home

Organizers enthused about resurgent Critical Mass

Posted by on June 30th, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Critical Mass at the intersection of W Burnside and 14th on Friday.
(Photos by Hart Noecker/Rebel Metropolis)

Portland is poised to enter a new era of bike activism; and it might look a lot like the old one.

After laying dormant for over six years, Critical Mass appears to be showing real signs of life. People who were at the ride this past Friday night have expressed enthusiasm and optimism about how it went and it’s already on the calendar again next month.

“The advance of bike infrastructure in Portland is pretty pathetic, relative to what we need to accommodate bike traffic.”
— Ted Buehler, ride participant and citizen bike advocate

According to various sources there were between 60 and 75 people at the ride. They looped through major streets and intersections downtown, crossed over the Willamette, rolled east to 28th and then back downtown via Broadway and the Steel Bridge — all while riding many abreast across several lanes.

Hart Noecker, a blogger and active rider with the PDX Bike Swarm (FB), recapped the ride on his Rebel Metropolis blog. Here’s an excerpt about what the riders did at major intersections:

The mass would reach a key intersection, and riders would swarm in a circle, blocking traffic in all directions. Ironically, most of the car honks this disruption elicited seemed friendly in nature, as drivers would wave and snap photos of the mass. When those honks would become aggressive or when somebody would try to push their car through the mass, everybody would exit the intersection, continuing to ride on.


Some riders chanted, “What do we want? Bike lanes on Burnside!” and Noecker says there was a lot of discussion about the need for Critical Mass to return to its former size and influence. Another person I asked about the ride, who has ridden in it since its inception in Portland in 1994, said without hesitation he and others plan to keep doing it each month.

Ted Buehler, a well-known advocate and frequent commenter here on BikePortland, was also on the ride. He reported that it was “great” and he “loved” being a part of it:

“Bombed down W Burnside from 14th to 2nd. Spectacular. Took 2 lanes of Wiedler, 3 lanes of Broadway.

Some of you may take offence to this, but some cars were slowed down in the process. Perhaps by up to two minutes! And yes, some of them were antagonized. Perhaps even 10% of said drivers.”

Buehler says the antagonism is necessary in order to shake Portland from its post-Platinum stupor and create a new sense of urgency around bicycling. “The advance of bike infrastructure in Portland is pretty pathetic, relative to what we need to accommodate bike traffic,” he wrote in a comment. “If you want to see change, you need to speak up, act, ride, shout, write, participate in civil disobedience, and encourage others to do the same.”

He points to a recent (and very well-done) article in The Portland Mercury titled Slow Leak where reporter Dirk VanderHart says Portlanders “may have to get mad” if significant gains in bike conditions are to be made:

But that’s exactly why 6 percent has been so hard to surpass. If Portland wants to reach its potential, Portlanders may have to get mad. The city’s old playbook is no longer enough, and worries that Portland’s finally lost its bike mojo have grown louder, in just the past few weeks, than at any point in recent history.

The next Critical Mass is Friday, July 25th. Meet at the North Park Blocks at 5:30 pm.

— For more community discussion about Critical Mass in Portland, read the comment thread from our post on Friday.


Email This Post Email This Post


Gravatars make better comments... Get yours here.
Please notify the publisher about offensive comments.
Comments
  • spare_wheel June 30, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    The circling at intersections was intended to memorialize people who lost their lives at that particular intersection. The vast majority of motorists were supportive.

    Recommended Thumb up 16

    • q`Tzal June 30, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Have the “corkers” ride ghost bikes and dress up in all white with skulls painted on white face masks.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Hart Noecker June 30, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    From Brian Davis (@briandavispdx): “Protests like Critical Mass arise naturally when leadership fails. Portland didn’t need it for a while, but now we do again. Welcome back!”

    https://twitter.com/briandavispdx/status/483731887387443201

    Recommended Thumb up 17

    • Brian Davis June 30, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Indeed! It’s worth noting that protests that look a lot like Critical Mass played a crucial roll in the development of the Dutch bicycle infrastructure that we all envy today, as chronicled in this BicycleDutch video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuBdf9jYj7o

      In rewatching that, I’m struck by how much the political/social conditions described in the video at the onset of the protests resemble what we’re experiencing today in Portland…

      Recommended Thumb up 4

  • 9watts June 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    If wsbob finds this resurgence annoying, Critical Mass probably is necessary.
    http://bikeportland.org/2014/06/27/critical-mass-back-107941#comment-5115186

    Recommended Thumb up 21

    • wsbob July 1, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      Critical Mass doesn’t annoy me. It’s not me getting stuck in traffic, waiting for Critical Mass clogging the streets to pass. Lots of people have gotten stuck and delayed though, and Critical is likely making enemies of many of those people.

      I haven’t ridden in a Critical Mass event, but I’ve walked with it numerous times, observing its effect. The future may be different, but I know from personal observation, what has happened in past.

      Take note of some of the thoughts expressed by TJ and PoPo in comments elsewhere in this comment section.

      “…Swarming cars only further marginalizes all cyclist in the eyes of many other road users -if we’re already perceived to not obey traffic laws, why publicly break them in the name of protest? It does little to assist in the very public opinion battle of rather or not cyclist (we) are worthy of sharing the roads. This protest could have been accomplished without swarming intersections (I’ll grant corking at stop signs as being something of a safety and time saving measure for such “rides”, though corking traffic lights is a slippery slope at rush hour). …” TJ

      http://bikeportland.org/2014/06/30/organizers-enthused-resurgent-critical-mass-108051#comment-5126155

      “…I believe Critical Mass in its previous form caused more way more damage to “the cause” than it helped, and hate to see it come back unless it is in a way more sophisticated form. And “swarming” intersections is not it. …” PoPo

      http://bikeportland.org/2014/06/30/organizers-enthused-resurgent-critical-mass-108051#comment-5126435

      If some sort of resurgence of Critical Mass can accomplish something positive and constructive for Portland and biking as a viable means of travel and transport, that’s great. Past experience has shown though, that Critical Mass doesn’t have a clear, positive objective of that type that it’s able to steadily stay on track with.

      If Critical Mass doesn’t once again devolve into another messy episode of negative road user confrontation and expressed animosity, along with corresponding police action, I’ll be surprised, but glad.

      Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Spiffy June 30, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    when I saw this lead photo on the swarm facebook page after the event I thought to myself “and THIS is exactly why I didn’t want to go”… because it doesn’t show a critical mass of cyclists… it doesn’t show cycling as a mass form of commuting… it doesn’t show that bikes have a place in traffic… it was just a protest ride that stole the name of Critical Mass…

    I’d love to ride with a huge group of cyclists through town, obeying the traffic laws just like cars do, and showing drivers that bikes are part of daily traffic…

    but I already do that when I commute in and out of downtown…

    Recommended Thumb up 55

    • Mossby Pomegranate June 30, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      which is why Critical Mass riders are phonies and just looking for some excuse to create gridlock. There is already a “mass” of us riders out there everyday amongst the traffic.

      Recommended Thumb up 10

    • Hart Noecker June 30, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      But you already knew riding strictly legally has never been what Critical Mass is. That predates Bike Swarm by 18 years. Can’t blame us for that one.

      Recommended Thumb up 11

      • joe biel July 2, 2014 at 9:03 am

        Like all traffic, everything I’ve run into indicates that CM does what is logical for safety and practicality in every moment, not going out of the way to block traffic.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

    • WL June 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      “Obeying the traffic laws just like cars do”

      Me too. “Just like cars do”

      Recommended Thumb up 20

      • Spiffy July 1, 2014 at 8:37 am

        I was sure to word that carefully… (:

        Recommended Thumb up 7

    • spare_wheel July 1, 2014 at 8:07 am

      “but I already do that when I commute in and out of downtown…”

      i ride commercial streets and arterials every day but much of the time i’m the only cyclist there. (a crappy mup on a bridge does not a bike city make.)

      Recommended Thumb up 7

    • was carless July 1, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      Yeah, it kind of looks like they are just playing in the intersection…

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • N June 30, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    I was there for the first half (got hungry and split off when we passed a few blocks from home), and I had a great time! It was very friendly, someone stepped up at the beginning to help organize corkers and guidelines (let buses through, change streets frequently, points of interest) but other than that the ride went where it went.

    I like bicycling, I ride every day, don’t take me wrong–but there was something incredibly freeing about rolling down the middle of the street at our own speed and convenience. It’s quite a giddy feeling, and I’ll definitely be going back next month.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Rob Chapman June 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Wow the people in the photos look happy and positive, where were all the anarchists and vandals?

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Hart Noecker June 30, 2014 at 11:58 pm

      I didn’t see any vandals, but rest assured there were many happy, positive anarchists on the ride.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Stretchy July 2, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Trying to figure out why my previous reply to this comment was nixed by the admin. I pointed out that in my previous experience, summertime and nice weather bring larger crowds (it has in the past) and those crowds often contain vandals looking to hide among the anonymity of the crowd.

      This is from first-hand experience watching previous critical mass rides go from fun and enjoyable in November to, downright shameful and embarrassing when July rolled around.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • i ride my bike June 30, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Most probably thought it was just your typical Pedalpalooza ride. Afterall many large Pedalpalooza rides can also look a lot like Critical Mass rides just with the abundance of bikes going past for 5 minutes.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Buzz June 30, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    In my past experience with the ride, the vast majority of motorists were supportive, and only a very small but vocal minority were annoyed at the delay/inconvenience.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • AndyC of Linnton June 30, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Awesome. I’m hopeful for this next wave.
    Glad it’s happening regularly. See y’all when my dumb old schedule permits!

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Jake June 30, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    In my past experience with the ride, the vast majority of motorists were supportive, and only a very small but vocal minority were annoyed at the delay/inconvenience.

    You would know this how?

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Buzz July 1, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      rode on the ride from ~ 2002 to 2006, and had many, many positive interactions with motorists.

      OTOH, the police brutality the ride attracted was largely uncalled for.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Aaron June 30, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    IMO, these rides make all cyclists look bad. We have it pretty good in Portland, not sure why we have to block traffic and piss everybody off.

    Recommended Thumb up 27

    • Borgbike July 1, 2014 at 10:39 am

      Aaron, I encourage you all to try a CM ride. It’s a fun and positive scene. Really. There are a lot of stereotypes about critical mass. It’s a joyful ride and most experienced riders are reasonably respectful of cars. It’s mostly just about asserting our rights as bicyclists to enjoy the streets, a pride parade for bicycling.

      Yes, things are pretty good in Portland but we still have a long way to go. I deal with aggressive/insensitive/texting motorists on a daily basis.

      N (above) outlined how at the beginning of the ride a moderator started a group dialog about goals/respect and avoiding excessive testosterone. This is a longstanding aspect of Critical Mass rides that the general public doesn’t really know about or appreciate.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Pete July 1, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      I’ve never ridden CM and have mixed personal opinions about it, but have to ask… why does this make all bike riders look bad? When some people drive like idiots, does it make all motorists look bad? When you’re stuck at the green light behind that driver who’s still busy texting, does it make all smartphone users look bad?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Nick Fox June 30, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    I wasn’t there, sadly, but I’m glad to see it’s coming back in Portland. When I started doing CM rides in Minneapolis almost a decade ago that was a key moment for me shifting from an occasional cyclist to someone who rides almost everywhere. It may briefly frustrate some motorists (for a few minutes, as Ted Buehler notes above), but don’t undersell how transformative it can be for (would-be-)cyclists.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Hart Noecker June 30, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      That’s a great point to make. We don’t need to worry about what drivers think of us, it’s not our job to make them happy or angry. The focus should be on just getting people together to ride, and if Critical Mass can continue to help make that happen, so be it.

      Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Dan Reed Miller June 30, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    “Original Model” Critical Mass arose (first in S.F. and then Portland) essentially as a way to celebrate being together en masse on two wheels, as well as raise awareness about the need for better bike infrastructure and the positive and rightful place of bicycles on the streets of a city. Police forces treated it as a menace to civil society and effectively quashed the ride itself, even as new rides and Shift, etc., arose to effectively replace it. And BTA, in its now long ago early heyday, did yeoman work to make the infrastructure part happen at a level that, at the time, was unprecedented. Both needs are more than ever with us: the celebration and affirmation of the right of bicycles to an equal place on our thoroughfares, and the new and leading-edge infrastructure that will help significantly increase mode share from the “interested but concerned”. So Kudos to a new Critical Mass. The other bike fun rides and events that came in the wake of the old Mass are great and have been transformative in their own right, but “it is time.” To reach for, to demand, something equal to what we know is possible for our cities.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • Ted Buehler July 1, 2014 at 1:49 am

    Branding a modern Critical Mass will be a challenge. But, if its done well, it should be very effective.

    Bicycling problems in Portland are more complex than in the 1990s.

    Though we’re “the best” now, that still isn’t “good enough.”

    It will take a little more articulation to convey. But doable.

    Ted Buehler

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • TJ July 1, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Friday: 60-70 people on bikes “swarmed” intersections in protest. Meanwhile, 4,377 trips by bike were made across the Hawthorne Bridge (in the rain).

    With several seats already at the table, cyclist must realize attention-seeking stunts are no longer a necessity. Critical Mass does little to encourage new cyclist; rather is merely an opportunity for the misguided to ride bikes with anarchist.

    Recommended Thumb up 13

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 1, 2014 at 9:30 am

      TJ,

      While there were 4,300 or so bike trips over the Hawthorne, there were probably over 20,000 car trips. Bike riders remain a marginalized minority in Portland and our streetscapes are still dominated by cars.

      It seems to me that people who feel “we have it pretty good here” and use the argument that “we have critical mass everyday on Hawthorne, Williams, etc..” have never been to a real biking city like Copenhagen or Amsterdam.

      Once you get out of the Portland complacency bubble, you realize how far we have to go and how painfully slowly we are getting there.

      And what good do “seats at the table” do if no one around those tables has any real urgency for bicycling to get better in Portland? Sure, they all talk the talk, but who is walking the walk? Who is actually putting money and action where their mouth is when it comes to biking? No one as far as I can tell.

      In my experience, people protest when they feel that their perspective is not being represented by their elected official and/or community leaders. I think that’s the case here in Portland right now. There’s a growing sea of people who are fed up with the current state of bicycling conditions and the lack of progress around bicycling improvements in general and they simply feel like they have no other avenue to express their feelings… So they take to the streets and hope their message is finally heard.

      Recommended Thumb up 18

      • TJ July 1, 2014 at 10:26 am

        Hi Jonathan-
        Swarming cars only further marginalizes all cyclist in the eyes of many other road users -if we’re already perceived to not obey traffic laws, why publicly break them in the name of protest? It does little to assist in the very public opinion battle of rather or not cyclist (we) are worthy of sharing the roads. This protest could have been accomplished without swarming intersections (I’ll grant corking at stop signs as being something of a safety and time saving measure for such “rides”, though corking traffic lights is a slippery slope at rush hour).

        I still support Critical Mass type rides in cities where needed, but in Portland I don’t feel we’ve returned to a state requiring such desperation. Or so I hope. This ride was a reach for the days when commuting by bike was more synonymous with rebelling against societal accepted norms. Today we’re accepted. Many full-time drivers understand Portland’s connection to cycling, finding it an endearing quirk (not a bad place to be in the hearts of those who 15 years ago would have thought to put us in a ditch). Why erode these positive sentiments?

        To nudge back to having a seat at the table, it is also important we continue to gain respect on the roads. We’re not a group of good and bad drivers, economy cars or diesel pick-ups, street rodders vs. minivans with babies on board… We, in the eyes of the public, are simply cyclist. The actions of one middle finger, speak for us all. The action of 60-70 swarmers grows detest for the 4,300 crossing the bridge –call it a fear, but I believe it to be deconstructive. While I can’t applaud, I’ll sympathize.

        Recommended Thumb up 11

        • PoPo July 1, 2014 at 11:43 am

          TJ writes very eloquently here. I believe Critical Mass in its previous form caused more way more damage to “the cause” than it helped, and hate to see it come back unless it is in a way more sophisticated form. And “swarming” intersections is not it.

          Recommended Thumb up 13

          • 9watts July 1, 2014 at 1:01 pm

            “I believe Critical Mass in its previous form caused more way more damage to ‘the cause’ than it helped”

            Interesting. Perhaps you are right, but I find it very difficult to judge this so absolutely from where I sit. 26 years ago my friend Brian Willson sat down in front of a munitions train supplying weapons to our wars in Central America. I am certain that many people (thousands? millions?) might have objected to that action before Sept. 1, 1987. Yet the day after the train ran over him, severed both his legs, and stove his head in, thousands descended on the site, ripped up the tracks, and succeeded in blockading train traffic around the clock for I think close to two years. It is notoriously difficult to judge the reactions and repercussions from direct action.

            Recommended Thumb up 9

        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

          Thanks TJ, I think I understand your opinion on this. I want to be clear that I’m not vouching or endorsing or advocating for any specific type of tactics, I’m merely saying that I feel a new kind of activism is needed in Portland right now. I’m also trying to explain/share my understanding of why people do the types of protest rides they do.

          That being said, you and I don’t see the situation the same way. I don’t think the only goal of bike advocacy should be to try and win some sort of popularity contest or curry favorable public opinion. That type of thinking — that bike riders (the minority) must be perfect little angels in order to not upset anyone in the powerful majority — just feels very wrong to me.

          Every person on a bike is an individual. The concept concept that “we” must behave or that “we” represent a homogenous group that is carrying some sort of “bicyclist” flag is just preposterous to me and I refuse to perpetuate it.

          Again, I do not buy into the line of thinking that if all bike riders simply were perceived as being perfectly obedient citizens, that suddenly America would embrace cycling and there’d be no more road rage, road design discrimination, offensive politicians, and so on.

          You also wrote:

          “…in Portland I don’t feel we’ve returned to a state requiring such desperation… Today we’re accepted. Many full-time drivers understand Portland’s connection to cycling, finding it an endearing quirk.. Why erode these positive sentiments?”

          I don’t agree with this.

          I think we have reached a point where more grassroots activism like the swarm and critical mass is needed. I’m not satisfied at the current level of “acceptance” by other road users, by elected officials, by the design of our streets, and so on.

          It’s about rate of change for me. On our current path toward true acceptance of bicycling, I’ll be old and grey before the balance of power on our streets has significantly shifted. I don’t think we should wait that long… especially given the proud legacy of bicycling in Portland.

          “We, in the eyes of the public, are simply cyclist. The actions of one middle finger, speak for us all.”

          I agree with this to some extent, but I also think it’s largely true only because you believe it. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy. We need to change that narrative and make people realize that every person on the road is an individual, not a user group that can be broadly labeled by the type of vehicle they’ve chosen to use.

          That’s why I seem to always come back to the power of language, labels, framing, and narrative.

          Ultimately, I think the way to make this work is to use the lessons learned from the old style of critical mass, combine them with our specific local socio-political context and add new creative ways of making points in public (perhaps gleaned from Occupy successes).

          Heck, maybe the best thing to do isn’t a ride at all, but some sort of other protest method where a lot of people show up. Like a sit-in, a rally, a march, and so on. That way, all the baggage around critical mass and “cyclists” would be gone and the message would be the focus.

          Recommended Thumb up 12

          • TJ July 1, 2014 at 1:20 pm

            Good points Jonathan. To be clear, as well, I’m not suggesting those who desire (deserve) better infrastructure and awareness accept slightness and quietly yield to other road users. However, I am a fan of leading by example and well considered tactics. After all, we’re dealing with several issues (at least): awareness, acceptance, participation, and infrastructure. Some of these are political –most notably infrastructure. Others are more owed to being good neighbors and ambassadors for cycling as a form of transportation, well-being, and sheer fun.

            While I appreciate your sentiment that every user is an individual the notion is only applicable when the rubber meets the road, where every driver and cyclists should be respected and not be held accountable for the actions of others. However, when it comes to how we would like for our public dollars spent, we are a voting group with different stakes than the non-cycling community. It is possible to simultaneously make the roads safer and less-stressful for cars, bikes, and pedestrian, but as a group we need the buy-in and cooperation of the driving public. I do believe we’re in a position, with the right tactics, to capitalize and gain support. A strike at Portland’s bike culture offends all who understand what makes this city special –cyclist or not.

            Friday’s ride was a success: I’m here debating and considering what step should be taken next. The issues, stakes, and successes are not nearly so simple as the days of old Critical Mass. Portland’s matured. The debate has matured. Let the actions mature as well. But do act. I am proud of our legacy and agree that being complacent is no more respectful of the days when Critical Mass was viable than hastily re-implementing the tactics of Critical Mass because we’re not sure what else to do. Are we that lost?

            (I’ve long been a fan of bikeportland.org’s perspective regarding labels and narrative. It is hard to break from the habit).

            What do others believe we should do? Jonathan makes a great point. We’re riding in a different era with different tools and maybe should shed the baggage (connotations) of Critical Mass and cyclists.

            Recommended Thumb up 2

        • 9watts July 1, 2014 at 12:34 pm

          “Why erode these positive sentiments?”

          I find it interesting that you have such a nuanced understanding of what ‘drivers,’ writ large, think about biking through all these moments (and reversals as you see it) in Portland’s history. I find very little evidence of this homogeneity you see among either those piloting autos or bicycles. The stereotypes you are falling back on of course have some basis in reality, but let’s not mistake the caricature for the much more interesting and messy and dynamic everyday dance we all engage in.

          “it is also important we continue to gain respect on the roads. … We, in the eyes of the public, are simply cyclist.”

          This is an impossible, lose-lose, proposition. If you flip this, substituting driver for cyclist in that sentence perhaps you’ll see what a dead end this argument is, how the minority (people bicycling) seeking to earn respect from the majority (people driving cars) is obsequious. Why is their respect (in your interpretation) so gingerly dispensed? What if after behaving perfectly as a person on a bike it turns out that their antipathy to us as a class has origins I have no control over? What if they need some group, some Other, to blame for their bad day, their lot in life? This whole argument is premised on the bikers-are-children/drivers-are-adults meme.

          Second-guessing (or in your case what I’d call triple-guessing) others’ views and motives takes a lot of energy and may well not work as you think it should anyway.

          Recommended Thumb up 11

        • spare_wheel July 1, 2014 at 1:00 pm

          “if we’re already perceived to not obey traffic laws”
          one of the goals of critical mass, for me, is to have cycling become as accepted as walking. i’ve never once heard a motorist complain about jay walking.

          i utterly reject the idea that motorist convenience and the free flow of motorized traffic should be our primary legal concern.

          Today we’re accepted.
          when I take the lane on Burnside, Chavez, Sandy, or Foster i don’t feel accepted.

          “Many full-time drivers understand Portland’s connection to cycling, finding it an endearing quirk”
          any motorist who believes that cycling is an endearing quirk can take their patronizing attitude and shove it up their @*$. cycling is not a quirk, it’s how I get to work, buy groceries, or run errands. The kind of attitude you laud above is exactly why we need critical mass.

          we continue to gain respect on the roads
          when a pedestrian crosses an intersection do they worry about gaining the respect of motorists? the idea that i need to please, accomodate, appease, or gain respect of motorists to exercise my legal right to get from point A to point B is pure stockholm syndrome. this sentiment that cyclists need to beg for scraps from the motoring majority is, imo, the epitome of everything that is wrong about cycling advocacy in portland.

          The action of 60-70 swarmers grows detest for the 4,300 crossing the bridger
          i saw lots of smiles, thumbs up, and people talking. and where did you get 4,300? a few motorvehicles being for a minute or two is not the end of the world.

          call it a fear
          i don’t think people in multi-ton vehicles protected by seatbelts and multiple airbags have a lot to be afraid of when it comes to colliding with a cyclist.

          Recommended Thumb up 11

      • davemess July 1, 2014 at 12:24 pm

        “It seems to me that people who feel “we have it pretty good here” and use the argument that “we have critical mass everyday on Hawthorne, Williams, etc..” have never been to a real biking city like Copenhagen or Amsterdam.”

        Many people who feel this way have lived in other cities in the US and acknowledge that comparisons to those cities are more relevant that cities on another continent.
        Sure it could be better, but it is pretty good here compared to the most comparable cities (other US cities).

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 1, 2014 at 12:32 pm

          “Many people who feel this way have lived in other cities in the US and acknowledge that comparisons to those cities are more relevant that cities on another continent.”

          Sure. I hear you about relevancy and I completely agree that there are stark differences in our cultures, land-use, politics, and so on that make comparisons to the world-class bike cities difficult.

          However, why be so willing to accept that we’re a big fish in a tiny tiny pond? We Americans don’t do that with other things do we? Would we accept it if our cars, food, beer, electronic devices, and so on were totally inferior compared to other countries? I don’t think so. So why do it with bicycling?… Especially when our poor bicycling conditions have such a direct impact on our personal and planetary health!?

          “Sure it could be better, but it is pretty good here compared to the most comparable cities (other US cities).”

          I agree. It’s great here compared to other US cities… But the US sucks at cycling! In bike racing there’s a thing called “sandbagging” when someone who is always at the front refuses to upgrade themselves to a higher category because they’re afraid they’ll get beaten by faster, better riders. That’s what Portland is doing with cycling. We’re sandbagging… and it’s time to upgrade and compete on a higher level.

          Recommended Thumb up 14

          • 9watts July 1, 2014 at 12:46 pm

            “someone who is always at the front refuses to upgrade themselves to a higher category because they’re afraid they’ll get beaten by faster, better riders.”
            A superb metaphor! Thank you!
            Between carhead, and sandbagging, and bikers-don’t-pay-their-share dupes we’ve got a triple threat.

            Recommended Thumb up 7

          • davemess July 1, 2014 at 1:28 pm

            Jonathan everything you said is a fair assessment. I think the argument is more about HOW to achieve that, and many don’t think swarms and pissing off other traffic (not just cars) is the way forward.

            Recommended Thumb up 1

        • was carless July 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm

          Why? Do you believe that human beings who live on different continents are fundamentally different than people who live anywhere else in the universe?

          We are all human beings. Note the “being” in the name. :)

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • davemess July 1, 2014 at 1:28 pm

            Fundamentally no. Culturally yes. Why does much of Europe have socialized health care and we don’t?

            Recommended Thumb up 1

            • 9watts July 1, 2014 at 1:36 pm

              The differences are real, but are we fated to always and forever dawdle at the back of the line? Why can’t we, who we tell ourselves are the richest, freest country in the world, can’t hold ourselves to standards at least as high as a few tiny European countries?

              Recommended Thumb up 5

              • davemess July 1, 2014 at 4:39 pm

                Because those are your (and the minority of those of us who post here’s) standards. If this is not a priority for a larger portion of the electorate it is never going move the needle much, and continue to be a mainly fringe segment of society. And in this capacity I don’t think that swarms and this style of CM are going to be very effective at that.
                Note that there are plenty of other European countries who have also not adopted these standards, and they face even less hurdles than we do.

                Recommended Thumb up 3

                • 9watts July 1, 2014 at 5:01 pm

                  “If this is not a priority for a larger portion of the electorate it is never going move the needle much, and continue to be a mainly fringe segment of society.”

                  I think we need to talk and think about this a little more.
                  I will readily concede that our public institutions, our elected officials, and our policies don’t reflect a prioritization around shifting away from the overwhelming presence of the automobile and toward a greater presence of other, less expensive and disruptive modes. But I am not willing to concede that this ipso facto means the public feels similarly ho-hum about this. I can’t imagine concluding from how our city is run, how decisions are made, that the results or the process faithfully reflect what the citizens might prefer, might choose, might accomplish. Our democracy is sometimes hopelessly myopic, venal, pathetic. There are many reasons for this, but the wsbob school of thought that finds ODOT’s priorities to be the priorities of the public has never rung true for me.

                  Recommended Thumb up 2

                • davemess July 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm

                  But to me the facts are:
                  1. City council is not constantly inundated with bike propsals and bike support
                  2. We are not electing leaders that are obviously pro bike (Fritz is a perfect example)
                  3. The leaders we are electing are coming up with stuff like the Street Fee (which regardless of whether you think it is good or not, most would agree it’s not exactly pro-bike)
                  4. We’re still at a 6% commute share rate

                  Haven’t there been numerous article for the last month or so on this very site saying that Portland has become ho-hum for cycling?
                  I just don’t see a majority of people willing to make major sacrifices (and that’s what it is going to take) for major bike-oriented changes.

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

    • 9watts July 1, 2014 at 9:52 am

      “cyclist must realize attention-seeking stunts are no longer a necessity. Critical Mass does little to encourage new cyclist; rather is merely an opportunity for the misguided to ride bikes with anarchist.”

      I’m curious where it is that you are standing, TJ, from which you have such a clear view of how misguided these people are? Can you appreciate that the situation looks very different to those who chose to participate? How do you think we got to the point where 4,377 people biked across the Hawthorne bridge? Did that just happen, or did earlier generations engage in actions that their peers dismissed as you are now dismissing this effort?

      I’m not saying that this particular effort was the sine qua non, but to criticize it so blandly from the sidelines seems weak to me.

      Recommended Thumb up 15

  • Joe July 1, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Everyday I ride the Tour :)

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • spare_wheel July 1, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      Cat 6 commuting is one of the few things more controversial than CM.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ryan July 1, 2014 at 9:31 am

    This only feeds into the perception of cyclists as scofflaws in my opinion. If you really want to make a positive contribution it takes writing letters, going to meetings, and sitting on committees. Not as fun as riding your bike but more legitimate and much more effective in my experience.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • 9watts July 1, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Is there some reason we can’t have both, Ryan?
      I think you posit a false dichotomy. As Jonathan put it, the letter-writing-or-voting-as-more-efficacious theory is premised on a system in which those letters are read and lead to better representation, better decision-making. What if that isn’t actually how things work? What if it is vastly more important what the Koch brothers want than what you or I want to see happen? What if Hales & Co. don’t give a fig for what the 16% of their constituents who don’t own cars would like to see happen with our transportation infrastructure?

      Recommended Thumb up 14

    • Hart Noecker July 1, 2014 at 9:59 am

      You think we don’t write letters and go to meetings? Think again.

      Recommended Thumb up 12

    • spare_wheel July 1, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      If you really want to make a positive contribution it takes writing letters, going to meetings, and sitting on committees.

      why do you assume i haven’t done both, ryan?

      the bike scofflaw is nothing more than a highly politicized wedge issue popularized by conservative media. portlanders are far more concerned with how motorists negatively impact safety and livability in this city than a few harmless bike scofflaws.

      Recommended Thumb up 8

      • Ryan July 1, 2014 at 2:18 pm

        You can do both. I’m saying that the former is harmful to our image while the latter is a productive way of taking the movement forward.

        And I don’t know how you can say that the cyclist scofflaw is only a wedge issue when the community continues to engage in group demonstrations during which we flout the rules of the road. The most common concern I hear from people about cyclists is how poorly they, we, follow the rules of the road; this comes from people from all sides, including other cyclists. I agree that car drivers are no better but I don’t support that either.

        I spend a lot of time teaching people how to safely ride in traffic and I see the actions of many others going against that in a very public way.

        Lastly, Hart, I know you spend a lot of time in meetings and contribute in positive ways; but don’t let that detract from the point of my message which was that these actions are harmful to our community’s image.

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • spare_wheel July 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm

          “The most common concern I hear from people about cyclists is how poorly they, we, follow the rules of the road”

          Fixed it for you: “The most common false concern…

          IMO, a small minority of *motorists* complain about cyclists not following (their) rules only because they see cyclists as “others” who “get away” with easy, cheap, and efficient transport.

          Recommended Thumb up 6

          • Ryan July 1, 2014 at 4:01 pm

            How is it a false concern? Clearly the participants of this ride we’re flouting the rules to garner attention.

            Recommended Thumb up 2

            • spare_wheel July 1, 2014 at 5:45 pm

              there is no epidemic of accidents, injuries, and deaths due to cyclists jay biking (or pedestrians jay walking). jay biking is an important issue because some motorists have a big problem with sharing the road with cyclists (usually rooted in an assumption of superiority).

              Recommended Thumb up 4

              • Ryan July 1, 2014 at 10:37 pm

                I didn’t say anything about an epidemic of accidents. I’m talking about instilling in the public a negative perception of cyclists as a whole.

                Recommended Thumb up 4

                • spare_wheel July 2, 2014 at 8:56 am

                  meh.

                  there is huge support for active transport and improved cycling infrastructure in portland. comments in the billionaire-owned boregonian by crackpots who largely do not live in portland are not any indication of reality. imo, the people of portland are ready to take the next step, the biggest roadblocks in portland are corrupt city council members and the short-sighted business people they cater too.

                  Recommended Thumb up 4

                • davemess July 2, 2014 at 9:04 am

                  People are in “huge support” in theory, but when the rubber hits the road and tough choices have to be made (giving up travel lanes, parking, closing streets) the support is not quite as strong.

                  I think this is similar to the “interested but concerned” crowd, many of which are just using lack of infrastructure as an excuse not ride, and in reality they probably are never going to give up their car commute unless absolutely forced to.

                  Recommended Thumb up 2

                • Caleb July 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm

                  Any negative perception of cyclists as a whole is a false perception, because “cyclists as a whole” is a diverse and dynamic entity of which any individual can not possibly be completely aware.

                  *hopelessly looks forward to post-stereotyping humanity*

                  Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Caleb July 6, 2014 at 8:33 pm

              How often are people thinking of rides like this critical mass when they express “the most common concern” you mentioned?

              If something so infrequent is their most common concern, then even if it’s not a false concern, it’s at least a misplaced one, unless the original conversation they’re having is about group rides. While I doubt it’s true for everyone, many people ride differently when they’re partaking in a group ride like this than when they’re commuting every other day by themselves.

              But going back to what spare_wheel was getting at:

              While some cyclists flout laws, others follow laws, so any perception that cyclists are scofflaws is a stereotype premised on ignoring or ascribing less mental weight to cyclists who are not scofflaws.

              Further, while some cyclists who break laws are flouting them, others are not. Some cyclists run stop signs or lights, refrain from signaling, etc only when they’ve determined doing so poses no risk to anybody. The danger comes when people do flout laws at safety’s cost, but that’s the case whether they ride a bicycle or drive an automobile, so while considering such cyclists scofflaws would not be a false perception, stressing their unruliness and making no mention of that among motorists can contribute to false perceptions that addressing scofflaw behavior is a higher priority among cyclists than motorists.

              I believe spare_wheel’s comments were rooted in the idea that such perceptions stick and proliferate, when a little perspective gained through recognizing how little harm scofflaw cyclists cause (relative to scofflaw drivers) could dispel those false notions.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mike July 1, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    How on earth is this supposed to increase ridership? Do you think the majority looks at this type of riding and says “I want to be a part of this” Absolutely not. If it makes you feel like you are a part of something go ahead but don’t think for a second it helps in any way.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

    • 9watts July 1, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      Mike,
      I’ll ask you the same question I asked TJ. Where are you standing from which you have such a clear view of the full suite of repercussions of this action? How can you possibly know or anticipate how everyone will view this, or the many possible actions that could follow from it? The world is a complicated, nonlinear place. Direct action is always going to get mixed reviews. That is the point as I understand it. How do you know that it doesn’t or couldn’t inspire some group who then go on to change things in ways you approve (or once again disapprove) of? And why does it matter if you approve? If there were some (one) non-messy path to the kinds of changes some of us seek I think we would have stumbled on it already.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

      • Ryan July 1, 2014 at 2:24 pm

        From my position as the President of the Newberg City Council, fighting to encourage cycling, I see that many of the objectors believe adding infrastructure and encouraging cycling will lead to more cyclists running lights, riding on sidewalks, buzzing pedestrians, and cutting off cars.

        I know this is an incorrect belief but these kinds of demonstrations only give ammunition to detractors to sway others who may be on the fence.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • 9watts July 1, 2014 at 3:07 pm

          “I know this is an incorrect belief but these kinds of demonstrations only give ammunition to detractors to sway others who may be on the fence.”

          I am reminded of the ‘bikes don’t pay their fair share’ argument often heard in conversation, and even in comments here. While some folks are willing to concede that this is bunk, they nevertheless argue that X fee or Y charge or Z policy will (finally) persuade those who mistakenly believe this that in fact we do pay our fair share.
          I have not found the world to work like this. Premising our actions, our arguments on a misunderstanding, others’ misgivings, is a poor basis for policy, concedes far too much, and in any case bodes ill for the next few rounds of debate that (at least I) hope will follow. We need to have these conversations, these arguments, in advance, in the middle of, and alongside our halting steps toward a more livable, safe, and inspiring transport system.

          Let’s call a spade a spade, get out in front of these flawed arguments, take the opportunity to dig beneath the surface and help people see these issues from different perspectives, nudge them past their stereotypes. Sometimes this works best with a thoughtful conversation. Other times with direct action. I, for one, credit the reborn Critical Mass for having kicked off this little discussion right here. If it weren’t controversial, didn’t make some people uncomfortable, would we be learning as much as we are here?

          Recommended Thumb up 8

          • davemess July 1, 2014 at 4:42 pm

            See but you’re not disproving flawed arguments when you’re going out and doing the EXACT thing that people are accusing you of. In essence you’re proving their misguided biases true.

            Recommended Thumb up 3

            • 9watts July 1, 2014 at 5:05 pm

              let’s distinguish between
              (a) Critical Mass event as an idea that could be an irritant or inspiration,
              (b) Critical Mass as a piece of Portland’s bike history, and
              (b) the lose-lose premise of trying to win over those antagonists who don’t like bikes sharing their roads and who obsess about scofflaw behavior.

              I think (a) is or could be good for lots of things, (b) was by some accounts fraught, and (c) is hopeless, and a poor demographic on which to hang one’s choice of strategy.

              “you’re not disproving flawed arguments when you’re going out and doing the EXACT thing that people are accusing you of.”

              I hear your point, but will note that there are at least two yous here. The you that is participating in Critical Mass (itself highly diverse), and the you that is defending the tactic here on bikeportland (also probably fairly diverse). I might choose to participate in one but not the other.

              Then we have the problem that most people (pro- or con- Critical Mass) are probably experiencing this whole thing vicariously, through reports in the media. The conversations may deepen those people’s understanding of the nuances (bikeportland, in my reading) or tend to fan the flames of our culture wars (Oregonlive, etc.). I appreciate Critical Mass in large part also as a thing-that-is-good-for-thinking.

              Recommended Thumb up 6

        • spare_wheel July 1, 2014 at 3:46 pm

          Riding on sidewalks and cutting off cars is legal much of the time. And if running lights by a cyclist was a real concern cities would enforce these statutes more zealously (they don’t at all). IMO, most of those who complain vociferously about scofflaws simply do not want cyclists on our roads period.

          As for buzzing pedestrians, I see motorists failing to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk far more often than cyclists. And unlike bike scofflaw behavior, the consequence of motorist scofflaw behavior is far more likely to have tragic consequences.

          Recommended Thumb up 8

        • Pete July 1, 2014 at 5:15 pm

          Interesting. Working with our city council, most of our detractors don’t want us to “waste money” on all this “extra” infrastructure that “nobody really uses” and that will “slow down and jam traffic.” We don’t actually hear the ‘scofflaw’ argument at hearings much at all, though I read about it plenty in comments both online and in print.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

        • wsbob July 1, 2014 at 7:46 pm

          “From my position as the President of the Newberg City Council, …” Ryan

          Honestly, you really are ‘President’ of the Newberg City Council? Guess I could check their website for some possible confirmation. Many years ago, I lived in that town, walked, biked and drove its streets, so I know central Newberg fairly well. Town used to be very conservative, may still be. Haven’t spent time in the town for years, so I don’t know if its views have changed, or how.

          “…I see that many of the objectors believe adding infrastructure and encouraging cycling will lead to more cyclists running lights, riding on sidewalks, buzzing pedestrians, and cutting off cars. …” Ryan

          I’m curious about why from your perspective, Newberg residents would feel adding infrastructure (by which I presume you mean infrastructure for biking.), would to the reaction you refer to, on the part of people that bike. The concern you say they raise, sounds like a concern raised by people that haven’t really had much experience with people that ride responsibly, for the most part, in compliance with traffic laws. Solution: somehow, get more people in Newberg, to ride responsibly, setting good, positive examples for the skeptics.

          There are plenty of people riding as I’ve just described. I know from first hand experience that Beaverton has plenty of them, and Portland likely does too. In Beaverton, though it’s very slow in going about it, adding infrastructure that supports biking, helps a lot towards use of the road that’s compatible for travel by people in cars and on bikes. Allows people biking to not have to compete as much with people driving, for use of the road. When a good bike lane is provided, the inclination to use the sidewalk for riding is lessened.

          Critical Mass on the contrary, in its history here in Portland, has regularly turned into an example of biking that is not favorable to biking or to persuading people skeptical about biking, that adding infrastructure for biking would be a good idea. Maybe this time around, Critical Mass will be able to accomplish something better.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Mike July 1, 2014 at 9:48 pm

        Does critical mass want to get more bikes on the road or get more approval of those already riding?

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • davemess July 2, 2014 at 7:44 am

          If a good chunk of people who already ride don’t seem to approve of it, I can’t imagine it’s going to sway many who don’t ride already.

          Recommended Thumb up 3

        • are July 7, 2014 at 2:18 pm

          are those the only two choices?

          Recommended Thumb up 3

    • spare_wheel July 1, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      If you don’t understand why protest *can be* empowering for minorities you are clearly not a fan of pluralistic democracy.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Hart Noecker July 1, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      “Do you think the majority looks at this type of riding and says “I want to be a part of this””

      ‘The majority’ of whom? Pushing the envelope of what a cycling city should be will never happen by catering to the whims of any majority. Waiting for everyone to see cycling’s benefit is pointless. Corking a few intersections and holding up a bit of motor traffic (which had already gridlocked itself being rush hour) via bicycle is a tradition in hundreds of cities the world over. It’s hardly even that subversive any more. Even the police admit CM has moved the ball forward to having safer streets for all users.

      Watch this: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-midnight-drag-race-20120729-vid-premiumvideo.html

      Recommended Thumb up 5

  • CaptainKarma July 1, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Every time I hear someone say “we” should just behave, and appease the (horse)powers that be, it just notches up my realization that the current administration expects that we citizens will just roll over for a tummy scratch and like it. Nah. I’ll roll CM next time, thanks to the appeasers for waking me up.

    Recommended Thumb up 11

    • Hart Noecker July 1, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Heck yeah. True progress is make by breaking rules. Civil disobedience is the cornerstone of a healthy democracy. Bikes in the street!

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • spare_wheel July 1, 2014 at 5:59 pm

        anarchist.
        ;)

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • Hart Noecker July 1, 2014 at 6:23 pm

          Natch! No governance but self-governance!

          Recommended Thumb up 4

        • Mike July 1, 2014 at 11:05 pm

          Aren’t the anarchist the same group who will vandalize a Nike store while wearing Nikes? All in the name of anarchism!!!

          Recommended Thumb up 1

          • 9watts July 2, 2014 at 7:48 am

            Oh, please!
            You really think anarchists come in just one flavor? Like bicyclists?

            Recommended Thumb up 7

            • Hart Noecker July 2, 2014 at 9:33 pm

              Typical Liberal response to mention of anarchism: Bring up smashing windows of corporation without recognizing the lives being smashed daily by that very corporation.

              Recommended Thumb up 3

              • spare_wheel July 2, 2014 at 10:06 pm

                child labor laws in the usa came about due to the sacrifices of anarchists like mary “mother” jones. jonathan and michael are very quick to moderate off-topic mainstream political flaming, but anarchist bashing apparently gets a pass.

                Recommended Thumb up 2

                • Hart Noecker July 3, 2014 at 11:51 pm

                  Perhaps they want to allow anarchists the space to address the ill-informed criticisms on their own. Lord knows I enjoy it.

                  Recommended Thumb up 3

  • 99th Monkey July 1, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Capt’n; thank you for chiming in here. Copenhagen would NOT be known for “Copenhagenize your streets” unless they had gotten SICK AND TIRED of being pandered to and “thrown bones” of symbolic bicycle and pedestrian safe street design. It is once again time to STAND UP, GET LOUD and DEMAND DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATION! I know, we live in a Constitutional Republic…. THAT MUST CHANGE! No longer may we allow the monied elite to determine how we all must live.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Psyfalcon July 1, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    I just think this would have been a thousand times more useful on 28th or Foster.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • are July 1, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      the beauty of critical mass is you get to help decide where it goes

      Recommended Thumb up 2

    • spare_wheel July 2, 2014 at 9:09 am

      we did go to 28th. and once again, the circling at intersections was largely intended to memorialize people who have been killed/injured while cycling. in fact, many riders shouted, “a cyclist died here” while they circled. traffic was only held up for a minute or two and motorists were openly supportive. imo, the circling was one of the most positive aspects of the ride.

      the red-faced guy in the bmw who literally cut through the crowd while honking and screaming obscenities was only egregious case of road rage.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Deeebo July 1, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    What is this actually accomplishing? I know. I know. It “made you feel great” and “cars are dumb anyways” blah blah. You want to ride in/ with traffic go ahead because you are traffic. You want to go out of your way to inconvenience others and they are going to get annoyed with you. Contrary to the overly optimistic claims of some that part is common sense. You want to change the world. Here is how: go out of your way to initiate a relationship with someone who shares beliefs contrary to your own. Over the course of years establish trust and respect between the two of you. Have conversations and be a role model through your own actions. Follow through and one day, perhaps, they might (perhaps, maybe) come around to your way of thinking (or you to theirs). That is how you change the world. The problem is that its not sexy and takes commitment and humility and time. You don’t get to hold yourself up in the spotlight and shout about how much more special you and your interests are than those of the other guy, so hardly anyone does it.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • spare_wheel July 2, 2014 at 9:21 am

      Here is how: go out of your way to initiate a relationship with someone who shares beliefs contrary to your own…Over the course of years establish trust and respect between the two of you….That is how you change the world.

      Respecting the status quo has a terrible track record when it comes to facilitating change.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

      • davemess July 2, 2014 at 12:33 pm

        Yet the most change we’ve seen in bike infrastructure has come from? Getting pro-cycling advocates into office (people like Adams, etc.).
        Respecting the status quo and working from within the system are not the same thing.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • 9watts July 2, 2014 at 12:46 pm

          “Respecting the status quo and working from within the system are not the same thing.”
          Agreed. But why must this discussion be so absolutist? Why do you and many others seem to posit that there is (always?) room for only one of the two: letter writing, voting, working within the system, on the one hand, or one particular flavor of direct action to which you object, on the other?

          It seems to me that in the absence of any useful leadership from the current crop (Hales, Novick, BTA, etc.) a bout with the messier, more colorful, in-your-face, direct action might be not just salutary but essential.

          Can we really say, a priori, whether only one of these idealized strategies will deliver the goods? What if neither can, or both? What if an external shock to the system will deliver the fatal blow to the status quo, and having recourse to both strategies (and the several dozen variations your typology leaves out) will prove strategic?

          Recommended Thumb up 5

        • spare_wheel July 2, 2014 at 9:48 pm

          i like adams but due to his personal issues he did squat for bikes (and progressive causes).

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • davemess July 3, 2014 at 7:30 am

            Guess I’d take “squat” over Hales any day of the week.

            Recommended Thumb up 1

  • joe biel July 2, 2014 at 9:25 am

    When/where did the police say this? I haven’t come across it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Justin July 2, 2014 at 9:31 am

    If we want a critical mass of cyclists on every street, research has shown that 200 bikes per day per intersection is a good number to aim for. Below that, you’re much more likely to have crashes.
    Accident Analysis & Prevention article

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ayleen July 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Portland is beyond Critical Mass. I know I might sound like a broken record to anyone who has heard me talk about this before, and I could easily talk about it all day long.

    I started Critical Mass in Champaign, IL in the mid 90′s, negotiated with Mayor Katz and the police during particularly intense PDX Critical Mass times, rode regularly, all that deeply ingrained stuff.

    Critical Mass was a vital element in getting us to where we are today as a bike culture and a vibrant cycling city – but that doesn’t mean there’s still a need or a place for it. Too often Critical Mass angers drivers who have no idea what’s going on and that’s a terrible way to gain supporters and make people sympathetic to the cause.

    How did we get more people on bikes in Portland? Not by blocking their cars – by having fun! Bikesummer Mini Bikesummer Minibike Summer Pedalpalooza. You know the drill. After all, we just did it for three weeks and man wasn’t that rad?

    The mess I see above? NOT RAD.

    Buy me beers, I’ll talk your ear off on this topic. But I’m not going to follow the thread, because it’s summertime.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • spare_wheel July 2, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Portland is beyond Critical Mass.

      Cyclists in Antwerp Belgium recently staged a large critical mass-style protest because the city council suggested that they not ride on major arterials.
      http://vimeo.com/93371405
      Portland is not beyond critical mass-style protest.

      Amsterdam had ~25% cycling mode share in the 70s and mass protests that “blocked their cars” led to ~40% mode share.
      Portland is not beyond critical mass-style protest.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Caleb July 6, 2014 at 7:34 pm

      “Too often Critical Mass angers drivers”

      The angry person’s mind is always a factor in what created that person’s anger, so while anger is something I prefer to avoid, I also acknowledge it’s something that can instigate the change one seeks while practicing something like critical mass for other more primary reasons.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BIKELEPTIC July 2, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    I’ve followed all these arguments over the past few years regarding Portland being “beyond CM” or not. When I moved to Portland almost 7 years ago, what I really loved about it is that I didn’t need to “work” to enjoy the infrastructure. I came from a place where I had been tirelessly fighting city councils and counties to pass budgets and build infrastructures for not only better cycling infrastructure, but improved bus services and pedestrian safety. This was refreshing. It was fun.

    But now, 7 years later, the honemoon is over. The city is painting over signs proclaiming us the best bike city in the nation. I keep hearing claims that Portland is like a European city, but let me tell you something – I have been to European cities – I have been to some of the archetype bike cities; Denmark for instance. I have been to some of the more unusual cities; Moscow and St Petersburg. We are NOT a European city. The other day while riding home, about 99% of the riders I saw were wearing helmets – the one I DID see not wearing one was actually someone I knew. To me, that shows fear. Car culture and fear. (Not here to start an argument about helmets and safety equipment.)

    Living out in East County but working downtown, I have come to realize how much of Portland is ignored. I have learned about the glaring disparagement in the city. I know where the money goes. I can see it quite clearly racing towards the river. I know quite well those 57 unpaved roads in Portland yet see them retarring adjacent roads for no apparent reason. Dangerous conditions out in the suburbs making it almost impossible to commute by bike. Out here in East County, it was designed to drive – not bike. Yet many do or are forced to because Trimet’s services are still too limited for many people’s jobs.

    So is Portland “beyond Critical Mass?” – it’s still a matter of opinion. You’ll probably never see me on one of them – but I don’t believe that Portland needs to lay down and feel like it is beyond reproach. Portland has gotten lazy and fat. It needs to wake up and realize that its not as great as it makes it self out to be. It actually needs a major face lift.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Mike July 2, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Tall bikes riding around in circles in an intersection leads to progress? Go for it!

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Kagi July 3, 2014 at 9:05 am

    It should be “lying dormant,” not “laying dormant.” Here: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/lay-versus-lie . You’re welcome.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • BIKELEPTIC July 3, 2014 at 9:55 am

      yay for arguing semantics when you have nothing better to say!

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • Caleb July 6, 2014 at 7:21 pm

        To me, Kagi’s post looks more like sharing conventional knowledge than arguing semantics.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jocey July 3, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Could we Critical Mass on mountain bikes in Forest Park, please?!

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Buzz July 3, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    just the fact that CM generates this much discussion is worth it.

    Any ride with 50+ cyclists that goes by any other name gets a pass…

    Recommended Thumb up 5

- Daily bike news since 2005 -
BikePortland.org is a production of
PedalTown Media Inc.
321 SW 4th Ave, Ste. 401
Portland, OR 97204

Powered by WordPress. Theme by Clemens Orth.
Subscribe to RSS feed


Original images and content owned by Pedaltown Media, Inc. - Not to be used without permission.