Friday, January 27, 2012

Critical Mass: Bicyclists' Friend!?

Alex Weaver, a reporter at Medill Reports Chicago, wrote a reasonably balanced article about Critical Mass in which he interviewed yours truly.  Read the complete article here.

As I told Mr. Weaver, I have mixed feelings about Critical Mass.  Its spirit and purpose is good.  Sometimes the implementation is not so much.  Here's is the rest of what I said in the interview:
"I have not ridden Critical Mass myself, for no reason other than I just haven't been able to find the time.  Critical Mass is good and bad.  The message of, "Hey, we are here," is good.  Motorists need to get used to seeing bikes on the road.  When they do that should help reduce the number of collisions.  On the other hand, sometimes the way Critical Mass is carried out may be counter productive to bicycling.  I shed no tears for drivers who feel inconvenienced by people on bikes.  Drivers often don't realize that a person on a bike is one less car in their way.  Also, Illinois law is quite clear that cyclists are permitted users of the streets.  However, Critical Mass is sometimes carried out in a way that seems to goad drivers into confrontation.  That's bad.  Illinois requires cars and bikes to share the road.  Motorists often don't get that.  But Critical Mass is not sharing either.  It is bikes taking over the streets, in a sort of "in your face" way.  Chicago police seem to back off most of the time and permit Critical Mass -- from what I've heard and read -- showing considerable restraint."

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