Archive for the ‘Bicycle’ Category

Critical Mass I: Kindly Informing a Slight, Forgivable Misunderstanding

April 25, 2009

This was originally going to be used as a comment for a Critical Mass ride video on 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.