Critical Mass I: Kindly Informing a Slight, Forgivable Misunderstanding

This was originally going to be used as a comment for a Critical Mass ride video on youtube.com which claimed that Critical Mass was a protest by crazy left wing bicyclists who sought to “take over the city” and “shut down the streets”. There was a seething hatred toward the ride.

Just as I have purchased, insured, and drove an automobile for many years, I challenge anyone who has problems with Critical Mass to ride a bicycle to work, to school, to pick up their children, to purchase groceries, and to visit people for a single day. You are also welcome to come any of the lovely bicycle rides in San Diego. I feel that only when we have sat on one another’s Brooks saddles can we truly speak from a point of reason and experience rather than from that of ignorance and hatred.

Also, I’d like to clear up some misunderstandings regarding Critical Mass. For me, the ride is not a protest ride. In Critical Mass riders, there are as many political views as bicyclists. Just as you can’t dismiss a driver as a right wing homicidal maniac, don’t judge a cyclist until you meet and speak with them. This requires getting out of your car.

When I traveled across the US, many automobile drivers took us into our house, fed us, and treated us like royalty. When I see an automobile driver, these are the people I see. When you see a bicyclists, I want you to see a smiling face of someone who is enjoying every second of their life: the fresh air, the sunshine on their face, the exhilaration of freedom, and the good night’s rest that a day’s cycling leads to.

The reason I ride is because it’s a lot of fun. I hope all the driver’s out there forget their tempers and come and enjoy their night with us. You are all welcome to come.

In San Diego, the police escort us, so the ride is actually sanctioned by the city just as other events that have police protection.

Also, if you study the CA state driver’s exam book, bicycles are allowed on the city streets by law. There is nothing in the book saying how far bicyclists have to ride from one another just as there is no law against many cars clogging up the streets on a daily basis in what people describe as a “traffic jam”.

No need to tell people to stay home. It’s a free country. The more cars on the road, the more the streets get clogged, and the safer cycling is. Yet we can ride just as fast traffic or no. Jealous? Don’t be. There’s plenty of room out here for another cyclist. Join us.

As for protests, what is there to protest? All the drivers are nice people here. The streets are large enough for automobiles, bicycles, skateboarders carrying surfboards, and pedestrians to ride side by side as long as we are all willing to respect one another. I often yield for automobiles even when the law does not permit it for my own safety as well as my own peace of mind. Sometimes drivers don’t see me. I understand. Often drivers will yield to me many times when it is not required by law. In the vast majority of cases, both cyclists and drivers are kind and patient. We remember things in a way that reflects our world view.

Again, come to ride, watch from the sidelines, or sit in traffic. Whatever the case may be, I hope you enjoy every night. Life’s too short for anger.

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3 Responses to “Critical Mass I: Kindly Informing a Slight, Forgivable Misunderstanding”

  1. mike Says:

    So I assume none of you idiots have a car? And oh yes go and try picking up your children at day care and kindergarten on a bicycle. You are all fortunate that some stressed out person in need of some urgent care doesn’t run through the midst of you!

  2. Leroy Glinchy Says:

    Thank-you for your comment. It has opened up so many thoughts in my mind, and it has made my day that you cared to stop by.

    “So I assume none of you idiots have a car?”

    In fact, most people in CM, in San Diego, drive cars to the event. I don’t like to generalize, but the people who are most careful to treat motorists with respect are actually do NOT own cars. Why is this so? Because we need to get around, in peace, the other 29 days out of the month. Many motorists cycle in CM only. They can get drivers angry then climb into their automobile where they don’t have to deal with the consequences. Because of this, we are starting an organization which will regulate the CM riders.

    Whether or not one has a car is irrelevant. I think that the issue at hand is that it is not only OK, but it is legally required that bicycles ride on the street. I have been riding on the street for over a decade without incident. This has been true for many other cyclists. Try cycling, you may be happier for it!

    “People do pick up their children from daycare on their bicycles.”

    In fact, the vast majority of excuses to not bicycle commute have been found to be untrue. There are many online groups that will help you with your transition. People have evolved for thousands of years without cars. When the oil runs out we’ll live that way again. Most people in the world are car free now. So the car owner, on this planet is a small minority.

    Automobiles have initially been very liberating for people. But now that they believe it is a necessity, it is an economic burden for many of us. For many years, I could not afford a car. I have been happier for it. Whenever I drive, it find it stressful and frustrating. By your comment, I can see that you are expressing frustration and even border-line threats: “You are all fortunate that some stressed out person in need of some urgent care doesn’t run through the midst of you!”

    I know you are a good person, but think about how it sounds to hear an adult say, “You know, I can kill you at any time.” Disturbing, and I believe it is caused by a culture that promotes the car as being paramount in our society. This is backed up by billions of dollars of advertising. I’ve seen auto commercials. They promise that if you just purchase an automobile, you will own the road. Sadly, this is not true. No one vehicle “owns the road.” We all have to share.

    I would never wish to delay a person for any reason in any vehicle. However, I wonder who is going to pick up their children from kindergarten on a Friday night? CM is at a time when there is little need to rush anywhere in a motor vehicle.

    In cases where emergency vehicles need to get through, CM has moved out of the way very quickly. Based on this standard of getting emergency vehicles through, it seems that a bicycle is safer for those who are waiting for the urgent help you spoke of because they can get out of the way easier.

    Finally, to address the issue of traffic jams. There are traffic jams in the United States daily. This is a double standard regarding CM and motorists.

    Traffic jams are composed of humans making decisions just like CM. I have yet to hear a motorist express the feeling that one should run over or arrest the drivers that created a traffic jams.

    This exposes the unquestioned assumption that automobile traffic is somehow more legitimate on the road than bicycles. Legally, this is not true. It seems that CM has brought this assumption to your attention for the first time. This is good. In fact, if a few more people commuted, daily, by bicycle, traffic jams would vanish. So if you wish for roads that move faster, you will find great benefit in promoting cycling, and I welcome you to the cause.

    Also, in San Diego, CM has police escort. This is similar to an escort found in parades and motorcades. The police help to regulate traffic to make the ride safe. They also provide the knowledge to drivers that not only does the city know about CM, but it actually supports it.

    I rarely hear motorists complain that motorists break too many traffic laws need to get “off the road.” In fact, in general, I have many motorists tell stories of how they get away with criminal behavior on the road daily. They are proud of it. The last time I drove, everyone on the highway was going above the speed limit. Again, the double standard, nobody said that this group of law breakers should go to jail. Fortunately, when a bicyclist breaks the law, only he is at risk to dying. When a driver is acting illegally, we are all at risk.

    I have never heard a motorist, not named Oswald, express the desire to hurt a motorist under police escort. Get on a bicycle, and that equation changes. Why is this so? I believe it is because people have a lack of respect for those of us who ride bicycles. This leads to anger that is not helpful to the motorists.

    Last of all, I wish you best. Thank-you for expressing very common, and wrong assumptions regarding bicycling. I hope to see you on a bicycle soon. You will benefit in so many ways.

    Regardless of your transportation choices, I wish you well.

    Sincerely,

    Leeroy Glinchy

  3. rider44 Says:

    Some of my most favorite rides have been taking my children to/from preschool, kindergarten, grade school. First on a trail-a-bike, then on a tandem bike. A very special time together that we have.

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