November 17, 2005
No more Critical Mass
In the last 24 hours I have been reading, and thinking about, a letter that was sent to me by someone with 30 years experience as a Road Cyclist, and in cycling activism.
I have been looking for this type of perspective on CM, and cycling advocacy, for a long time.
I was initially reluctant to cover CM on my Blog because I knew the reactions from them, and their supporters, that I would get, but I felt it was important to educate the majority of cyclists, at least a little, about what these people are truly all about.
The correspondences I've had over the last few days have done more than I ever could, in years of posts, to expose the movement, and they do it all for me by their own words.
That letter is giving me some important food for thought, and a much needed perspective on what is important in the advocacy of bicycling.
I am going to read it again before sharing it, and trying to form a response, here, but in the meantime I have decided that, except for any final responses I may get from Hugh, and Carl, to wrap up our correspondence...
I will NOT be covering Critical Mass again.
My collection of CM Links will appear at the end of this post, and are removed from my sidebar.
The Mainstream Media, and even Independent Media outlets, and writers who disagree with CM, have more time, and resources than I ever will, to report on them, and ordinary cyclists, and cycling advocates, who sympathize with their politics are, I've seen here and there, beginning to express doubts about the usefullness of Critical Mass.
The writer of this letter said something in it that struck a chord with me, and is a part of my outlook on cycling:
"What constitutes a critical mass of bicycle riders? Two riding side-by-side? A group of 4 or more riding two up? A bigger group? Or can a critical mass consist of just one cyclist riding legally and responsibly, thereby showing the motoring public it's entirely possible to negotiate traffic in safety and comfort?
I'm thinking about this from the standpoint of how many cyclists are necessary to have an impact on motorist's thoughts and behavior. I submit that a critical mass (lower case!) can consist of merely one law-abiding vehicular cyclist.
I don't think the simple act of riding a bicycle requires any political agenda, so in effect, I take a simple approach: I ride my bike because I like to ride my bike."
The cause of cycling is universal, and there are better, more productive, ways to go about advocacy, and spreading the news of cycling than the way CM does it, and giving them undeserving attention on my Blog.
My correspondent, and others I've come into contact with in the past year, have been activists far longer than I and give me a much needed perspective on the overall scheme of things, and what's important.
I have wasted too much time on Critical Mass during a year and a 1/2 when I've had many things pre-occupying my time, and life.
I need to get back to exploring the many other important websites I link to, and sharing my thoughts on them with you my readers.
I need to get out and ride my bike far, and wide again, as well. ;-D
Those activities, more than anything Critical Mass will EVER do, will accomplish more good for the cause of Bicycling.
Let me assure anyone who wishes to toss in their 2 cents on any post related to Critical Mass that the Comments are ALWAYS OPEN....
Just subject to my approval before posting to keep out spam. ;-D
My Critical Mass Links as collected thru November 15, 2005: Explore them if you are interested, join in their activities if you are so inclined, but take my coverage here over the last 3 years into consideration before you participate...
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I have never felt that pissing people of was going to change their views
I respect the Critical Mass Movement
I am happy they are there
they have people talking
just letting people run you off the road
isn't going to change things either
so trying something may be better than doing nothing
Posted by: gwadzilla | Nov 18, 2005 5:03:37 PM
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