I don't see any posting in the "Upcoming Rides and Events"
I didn't see any ride reports or information about the January ride.
Has the Critical Mass movement been discontinued, just like the Auto Show Shutdown?
Sabrina, it all depends how you see yourself as a cyclist: meek and yielding to the car culture? Or demanding that cars recognize your right to share the roadway?
It doesn't bother me that politicians and others are irritated by the way I ride every day: demanding my space or full lane on Chicago's roads, blocking 'right hook' drivers, and preventing cars behind me to speed past, if it is not completely safe for me to move over.
That one CM day each month, represents a chance to ride with right-thinking cyclists, and remind drivers that, as cycling builds popularity, their share of the road will continue to diminish. No hard feelings; just the reality as Global Warming enters the conscientiousness of most Americans.
The issue has little to do with how I perceive myself as a cyclist nor anyone being meek. You may have missed the point a bit there so I'll give it another effort which is that Critical Mass does the opposite of building cycling's popularity which is what profess to want while behaving in the opposite. If you are concerned with a motorist speeding past a cyclist let's consider what they are more likely to do once they clear a traffic jam and have been delayed getting home as you say. More likely to run a yellow light or stop sign or encroach on a bike during the rest of the trip now that they are running late? Of course.
Do you figure out if some of the people you are trapping (again your word) or delaying getting home are not a minister, a hospice worker, a dad trying to take his kids to their grandparent’s house, 4 people car-pooling on their way home? Someone driving to a Metra station so they can go out to the suburbs without a car, who will now miss their train and then just drive the whole route?
What this illustrates is you have no idea who you are actually inconveniencing, whether or not they spend more time in a week on a bike than you do, or if someone's mom’s furnace has gone out and that you want her to wait longer for the repair man to show up all for your need to feel something "empowering" as you put it?
This bad PR does the opposite of increasing cycling's popularity and politicians and columnists are aware of this. Better would be for motorists and others to observe that cyclists are great and to want to be part of all that, and perceive cyclists as improving traffic flow not impeding it. Obnoxious people presenting something dysfunctional to other people isn't the best way to get to a favorable majority. Sure, there are fringe elements who will join up but not enough to reach a functional productive tipping point that some of us would instead like to create when instead Critical Mass portrays cycling a dim light.
Bob, CLP, Sabrina, I think you all have legitimate points. I have always been a bit conflicted about Critical Mass, including having gone on a few rides with them. It is a legitimate concept, but for sure there are some participants every time whose goal is simply to antagonize and goad drivers. I have seen this as both a rider and a driver. It is not helpful.
I have a problem with the term "cagers". I understand perfectly what the term means. But in any negotiation, which I think has to occur between cars and bikes, acknowledgment of the legitimacy of each side by the other is important. As a cyclist, I have been called plenty of names, emphasized by a few whiskey bottles. I do own a car. I do not believe that derogatory characterizations on either size is helpful. Both sides are going to continue to exist, whether the other likes it or not.
I think that right now, a lot of Americans are angry and embittered and confrontational for a lot of reasons. Sometimes this spills over into driving and riding habits, far more significantly into driving habits that endanger people far more than cyclists can. I do try to behave with civility even when I think it is unearned by others. I do absolutely believe that the more bikes are out there in general, the more they become familiar to and accepted by drivers.
I know and acknowledge that I am one of those boring centrist people.
+1 Jim Reho
There's nothing boring about being rational, so no need to back away from that Jim. Right on.
The analysis of the word cager is right on too. That sort of "othering" terminology does't do anyone any good.
I am not so sure that Critical Mass has the negative impact on the world's perception of cyclists that some of us might think. The amount of friendly and supportive honks and comments from people in cars easily meets or exceeds any negative feedback. After all, the Mass is, by and large, a friendly parade full of people (young and old) calling out "Happy Friday" to all as they pass by. People sitting on their decks, porches, or looking out the window are almost universally excited to see a mass of bikes coming down the street instead of the usual march of loud, smelly, and lung clogging autos. For a brief moment, people are in community with one another and ponder what it would be like if so much of our city's space was devoted to cars. Hopefully some are inspired to fill up their bicycle's tires with air and get out and ride. Every other hour of every day, people on bikes are out there "sharing the road" - which oftentimes in reality means being shoved into the tiny sliver of space between the door zone and speeding, aggressive, and/or distracted drivers who are favored by our city's infrastructure. I think that Critical Mass ever so briefly re-balances the equities between road users and that the short inconvenience it causes is fair in the grand scheme of things.
No offense intended PJC but did you even read the posts here? Such as
-And, I actually stopped doing CM because it absolutely IS about intentionally trying to cause congestion, if not confrontation.
-Setting out to prove to everyone that cycling causes congestion - by intentionally causing such congestion like this - is not in the interests of cycling.
-Trapped drivers may be pissed at the delay; but for most, it is a wake-up call!
-you have no idea who you are actually inconveniencing, whether or not they spend more time in a week on a bike than you do, or if someone's mom’s furnace has gone out and that you want her to wait longer for the repair man to show up all for your need to feel something "empowering"
-for sure there are some participants every time whose goal is simply to antagonize and goad drivers. I have seen this as both a rider and a driver. It is not helpful.
So PJ these examples are not people in community with each other as you put it and as these comments reflect and as I have seen first hand. While you may have experienced that a majority of CM participants may be well-intended and I appreciate your point, then we should recognize that this is true for car drivers as well and not go out of our way to inconvenience all of them especially when so many of us are trying to make cycling a normal and compatible aspect of everyday life. But what these comments reflect and what I and others see reflect the reality of Critical Mass and it isn't good.
Critical Mass, from what I understand, has always been a ride in protest to car sick culture. it's never been about advocacy, although in the warmer months it's been sold as such.
The teachers union protest is a good example of just how much more horribly traffic can get snarled as compared to our insignificant little evening ride with all the "little bike people" as that Kasshole cager newspaper mouthpiece creep would like to call the fringe of cyclists.
Not sure this ride will ever stop convening at Delay Plaza every month, perhaps cycling advocates can show up to educate or even try and protest a protest so that this bad press they are irritated by can be mitigated.
Maybe it will eventually cease to exist as more and more people choose to drive a car for transportation like "normal people". For now there is a great feeling of taking over entire streets in poorer neighborhoods with children running towards the group enjoying the rare spectacle of taking back the roads for one day out of the week from the machine that is ruining the environment.
Critical Mass, from what I understand, has always been a ride in protest to car sick culture. it's never been about advocacy,
It's not a protest ride. It's not an advocacy ride.
It's just a bike ride.
YAY! let's go for a ride :)
I have not done Critical Mass for a long time. I loved it: it made me feel a lot safer riding the streets with a lot of other cyclists. It was amazing to have the street be safe and filled with a feeling of joy.
I think the focus on the inconvenient side of it is noticed by other bike riders, not by car drivers. I have never had a person who drives downtown even mention it.
I have been biking for transportation for a long time and have never felt that Critical Mass detracted from any progress. For example, it really doesn't seem to have impacted at all the implementation of bicycle infrastructure. If anything, it means there are more bike cops downtown on Fridays.
Beautiful picture up there by the way - very nice.
The teachers' union protest is a great example. They came off to many people as absolute idiots. Whether they are or aren't is something I'm happy to discuss separately for the small price of a few beers, but their protest and the TV coverage was a major public perception fail for them. The whole idea that such a spectacle represented the the people who are supposed to be educating the next generation of citizens and leaders was unsettling.
Same/same when we come off as idiots on bikes. Everybody knows we're not "taking back" the streets. They were never ours in the first place to take back. They're a public shared asset, governed by the rules of the road, and if we take an anarchist stance then we should expect to be treated as if rules don't matter. That's exactly what I DON'T want people to think when I'm on the road on a bike.
Moreover, if we take the stance that car pollution is a bad thing, then having a bunch of cars stuck idling out their exhaust while waiting as CM passes by is the last thing we want.
This is the sort of thing that is the undoing of some of the positive perceptions of cycling which I agree with others is something that is pretty important. We can say that CM isn't meant to be advocacy - my hunch is that for some people it is, and for others it isn't - but the negative sentiments it evokes from others is bad for cycling. Whether we in this space agree with Kass or not, other folks do, and those negative views aren't random or isolated, and adding fuel to that fire is a bad approach and outcome.
Also, if the CM participation is high in the summer but low in the winter such as with bike lane usage, folks in cars immediately point out that there's a bit of wisdom in taking a car with a seat warmer during 5 months of the year to get their children to and from wherever they're going, whether we call them names or not. Maybe taking back the bike lane people aren't using much in the winter is somewhere to start. As people ask for stepped-up bike lane enforcement, not using them very much in the winter and then blocking car traffic in the summer seems, well, we've sort of covered that.
Car folks probably have great feelings and pride too. Kids love to play with toy cars, and go to the auto show. They all come running when they see what they think is a cool car roll up. Everybody loves a spectacle. The key is to come across as a good one and not a bad one like CM does in the perception of many, right or wrong.