Was there critical mass tonight?

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Willie
Participant
#

Ok so the event calender shows critical mass on fri apr 23rd, but the last friday of the month is apr 30th. Is that just a mistake? Or was it tonight and I missed it?


Nick D
Participant
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It is next week. For some reason, a bunch of people (including myself) thought it was yesterday.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Yeah, me too. I even had a couple of tweets about it. Well, good. Maybe I can talk it up a bit more in the coming week. I’d really like to see a 250+ CM in Pgh sometime.


Willie
Participant
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Cool glad I didn’t miss the ride.


mark
Participant
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i bet 250+ will happen this summer sometime, i haven’t been in forever though :(


Nick D
Participant
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I’ve been talking with some people, and we decided this month we are going to push for a law-abiding ride.

If we can get enough people to push for stopping at lights, letting cars pass, etc… it should be a very nice ride capable of pulling big number this year.

If this month’s ride goes like last month’s (despite our current planned efforts), this will be the last Critical Mass for me.


dwillen
Participant
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I’ve never been to a critical mass. I avoided them for the very reason ndromb brings up. I can’t imagine I am the only one. A law-abiding ride would be most welcomed and I would be happy to ride along.

It always struck me as backwards that we were trying to make our legal claim to the roads while complaining that drivers aren’t following the law when they pass too close, or right hook us, etc. Then once a month we ride around like idiots running red lights, taking 4 lanes, rolling through stop signs in a massive group, and blocking traffic for no reason other than to block traffic. That isn’t exactly the message I want to send.


BradQ
Participant
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Oh boy.

Helmets and now Critical Mass, what’s next, fixed gears are bad for you?


mark
Participant
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i think your best bet with this is to start a first friday of the month critical mass, or a monday night ride, or something else that’s law abiding… much better use of your effort… pgh needs more massive group rides anyway…

there are several monday night rides in other cities, first monday of the month, that are really cool, chill, and fun. the concept of holding a law-abiding mass ride on the busiest, most angst ridden commuting time of the week/month is a really flawed one. just something to consider.


Nick D
Participant
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We do a first-Friday-of-the-month midnight mass. It has been going on since last June and has been very successful. Every so often some people show up that want to run lights and block cars, but if enough people keep on the few, they eventually abide.

My theory is, if enough people come to mass and start yelling for people to, “stop at the light,” and “let the cars pass,” we can have a successful ride. The whole thing is, we need a bunch of people to speak up.

Anyone want to join me and test my theory this month?


mark
Participant
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i think if you ride in the front and stop at every light a lot of people will follow suit… managing a group of 100+, all of whom are obeying lights, gets to be really slow though, especially if you’re only taking one lane


Nick D
Participant
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I don’t know the last time we had 100+ people.


Lyle
Participant
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I think it’s a good idea to demonstrate that yes, it’s possible for people to share the road courteously and equitably. Trying to improve Critical Mass is a fine idea. I see no reason that such a demonstration shouldn’t happen during rush hour. But I think that trying to make that happen this week might be premature. I’m afraid you’ll wind up frustrated.

It’s not quite as simple as saying “okay, we’re all going to obey the vehicle code now”. I have led rides like that before, and it’s difficult to do once the group gets bigger than about 6. It was even hard with 20, who were 100% committed to the goal of riding lawfully. The social pressure to “stay with the group” after it gets split by a light is almost overwhelming. And even if a few riders stop for the light, when somebody behind them whips around and through, then somebody else follows, then the waiters just look foolish, and eventually they give in, and follow along, and then what’s the point? And it’s actually even more chaotic than just giving in to the mob rule. Chaos and confusion leads to accidents.

Critical Mass corks intersections because it’s the lowest-skill way to keep a big group of riders safe, with nobody taking responsibility for leading. Starting and stopping groups of riders together takes skill and practice.

I suggest finding a group of about 10 like-minded riders, who are 100% in unison, and scale it up from there. How many people are you getting for your Midnight Masses? I am really busy the next three weeks, but I’m on board for after that. And I’d be happy to talk about tactics over a beer, except that the only evening I have free is this Tuesday.


wojty
Participant
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After the tweed ride and the support that many gave for such a themed ride, we are planning another for July (not tweed, seersucker saunter actually). Details will of course come later, but this seemed a good thread to plant at seed in.

I like the balance of traffic abiding and critical mass both, and think promoting both gives members a choice as to what they want to participate in.


Nick D
Participant
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We usually have between 20-40 people for midnight mass.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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Interesting dynamic playing out here. On the one side seems to be a group of cyclists who are trying to promote cycling as a legitimate means of transportation, as well as recreation. They advocate playing within the rules, presenting a more positive image, and generally seek to welcome novice and weekend riders into the cycling community.

On the other hand are cyclists who want to exercise their right to ride without a helmet – regardless of the safety or image concerns; to ride en-masse in disregard of stop signs and lights and traffic laws; who express at best mild disdain for any rider in gear or on a bike that is too new, too expensive, to trendy – or too old, too cheap or not trendy enough.

As someone who has recently re-discovered cycling, I care what motorists, law enforcement and those kids on the overpass think about all cyclists. In their eyes, we are all the cyclist darting in and out of traffic and blowing off lights, we are all the mob blocking intersections and aggravating motorists.

We are all targeted equally.

So the next time that motorist runs you off the road, the next time someone hollers at you to get off the road, or that kid drops a brick on your head – don’t take it personally. We all look alike.

But maybe we all ought to give some thought to how the choices we make on a bike reflect in the eyes of others. And how are actions affect not only motorists, but our fellow cyclists.


edmonds59
Participant
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Whoa, holy cow, ALMKLM, there’s a whole lot going on there and I’m not even going to start going into all that.

Tweed was awesome, a few lights were run in the interest of keeping the ride together, a lane or two was taken, ok. But I think most motorists even got the joke, that we were out there to have fun, not necesarily to make a political statement or incite conflict, and everybody got slowed down a little; but it was cool.

That’s really what critical mass OUGHT to be, but you get a few, mmm, agitprops out there looking for a tussle, someone needs to have the cojones to call them out and cut them loose, let em go. I don’t care, I’ll fkn’ do it.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
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edmonds59 – please forgive – wasn’t necessarily responding to the mass ride thing, but more to the tone that comes across the various threads, whether bike v. motorist, bike v. car, helmet (or not), brick v. cyclist… and mostly cyclist v. cyclist.

Tweed ride sounds like it was a lot of fun.


dwillen
Participant
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I’m cool with the level of law-breaking on the tweed ride. It was relaxed, a few lights were run (at the end of the mass) out of the interest of keeping everyone together, which was fine. We stopped at a fair number too. Downtown, we got a little broken up, but we made it back together. The people in the front, even if they had a green, could tell if the light was about to change (from the flashing ped signals) and stopped and waited for the next cycle, which seems to be a good way to go about it.

I don’t think we took more than one lane on the tweed ride, when there were two available. Single file for more than about 10-15 riders is a little difficult and I don’t suggest it. On the other hand, the only reason I see for taking up more than one lane rolling down Forbes is to piss off motorists. I guess if thats the goal then have at it, but personally I think we have enough enemies out there already.


edmonds59
Participant
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No, ALMKLM, it’s cool, sometimes I myself like to incite from within to promote spirited discussion.

Dwillen; “On the other hand, the only reason I see for taking up more than one lane rolling down Forbes is to piss off motorists. I guess if thats the goal then have at it, but personally I think we have enough enemies out there already.”

+, +, +, etc.


Nick D
Participant
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No one said anything about single file. You can easily stagger 4 riders in less space then a car. on a road like Forbes or Fifth, I’m not saying we have to stick to a lane, but I’m saying we don’t need to take all of the lanes.

If the situation arises where it would put cars dangerously inside the group, I think it can be appropriate to get the rear of the group though.

However, what I am really pushing for is just courtesy–I’m not saying we need to feed 80 bikes through a stop sign single file one at a time.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

On one CM last summer, the group got split at a light when a cop in a full-regalia cruiser was the lead vehicle on the green side of the light. I opted to stop, and the 35 or so behind me did so. Might’ve been one or two stray cyclists who blew the light in front of the cop, but he opted not to bother them. He got the green and simply drove away. Whether he would’ve been cool with us corking him or not, I cannot say; I only mention this to illustrate that we CAN stop at a light, mid-group, if we really want to.


mustion
Participant
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I want to hear more about this midnight mass, ndromb. Midnight bike rides are my favorite. Peaceful and enjoyable.


Willie
Participant
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Maybe instead of trying to change critical mass why not host your own ride. You could even start it at the same place and at the same time, that way people can choose what ride they would like to go on and then everyone will feel the same about what ride they choose to go on.


saltm513
Participant
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I’ve never participated in CM. Do most people ride at the same speed? My physical and mental/emotional recovery from wrecking still has me cycling pretty slow, but it’d be cool to come to one of these.


Jane
Member
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saltm513:

I guess you can say people ride at the same speed… I sometimes think of Critical Mass as a parade–at least during the first portion of the ride. If you stick around for a while people start to drop out, the group gets smaller, and it gets a bit faster. It looks like the weather is going to be nice this Friday, so I imagine a lot of people will show up. I’m sure it will be a fun ride (especially if we all work to stick together and be courteous riders as ndromb says). Also, when you are surrounded by so many other bikers it makes you feel pretty safe and it’s very encouraging–the motor vehicles can see you a lot better, and there will always be someone there to help you out.

I hope I make it to this ride–I have a final exam around 4 :(


Nick D
Participant
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Mustion, basically, we meet at 11:59pm on the first Friday of the month. We try to leave within a half hour to give stragglers some time. It is a slightly faster paced ride and we usually have some nice climbs. However, I make it a personal mission to make sure no one gets left behind. We usually ride 15-30 miles depending on the night, with the group slowly dropping off around 2-3a. I hope to see you there next week. If you make it, come introduce yourself (I’ll be on a green bike clearly labeled “bike”).

Willie, you have a good point, but I think most of the red-light running, car-blocking, etc is mob mentality. I think there are only a few bad seeds in the group and everyone else follows them. If we seed the group with people that share the same ideas of how mass should go, I think we can have a big impact on the attitude of the ride.

Saltm, I’ll probably be on my tall bike, so I’ll be right with you riding slow.

skipdip, I hope to see you there!


edmonds59
Participant
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Yeah, Willie I’m not going to go on some crusade to try and change Crit Mass into Crit Manners. I really would like to see some huge CM’s this year. I’ve had some super fun experiences on CM, I even brought my 14 year old son a couple of times, he thinks the people are a friggin’ hoot. Especially in the Armstrong tunnel. Try and get that response out of a 14 y.o.

I’ve also had some very souring experiences from the whole thing. It’s really hard to believe in the concept of the thing when some zealot is angrily screaming “bike riding is fun!” with clenched teeth and crazy eyes at a clueless driver.

At this moment I have to say the sour feeling is a tiny bit stronger than the good feelings.


mattre
Participant
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“Anyone want to join me and test my theory this month?”

(someone tell me how to quote on this board to make it stand out. i’m used to [q][/q] and

Quote:

…are there tags or do i have to use html?)

I’m in, but for May (i’m out of town the last friday in april).

I’ve felt the same way as dwillen, I haven’t gone to a CM ride in Pittsburgh for the same reasons. Ndromb’s experiment has me rethinking my attitude towards it, though.

I always aim to ride smart, with one eye on survival, and the other on fun and momentum. I run red lights when it makes sense, but I always slow down and take a look before I do. Stop signs are always yield signs. In my neighborhood (Brighton Heights) I know them all; I blow right through at high speed if I can see that it’s clear and there are no obstacles. I always stop at lights with cars downtown, though I do go through Penn & 12th with a quick stop most mornings. It’s out of synch with 11th and a general pain in my ass (i won’t pass on the right to do it, though).

I like the whole “ride intelligently and predictably, and ride in traffic” philosophy. Pedestrians don’t stop at stop signs or put on turn signals, and they don’t have speed limits. They’re not hazardous enough to need them. We weigh a little more with out bikes and move three times as fast, but we’re sitting up higher and can see a lot further. We’re only margianably more dangerous (the knuckleheads riding on the sidewalks downtown excepted). We’re a lot closer to ‘Pedestrian’ on the Car–Pedestrian Traffic Spectrum.

CM seems like the biggest regular bike ride in Pittsburgh, and it seems to attract people who are passionate about biking it Pittsburgh. It seems like the perfect opportunity.

Ndromb is right, individuals in a group tend to follow the ones at the front (don’t believe me? try it this week: step in the road at a crowded corner downtown against the light but when it’s clear to cross, and then suddenly stop. what does everyone else do?). A few riders riding smartly can set the standard for the whole group. I’m in for the experiment.

I’ll be up front with ndromb on the last Friday in May. Black and silver Specialized, drop bars, and a white helmet (bike pgh stickers on the rear fender and helmet).

Matt


edmonds59
Participant
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I’m a little afraid to try your experiment, Mattre. On a Monday people might just knock you down and walk over you, or just throw you in front of a car.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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(someone tell me how to quote on this board to make it stand out. i’m used to [q][/q] and

Quote:

…are there tags or do i have to use html?)

Quick lesson in formatting: Use angle brackets, i.e., greater-than and less-than signs. Use bracket EM bracket for italics, and bracket STRONG bracket for bold.

Example: italics

Looks like:

less-than

EM

greater-than

the word italics

less-than

slash (regular southwest-to-northeast slash)

EM

greater-than

Same but STRONG instead of EM for bold.

With that said, I just copy/paste what I want to quote, and stick the EM tags on either end.


saltm513
Participant
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Thanks Skipdip and Ndromb– that’s good to know. I think my blue Nishiki and I will probably make it out. Though this is unpredictable Pittsburgh, the weather forecast looks quite perfect. It will be comforting to bike in a group. Looking forward to riding and meeting some folks. -Stef


Steven
Participant
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(someone tell me how to quote on this board to make it stand out. i’m used to [q][/q] and

Quote:

…are there tags or do i have to use html?)

You can also use < blockquote > (without the spaces around it).


Mick
Participant
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I’ll be out there this friday being courteous along with Nick (ndromb).

Kinda of ironic – trying to get a critical mass within the critical mass to inspire courtesy.


Nick D
Participant
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If you aren’t part of the Pittsburgh Critical Mass Group on Facebook, you should join.

Everyone has the ability to send group wide messages. I will be sending out a group wide message later on in the week to re-introduce the idea behind critical mass as a reminder.


reddan
Keymaster
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Midnight Mass sounds like a blast…I’ll try to make it the next time I have a free first Friday. (checks calendar)That would be August. Crapola.


Nick D
Participant
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Reddan, we’ll see you in August!


robjdlc
Participant
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As long as the weather holds up I’ll be there this friday for my first CM.


Willie
Participant
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I should be there also.


raphael
Participant
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Myself, my roommate and my fiancee will be making our first CM this friday as well.

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