Tonight is the Super Legal Ride created by super-advocate Elly Blue. The first one got some media attention (Portland Mercury and KGW-TV) and its goal and execution has come into question on the Shift email list.
The debate revolves around whether or not it’s a good idea for cyclists to advocate for a new law that allows us to treat stop signs as yields. This is an important debate because it gets right at the heart of how society and the law think about bikes. We’re already considered a vehicle…but are bikes different enough from cars that we deserve a different set of laws? I think so.
But the ride isn’t all about the stop sign issue. It’s really a whole new take on making motorists more aware of bikes, and it’s completely opposite from the idea behind Critical Mass. In a nutshell the Super Legal Ride is a bunch of cyclists (the more the better!) riding single-file around a few intersections, obeying every traffic law to the letter. For more thoughts on the ride, here’s what Elly herself says about it:
- It’s genuinely part of traffic (as opposed to blocking traffic)
- It calms traffic slightly while allowing the natural “traffic dance” to continue as usual
- It makes it look like there are a lot of (happy) cyclists on the road, vs. a more traditional ride that seems anomalous and maybe even threatening
- More people in cars see it as they pass through the intersection (vs. the ten drivers stuck behind a parade, getting increasingly pissed off), allowing us to get our message (if any) to more people, and in a more positive, friendly way
- Motorists follow our example and drive more legally themselves (this was maybe the coolest part)
- No one gets ticketed, tackled, or arrested
- No one rides aggro
- No motorist who sees this ride can say that those damn cyclists never obey the law
- It’s fun! Imagine riding around the city and exchanging friendly waves and bells with other cyclists at every corner.
I’ll be there tonight and I hope to see you there too. Meet at SE Stark and 28th at 5:30. For more info email eleanor.blue [at] gmail. com