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#1 2008-06-04 15:26:09

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 290

Critical Mass ride on freeway

Topic moved from off-topic location:  http://bicycleaustin.info/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=98

RonB wrote:

I have to ask - How exactly do actions like CM Toronto's promote / advance the bicycling cause?

I'm going to respond to this, but I'm not here giving an endorsement to these particular actions.

I don't think the bicyclists in this Toronto CM ride were necessarily saying that their actions denote *regular* behavior.  It is indeed a protest and protests are always intended to get attention and often intended to disrupt the normal way of business.  For years, decades, and centuries, people have protested via sit-ins, marches, and other obtrusive behavior, and such protesters due not always acquire official permits for their actions.

The idea that some 'mis-behaving' bicyclists ruin it for the rest of the bicyclists should really be considering a dwindling argument.  There are plenty of other groups that don't need to have good behavior among 100% of its members.  The argument really doesn't hold any weight (except as a _bigoted_, albeit supposed mainstream idea) *unless* one can argue that the fact of being a bicyclist is inseparable from the 'bad behavior'.

The idea that bicyclists had it good and then one day just started being rude to motorists is an oft implied but false assumption.  Bicyclists' concerns about safety were ignored and marginalized for a long time, certainly in Minneapolis where I am from originally.  While intrusive protest bicycle rides may seem uncalled for to many, such rides are (nearly?) always a wake-up call to people who choose to ignore the concerns of bicyclists.  Indeed, there are many different ways to get a point made and some holy-folks would argue that direct-action protesters should act in a more 'mature way' to achieve their goals, but as with just about any movement, there's little sense in bemoaning that we each have different skills and sensibilities to take action.  Feel free to discuss and try to get through to someone whose methods you don't agree with, but I'd recommend (to them as well) that insults aren't usually effective.
To me, the key method to avoid is active violence.  There is no indication that these Toronto CM riders used any active violence.

As as far what particular message this particular group of Toronto CM riders were hoping to express, I suggest contacting the riders themselves.  Be creative, via the internet, in trying to get in touch with them.

One thing such a ride suggests though is that bicyclists could use a dedicated network of non-stop, controlled-access roads.  I really doubt that the freeways would be fodder for CM rides if there were a *similar* system for bicyclists.

And the emphasis from the Toronto police officers that there was some particularly heightened danger to people because of the Toronto CM riders' actions, my guess is that those police officers really don't understand the danger created everyday by motor vehicles to motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  It's really hard to take such warnings from police officers seriously when police officers in car-oriented cities ignore the risks from motor vehicles in front of their eyes every day.

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#2 2008-06-05 17:44:39

Chuck_McNeil
Member
Registered: 2008-06-05
Posts: 33

Re: Critical Mass ride on freeway

is CM anti-car or pro-bike?
i've always imagined it as pro-bike, but i don't think that is necessarily the case.
i'm sure there are many riders there for the anti-car cause.
oh well.  it's too hot to ride at that time of day.  :p

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#3 2008-06-05 18:18:36

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 290

Re: Critical Mass ride on freeway

Chuck_McNeil wrote:

is CM anti-car or pro-bike?

That's a very good question.  I'd add to those possibilities that it could also be neither or both.

Here is my thought:
I think the answer depends on the individual and what they bring to it.  I'd say the roots (and the heart) of Critical Mass suggest that it's either a) neither anti-car nor pro-bike, it was just a practical method of staying safe commuting from work -or- b) pro-bike, especially just by its nature of being a bicycling activity.  The anti-car stuff, if it's present at all, is secondary to Critical Mass.

Last edited by tomwald (2008-06-05 18:24:32)

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#4 2008-06-05 18:30:09

Jason
Member
From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-31
Posts: 48
Website

Re: Critical Mass ride on freeway

"CM" as a whole isn't anything. Since it's not an organization with leaders or a membership roster it's very difficult for it to stand for anything. It's just a body of individuals, each of whom ride for their own reason. I've always been of the opinion that at its' core it's a pro-bike celebration, hence why everyone brings a bike to it. ;) Being anti-car gets us nothing but animosity (as is usual when you're protesting against something another person believes in), but being pro-bike tends to garner a much kinder and happier response. In the end, every person who hops on a bike to get to around is probably (though not necessarily) leaving a car behind, and isn't that the point of all this? More bikes, less cars? You catch more flies with honey, goes the old saying.

Are you sure there are many? The last dozen or so times I've gone I haven't seen too many of them. Many of the riders I know are also automobile owners (myself included), so that'd be a rather hypocritical attitude to have if it were the case. Judging from my experience with the rides, the anti-car faction of critical mass is in the severe minority.

Heh, I'm riding at that time of day anyways since I commute during rush hour via bicycle. I might as well be riding with the crowd. You're going to let a little heat hold you back? You do know you're in Texas, right? Just bring an extra bottle of water and come sweat with the rest of us!

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#5 2008-06-05 21:00:46

Chuck_McNeil
Member
Registered: 2008-06-05
Posts: 33

Re: Critical Mass ride on freeway

You're right.  It's probably not many, but the one's that are there to vent there frustration with cars sure stick out.

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