Critical Mass/Courteous Mass
I probably should have posted something about this sooner. This is a follow-up to the Critical Juncture post from last month.
On Monday a small group met with Ofc. Edgar of OPD. We discussed the issues that OPD would like to see resolved:
- No corking. Corking is illegal, no way around it. Can we stop doing that and let the group break up into smaller ones when a light turns red? My primary concern with that is having new riders get isolated in a sea of traffic. Our attempted solution is to place experienced riders throughout and concentrated at the back. I will be there tonight and ride at the back. This will require all riders to be mindful of their surroundings. Watch the light cycles and the ped countdowns, if the light is changing, call it to the riders around you. I think this is possible if people stay somewhat aware of their surroundings.
- No swarming! You know, this shouldn’t be an issue, but it is. Can you imagine how terrified you would be if you were in a car and suddenly 20 cyclists swarmed around you. Now imagine how terrified your grandmother would be! Contrary to the beliefs of some rebels, most motorists do NOT want to hurt a cyclist. If a motorist comes between the group, give them an out, give them some space. One thing I’ve see repeatedly is a swarm passing a motorist who is trying to turn, cutting them off. That’s not only rude and dangerous, it’s idiotic. Let them turn, they’ll be out of the way. The do-unto-others-like-they-done-unto-me philosophy gets us nowhere.
- No confrontation. I think the majority of the group has been very, very civil. And it’s likely that confrontations are sparked by a dumb or hostile move on the part of the motorist. Take a deep breath and show some restraint. Escalation helps no one. What happens in an escalation is the motorist calls the police and reports a bunch of raging cyclists attacking him. It’s he said, they said, except that they are usually not identified to tell the police their side. It just becomes one more report of rowdy behavior. Another black mark. Another impetus for political pressure to shut the ride down.
I know what happened last Friday between an OPD officer and a rider. I was as irritated by the officer’s behavior (from the demands to ride in the door zone bike lane to the behavior after the stop) as everyone else. Today the video of that incident is circulating all over the community. I have received it by email from three different sources. I certainly hope this is not an effort to whip up a rebellious attitude this evening. That will serve no one.
The bottom line. This ride is a wonderful thing for the community when it is not a protest. It can continue to be a wonderful thing via courtesy, compromise and cooperation. Or it can create a backlash and ultimately OPD will be ordered to shut it down.
They’ve reached out to us. Let’s work with them. Come tonight and help the group self-police.
OK, I’m done being a nanny (ick). I just really want to see this ride continue to attract and give a sense of community to such diverse group of cyclists.