[dc-critmass-list] DC critical mass culture
lukekuhn at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 3 17:32:48 EDT 2011
I rather like the idea of trying to make motorists envious of our vehicles that can stay mobile in tight traffic. Years ago I proposed this idea of "water over rocks" traffic education and got nowhere. The plan would be this: We would seek out the highest density traffic, where cars are obstructing traffic to a standstill. We would stay together on the way there, basically riding the way we ride the rest of the month-running lights where we can, etc but no being particularily aggressive. When we are in the dense traffic, we ride through it, passing all the cars, and atttempt to avoid multiple passes past the same cars for educational reasons.
The idea as that the smallest number of motorists would be slowed down and the largest number would see a whole mass of bikes blowing by them while their wider vehicles are stuck immobile in traffic. That would make some of them think about wanting something faster themselves-and in that kind of traffic, that something is a bike.
Here's my observations on the logic of so many drivers bringing their cars downtown on a daily basis, knowing they will face obstructed traffic that will make anything we can do look like a couple of out-of-sync traffic lights. All of them are submitting themselves to getting stuck behind a "Critical Mass of Cars" every time they drive past St Stephens on 16th st, the end of the weekend car-free zones in Rock Creek, you get the picture. We are better off showing them something faster that passes THEM, not being something they have to try to pass.
For instance, today I had to get to Occupy DC in AM rush hour, and I knew that of all vehicles available to me the least useful was a car. Instead, I rode the electrically-boosted bike I have for suburban trips to the Metro(about 5 miles each way) and got on the train. No car, no parking hassles, no tar sands oil.
Due to rush hour I could not bring the bike on the train but inbound time for both parts of the trip plus the walk to the objective afterwards was maybe an hour and 10 minutes, maybe a little more. A run using a car and switching to a bike five miles out would have taken an hour and a half in AM rush. That same trip for someone driving downtown and paying for parking(which I don't even know HOW it is done) would take an unknown amount of time, I'm guessing at least an hour and 40 due to all the stalled traffic above the Zoo area I see if I bike through Rock Creek. If I had to drive a car to 15th and K in morning rush (say, with the cargo bike's worth of supplies in the back that I helped someone else unload) I would have to budget two hours-and anyone paying to park would have walked farther at the end than I did.
As for the video, it shows how we rode. I clipped out the worst offenses committed against pedestrians (There were some nasty ones!) but could not easily find all of them(especially buried in 100 clips!), and there were so many that to screen them all out would have not only made a video that lied but would have seriously chopped it up. I agree we need to STOP running pedestrians off the road, and I will also remind everyone that not doing this on the bikes will make it a lot easier for me to keep it out of the videos! If we want to edit videos for content in the future, I can do that, but I think we should "edit" our riding instead in regards to pedestrian safety.
On the other hand, we mush NOT become "Critical Manners"- traffic lights only exist because of cars, and we need to send a message to the police and society that crackdowns on cyclists or pedestrians won't be tolerated.. I suspect that the nationwide inability of police anywhere to stamp out Critical Mass (as opposed to driving off families and people of color) has had a hand in deterring things like helmet laws, new registration laws, or the stationing of hordes of bike cops to ticket cyclists and pedestrians on any sustained basis. That's one of the major reasons I ride in Critical Mass-deterring and opposing the sort of "traffic law fascism" I believe NO road user should be subject to.
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