Friday, February 23, 2007

Mile 114

Tonight I took part in New Ark's Critical Mass bicycle ride. I must say, it was overall a very delightful experience. Pictures here:

In my past life, I took part in the Albany NY Critical Mass, and was left with very mixed emotions. I do truly like the ideals for which CM rides stand: bike equality, cyclist rights, "share the road", bikes as viable forms of transportation, community togetherness, etc. It is also amazingly freeing and fun to ride at a slow parade pace through a nice city. The roads are so wide when there are no cars with which to compete. It's kind of like when Kramer paints over the white lines on the highway. "Ah, you know how in planes they got first class? More leg room, better ride? Well, I'm bringing that concept to mile one-fourteen."

Sunset stroll 3 lanes wide.

However, some CM riders use the monthly ride as a way to get back at that car that took the right turn in front of them or pushed them off the shoulder a week earlier. They use it as a tool to oppress the motorist. Singling out individual drivers and going out of one's way to make their life even more miserable, after they are probably already annoyed about the hold up of bikes blocking traffic will not improve cycling's image. That SUV driver you just pissed off is probably going to take his anger out on the next solo cyclist they see on a country road. Not cool. I must admit, the rebellion and idea of pissing off some prick in his H2 is appealing, but it's a fine line when it could mean someone's life down the line.

Singling out one car is not helping anybody's cause.

Critical Mass should be a celebration, not a castigation. Same roads, same rights, same rules. It's a two way street, if you want respect from car drivers, you've got to do the same in return. Obey traffic laws, take your lane, but no more. Inform drivers of the true meaning of the event. Smile, cheer, wave. Invite drivers, pedestrians, gawkers to join next month.

Stopping at red lights. Word.

Albany rides tended to have more mayhem and anger than I witnessed tonight. The ride was a meandering stroll through downtown Newark, along Main, Delaware, Cleveland among others. The laws were mostly obeyed. Red lights were waited upon. It was cold, but everyone was happy to ride. I will probably go back next month. But with flyers to hand out to drivers, standers-by, pedestrians. Invite them, any bike will do.

Cars R Coffins.
Look at all the casualties on the left.

Afterwards, a delightful dinner with E-town, Megan with an H, Jan, Fatmarc, and Chunky Monkey. Fish n' chips, good beer, good laughs, lots of cat bashing. It's a dog's world baby. Tomorrow, a nice ride with some locals up in PA. Hills beware.

Much love.

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