that has nothing to do with religion seems a rather odd idea. Protesting on an environmental ground is at least directly relevant to cycling. I accept not everyone is concerned about the negative effect cars have on the environment, but perhaps drawing attention to the other benefits of cycling, such as health, and pleasure would be better.

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Old 05-29-02, 08:21 AM   #19
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Civil disobedience is not necessary yet. No one is taking our right to ride on the road away yet. At least not in California. Biking interests need be stronger. Example- Oregon has the friendliest biking laws in the U.S... Rules like if roads are built, almost all roads must build parallel bike lanes.... A couple years ago, California's governor vetoed such legislation as too expensive. We had a stronger bike lobby maybe he would have not done that. Says to me, cares not much about cyclists lives. Built in bike lanes would be the best means to smooth over bike- driver irritations.
What I do think- positive elements of CM- letting drivers know, we are determined to be there and we will not go away. I get sick of their hassling us.. Happens almost daily...They take us for granted as a pest. We should not allow that. We need show our determination to ride....Just actions that irritate drivers should be the last resort.
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Old 05-29-02, 10:39 AM   #20
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Originally posted by Richard D

In my neck of the woods CM doesn't seem to have a prescence (London's the only place I know of CM rides).
I have seen one in Cambridge. Even as a cyclist I just thought bad things about the road being blocked. I think the car drivers won't be persuaded that easily, and it may very well alienate sympathetic drivers too.

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Old 05-29-02, 01:06 PM   #21
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Originally posted by windchaser
aturley..until you actually participate in a cm.. you should be less critical.. even participating in the area of refreshments afterward would be helpful.
maybe the cm in ca are not so peaceful.. i have heard about big fights in the Bay area during one..
a cyclist(then driver) said she was angry at the bikers and some had hammered the roof of her car as she honked at them to get out of her way and to let her get home..
must have been an off day.. who was wrong.. blocking the traffic or angrily honking and shouting obcenities at the cyclists?
we have many police on bikes here in Toronto.. they ride along and it has always been peaceful.. right smack in the middle of downtown.. we have been lucky i guess.. or maybe the ppl here are more peaceful.. i do not know
like the idea of scooters tho.. but it wouldn't do a heck of a lot for the cycling community..lol
I don't think I'm being overly critical. I have read write-ups by CM participants themselves where they condone behavior that I think is inappropriate for any user of public streets. I'm not saying that they are bad people, just that I don't agree with their methods.

Now one thing I do find interesting about CM is that it is not really an organized event. No real path or rules. People can try to distribute maps, but you can decide if you want to follow it or not. So I supposed if I really wanted to, I could show up to a CM ride and try to encourage everyone there to follow all the traffic rules. They don't have to listen to me, of course, but they choose to do so. And I think that if they did, the rides would be much more effective.

Most of the reports of violence that I see from CM write-ups start with a cyclist breaking a law. A police officer then reacts inappropriately by grabbing someone or pushing someone. Then all hell breaks loose. It would be much better if cyclists didn't give the police an excuse.

I'll admit that most of my CM knowledge comes from California sources. Maybe it is different in other places. But around here, CM doesn't seem to do much good.

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Old 05-29-02, 01:38 PM   #22
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I've never seen a Critical Mass activity, so I can't speak from my own experience. I have the impression that they did a lot of good in San Francisco in years past, but I am not convinced that these rides are productive there today, let alone elsewhere. They do sound like fun, however.

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Old 05-29-02, 08:02 PM   #23
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the ones(2) i attended were fun, lots of laughter and no..i repeat..no aggressive behavious towards motorists. perhaps its the location, perhaps its the cyclists. to date there have been no trouble in the Toronto cm rides.
they are advertised and promoted through the toronto bicycling network
www.tbn.ca
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