I received an email a few weeks back from Andres Viglucci, a reporter with the Miami Herald; later we talked on the phone.
Andres was preparing to write an article on the Miami Critical Mass ride and wanted my views because he had noticed I had opposed CM in the past here on my blog.
Whenever I have written an anti-Critical Mass piece, I get comments from pro-CMers saying stuff like, “It is not a protest, it is a celebration of cycling,” and “It is so much fun.”
I am sure it is fun, it is an unofficial “Mardi Gras” on bicycles, and this is my entire problem with these events. It is a group of people having fun at the expense of a larger group of people, namely other road users.
For example, a group of people cannot dress up in costumes, get a marching band and parade down the street without a permit, especially during Friday evening rush hour.
However, you can legally ride a bicycle on a public road at any time, and this is technically what Critical Mass riders are doing
They are abusing the privilege of riding a bike on the road. Doing so in the pretence that they are bringing awareness to cycling, when if the participants were honest they are doing it because it is fun and because they can.
They are simply having a huge party on bicycles, taking over the streets and technically, they are not breaking rules; however, if they were a mob on foot, they would be arrested.
In the video at the top of the Miami Herald article, I see an unruly mob of cyclists taking as many as four lanes, when they could quite easily ride in one lane. I see cyclists riding though red lights, while fixie riders get to display their track stand skills while corking the intersection.
Blocking or corking an intersection is illegal and the perps justify this by saying it makes it safer for the group by keeping them together, and it cuts down on the delay.
So here you have one group of road users delaying another, and justifying it by saying it keeps the delay to a minimum. What’s wrong with that statement? And I can’t think of any thing that gets a motorist's blood boiling more than having a green light and can’t go.
Andres Viglucci actually wrote a pro-cycling article, he got on a bike and rode with Critical Mass. Kudos to Andres and the Miami Herald for having the balls to write such a piece; many big city newspapers will not risk doing so in an auto centric society.
From the article, I gather that Miami has a pro-cycling Mayor and Chief of Police. The article mentions there are plans to put in more bike lanes in the city. So why does the Critical Mass movement feel it is necessary to bring attention to the plight of cyclists? It would seem Miami city officials want to encourage cycling.
Critical Mass needs to decide if it has a real purpose, if the purpose is to celebrate cycling then do so at 6am. on a Sunday morning. (Probably the best time of the day temperature -wise in Miami.)
Riding at this time would cause the least disruption for other road users. Of course, if the object and most of the fun is in causing disruption then it just proves my point.
In which case Critical Mass needs to be honest and admit its purpose is for the selfish enjoyment of its participants, and it is not cycling advocacy.
Responsible cyclists in Miami might consider contacting the Mayor and the Chief of Police and let it be known that they distance themselves from CM, speak out and encourage people not to participate.
Why should I, an avid cyclist, want to spoil the fun for other people on bikes? Because Critical Mass is handing the general motoring public a stick to beat the rest of us with, whenever they see us commuting to work, or out riding alone
Footnote: In the top picture I don't see too many helmets. What conclusion, if any, do you draw from this? Am I being over critical of Critical Mass, what is your take?