I participated in another Critical Mass bike ride last Friday and thought I’d share some observations. This was the first time I have seen a patrol car at a gathering, although they didn’t seem to know what exactly was going on. They cited one guy for drinking in public. The goofball had an open bottle of red wine. I had to smile as they dragged him off because half of the crowd watching was standing there with beers hidden in riding gloves or drink bottles.
The ride got off to a rocky start. Normally, a few of the several hundred riders will start circling the crowd to warn everyone that take off is imminent. But this time the dummies just took off while everyone else was still waiting for a signal. This spread the ride out. So, I decided to hang out at the tail end to see what that was like.
I found a woman and a mom and her young son trying to stay up with the other riders. When the crowd swept onto the highway things got dicey. I stayed with them to help run block on cars and tried to hurry them along. Now I know what a wildebeest cow and her calf must feel like when a pack of hyenas have weeded them from the herd. Another woman dropped back to help me protect them from the cars. We became surrounded by pissed off SUV drivers. The coup de grace was when a guy in a Porche deliberately slammed on his brakes. The young woman who had dropped back to help me ran right into his bumper and fell off her bike. He screeched his tires and left her lying there. She was pretty unhinged. I stuck with them until they got to an exit ramp where I told them that they really should not be participating in this ride. They simply were not strong enough riders. The exit ramp happened to be a few blocks from my house so I bailed out of the ride early hoping everyone got home safely.
I rode in yet another bicycle protest just two nights ago. Some local power brokers have convinced the Seattle authorities not to connect our main bike trail to a brand new bike lane on a major bike commute arterial. Bikes leaving the trail have to run a dangerous six-block gauntlet to get to this bike lane. Instead, they got the painted symbol pictured above, which is very similar to the bike lane symbol next to it. Nobody I talked to knows for sure what that symbol is supposed to mean, drivers in particular. Not that it matters. It won’t protect bicyclists.
Personally, I think those behind this are going to be responsible for a lot of bike injuries and possibly some deaths. Riding a bike in Seattle’s horrific traffic has become serious business. It is time our local politicians started taking it seriously. Sure, buses running on food crop and rainforest devouring biofuels are higher profile, but there are tens of thousands of carbon-neutral commuters out there and they are in serious need of some protection from the 200 horsepower wheelchairs they share the roads with.