Friday, September 28, 2007

Critical Mass - Good or Bad? Stay away tonight!

Maybe I'm not talking to the right people or reading the right sources but I generally never hear anything positive about Critical Mass. And from personal experience, I've found the participants to be a bunch of overly emotional, bike-righteous asses who would risk other people's safety just to push their own agenda. I'm frightened of Critical Mass. While driving, I do not want to be verbally or physically assaulted by them and I certainly don't want to accidentally bump into any of them and get sued or attacked! But they want you to bump into them because they want to have the "go ahead" to yell at you, run their bikes into your car, and throw things at you if you yell back! Now, like I said, my experiences have been limited and I'm sure there are peaceful gatherings too but to me, Critical Mass makes me think less of bicyclists than to want to help them with their agenda.

I mean, what's next? Are they going to ride through BART stations to demand that BART allow bikes during all hours?

Honestly, I think drivers make a lot of accommodations as it is for bike riders. With the cycling craze in Lamorinda, drivers often need to swerve to the opposite lane (risking head on traffic) just to make way for the groups of cyclists who seem to think it is OK to ride in the middle of a single lane road. They think they have the right of way and we need to just stay behind them patiently. It's like, DAMN IT, just stay in your bike lane in a single file OK? Don't chat, don't share water or whatever it is you need to do when you take up the entire street. I don't stop and talk to the driver next me and stop traffic....why should cyclists do it? Seriously, these cycling "enthusiasts" think that just because they wear spandex and ride a fancy bike, they own the streets. Look behind you, 10+ cars are blocked because you and your buddies are in the middle of the single lane road.

Sorry, as you can see, this is a sensitive topic. I deal with a lot of bikers and most experiences, whether with Critical Mass or cycling groups, have not been positive.


Anonymous said...

The irony is that many bicyclists complain about the lack of respect they receive from drivers. Yet many of them show no respect for pedestrians.

I can't count the number of times that I've legally started across a crosswalk and been frigtened by a bicyclist zooming right past me against the light. Not obeying street signals or right-of-way rules.

It certainly does not put me in a mood to be respectful to them when I'm driving instead of walking.

I specifically rode the bus today instead of taking the ferry. Because I didn't want to deal with the Critical Mass folks gathering at Justin Hermann Plaza.

Try walking through them and a haze of marijuana smoke to get to the Ferry building. It's not pleasant.

They give you the most sullen look when you say excuse me to get them to move over so you can walk through. Like maybe you should just walk two blocks out of your way rather than walk through them to get to the Ferry building.

Like bartmusings I'm also admittedly biased against bicyclist. A bias I've developed since moving to the Bay Area less than two years ago and being confronted with rude cyclist almost weekly.

Anonymous said...

another thing about the lamorinda bicyclists... if you are FAT, PLEASE don't wear skin tight spandex. you aren't doing yourself or any of us any favors. you aren't freakin' lance armstrong for god's sake.

Anonymous said...

Best thing for Critical mAss is to ban them. If you're disobediant, time to be arrested.

Anonymous said...

Critical Mass has gotten way out of hand. In my opinion it actually hurts the bicycle movement, rather than helping it. Years ago, when it first started, I think it actually was on to something positive. Now, it's almost like a city sanctioned riot, as the the City of San Francisco and its police department do nothing to curb those assaulting & terrorizing drivers and pedestrians alike. Both the City of San Francisco and its police department should be ashamed of how they handle it.

With that being said....

As for your hatred of bicyclist taking the lane, read up on the California Vehicle Code before you spew your lies and get your panties tied up in a bunch. I normally like your blog, but find it rather sad when your ignorance on this subject takes over your usual calmness and what appears to be a genuine self-composure you normally seem to have. For your convenience, here is a direct link to the DMV CVC section as it pertains to cyclists Please educate yourself before you spew lies & hatred. Your attitude on this subject is nothing short of that of many Critical Mass participants.

Anonymous said...

At least they are not riding around San Francisco naked anymore. I'm straight and even the women are yuck.

Andy said...

Too bad the anonymous commenter who posted the DMV url did not elaborate on what they thought bartmusings was wrong about in regards to the bike code. What I picked up from the URL they posted was:

Operation on Roadway

21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway [...]

Which seems to support bartmusing's point....

I completely agree. It drives me nuts when bike riders take up a whole lane, or zip though stop signs and lights without stopping. They're a vehicle on the road, they need to abide by the rules.


bartmusings said...

Well, I'd love to be corrected. Please do point out what's right from wrong.

How is it OK for a group of bikers to bike horizontally, taking up half of the narrow road? I tend to think there is something wrong when they are riding side by side CHATTING and sharing water while cars are aligned in back of them. How is that OK? I'm talking about on a narrow, curvy street with a bike lane. It's dangerous for them too!

Now to be fair, I have also seen cyclists who are respectful. They signal with their arms, they turn around to check their rear view before turning, and they are just respectful of others who share the road with them.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the anonymous guy was right. You've left out the important stuff following that sentence. I'm no cyclist but I once read this somewhere and afterwards have become resigned to this sort of behavior.

On a narrow lane, the bicycle is allowed the full use of the lane. It actually makes some sense, as some roads are so narrow that you can hardly pass the bike without getting into an accident.

Check out:

bartmusings said...

That's good to know BUT I just have one more thing to add. OK, so for their safety they can take up the entire road, fine. But what about the nonchalant chatting and water sharing side by side, going slower than 5 mph, while cars are lined up behind them? That cannot be proper behavior, even if legal.

Andy said...

Sure, on a narrow lane bikes can use the whole lane. Where I live we have wide streets and bike lanes and you still have bikes riding four, five or even six across, taking up a whole lane, and not moving over when a car approaches. I see this kind of thing every weekend...

Anonymous said...

The operative word is "practicable." Bicyclists have to be able to avoid road hazards exactly the same as autos. On my morning commute I have to ride around horrible pavement, daily new batches of broken glass, and opened doors on parked cars. I can deal with that, but the worst are the automobile drivers who swerve into the bicycle space suddenly and without signaling. I had someone run me off the road because she pulled into the bus stop in the middle of the block with no warning and without looking. Others jump into the right hand side of the lane to go around another car, again with no warning and no signal, giving me no chance to even get out of their way. When the road hazards that require evasive action include the regular auto traffic, then I am forced to use as much of the lane as is necessary, as is my right as per the traffic code.

Anonymous said...

Oops, posted too soon.

Having said that, I don't take up the middle of the lane without a good reason (main one being preparing for a left turn; road hazard a close second). It is not my intent to impede anyone, just to ride in a way that keeps me safe. There is a law (on the highways at least, not sure about surface streets) that requires a slower vehicle to pull over when there are 5 or more vehicles stacked up behind them. Doesn't that apply to cyclists?

Second, I agree that in-your-face tactics will generate more opposition than anything. I think Critical Mass' original intent was to get people noticing bicyclists; bicyclists who don't get noticed get run over and killed. But raising everyone's blood pressure is counterproductive. An angry driver is more likely to make a mistake and hurt somebody.

Anonymous said...

I looked up Critical Mass on Wikipedia and found out a little bit. "Corking?" What the hell!? Sorry people, but if you want to be recognized as legitimate traffic, you had better follow the traffic rules, same as everyone else. Blocking intersections so that all of you can complete your recreational ride without getting separated does not count as following the rules. It's rude, it's illegal, and the "corks" and the people running the red lights with them should expect to get a traffic ticket.

murphstahoe said...

Basically, unless you've been there, you don't understand. A large majority of the population drives, and are very aware of things they get annoyed at from cyclists. But they don't have the perspective from the other way around.

The behavior of drivers is amusingly bad - but nobody seems to think it's a problem to turn right - across a bike lane - without using your turn signal, while talking on your cellphone and without even glancing in your mirror. I have been hit, and the driver said "I didn't see you!" I replied "Then you are either blind, or you don't know how to drive. Which is it?" Her insurance company agreed with me.

I make far more accommodations for bad drivers than are made for me - but the drivers don't even notice when I yield my right of way because I can tell the driver doesn't even know I am there. How? Because I can see the driver is text messaging!

Regarding Corking. It sounds on thr surface to be just plain rude. First - it's self defense. A car getting into the intersection is a fatality waiting to happen. Second - critical mass has over 1000 riders. Red lights are not timed for this. If the riders stop for the red light - they will probably be gridlocking the previous intersections where the light is green. This would completely gridlock all traffic. Far better for the parade to pass by quickly and allow everyone on their way.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, murph, not buying it. Do you think the city would put up with a recreational rally of a thousand CARS ignoring the traffic signals and snarling up traffic that way once a month? You're breaking the law.

Cars and trucks somehow manage to traverse the street in limited bunches that respect the traffic lights and stay out of the intersections; you can too. If that breaks your ride down into many small groups, gee, tough. Either find a way to be a part of traffic flow without impeding it, or find a different hobby. You seem to forget that Critical Mass is by definition a recreational activity, which makes it optional. Why do you think it's okay to inconvenience thousands of other citizens because you are just too busy having fun?

And yes, I am a bicyclist. I'm the same "anonymous" as the three posts preceding yours. I ride down a very busy street twice a day during rush hour. I know what it is like to get knocked over by a car whose driver isn't paying attention. The solution is better adherence to the traffic laws, not flouting them.

murphstahoe said...

Why do you think it's okay to inconvenience thousands of other citizens because you are just too busy having fun?

Let me count the ways.

81 Giants games a year (I get the wonderful experience of negotiating my way around this traffic plus pedestrians ignoring lights at least 60 of those days)

Bay to Breakers

Blue Angels

Lombard St - every day.

Folsom St/Union St/Castro St/etc.. fair

Chinese New Year Parade


Anonymous said...

There's a BIG difference between a Giant's game or the Bay To Breakers and a Critical Mass rally - malicious intentions. Critical Mass WANTS to make things difficult for people. They WANT to make people mad. To me (and MANY others) this makes ALL the difference in the world.