Wait… When are the flocks?

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ejwme
Participant
#

someone listed a resolution for 2012 to attend all Flocks, and I happen to be spending the afternoon “Getting Better Organized” (it was a 2011 resolution, better late than never) and creating a calendar for the year. So I figured rather than consistently and accidentally planning other things for those dates just before the reminders are posted on here, I’d “get better organized.”

But I find myself unable to navigate the interwebs and find the Flock Formula. I know it’s something about last fridays and second fridays and whatnot. I’m assuming the trend I can’t remember will continue in 2012.

Any help?


robjdlc
Participant
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The trend will change a bit in the coming year – we haven’t laid out our official plan for the spring yet.

We will probably have fewer rides per month, and will more than likely stick to the original flock of second to last friday in some way, but more than that, I’d say just keep your ear to the ground, and once we get it figured out we’ll post up the details :)


ejwme
Participant
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Thank you!!!

hmm… I’ll put in placeholders April-Oct for second to last Fridays if I can figure it out.

The best things are always worth waiting for. I’ll have to patiently coast on my pedals until they’re posted :D

Thanks!!


stefb
Participant
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There haven’t been flock rides since sept, right?


robjdlc
Participant
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Aside from the specialty rides, nope.


ejwme
Participant
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The last one I attended was in September… I don’t remember after that. Perhaps it’s my wishful thinking that we can flock all year.


mr marvelous
Participant
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The earlier rides are announced the easier it is for me to attend, I have to turn in the schedule I can work into my boss 2 months in advance and it seems I always end up working during special event rides. Then in September I was able to get most Fridays off during the winter and the rides stopped. I am sooooo looking forward to the re-start of Flock and other group rides.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I think it would be helpful if someone, anyone, would roll by Dippy on the last Friday, just in case folks new to the area show up, expecting a Critical Mass ride. CM has all but disappeared in Pgh, thanks to Flock.


Nick D
Participant
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Like Rob said, we are working to re-launch this year with some changes that we think will help make us a better asset to the community as well as a more sustainable organization from a management perspective.

We are hoping to make the announcement before the end of the month, so it should give everyone plenty of time to arrange their schedules if they would like to attend events.


ejwme
Participant
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Woot!

And for the record, you guys rocked the flock outta the first night parade :D


Pierce
Participant
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@stu

Even before Flock, when it got cold nobody showed up to CM. I was occasionally one of maybe two or three that did


Nick D
Participant
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Pierce is definitely right. Even years ago, when CM was huge, less than a handful of people came when it got cold.


ejwme
Participant
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CM was huge in Pgh?


Nick D
Participant
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Well, maybe not huge, but it was pretty big at one point. I remember quite at least a few rides that had to be 100-200, maybe more. Keep in mind CM goes back quite a bit.


BradQ
Participant
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Yeah, I wouldn’t be so quick to say that the Flock killed CM locally, or that it is necessarily dead long-term. People have declared CM dead and useless many times before. While there is some overlap in the participants between the two rides, I’ll bet there are more than a handful of CM supporters that would never go on a Flock ride and vice versa.

I don’t think the Flock here has much if anything to do with CM participation waning. More coincidental and a reaction of why some people moved away from CM, not the reason they left in the first place.


erok
Keymaster
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yeah, i think that’s a bit insincere to say that as well. there’s no reason to create divisiveness by pitting the two rides against each other. Whether you agree with the tactics of either, they both can be important in their own way and there’s room for both. The more things for people to do to get on bikes the better. I have no doubt that if a bunch of people got into promoting CM locally that it would start again.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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My point in mentioning it was to get to know people who look for CM, as they might be interested in bike advocacy but not know some of us. Like if they just moved here.

There was a guy who rode in the very first Flock ride who had only moved here the previous week.


Nick D
Participant
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I agree with both, Erok and Brad. I actually loved CM for all the years I went. I never really had a negative experience until April 2010, which was a absolute mess. If anything, I think CM killed itself.


edmonds59
Participant
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At the last August flock, I think it was, when the big thunderstorm was, at the same time there was a very large group of riders gathered at the Frick fountain for an alley cat, larger than the Flock ride. Mostly unhelmeted and unlighted. Just an observation, not sure what that means.


BradQ
Participant
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“Mostly” means more the 50% had no lights or helmet. Not like that really matters in the middle of the afternoon standing around a fountain. When the actual riding was happening I guarantee that most people had helmets and blinkies of some sort.

Being that adults in this country are not compelled by law to wear a helmet and that informal alleycat gatherings don’t enforce a list of rules upon the participants I don’t find it surprising that some people that show up to an alleycat do not have a helmet on.


edmonds59
Participant
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It was not intended as a criticism of the alley cat folks. I have quite a different train of thought in my head, perhaps the opposite of what you may have assumed, but I sure don’t want to light off a helmet “debate” thread right now. Maybe ever.


nick
Participant
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that was a really fun alleycat. one of the highlights of 2011.


joeframbach
Participant
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I was talking with my roommate about CM rides the other day. I missed the last few Flock rides of the Fall but he went to a few. He said he went to one and there were waivers. So he left and says he won’t ride again. I wonder how many people the waivers turned away.


ejwme
Participant
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why would a waiver turn someone away?


salty
Participant
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if you have to ask…

i can certainly understand that – you show up for a “casual” ride and then suddenly you’re supposed to give some strangers your name and address. if i didn’t know Nick, Jane, Rob, etc. beforehand i would have thought twice… especially back in my younger days.

i understand why they feel the need to have the waivers (or technically “membership applications”) and insurance but i wish there was an easier way without all the overhead and financial drain.


Ahlir
Participant
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Well, there are always aspirational signatures. Who do you feel best captures you style? Contador, Cadel Evans, the Schlecks? Who knows, maybe even Lance. (Actually, skip Lance; you could end up having to pee in a cup.)


mr marvelous
Participant
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I was on a Tuesday group ride and talk with someone who doesn’t like any of the rides in Pittsburgh because of all the rules. He said what he liked about CM in the city he was from he could ride any way he wanted and had a group to back him up. He told me how cyclist would block intersections so whole group could pass thru without stopping at lights or stop signs. He said he was on a Flock and dropped out for being told not to cross the yellow line.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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The yellow line is there to avoid getting creamed by a car in the other direction, the last I knew, and generally this rule is followed, except by certain people on two wheels who feel above the law.

Yeah, there are a few outliers like that. We can’t worry over the outliers. We’re after the much greater population of swayables who would gladly play by the rules if they knew what the rules were.

Maybe better stated by “best practices” rather than rules.


BradQ
Participant
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I’m not into signing waivers and I tend to ride on my side of the street.


reddan
Keymaster
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I don’t mind signing waivers, but mildly dislike asking others to do so. (This is why I rarely run official WPW rides, as sign-in sheets/waivers are required by club rules.)

Brevets are a different story, to me, as the primary purpose of the brevet waivers is to ensure that we have emergency contact information for when a rider vanishes somewhere betwixt Deliverance and West Bumfork. We’ve found that the prospect of getting calls from panic-stricken loved ones really encourages riders who choose to abandon the ride to let us know…

As far as the question of best practices goes, well, hard-and-fast rules are kinda tough. I feel that a good first approximation is “would it make the world a better place if all the other road users did the same thing?”


brian j
Participant
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As someone who has organized rides and worked in another high liability industry (rock climbing), I can say that liability issues used to keep me up at night. About eight years ago, I started a bouldering wall co-op in East Liberty–all friends, all pitched in to cover costs, rent, etc. While it was great while it lasted, I was secretly relieved when the landlord asked us to vacate (he had a tenant lined up to use all of the available space, rather than just the bit we had)–as the guy who held the cash and paid the bills, I was also mildly worried that someone would get hurt, and their parents, or sister, or brother–who really didn’t understand the sport–would come after the rest of us. I wasn’t necessarily worried that a judge would take every last penny I had, but I was worried I would spend lots of money fighting such a thing.

That said, waivers are generally regarded as smoke and mirrors–required by your insurers (or lawyers), but they often don’t provide much protection if someone really wants to hold you liable.

Also, IANAL.


BradQ
Participant
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The last alleycat waiver I signed was for Edward Mercks. No one batted an eye, or asked for ID.

Like Brian said, smoke and mirrors anyway. Liability and negligence can’t really be signed away anyway.

Also like Brian said liability issues make me pretty nervous at points as well.


edmonds59
Participant
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Flocks are organized rides, and the organizers immediately expose themselves to liability in the act of organizing, and they deserve some minimum level of protection that the waivers provide. You have to sign a “terms of agreement” to use itunes or facebook, ferchrissakes. As whacked as I think our society presently is, welcome to life in the 21st century.

As far as the above anecdote, CM guy, “He said what he liked about (replace CM with “driving a car” and re-think it) in the city he was from he could ride any way he wanted and had a group to back him up.” Really. A little divorced from reality.

Having said all that, I don’t think people who don’t want to sign waivers, or wear helmets, or adhere to the letter of the law, can be dismissed as outliers, I think there are a large number of people who will ride if they can casually hop a bike and ride, without this “baggage”. To open the can of worms that I referred to earlier, I think the ultimate scale of Flocks will be limited by it’s appeal to people who don’t want to wear helmets, sign waivers, etc. This is why I referred to the side-by-side case of the simultaneous Flock and alleycat. If it ceases to be simply fun or easy, many of the “sway-ables” will simply not participate. IMO.


ejwme
Participant
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I like the flocks. I like the ideals. I like the people (both organizing and participating). I like that everybody else there also likes the ideals. I think Flocking is the best idea I’ve ever seen/heard about to get people new to biking to see it as a useful tool and to feel safer about riding in the streets. And if more people ride in the streets and use bikes as transportation tools, that means more people will be open to spending money on useful cycling infrastructure (like awesome trails along the rivers and street diets) and sharing the road (as motorists) politely and safely with cyclists.

I’m ok with some people being turned off by the requirement that they ride by following the rules of the road. Because I don’t think they’re going to help the cause.

The waiver… That’s a whole other can of worms. I think it’s a messy piece of business to start a ride with, but I do think that is more of an outlier thing than a standard reaction.

I think the alleycat got huge numbers because box wine was involved. Booze sells.


mr marvelous
Participant
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Even with the waivers, rules, and helmets I personally love Flock and believe it is important. It my not be for everyone but I enjoy it and will make a greater effort to make it to more if not all the Flocks this year.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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I think it says a lot about the depth and breadth of the cycling community here that we can support so many and varied group rides, Flock-type rides, Alley Cats and ad-hoc groups.

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Two additional data points.

1) When I rode PNBR, there was no paperwork. Just two thousand people on bikes. Police escort, even. Ride marshals kept people in lanes, since the streets were not closed (at least in the opposite direction), and there were far more bikes and riders than lane width. Not to mention 25,000 people watching. I am not aware of a single serious incident before, during or after the ride.

2) Icycle Bicycle just a couple of weeks ago. I joined the ride late and missed the paperwork. I signed the waiver when we got back to REI. The reasoning was that while I might not sue anyone, if I’d gotten killed, my estate/survivors might want to press for some sort of redress even if I had been OK with someone running me over.

So I think the takeaway is, it’s better to have the ppwk than not, but chances of anything serious happening are pretty darned slim.


Mick
Participant
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@ Mr Mrvelous I was on a Tuesday group ride and talk with someone who doesn’t like any of the rides in Pittsburgh …

Maybe he should try bowling.


mr marvelous
Participant
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@ Mick I only posted about him just as an idea of maybe why some don’t like flock, the way he described CM seemed a bit extreme It can’t really be THAT different from Flock…… can it?


Tabby
Participant
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I hate asking people to sign waivers, but I’ve done it before. It probably makes the most sense for Flock to have them in order to keep organizing rides. If anything, I would just like to see them be the simplest, easiest to fill out form possible that still gets the legal point across. When I was filling it out I know I wasn’t too excited about having to fill in my birth date (which is today by the way :) okay maybe I don’t really care but someone might).

And while I almost always wear a helmet myself there have been a few times when I would have liked to bring someone else to the ride but they didn’t have a helmet so it would be a no go for Flock or pretty much any other organized ride. I understand it, but I also understand that it’s going to be a barrier for some people.

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