Critical Mass and public opinion
One of the odd things about the bike people in SF is their apparent conviction that they are cute and beloved by the public in San Francisco. There's evidence to the contrary, including election results showing that city voters, when given the opportunity, often vote against the bike people's issues, as they did in the elections of 1998, 2000, and 2006. Some recent evidence: a couple of quickie online polls in the wake of the violence during last month's Critical Mass, like the one in the SF Business Times, where 73% of those responding thought Critical Mass should be discontinued. Okay, that's not surprising. Who but a bunch of conservatives and business types reads that publication? But there's also the online poll that accompanied an April 5 SF Chronicle story, where 79% of those responding thought that cyclists are to blame for clashes with motorists during Critical Mass. Okay, we really don't know how many of those who responded to that poll live in SF, so that doesn't tell us anything reliable about what SF voters think about the bike people. And the question was about Critical Mass, not the standing of the bike people in the hearts and minds of city voters.
My admittedly biased perception---a bias informed by years of observation of the cycling community as individuals and their political behavior as a group---is that not only would Critical Mass be overwhelmingly rejected if city voters ever got a chance to do so, but so would the recent so-called compromise to close part of Golden Gate Park to autos on Saturdays. And city voters would even reject the Bicycle Plan itself in the unlikely event that ambitious plan to remake city streets for cyclists ever found its way onto the ballot in San Francisco. I suspect that most people in SF correctly perceive the bike people as arrogant elitists. That perception will only grow, as Critical Mass continues to happen every month in defiance of public opinion and the public good.