Critical Mass - Point/Counterpoint
Critical Massholes - By Joe Reed
I don’t have a car. I have always preferred cycling as an inner city mode of transportation. I was a Boston bike messenger for a while and I have been riding urban traffic for 20 years. I’m now in LA and I continue to live this way.
I love pack rides, I love bicycle events and I love bicycles.
I fucking despise Critical Mass.
The concept of a leaderless movement sounds nice, but it doesn’t work when you have that many people in on it. There’s a reason why anarchy = chaos. I realize that it’s not ALL of you, but it takes just 10 assholes out of 100 to make the whole thing look bad. Unfortunately, you allow those 10 assholes to represent the entire group.
When you have a community like that, you have to keep it cool. You have to stop people from making trouble for everyone else. If you ride in a big sloppy pack, blocking up all the lanes and aggravating drivers then you are inviting drivers to act out aggressively. Antagonism isn’t going to help you assert our right to the road, it’s just going to make drivers want to run us over the next time they see us alone. How can you bitch about people who drive like assholes if you ride like one? Seriously.
Make a web site, get some leadership, set some rules and find ways to enforce them. Do SOMETHING before you end up making pack rides illegal in major cities. Believe me, it’s not far fetched at all that your city could get sick of the bullshit and start crackin heads like they’re doing in New York.
I sincerely hope you CMers get your shit together. Right now you couldn’t pay me to be seen in that scene.
Critical Community - By Brad Quartuccio
Critical Mass is all about community. The connections made through this monthly ride in cities across the world has led to partnerships that have forged systemic change for the better of all cyclists. Many people neck deep in urban cycling advocacy can trace their first meeting with like-minded folks to a given Critical Mass, myself included. Since the inception of Critical Mass as we know it back in 1992 cycling access has improved across the country and around the world due in part to the collective work of the CM community, not in spite of it.
With news outlets in American cities sporting helicopters to report on the recurring, utterly predictable automobile traffic of the morning and evening commute it is an uphill battle to convince me that the momentary inconvenience that drivers may experience from a passing Mass has any real, lasting negative impact. Nevermind the actions of individual riders—there are assholes everywhere, and no reason to believe that cyclesport is absent of them. Lumping all Critical Mass participants together with a few troublemakers is as logical as railing against all drivers because someone cut you off once.
Critical Mass is what you make of it, and the flavor of each city’s ride ebbs and flows with the will of the participants that show up. The friendships made through this unique happening have the ability to change the cycling landscape in ways only limited by our own energy and ideas. We have not reached critical mass yet, but Critical Mass has been a giant step forward with some bumps along the way.