So for a while now, I've been thinking about Critical Mass, a sort of flash mob-ish group that at takes over the streets of a major city on the last Friday of every month, filling them with cyclists and usually utterly disrupting traffic and city function.

On the one hand, it seems like kind of a dick move, and I've yet to hear how they'd deal with having to let, say, an ambulance pass through their midst.

On the other hand, as someone whose primary mode of transit is a bike, I do appreciate it being underlined that cars don't own the fucking road.

I do see the value of street theater, and in this regard the actions of Annonymous have been the high water mark. Recruitment by the Church of Scientology is at a standstill. Copies of Dianetics aren't selling. the COS is utterly fucked.

The tactics of Critical Mass aside, it's an extremely valid point that they're making. Even in places with designated bike lanes, it can be a god damned nightmare to do something as simple as make a left turn if there's any amount traffic. I've yet to have a single person stop their car when I make a turn signal. And it happens at least sometimes when people signal for a turn in a car.

Which reminds me of a funny story.

I was riding home from Davis Square, down Harvard ave, and a brand spanking new Mustang pulled up alongside me. The driver asked me how to get to Route 16. I told him go straight through every set of lights until he crossed a bridge.

He drove on, and took a right turn at the next set of lights. I started pedaling like mad, and manage to catch up to him and told him that he should have gone straight through the intersection that he'd just passed. I pointed at a sign for route 16.

He thanked me again, pulled a U turn, and I watched as he drove straight through the intersection, passing by the turn-off that I'd pointed out for him. No chance of catching him.

No helping some people, eh?


  1. i have a friend who attends critical mass. i'm not totally sure what i think of those kinds of tactics.

  2. I was never quite sure on the purpose of Critical Mass. In larger cities it's a bit of a hazard.

    More dangerous to the bikers themselves though it seems.

    Some people have a very hard time with verbal directions.

  3. You think it's bad on two wheels? My primary mode of transport is feet. No one cares about the pedestrians! Sometimes you have to make a stand in ways that aren't ideal, because things aren't ideal to start with. Lucky I'm too lazy to get involved in direct action and have to make choices about where the line gets drawn.

    And hello, hi, how are you, of course.

  4. Vesper: I guess the main question is, does it cause more harm than good?

    Cooper: It's basically, among other things meant to illustrate to motorists what it's like to have the means of travel made inaccessible by other people. Also to promote bike riding as a sustainable, environmentally friendly, and healthy form of transit

    I agree, but when at first my directions were "go straight," not including any instructions regarding a right turn, and then said to take a right turn, each time pointing clearly.

    Mimey: I often find myself walking as well. I guess I've never had as much of a problem with it as I have on a bike. I sort of cut an imposing figure when I'm on my feet, so that could be a factor.

    *hugs* it's been a good while since you've been around! I'm fine, how have you been?

  5. Perhaps being too short is where I'm going wrong then! I need to impose more. I'll sort THAT out straight away. ;-)

    I'm ok, I think. I've been depressed and not blogging, so I thought I'd blog and give up the depression for a while, see how that goes. I'm enjoying the consequences to be honest. Yay!

    Maybe the guy who didn't take your advice was some sort of street performer and there was an audience watching your reactions when he ignored your directions! Could be?