Was This More of the Failed Critical Mass Policy?

Background Reading


See the video here.

I came across this article on StreetsBlog accompanied by this bit of text:

Here’s a great example of how American law enforcement tends to produce perverse results when it comes to traffic collisions.

A cyclist in San Diego was hit by a driver and managed to avoid more serious injury by jumping off his bike. Prior to the incident, the motorist had been honking repeatedly at the group the victim was riding with, according to this report from KGTV San Diego.


I am inclined to think this sounds more like an altercation ensuing from a deliberate ‘slow down‘ due to a Critical Mass Ride. This sort of thing is not unheard of when Critical Mass Ridescork intersections‘.

The problem here is that this sort of tactic is more than counterproductive, it is illegal. ‘Corking an intersection‘ is not legal. It is something that cyclist assume is their prerogative but the only real intention is to ‘piss off motorists‘.

We Need To Develop A More Adult Strategy

Critical Mass Riders are known to taunt drivers into running over their back wheels. They even (as you can see in the video clip above) threaten motorists who might want to confront them with vague warnings about bodily harm (from the cyclists).

This tactic does absolutely nothing to further the cause of cycling and in fact probably has the opposite effect. It is childish and counterproductive. Will it ever stop? I doubt it. The kind of people attracted to the Critical Mass Rides are generally unwilling to compromise. They are hard core folks.

But what is really hilarious is to listen to them describe Critical Mass Rides as if they were some sort Sunday ride. In fact if it were the kind of ride claimed, it would be held on a Sunday when the level of traffic was lowest.

But in reality this is a protest. You can claim it to be otherwise, but the facts say otherwise.

Why Critical Mass Is A Sham

The very first thing you notice about Critical Mass is its lack of adherence to the normal travel protocols of commuting cyclists. During the week cyclists use the Bike Lane. The Bike Lane after all is the ‘prize‘ offered them for their support of the local governments efforts.

During a Critical Mass, riders who normally claim fear of being forced into the lane left of the Bike Lane (during situations where a Door Zone Collision is being avoided) ride in that lane and every single other. In fact there are times when the Critical Mass Ride takes up both sides of a divided lane street. This means essentially that they are ‘salmon-ing‘ on-coming traffic. And if you have ever read some of the forums about the ‘salmon‘ practice you know this is a big deal. You do not salmon.

In fact the practice of ‘shoaling‘ is on full display in a Critical Mass Ride. It is as if the CMR is being used to display every single type of practice that Urban Cyclists claim to dislike. But because they are taking up the full width of the street (regardless of whether or not it is striped for two-way traffic) it leads to situations which  mean that motorists are intentionally trapped behind slow moving traffic that might not even be going their direction!

These rides are intended to provoke as much fear and loathing as possible. Riders use their voices to shriek and thus heighten the effect of panic and disorientation in drivers. Anyone carrying small children is suddenly surrounded by people who are slapping the hood and roof of their vehicle and perhaps shouting in a threatening way ‘Happy Friday‘. The intent here is to disorient the driver.

But CRM scores the most points when a driver becomes irate. When that happens they purposely ‘slow their roll‘ so as to ‘box in‘ the driver thus forcing him to come to a complete halt. These sorts of aggressive tactics are conducted out of context to anything whatsoever.