Q & A Re: Courteous Mass

BikeRumor posted a Q & A about Courteous Mass today. It’s a group ride similar to Critical Mass with at least one big difference: Participants are encouraged to obey traffic laws.

One of the things that means is no “corking” — blocking traffic to allow the mass of riders to remain together.

While keeping a group of riders together may be important in some cases, the effect with Critical Mass, as I see it, is to needlessly antagonize other lawful users of the road.

Trust me, I’d love nothing more than to see laws passed that make driving the difficult and expensive choice. I have no desire to make life easy for drivers (myself included on the few occasions when I drive). But until the day we’re consistently calming traffic, it seems to me that antagonizing drivers is just asking for trouble. We live in a car-centric culture. Which way do you think the backlash will go?

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Comments 6

  1. Keri wrote:

    We have a critical mass here. For a long time I (and other LCIs and advocates) were opposed to it. I’ve always been opposed for exactly the reasons you stated.

    But we’ve relented a bit. Primarily because the intent is a positive celebration of bike culture, and not an in-your-face protest. And we’re hoping to reach the CM audience with some educational messages… that’s easier if we embrace them than if we ridicule them.

    They do cork intersections. But they try to use multi-lane roads and keep a lane open. They don’t run a light if it is red when they arrive.

    Orlando’s downtown rush hour is pretty minimal. Most of the delay and congestion in the metro area is in the burbs. The truth is, CM’s impact on travel time is insignificant. Having cars in the middle of a large group (rather than corking) is problematic, too. Of course, motorist perceptions are rarely close to reality when it comes to delay, but there hasn’t been a backlash here AFAIK.

    If you don’t already have a Critical Mass, then you are in a great position to create a Courteous Mass right from the start! Setting it up with those boundaries from the beginning will be much easier than trying to encourage boundaries in an existing group.

    Posted 16 Dec 2008 at 6:53 pm
  2. robert wrote:

    Hi, I lost your email. I’m posting it here.

    You need some “hobby chain” that you can pick up at walmart, lowes, local hardware store etc and some “s hooks.”

    Deflate the tire and put an s hook on one end of the chain. Smash one side so that its permanetely attached to the chain. Then figure out how many links of the chain it would take to so that you can put them on a deflated tire but they are very snug on an inflated one. Through trail and error you will figure this out.

    The pictures should help you figure it out. There are two pic’s.

    http://s149.photobucket.com/albums/s76/bobpicture/?action=view&current=DSC_0103-2.jpg

    http://s149.photobucket.com/albums/s76/bobpicture/?action=view&current=DSC_0102-2.jpg

    Posted 16 Dec 2008 at 8:41 pm
  3. Andy in Germany wrote:

    A great post and a great idea. I’ll be talking with other cyclists about this one. Trouble is, will the town actually listen unless we’re annoying them?

    Posted 17 Dec 2008 at 1:20 am
  4. Andy Cline wrote:

    Keri… Sounds to me like you’re moving CM in the right direction. I WANT to like.

    Andy in G… What I like about the concept is being visible, which is its own argument.

    Posted 17 Dec 2008 at 7:35 am
  5. Keri wrote:

    I found it very gratifying to see 100s of cyclists of all types… novices who had never ridden on the road before, fixie-riding hipsters, folks on tall bikes, commuters, people on comfort bikes, etc. It’s wild, this huge bike culture comes from the shadows one Friday a month.

    Some folks from a local bike shop started promoting it a few years ago, I understand they not only helped it grow, but helped inject some courtesy enforcement.

    Posted 17 Dec 2008 at 8:50 am
  6. Robert wrote:

    I agree with part of that statement. While I should be more open minded I realize that there is a part of me that is not and that those who are trying to appear anti-social are being just that. Take a look at my own organizations commuter of the month. Will this be a turn on or turn off to the general public? We already know that people who lose their licenses ride bikes….we need to be after the “regular folks” or “joe six packs” to borrow a phrase from the Alaska Governor.

    http://www.pednet.org lower left hand corner.

    Posted 17 Dec 2008 at 9:07 am