Friday, November 06, 2009

"Critical Mass lost a supporter today"

The comments below are from a new Critical Mass blog by one of the founders of the disruptive, juvenile demo, Chris Carlsson. Apparently even Carlsson is beginning to realize that Critical Mass is counterproductive for the great, planet-saving bike movement: "Are there really still bicyclists showing up who think it’s cool, or radical, or important to block oncoming traffic on the opposite side of two way streets? And how boring is it to 'circle up' in intersections, pointlessly blocking traffic in every direction?"

John wrote:
I would just like to let you know that Critical Mass lost a supporter today. As someone who regularly bikes to work, I totally agree with the need to preserve bicyclists’ safety, and make the city more bike-friendly. However, Critical Mass is completely counterproductive, and only serves to alienate the biking community from the rest of the city by making us seem like a fringe group bent on disrupting motorists’ commutes. After what I witnessed tonight, I would venture to bet that the majority of San Franciscans have a negative opinion of the ride, and possibly of bikers as a whole.

While I prefer biking to work, sometimes I take the bus. Tonight, I was stuck on the 38L with at least 50 disgruntled passengers, as Critical Mass interrupted our route twice (once at Market and Geary, and again at Geary and Van Ness). The bus was filled with people who would probably agree with the goals of easing congestion and having a city less reliant on cars, while providing more space for bikes and public transit. In other words, they were allies. Notice the use of the word *were*. Once we got to Van Ness, and waited for probably 10 traffic light cycles, the general feeling on the bus was one of anger and frustration, and there were quite a few shouts of “I hate bikes”. I guarantee there was not a single person who thought to themselves, “if only there were more bike lanes in the city.”

I would hope that the energy put into Critical Mass could be used for something more productive, like lobbying City Hall for more bike lanes, or at least for something less destructive to the image of bikers. But, alas, I am sure that is a pipe dream, and the ride will continue for the foreseeable future. However, when I get on my bike tomorrow, I know I will feel less safe, as I fear motorists will have no regard for my rights and no respect for my space. Thanks Critical Mass for making the city more dangerous for bikers!

Peter wrote:
Frankly, Critical Mass loses far more supporters than it gains. While waiting through fifteen or so light cycles at Harrison & 3rd on Halloween, I saw Critical Mass riders force a fire truck with its siren on to a complete stop, and terrorize three middle aged women trying to cross 3rd when they had the green light. The only thing CM proves to me is that the drivers in San Francisco have more respect for the bicyclists than the bicyclists do for anyone else.

One of the leading causes of bicycle accidents is the pervasive and totally incorrect belief among bicyclists that the traffic laws don’t apply to them. CM just reinforces that belief when it makes a practice of running red lights, failing to yield to pedestrians, and illegally obstructing traffic. It obscures the fact that most cyclists are not arrogant spoiled brats who feel that the roads were paved just for them.

See also today's NY Times: