Critical Mass ride, May 31, 2013, 6pm
Gather at Dippy at 5:30. Final preparations at 5:45. There might be a brief speech. Tires on pavement at 6:00. No specific route or destination planned. No big hills, but we may ride on a street not known for its bike-friendliness.
Rain or shine. Serious downpours may shorten the ride, but we will still ride.
Not fast, but if you break down, you’re on your own. Wear bright clothing so you and the group can be seen. Blinkies, especially rear blinkies, would be a really good idea. As would helmets.
Quoting from the Facebook page and event:
This will not be a fast ride, but if you break down, you’re on your own. Ride at your own risk. No serious hills planned, but we may end up on a street not known for its bike-friendliness. Stay together.
Rain or shine. If it is seriously pouring rain, we may not ride as far, but we will ride. We’re here to prove a point, and one of them is that cyclists will be out even if the weather is rotten. So, prepare for whatever.
CM rides have a long tradition of leaning libertarian with a streak of anarchy. While nobody is really in charge, and there really are no strong rules, do what makes sense: Helmets would be a really good idea. Bright clothing, too. Blinkies, especially rear blinkies, should be used, so drivers approaching from the rear can see us.
Do not attend if:
* You are an asshole just here to make trouble.
* You cannot keep up with a no-drop ride. We’re not going to be rolling 20 mph, but neither are we going to stretch out for a quarter mile because people cannot keep up.
In nuclear physics, the concept of a critical mass is that you pack radioactive uranium tightly enough together, and the result is a very large bang, a la Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If the mass is not critical, all you have is a pile of uranium.
The concept in bicycling is that you pack cyclists tightly enough together, and the result is that they take over the street. If the mass is not critical, all you have is a lot of sporadic bicycles in traffic, with a greater chance of someone getting hurt.
This isn’t Flock. It’s CM. No rules, nobody (including me) is in charge. But we are here to prove a point, and that is that cyclists are traffic. What prompted this was a series of encounters with motorists either not paying attention and/or not giving a f*ck about law-abiding cyclists who happened to be present.
I want to keep a critical mass (lower case intentional) of cyclists together, take over the street, especially in places that have not been friendly to riders. We’ve already made our presence known. Now it is time to take that up a notch, to have an edge to our voice. We are not here to piss people off, but we do demand you put down the damn phone and pay attention to your driving so you don’t hurt us.
Flock has its purpose. Good.
Rides of silence have their purpose. Good.
Fun rides (underwear, swimsuit, tweed, bridesmaid dresses) have their purposes. Yes to all.
All the wonderful things Bike-Pgh does must also continue.
But CM needs to be in the mix, too. It hasn’t been in the mix in Pittsburgh since late 2009. It’s time it returned.
StuInMcCandless wrote:CM needs to be in the mix, too. It hasn’t been in the mix in Pittsburgh since late 2009. It’s time it returned.
If you can bring rational, level-headed minds to this ride, and keep them returning to the group, then Lob bless you. My last (and only) encounter with Critical Mass in Pittsbrugh was in 2009. Back then, they were a bunch of antagonistic, petty, immature brats that were harassing anyone not on a bike, including me as I waited for a bus. I’m pretty sure that’s why the group disappeared from Pittsburgh: no one wanted to associate with a bunch of assholes.
That said, I hope you can get people with the right mindset involved with this iteration and keep the d-bags away. For now, I’ll sit back and watch.
I think it disappeared when Nick co-opted the decent riders because he was tired of the same crap you mentioned, as a car affectionado himself :P
My first CM ride in Pittsburgh was the first time I’d ever ridden in a group as an adult and there was a smile across my face the entire time. It was a nice change from the usually solitary bicycle riding I’d been doing all over the county for the previous two years
The only reason I’m even remotely considering this is because it’s Stu.
My Fridays are usually unmitigated disasters, long weekends disasters with a side of chaos. But I’ll see what I have going on.
JaySherman5000 wrote:Back then, they were a bunch of antagonistic, petty, immature brats that were harassing anyone not on a bike
This was my experience too. Except I had it not only in PGH but in other cities also. I don’t want to be associated with those people.
Do not attend if:
* You are an asshole just here to make trouble.
^As with many situations, the people who most need to hear that message, won’t.
Good luck! I think it’s awesome if it works. CM was fine in Pittsburgh for years. The issue with the format is it only take one or two jerks to turn the attitude of the whole group.
I like Stu and I appreciate his many contributions to our community.
But, frankly, I believe that Critical Mass is (way) past its usefulness.
Today there are way more cyclists on the the street that there were in 2009. There’s even way more than last year. I think that the city and drivers have become quite aware of bicycles. A critical mass, in the evening, will not make much impact on awareness.
What will make a difference is an increase in cyclists’ everyday assertiveness. Take the lane. Do left turns. (But obey the traffic rules.) Drivers need to get comfortable with the idea that bikes are there, all the time, and that they need to just get used to it. So just get out there (on your own) and behave as if you have complete right the street (which you do) and that it’s not a big deal. Just another part of city life.
If you are into the propaganda-by-the-deed thing then maybe you could plan to ride (with a couple of others preferably) on a driver’s street, taking the lane. And arrange for someone to do this on a daily basis. During rush hour if you can bear it. Think of the goal as making it less desirable to get around by car and making drivers conscious of the fact that they need to pay attention to what’s happening on the street.
Repetition is what matters.
This is really a continuation of the conversation that led directly to the formation of Flock of Cycles, on this page of this thread. (The actual name suggestion occurs on page 3.)
What form should a CM ride take? I’ll tell you what I don’t want to happen: I don’t want to get a horde of lunatics taking both lanes and fucking up traffic. I’d rather we do nothing than do that.
I would much rather just aim for a nasty piece of road, say outbound East Carson past Hot Metal, own a lane of that out to Becks Run, call it a day when we’ve gotten to that, then chill at the ice cream shop, jump the tracks and get back on the trail for the trip back. In other words, do one thing well rather than a lot of things poorly.
Hence, why I’m not talking this up all that much. I would rather we had a dozen or two with a focus, instead of a mob that just wants to make a scene.
I really really like this:
“I’ll tell you what I don’t want to happen: I don’t want to get a horde of lunatics taking both lanes and fucking up traffic. I’d rather we do nothing than do that. ”
I don’t want to take both lanes. I want us to take our one lane. I don’t want to snarl traffic. I just want to be traffic and take my place.
Stu, I really like the concept. The theme of non-conflict coexistence. I like the suggested ride – the road, the segment, the one-lane, the ice cream, the trail on the way back. +1. V.
@stu. While I applaud your motives, I just don’t see CM turning out any differently than what it was a few years ago. It only takes a few cyclists to say “don’t stop” or “keep going” to get the riders around them to behave in a way that is counter to the bikes-belong message. I have seen this happen even within Flock of Cycles rides & am guilty of doing it myself sometimes (alleycat anyone?).
If you want to project a positive bikes-belong message, I think a small group behaving lawfully yet assertively works better. A small group of less than a dozen cyclists traveling on a road not normally traveled by cyclists would make a better political statement than a hundred cyclists meandering around the streets of Oakland. A dozen is enough of a group to get noticed, yet small enough to keep everything together and tidy.
I don’t know how this fits into this conversation, but look at what happens to funeral processions. The tradition (law?) is to allow funerals to stay together and run red lights if necessary to in order to keep the group together. This usually isn’t an issue when the procession is small, so other drivers tend to allow the procession to proceed. But when the funeral gets above ten or so cars it becomes very hard to keep the group together. Cars start hesitating at intersections, and non-procession drivers become inpatient. At least that’s my experience with such groups, even when driving out on the interstate.
I’ve comment a few times in the past that we ought to have a monthly ride where the group would ride someone else’s commute home – yours for instance. Not only does this make a statement, but it puts us on the roads we actually need to bring attention to. We could end at a local watering hole or ice cream parlor and discuss and dissect the trip.
I think we should consider slowing up West Carson until they make bike lanes on it.
I used to be one of the 30 people who lived off of West Carson Street in Esplen. I rode that stretch every day for years. There are not enough witnesses out there to make me feel comfortable about taking the lane en masse. Someone would drive over us, I know it.
Yes, it’s still on. Gather 5:30, tires on pavement 6:00 sharp.
A tiny group (eight?) and a tiny ride. Since we had such a small crowd, not enough to call anything critical, plus a couple of sore ankles even before we left Dippy, we opted to forego trying to make any serious statements about the nature of the universe, and rode over to Mad Mex on Bates Street and chilled for a while.
Thanks, George, for the margarita!
I don’t know why such a small turnout. Perhaps the heat?
We’ll do this again next month, hopefully with a bigger group!
maybee have a ride on baum or center in shadyside id love to follow you guys with my bus should help keep everyone safe but i guess someone could always pull out from a side street
Fridays are just bad for me since I need to be in frick by 6:30-6:45.
I’ve been in wait-and-see mode with this…I feel a bit wary after hearing about how things have played out in the past. I will give it a shot next time and see how it goes.
I went over 200 miles by Thursday this week and was burned out. Wasn’t going to ride up to oakland in the heat. Have another 65 tomorrow and will be in shape soon enough for the next one. Perhaps the flock rides are just better anyway? Pgh most often does its own thing. That is one reason I love it here.
I would have come, but I got kind of roped into helping somebody carry a futon up a flight of stairs, and by the time I finished I wouldn’t have made it to dippy in time
I’d say make it a monthly thing and we’ll probably get the smaller turnouts we used to get for the interim post-CM-pre-FOC days
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