SF Chronicle reports of violence at the last Critical Mass are very disturbing. It would be nice to hear, both sides of the story.
Critical Mass, the peaceful celebration of bike culture for almost 15 years, is now advertised in travel books as a San Francisco attraction not to be missed. This public expression of joy and sustainability can now be found in hundreds of cities across the planet. It is worth protecting.
Anyone who becomes violent at a Critical Mass, be they a motorist, or cop, or a cyclist, should face the legal consequences. It is against "the spirit of the game" as they say in Ultimate Frisbee. They are not welcome at this spontaneous community happening, organized by nobody. Because Critical Mass has no leader, we are all responsible for keeping the peace.
One solution might be for the community to deputize quazi-official "corkers" who would wear bright vests and look like traffic cops to help separate the cars and bikes at intersections. Give them a badge to wave, and then motorists will understand that CM is no more a problem than the St. Patrick's Day parade. Keep your cool, and the parade passes by peacefully in 5 minutes.
No one has ever run over a leprechaun.