Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Editorial: On San Francisco's Critical Mass Mess

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.


Jerod said...

I have been a bicycle commuter for years, and I hate critical mass. The only thing it does is anger pedestrians and drivers and that puts my life in danger. It does no good to, once a month, give a big F-You to everybody you see. If you've ever ridden in Critical mass or watched it pass by, you know it is not a peaceful parade. I hope the city and the police crack down and put a stop to it.

Anonymous said...

If San Francisco was truly a transit first city, and put serious consideration into getting cars out of downtown "congestion pricing", and finished the bike network they have shelved for over a decade, then Critical Mass would die on the vine.

There is no Critical Mass in Amsterdam or Davis, CA.

Critical Mass is the festering wound of a broken transit system in SF that stills give preference to the private automobile and free parking.

Until that is fixed, Critical Mass will continue.