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Posted by on Feb 27, 2009 in Bicycle Culture | 6 comments

Come forth and be counted

Photo by Julie Fletcher

On the last Friday of the month, Orlando cyclists show up en masse. It’s a sight to see. It’s not a protest. There is no animosity. It’s a celebration and a demonstration that there are a lot of people in this city who ride bikes.

This is the first non-holiday CM I’ve attended. I was impressed. Kudos to the guys and gals who keep it civil and manage the herd of cyclists and the traffic.

Thanks to Julie for coming out to snap this terrific photo!

6 Comments

  1. Now that CM has grown to such a size in Orlando, I wonder if we might be able to use it to attempt my Critical Radius idea.

    With Critical Radius, cyclists still meet at a single location at a particular day and time. It could be, say, the First Friday of the month so as not to compete with CM.

    Instead of leaving en masse, cyclists leave in small groups — no more than six — and head out in all directions. Being in small groups, less confident cyclists can gain the safety-in-numbers benefit. They can ride two-abreast and claim the lane on most multi-lane streets. This allows for socializing during the ride, though not to the extent of CM.

    As small groups riders would not be able to control intersections. Hopefully most, if not all, would obey the rules of the road.

    The whole point of this is to flood an area with law-abiding cyclists for an hour or so. Some CM advocates claim it encourages sharing, but I don’t see how it can, since cyclists control the game. CR does encourage sharing because a small group of cyclists is roughly equal in mass to a single motorist.

    Unlike CM, CR can be used as an informal teaching opportunity by vehicular cyclists.

    Riders return to the start/finish for more socialzing (heading off to their preferred watering holes).

    We could pass out flyers on the concept at a future CM.

  2. Mighk, that sounds like a neat idea. I had planned on going to Friday’s CM, but was unable to make it. One thing I’ve always cringed about at events is how a lot of cyclists eschew the law, thereby reinforcing the stigma (In fact, you’re liable to get run over by a fellow cyclist if you attempt to follow the law in some cases). I think the CR idea could help change that perception. I would be game for a CR ride. I could probably even learn a thing or two.

  3. I have been interested in CM rides ever since I first heard of them. I have also been uninterested in CM rides for the same reasons as Richard.

    It’s not sharing the road, is it? It’s commandeering it, perhaps. Keri’s idea of a Critical Manners ride is far more attractive.

    Once I complete the LCI course, I’ll have the “paper” to attempt something like that in this area.

  4. I’ve participated in past CMs rides and join this group every chance I get. In fact, next month I’m bringing my 16-year-old who, btw, isn’t allowed to get his driver’s license until he takes driver’s ed AND Road 1.

    I’m a vehicular cyclist, LCI and cycling instructor. Yes, these folks “eschew the law,” but I don’t get all worked up over it. I encourage you not to, either.

    The folks who lead this group are not riding in protest. They’re appealing to a community of people who love riding their bikes and who, frankly, probably won’t attend a Critical Manners or Critical Radius program.

    The ride leaders are thoughtful young people who are aware of the laws. They know you’re supposed to stop at traffic lights. They’re also responsible for getting hundreds of riders of all ages through the streets safely. They make sure cyclists keep one lane clear for motorists. They stop traffic so cyclists can get through without incident. They chat with motorists, many of whom end up waving goodbye to them. And many motorists seem to enjoy the entertainment provided by the fixie riders as they demonstrate their bike handling skills.

    As for the crowd, they’re not outlaws. They’re young ladies riding hybrids with white baskets on the front. They’re fathers towing kids in trailers. They’re business owners and young professionals.

    And they’re all having fun. Laughing, chatting, getting together on a Friday night for a ride downtown.

    If you haven’t joined an Orlando CM ride, I encourage you to do so. Come ride with me, Keri and other law-abiding LCIs and vehicular cyclists and have a good time.

  5. As I’ve expressed before, I’m quite ambivalent about CM. Yes, there are positive things to say about it; I’d echo all Lisa wrote.

    But she wrote: “They know you’re supposed to stop at traffic lights.”

    Well, at the risk of labeling people based on appearance and association, when I see a cyclist running a red light around town, it’s often someone with a single-speed or fixie. (Yes, of course I see cyclists in lycra doing it too.) Do the CM leaders obey signals when not on CM? I’d be surprised if they did.

  6. Is it mandatory to have this same boring conversation every month?