Seattle September Critical Mass ride report

I rode Seattle Critical Mass on Friday, great time and and a nice ride as always. The weather was lovely for a ride, could be the last rain-free mass of the year. We ended up cruising from downtown through Ballard, up Stone way past Greenlake and down University ave. I had to peel off a bit early, would love to hear where the ride ended up.

I was a bit surprised at the amount of antagonism between drivers and riders, it seemed quite a bit more than I’ve seen earlier this year. One comes to expect a certain amount of frustrated car drivers, but it really seemed like the level of animosity was on the rise.

I managed to snap a few photos along the way, here’s my set from the Bike Hugger Photostream


Well, was the critical mass another “fuck you we ride bikes and will drink beer in the street” event? That’s the problem with an anarchy movement, right, there’s no message or point so it’s a selfish, indulgent act that just delays motorists from getting home, or to dinner, or picking up their kids.

Does critical mass encourage anyone other than the mass itself to ride a bike instead of drive a car? 

It’s lost on me why critical mass doesn’t understand the reaction from motorists, when they’re not offering them anything but an in-your-face display of their self-important counter culture.

See this well-stated forum reply about a Chicago event . . .

“At its best, CM should be a demonstration, civil disobedience, crossed with a massive party…meaning the purpose is to have fun (and look like it) while demonstrating a point to on-lookers. At its worst (which it is getting closer and closer to with every ride), it is a alcohol and vandalism ridden group with an apparent inability to follow a route.”

Good questions and I think there’s a long answer, maybe in a separate post. But…

Beer Drinking: Yep, I saw a guy with a beer.

Fuck You: I think there were some fuck yous too, but I’d say these were ex-post-facto-fuckyous, not in your face fuck you for no reason fuck yous.

Overall, I think it was largely a fun ride with pretty broad support from pedestrians and motorists (at least one I spoke to for a minute or two) and generally good behaviour from the mass (thankyous to blocked traffic, etc). And as noted above, the level of antagonism seemed higher this ride than in months past.

Personally, I think the mass draws some people to biking. I ran into a highschool mate of mine (haven’t seen him in 20 years!) at Westlake, and when we parted ways he said “maybe I’ll join you next month”. Same thing with my co-worker on the bus to down town.

There’s a bigger question about whether it does more harm than good, clearly there’s some harm too.

That’s a great quote, btw.

I’m kind of wondering if it was just a bad Motorist/Rider interaction day. I rode through the U-district and Ballard probably an hour or so prior to the critical mass crowd and thought the vibe was really off. It wasn’t all the new students, or the festival on the Ave—they were fine. But maybe those events were putting the drivers on edge?

I don’t know what excuse the rest of the city can use, but it did seem like a bad day to be on a bike in traffic in Ballard and the U.

Still, I’m planning on bringing out the whole fam on the xtracycles next month. With Halloween and all I hope it’s not too crazy (but still a little crazy ;-).

Tim K,

Speaking of Halloween, Tom (neighbor) and I are going to ride our xtracycles like “Bats out of Hell” with a plan to affix ghost to the back, dress in all black, and a boombox with like the intro to the Immigrant Song playing. So it appears the ghosts of Zepplin are steering the bike.

Basic idea is to scare the crap out of the kids, then come back, and show them it was just us.

I don’t have much opinion on CM, but I really hate seeing cyclists ride the wrong side of the yellow line into traffic. That’s just stupidity.

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