David Hembrow writes today about Critical Mass and points to two interesting videos about promoting cycling. His advice is sage: If you want to know how to grow a bicycle culture, then you must study one that works.
The first film is “We Are Traffic,” which is about the Critical Mass movement:
The second is an older video called “Return of the Scorcher”:
Like Hembrow, I’m not a fan of Critical Mass. The whole affair is too in-your-face for my tastes. If cyclists want to be a part of traffic, then start riding in traffic. And follow the rules. And act responsibly. And encourage the same in others. Respect (and tax dollars) follows these actions.
By “in-your-face” I do not mean the kind of testosterone-driven protest criticized in “We Are Traffic.” I mean the blatant disregard for traffic laws, e.g. “corking.” There’s no reason not to follow the rules. Following the rules would make the entire “celebration” all the more powerful. To claim to be traffic while failing to be traffic is an unproductive contradiction.
The example of the Netherlands and other parts of Europe bring up another issue for me. One that Critical Mass, under different circumstances, might actually be able to address in the future. In creating a bicycle culture in the United States I think we should be laying the foundation for that culture to eventually be understood as superior to automobile culture. We have such a long way to go just to create a sense of subjective safety that thoughts of cultural superiority seem, well, premature. But that’s where my head is right now.