Friday, August 29, 2008

Critical Mess

Tonight we went out to a movie at Uptown and ran into (pardon the pun) Critical Mass, which is held in major cities at rush hour in major cities all over the world on the last Friday of the Month. I guess you could describe it as anarchic in that it has no leader, and it is not really supposed to be organized. It's just a bunch of bicyclicsts taking over the streets from cars to make the point that...oh, wait, it doesn't exactly have a point. Or each participant has their own reason for doing it. Oh, whatever. Being in my forties now, I see this as a silly thing that people in their 20's do. But we stopped our car in the middle of traffic and let the bikes swarm around us. I even rolled down my window and waved at the bikers coming at us in the side view mirror.

The funny thing is, the authorities have gotten bad press in the last few years for having altercations with participants in these events. So, this year, the Minneapolis police gave the bicyclers escorts(!) through intersections and stopped cars in their tracks (they were bike patrol, naturally, so stopping our car consisted of pointing and yelling at us "Stop your vehicle!" ) Now, I don't know about you, but this just seemed a bit silly to me. If you need a police escort to make your anarchic, unorganzed event a success, isn't that sort of defeating the whole spirit of the event? To make cars notice bicycles more? That's been an oft-touted reason for the event. Well, of course drivers are going to notice POLICE on bikes, duh. But are we going to notice bikes more when the police escorts are gone? I just don't think so. So be careful, bicyclers who think you've achieved sudden and lasting visibility. Don't get a false sense of confidence and get squished because that SUV should have noticed you.

I worry about you people! My husband rides his bike to work more than half the year, so don't think I'm just being cheeky. He was hit by a school bus a few years back and don't even get me started on careless, dangerous idiots driving school busses today. Back in the day, our school bus driver was a retired air force pilot. We feared her. And it was good.

1 comment:

Chris said...

This is so whacky and bizarre, isn't it? It's like a scene in a Woody Allen or Marx Brothers movie. I would imagine half the people doing it do it because it's ridiculous and they like doing ridiculous things. The other half take it way too seriously and don't realize that, ultimately, they are going to 'lose'. Believe me, I'm all for dissent and demonstration, but not for a futile (or dumb) cause.

I do have a question, though: Doesn't the law state that at intersections, the biker must get off the bike and walk it across? Maybe that's changed. I'm very naive about bikes. I have to drive 3 miles to work every day so I need the street to be safe for cars!