Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Massive fun and no cops needed

Posted by on August 27th, 2005 at 1:07 am

Critical Mass August - Portland OR
Critical Mass August - Portland OR
Critical Mass August - Portland OR

Tonight’s Critical Mass ride was a blast. I took Eleni in the trailer and we had a great time. Warm breeze, a great route (over the Ross Island Bridge!), some well-chosen music (thank you boom-box bike guy) and a fun group of people all contributed to the good vibe.

I hate to mention the cops, but I think it’s ridiculous that they even show up anymore. I actually feel embarrassed for them because they had nothing to do…and you know what happens when cops get bored…they find something to do.

Bottom line is that having the cops at Critical Mass is a big waste of taxpayer money and a waste of law enforcement resources that could be put to more necessary tasks. Cops are also a deterrant to more families and other cyclists who would join the ride if it weren’t for their intimidating presence. Eleni was the only kid on the ride (she’s 2 and 1/2)…and I know there are a ton of families that would show up if there were no cops.

So Mayor Potter, Commissioner Sam, is there any way you can call off the dogs for next month’s ride? It’s sort of ironic that we’re hoping to be the first Platinum level bicycle friendly city, yet we can’t even go on bike ride without the boys in blue watching over us.

By the way, feel free to peruse my hot, fresh photos. Don’t miss the Xylo-bike, the mini-bikes, the boom-box bike, the assorted personalities and other fun craziness. See you out there next month!

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  • Frtiz August 27, 2005 at 10:15 am

    I just read a nightmare story the other day where a police officer knocked a child trailer over during a CM, so I can understand parents’ reluctance to bring their children on these kinds of things.

    Here’s a photo I took of our local (and friendly) bike patrol last night.


    Many many bikes at this Friday night festival.

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  • Brad August 27, 2005 at 10:47 am

    I moved my family to Portland just over a month ago, partially because of the bike scene. We would love to ride a Critical Mass, but are wary of the rather large police presence.

    This seems like a peaceful thing. Did something happen in the past? What gives?

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  • Jonathan Maus August 29, 2005 at 11:36 am


    Welcome to Portland! Thanks for your comment. Critical Mass is a peaceful thing and you would have a great time if you came to the next one. However I understand your concern with the police presence.

    I’m not an authority on Portland’s CM history, but I have put out an email to some folks in the bike community who know more. From what I have heard things went very well without cops for many years until the reign of Mayor Vera Katz. She abruptly decided to “crack down” on the ride for some reason (of which I’m not clear) and the remnants of her decision are still with us today.

    For several months now, riders and the police and been holding meetings to discuss the issues and I hope the result of those meetings is the end of the police presence.

    Thanks for reading and commenting…your voice is appreciated and valued.

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  • […] I’ve been having all sorts of internal struggles with my feelings about cops lately. Part of me is holding onto my long-held distrust of them and my feelings that they just “don’t get” cyclists and therefore treat us with negative bias. I’ve had my confrontations with them on Critical Mass and have generally not cared much for them in the past. […]

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  • […] As usual, there are several different accounts of what happened. One says the riders instigated the arrests with their disrespect of the police and the law, while another side says the treatment from the cops was totally out of line. Unfortunately I wasn’t on the ride so I can’t relay my perspective. However, I can say that I have lived on both sides of this equation. On past rides I have had heated disagreements with the cops and have advocated for them to leave the ride alone. At the same time, as many of you know, I have built relationships with several members of the Traffic Division and I have worked with others in the bike community to turn these relationships into a better understanding of cyclists and Critical Mass in general. […]

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