Chicagoboyz Cycling Series: Critical Mass, Part 2

Did this again last night.

Critical Mass

Another big crowd. This time we started near the front, which made the whole experience better as most of the crashes and sudden stops happened behind us. Also it’s summer, so much of the ride took place when it was light enough to see the sights, including the more attractive female participants…

luv the hair, dude!

A remarkable number of the participants were having phone conversations, tweeting, texting and/or holding their phones up in the air to make videos as they rode. I am guessing a significant number of the motorists they were blocking were doing the same.

I was tempted to take photos or video during the ride but I figured I would probably crash, so I settled for taking photos at stops. Next time I’ll take a smaller camera and maybe mount it on my helmet.

Critical Mass


Ride paused in token concession to ordinary people in cars.

Drawbridge on Miami Beach causeway.
Critical Mass

Looking back from the bridge.
Critical Masses

10 thoughts on “Chicagoboyz Cycling Series: Critical Mass, Part 2”

  1. They had a critical mass ride here in Chicago yesterday (Friday night). I got a few pictures from my balcony. I need to go back in my email and find your recommendation for a zoom lens for my Pentax K01 so I can get better photos :)

    Great photos from Florida!

  2. I’ve had my life disrupted by Critical Mass rides in San Francisco on more than one occasion.

    I have NO sympathy for their “political” issues and see them as pampered, self-entitled, ill-responsible adolescents.

    They want the roads for their hobby, without compensation to the working people who pay for them with their gas tax. So self-righteous of them!

  3. All true. But despite the self-styled activists who organize it the actual event has morphed into something less political and more a form of group entertainment in the same category as the various festivals, street fairs, marathons and so forth. Events of this kind inconvenience many people, and if I were in charge I might not allow them, but I’m not, so I try to get some benefit from them.

    Of course thousands of motorists get blindsided by the bike parade and I have sympathy for them.

    The central problem is that politicians perceive any mass event that occurs more than once as evidence of the existence of a constituency to which they must pander.

  4. I take it that these folks aren’t required to follow the usual rules of the road (?), that is, stopping at red lights, etc?

  5. “the actual event has morphed into something less political and more a form of group entertainment”

    Even if lots of people participate for non-political reasons, it’s still a political event. By participating you are lending your implicit support to an event that is, to put it politely, less than virtuous. “Because it’s fun” seems merely an excuse to evade this.

  6. “Because it’s fun” seems merely an excuse to evade this.

    Who’s evading? I had a good time and I don’t think my insignificant presence among thousands of other people had any political effect. Some people might even google the term “critical mass” and find this thoughtful discussion.

    There are many public and private events that are allowed to foul traffic. A couple of Mondays ago the downtown here was effectively closed for a couple of hours at midday because they had a parade for the basketball team. Cities do this kind of thing all the time. Major roads get closed because someone is filming a movie. I was once caught in a traffic jam in Chicago because they closed an expressway ramp on a weekday afternoon so that some pols could have a dedication ceremony for the new highway extension. I’m not saying it’s right but that is how things work. Disruptive events are tolerated if the perceived political gains exceed the costs. The more popular the cause, the more disruption gets tolerated.

    In the case of CM there is a tacit political compromise that allows the rides to take place on Friday evenings when they are less disruptive than they would be otherwise. But if enough voters get pissed off by CM the local govts will eventually shut down the rides. So far this hasn’t happened and indeed it appears that the rides are becoming more popular. The CM activists think that they are succeeding in forcing their political agenda on everyone else, but what is really happening is that cycling is becoming a more popular activity and the CM people are riding the trend they are taking credit for. In this respect they are like many other activist types (e.g., feminists) who claim credit for cultural changes that were already well underway when they began their activism and indeed that made activism profitable for political opportunists.

  7. Jon, how far was the ride? How was the weather? Did you enjoy it, have fun? Looks like something I’d enjoy.

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