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August 24, 2005 8:56 AM   Subscribe

Critical Mass in Milwaukee ran into some "problems" with police on the July 29th ride: “I unfortunately chose to lock my bike with a friend and go see what was happening with the group who had been stopped at the yellow light. I ran down the street just in time to see police tackle a man on a bike who had a baby carriage attached to end of his bike. After he was pulled to the ground another officer violently pushed over his baby carriage with the baby inside,” More coverage and some photos.
posted by nTeleKy (125 comments total)

 
Biker trashing in 3...2...1...
posted by item at 9:02 AM on August 24, 2005


critical: Inclined to judge severely and find fault.
so the bikers are cops?
posted by thomcatspike at 9:13 AM on August 24, 2005


I find Critical Mass to be kind of a dumb concept, personally - my experience with it in Champaign Illinois gave me the impression it serves two purposes: 1) to intentionally slow down and annoy drivers as some way to “convince” them to respect bikes on the road… 2) a meeting place for bike riders…

I just think it’s a stupid approach to a problem that is really only semi-legitimate…

That said – this kind of police behavior is pretty ridiculous. The article makes it sound almost as if they were “ambushed” by a troop of police. Assuming that’s accurate – it’s a pretty dirty thing on the cops’ part, and tipping over people’s bikes before giving them a chance to get off is just sad and stupid. I hope the guy whose baby got tipped over sues the hell out of the cop who did it.
posted by twiggy at 9:13 AM on August 24, 2005


I have no opinion on who was right or wrong. Critical massholes are asking for trouble. Cops sometimes over react and don't know the laws concerning bikes. Nobody is ever going to win that argument. Cars bad, bikes good, blah blah blah.

But what kind of an idiot brings a baby to a critical mass rally?
posted by bondcliff at 9:14 AM on August 24, 2005


The kind of idiot who feels safe riding with a baby with dozens of other bikes around?

The kind of idiot who presumes he will not be assaulted by a police officer for riding his bike?
posted by jmgorman at 9:16 AM on August 24, 2005


What kind of idiot pushes over a baby carriage?
posted by rks404 at 9:16 AM on August 24, 2005


I second Bondcliff - it's not the baby's fault that his father is an idiot, but a Critical Mass ride is no place for a child.

Child endangerment just isn't cool, even if it's in the name of civil disobedience.
posted by elquien at 9:17 AM on August 24, 2005


Wow - what with the patriot act, the trashing of a legal rave a few days ago and now this (as well as other incidents im sure) It's beginning to be hard to see America as the land of the free... But for overzealous police and the curbing of freedoms, your not doing to badly.
posted by Meccabilly at 9:17 AM on August 24, 2005


Critical massholes are asking for trouble. Cops sometimes over react and don't know the laws concerning bikes.

If the cops don't know the traffic laws concerning bikes, then what the hell are they doing claiming to enforce traffic laws?
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:18 AM on August 24, 2005


Child endangerment just isn't cool, even if it's in the name of civil disobedience.

Nor is it cool in the name of civil order (via the police)...

Although ignorance may be a defence in this case... you know, he didn't know there was a kid in there.
posted by Meccabilly at 9:19 AM on August 24, 2005


(sarcasm)
posted by Meccabilly at 9:19 AM on August 24, 2005


Nor is it cool in the name of civil order (via the police)...

Even when the police don't get involved, Critical Mass rides tend to be dangerous, simply because of the number of people involved. Anytime that many people get together on bikes, there are bound to be collisions and accidents. (Not to mention that many Critical Mass riders intentionally act violently to, erm, prove their points?)

Before I get skewered, I'm a bike rider, and I've ridden in a few Critical Mass rides...until I realized how destructive many of the people involved are. That's just not the way to get your point across...
posted by elquien at 9:22 AM on August 24, 2005


Critical Mass has been happening in MKE for 3 years off an on, and police brutality is a fantastic reason to keep on doing it.
Seems the main purpose for the ride is this outcome.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:24 AM on August 24, 2005


Critical Mass rides tend to be dangerous, simply because of the number of people involved.

Mind you, cars on the road tend to be dangerous for the same reason... More likely to die in one than die from Terrorist Attack...

But anyway, I can't really see a point to the critical mass thing, so it's not like I'm a supporter of it.
posted by Meccabilly at 9:25 AM on August 24, 2005


The kind of idiot who feels safe riding with a baby with dozens of other bikes around?

They're not on a Sunday ride. They're participating in an event designed to cause trouble by clogging city streets and pissing people off. An event that often leads to arrests and/or violence. I don't care how nobel you think your cause it, it's no place to bring your baby.

I'm not condoning what the police did but if this man didn't put his baby in danger in the first place, the baby wouldn't have been knocked over.
posted by bondcliff at 9:26 AM on August 24, 2005


What kind of idiot pushes over a baby carriage?
Who would puts a baby in a plastic carriage on a road with metal cars? It is the chance you take.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:30 AM on August 24, 2005


*bashes some asphalt and trails with his bike*
posted by loquacious at 9:31 AM on August 24, 2005


These rides use the same strategy as strikes and picket lines: Inconvenience people and, in so doing, attempt to win sympathy for your cause. I can kinda see their point and kinda not.


/still doesn't cross picket lines
posted by scratch at 9:31 AM on August 24, 2005


has anyone ever taken a motorcycle to critical mass and prentended it was their bicycle. because i think that would be funny.
posted by poppo at 9:32 AM on August 24, 2005


It sounds from the first link as though they're intentionally riding in violation of traffic laws, running red lights, riding 2 or 3 to a lane, and impeding traffic. In which case, yeah, I feel no pity. I've had to jump out of the way of too many idiot bikers going 30 on the sidewalk.

I have plenty of respect for people who ride their bikes in accordance with traffic law, which at least in my state is that bikes are identical to cars and are to be expected to perform exactly like cars. Shame I have yet to see that happen.
posted by kafziel at 9:33 AM on August 24, 2005


Civil disobedience?

I thought the whole point was that riding your bike down the middle of the street is actually a perfectly legal thing to do. It only becomes illegal when the cops decide that you are "having an unauthorized parade" or "disrupting traffic" or something along those lines.

That's the thing about being a cyclist in traffic. You actually have the same rights as a car, even is most drivers don't realize it. Of course, you also have the same responsibilities as a car, and the same laws apply to you, even though most cyclists pretend that isn't true either.

I am a cyclist, but have never ridden in critical mass myself because I feel that it often generates more negative feelings towards cyclists than positive ones. But that doesn't make riding with them against the law, nor does it make what the cops did here ok.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 9:33 AM on August 24, 2005


It's official: All cops hate babies.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:36 AM on August 24, 2005


Fuck tha Police
posted by Debaser626 at 9:38 AM on August 24, 2005


Look at all that car traffic. I, for one, think it's a good thing the cops took action before some motorist got inconvenienced.
posted by nyterrant at 9:38 AM on August 24, 2005


Most of the smaller Critical Mass rides aren't out to clog traffic and lock up city streets, they're out to be traffic and point out the hypocrisy of the concept that "it's not obstruction when the traffic jam is made of cars, but it's obstruction when the traffic jam is bikes".

In almost all cities you're supposed to ride in the lane as a vehicle would, not on the shoulder, not in the gutter, and not on the sidewalk - unless there's a dedicated and marked bicycle lane.

I've been to a couple of smaller CMs where the only "action" that happened was that we rode en masse in the lane (in one of two lanes on a four lane, two way road) like we're legally required to.

And watching (being in) a bunch of cyclists riding in formation in the lane and properly stopping at all signals and stops and all signalling in unison is a really amusing thing to watch. IMNSHO.
posted by loquacious at 9:38 AM on August 24, 2005


Biker trashing in 3...2...1...
posted by item at 9:02 AM PST on August 24


Bringing a baby to a political rally, albeit on wheels, is something only a bike messenger would do.

Or possibly a crazy religious zealot.

The line is very thin.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:39 AM on August 24, 2005


Seems the main purpose for the ride is this outcome.

That's pretty much what I think. I bike commute 4-5 times a week in Milwaukee 10 miles each way. I've never been hassled by a police officer and the rides have mostly been event free.

I'm frustrated that this was posted to metafilter because of one shitty thing a cop did. The Critical Mass group in Milwaukee has done nothing to help make it easier to bike in Milwaukee. If anything they make it worse by being antagonistic towards others.

Especially with the Milwaukee Critical Mass. Personally knowing some of the riders, they look to provoke reactions like the one that happened.

In my opinion, the best way in Milwaukee to advocate for bike riding is to ride a bike as much as possible.

The city just added 25+ miles of bike lanes, not because of Critical Mass but because of a large federal grant to do so.
posted by drezdn at 9:43 AM on August 24, 2005


Look at all that car traffic. I, for one, think it's a good thing the cops took action before some motorist got inconvenienced.

That street is Oakland Avenue. The Bikes are blocking the south bound lane of a very busy street that also has a bike lane on it.
posted by drezdn at 9:45 AM on August 24, 2005


Oakland is only a two lane street.
posted by drezdn at 9:47 AM on August 24, 2005


And why are you posting this now, it happened almost a month ago?
posted by drezdn at 9:50 AM on August 24, 2005


Actually, in most of the cities I know the bike laws for, the law states that you have to ride as far over to the right in your lane as is possible, and that you aren't allowed to ride two or more abreast.
posted by klangklangston at 9:51 AM on August 24, 2005


I'm both a rider and a former courier...One of the problems with Critical Mass rides, even when they set out to simply indicate the idiocy of traffic laws as they are applied and not applied to bikes, is that a mob mentality seems to take over. People feel safe and then they feel powerful, and then they are frequently assholes.

Cops who push over baby trailers and tackle bikers are also assholes. It is, in fact, probably from a similar set of feelings.
posted by OmieWise at 9:52 AM on August 24, 2005


I'll just add that I think Critical Mass is a pretty annoying waste of time. I don't get how they expect their "message" to get across when they're intentionally making people's commutes suck more than usual.

And I say this as a long time biker and motorbiker. I love my bikes and would love if bikers got more respect but I just don't see how pissing people off conveys that message.

That said, these cops were way over the line.

Also, I had a cop "stop" me on my bike once by grabbing my handlebars as I went by him. He hadn't put up his arm or anything to ask me to stop, he simply grabbed my bars and nearly launched me off the bike. And then the asshole gave me a ticket for an unlicensed bike.
posted by fenriq at 9:54 AM on August 24, 2005


Yeah, Critical Mass just seems like Russian Roulette on wheels to me. I've seen how confrontational some of the bikers are towards cars, and am waiting to hear of a Lizzie Grubman style mowdown, with lots of fatalities.
posted by nomisxid at 9:59 AM on August 24, 2005


dnang unclosed href tags,
...
Lizzie Grubman style mowdown, with lots of fatalities.
posted by nomisxid at 10:01 AM on August 24, 2005


Actually, in most of the cities I know the bike laws for, the law states that you have to ride as far over to the right in your lane as is possible, and that you aren't allowed to ride two or more abreast.

That's almost correct. Most states that include the "far to the right" part for bike laws usually say as far to right as is safe for the cyclist. Here's Tennessee's:
(a)
(1) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following situations:
(A) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
(B) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; or
(C) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For purposes of this section, "substandard width lane" means a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
There are certain parts of my commute where the only option for my safety is to take the lane.
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 10:03 AM on August 24, 2005


Critical mass or not, this guy is asking for a beatdown. I mean, just look at those glasses.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:06 AM on August 24, 2005


I was at the NYC critical mass last year when the RNC rolled through. It was awesome, I still have the riot night-stick I found on the ground :)
posted by Mach5 at 10:12 AM on August 24, 2005


bondcliff, elquien, The Jesse Helms: Have any of you even looked at the pictures from this ride?

From what I can see, there's no reason to believe that the baby was being treated unreasonably, until a cop decided to drop it to the ground.
posted by mosch at 10:13 AM on August 24, 2005


I thought the whole point was that riding your bike down the middle of the street is actually a perfectly legal thing to do.

Looks like I've been beaten to the punch, but the middle of the street is not where traffic is supposed to go. Pick a lane, get in line like all the other sorry coffin-riders who have to suffer through traffic.

If you split lanes, you're not sharing the road. I know, I know. Traffic is so annoying. If you want motorists to treat bicyclists with respect, they must be prepared to do the same. It's a two way street. /pun
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:21 AM on August 24, 2005


Maybe I was being unclear, but I thought that was exactly what I said. By "middle of the street" I didn't mean riding on the yellow line, I meant "middle of the lane".
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 10:26 AM on August 24, 2005


When I ride alone here in Louisville I pretty much give up on being safe riding in the street following normal traffic laws and so on: I'll try doing that and some car-parking fool will open his door right in front of me, or a driver will purposefully crowd me over into parked cars yelling "Get off the road!", or somebody who's too busy eating and talking on the phone won't see me and will suddenly pull out right in front of me, etc. So as often as I can I ride on sidewalks and down alleys instead of on the street, cut across parking lots on corners instead of turning at the light, things like that. Of course riding on the sidewalk is also easier and safer because they're usually empty, unlike in Manhattan or San Francisco: riding a bike on streets crowded with cars is just stupid when there's a 10-foot wide sidewalk sitting unused right beside the road. Under these circumstances who needs a bike path? (Y'all remember that post about Kentuckians being so fat and unhealthy? I'd bet busy streets and empty sidewalks has something to do with that.)

My "SO" thinks this is the wrong way to do things: when we ride together we ride in the street and follow normal traffic laws, etc. She thinks being in the right matters more than I do: she's even refused to ride her bike the "wrong" way down a one-way side street that's totally empty. (When we're in her car she'll say things like "Look at that idiot riding his bike the wrong way [e.g. southbound in a northbound lane]"; I'll reply "Yes but he's easier for people to see that way, and it's harder to mistreat a bicyclist can look you in the face.") I do it her way when we ride together because I assume one can watch out for the other, but when I'm alone on my bike I'm alone in the world, and I have a right to practice my responsibility to myself as I think best. (Note that I'm not talking about doing anything that would endanger anyone else: I haven't mowed down any of the pedestrians I've encountered yet, in fact I often stop on the sidewalk and wait for pedestrians, and other cyclists, to go by.)

Cops don't seem to mind my "illegal" bike riding any more than they ticket jaywalkers (when there are any walkers): I've had cop cars crowd me off the street too but ignore me once I'm on the sidewalk. As for disregarding red lights or stop signs, I don't do that: I'll slow down or stop long enough to see if I can run the red light safely and if I can I will, as for one thing I'll be across the street and halfway up the block, often back on the sidewalk, before the line of SUVs and minivans can do me any damage.

--

On preview, omniwise, do you think cops usually feel powerless and vulnerable?
posted by davy at 10:27 AM on August 24, 2005


Have any of you even looked at the pictures from this ride?

I'm tempted to find my apartment in there because several of the pictures are within a block or two of my apartment.

As said above, the cop did something wrong.

The critical mass riders are also no good in this instance.

For example, this picture. That's Farwell Avenue, the street I live on. It's a very busy one way street with two lanes and a bike lane running through that stretch. A block or two down from where they're riding the bike lane is cut off by construction. Instead of riding single file though, they are essentially creating a moving roadblock turning a very busy street (one of the busiest in that neighborhood) into a narrow and slow moving street, pissing off all the cagers (car drivers) that are slowed down by their protest.
posted by drezdn at 10:30 AM on August 24, 2005


Also, I had a cop "stop" me on my bike once by grabbing my handlebars as I went by him. He hadn't put up his arm or anything to ask me to stop, he simply grabbed my bars and nearly launched me off the bike. And then the asshole gave me a ticket for an unlicensed bike.

Unliscensed bike? Wha??

And how exactly did he know it was "unliscensed" when he nearly caused you personal injury? Sorry, I've never seen a license plate on a bicycle that had anything other than the rider's first name, and maybe a picture of Mickey Mouse.
posted by ilsa at 10:34 AM on August 24, 2005


As for Critical Mass, they've done that here once or twice in the past couple years but I haven't gone: yet another example of the universe refusing to organize itself around my convenience. (Yes, that's an "ironic" joke.)
posted by davy at 10:37 AM on August 24, 2005


And how exactly did he know it was "unliscensed" when he nearly caused you personal injury?

Many city's will require bike licenses, but enforcement is one of those "if I'm pissed at you I'll enforce it things." In my city, Milwaukee, it's a little sticker you put on your frame, it's also free.

If you want more info, I can hunt down a bikeforum.com discussion about them.
posted by drezdn at 10:38 AM on August 24, 2005


cities
posted by drezdn at 10:38 AM on August 24, 2005


i support our police officers whatever they do... after all, if they say something's illegal, it must be! hee hee
posted by yonation at 11:07 AM on August 24, 2005


"And I say this as a long time biker and motorbiker. I love my bikes and would love if bikers got more respect but I just don't see how pissing people off conveys that message."

Yeah.. that Cindy Sheehan pissing people off isn't making a difference. Nor was Rosa Parks. Now, I'm not saying that Critical Mass is a Rosa Parks, but after you have been run off the road a few times you may consider travelling in numbers. Plus, it's creating interest in a cause. Plus it's bringing people together.

Looking at what happened at the Utah Rave and this story I think to myself, "What the fuck is happening to our country?" So when does the revolution start because I think it is about time for one... but I'm not saying there should really be one... Big Brother... uh...ummm... heh heh.... Support Our Troops! End Terrorism!
posted by thedoctorpants at 11:10 AM on August 24, 2005


For the record, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation:

Only small children learning to ride should use sidewalks for regular riding. They should have adult supervision even on sidewalks or in the family driveway.

All other bicyclists should learn to ride on streets or marked bicycle lanes, except in rare circumstances, such as when a wide sidewalk is part of a designated bicycle route.

Studies have shown that the sidewalk is considerably less safe for bicyclists than the street. The bicyclist is never required to ride on paths or sidewalks. Local jurisdictions can pass ordinances allowing bicycling on sidewalks if they have unusual circumstances where the sidewalk is safer for certain bicyclists.


In general, the police in Milwaukee are generally unprofessional, authoritarian, and impossible to locate in an actual emergency. (In other words, no different from cops in any other city I've lived in.)
posted by ToasT at 11:22 AM on August 24, 2005


I think its sad that this is the only story posted about them. The reason the police were there in the first place READY to pounce is because they cause problems ALL the time.

On KK they sat in the middle of the street holding signs and blocked traffic for at least 15 minutes. I'm not sure how much longer they waited because I turned around and went another way.

Milwaukee has numerous one way streets and they will ride in a solid force and keep everyone behind them. If you honk, they will be ruder and slower than before.

Milwaukee has a very nice park system. We have amazing bike trails and people are usually very courteous to anyone on a bike. The people from Critical Mass believe that cars are bad and therefore SHOULD be inconvienienced by whatever means they can. They have never been peaceful.
posted by jojoosito at 11:22 AM on August 24, 2005


I'm frustrated that this was posted to metafilter because of one shitty thing a cop did.
And why are you posting this now, it happened almost a month ago?


Because I didn't hear about it until about a week ago and didn't look into it until recently, when I gathered the stories. I had some hesitancy over posting this, but I'd been thinking about it for a bit and thought it was relevant, interesting and obscure enough to qualify. The Milwaukee police don't have an especially stellar record for being...restrained or...held accountable, but perhaps I should've posted this as just one note in the context of other incidents that happened, however I thought it warranted a seperate post. There was only one officer that knocked over a baby carriage, but based on the 9 arrests at this event and more arrested at a Critical Mass war protest it wasn't just the actions of one officer that I thought warranted concern. For relatively peaceful events, Critical Mass rides seem to generate an overzealous police reaction, and the reasons for that stimulate my curiosity. Why shouldn't I have posted it? Honestly? I've only made a few and if this was in bad taste please let me know why you think so.

I live in Milwaukee and ride a bike occasionally (a couple times a week). I've never been on a critical mass ride, so I don't know the tone of them around here, but judging from the fact that they actually stopped at the lights and a few other things, I got the impression that it was a pretty peaceful gathering. It does bother me when people bike in the street when there's a bike lane - if there's a lane for your bike, bike in it - I mean, how pissed would they be if there was a car driving in the bike lane? But in an event like this with a large number of people I think they're safer in the street and I think it's less inconveniencing than say, 5 streets blocked for a party or a funeral procession.

I'm really digging the new bike lanes they put in and I'm always dismayed to see people riding on the sidewalks and/or on the wrong side of the street (which seems to happen often) because I think the reaction will (rightfully) be "Why did we give you bike lanes?". The critical mass people seemed to be obeying appropriate laws and were punished, but I see people all the time riding inappropriately and nothing is done to them. I don't expect bikes to be heading straight at my car or popping out from the sidewalk - I expect them in a bike lane or a street and that's where I look for them, though I understand there are times when a sidewalk is better provided you go slow and watch for pedestrains and motorists that aren't expecting you to be there.

Monju_bosatsu, I think that might be this guy (judging by the citation he's proudly showing off) who, in fact, got a beatdown of sorts.

drezdn, as you said Farwell is cut off by construction - the bike lane is blocked off and it's impossible to cross without moving into the car lane. With the number of people present, wouldn't it be safer/easier to get in the lane ahead of time? Do you really think that 40+ people should be single-file in a bike lane? That's around a city block long and more unwieldy than a compact (if wider) group in my estimation. Farwell also has marked crossing sections for peds that specify cars must stop - I've had to stop and back up traffic for one person walking across the street before. And as busy as it is, it's also really congested and there's frequently drunk (and sober) people stumbling into the road. I don't even expect to go more than 15 mph in my car during peak times.
posted by nTeleKy at 11:22 AM on August 24, 2005


On preview, om[ie]wise, do you think cops usually feel powerless and vulnerable?

davy-No, I'm sure sometimes they do, but sometimes I also think they feel safe and powerful because of their positions and their guns and their back-up, and that that can lead to them sometimes acting like assholes. As in this case, perhaps. Why did you link to my user page? Was it meant to be to another comment I made that suggested I felt otherwise? I'm just curious because I'm confused.
posted by OmieWise at 11:30 AM on August 24, 2005


i've been nearly seriously injured several times on my bicycle. In those situations, if I hadn't been the one paying attention and predicting a driver's moves, I would've been hurt.

like davy, I feel pretty much on my own out there. For the most part, I follow the traffic rules as if I were a motor vehicle, however, I do dart down alleys and take empty sidewalks when I can to avoid busy roads or dangerous intersections. I live in a university town, and when the kids come back for school in the fall, it's darn treacherous out there. they don't follow traffic signs or use signals, (or even know where they're going) and half of them are speeding and talking on the phone as they drive.

So, resepect?? Please! If one person's in a big car (around here, more likely some SUV) and i'm on my bike, protected by my epidermis alone...who's gonna win in the unfortunate event of a collision?

In that sense, I generally appreciate what Critical Mass does to try and make idiots in cars pay more attention to what they're doing.

on preview: jojoosito, I think the point is that bicycling isn't just a relaxing passtime; people are trying to make you realize that bicycles are an alternative to cars and that people use them to get to work every day. I certainly do. And frankly, there usually isn't a nice safe bike trail that will get you anywhere you actually NEED to go.
posted by atlatl at 11:30 AM on August 24, 2005


nTeleKy, I agree with you about the bike riders that drive the wrong way down bike lanes and on sidewalks etc. with them taking over the lane, it doesn't look like they're doing it because of the construction (on the one block that shuttle is on) but rather did it the whole ride.

I'm frustrated by Critical Mass because I think it plays into drivers' stereotypes about bikers. Stereotypes that lead to people running bikers off the road, honking their horns, throwing things, etc. Ie. things that make it more dangerous for me to ride.

A post about the general problems of the Milwaukee Police Department might have been interesting with the long string of "oops" lately.

Toast: According to the journal-sentinel today, it's taking up to 50 minutes for police to respond to shots fired calls.
posted by drezdn at 11:31 AM on August 24, 2005


Well I've never heard the CM people getting into that kind of trouble with police here. And they're daring enough to brave the infamous motorway bypass in Rome. For that alone they should get a medal.
posted by funambulist at 11:33 AM on August 24, 2005


jojoosito, there are some really nice trails in Milwaukee there's only two problems with them 1) trails are more dangerous for bikers than streets 2) few of them lead anywhere a commuter would want to go.

The bike lanes are nice, but start and stop in wierd spots, not to mention the fact that trucks seem convinced that really they're just a secret trucks only parking spot.
posted by drezdn at 11:35 AM on August 24, 2005


Well, I'm not a fan of sidewalks or bike lanes myself. When the majority of bike-car accidents involve confusion of right-of-way at intersections and driveways rather than overtaking problems, I'm skeptical of interventions that seem to make right-of-way issues more confusing.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:36 AM on August 24, 2005


drezdn: Shootings in the poor, primarily black neighborhoods of Milwaukee are significantly lower of the MPD priority list than traffic inconveniences in the Third Ward, where all the affluent young urban professionals live.

For whatever reason.
posted by ToasT at 11:46 AM on August 24, 2005


if there's a lane for your bike, bike in it - I mean, how pissed would they be if there was a car driving in the bike lane?

Yeah, it's not as though anything like that ever happens.

I bike commute in NYC, and it always cracks me up to hear people complaining about cyclists not obeying traffic laws. For the first few months I did it I was religious about stopping at red lights, etc etc. After the third time I almost got clipped by some insane idiot cabbie I decided that the only way I could survive was to take whatever advantage I could. I don't run red lights against oncoming traffic. But I've had enough morons in SUVs decide to make a right turn across my path when they're on my left that I don't feel too bad about it.

If the cops were half as zealous about enforcing the constant traffic violations by cars as they are for a monthly 2-hour bike ride, there'd be no need for CM.
posted by jmignault at 12:03 PM on August 24, 2005


If I didn't go through street lights in NY (I do yield), it would more than double my commute.
Cops don't seem to care, as long as you don't go charging recklessly through an intersection.
posted by hellbient at 12:07 PM on August 24, 2005


ilsa, he stopped me originally for not coming to a stop at the bottom of a big hill and then changed his mind and wrote the ticket for a non-license thing. Which blew me away as I'd had no idea I had to register my bike with the city.

The licensing thing was intended to help cut down on bike theft and make it easier to return recovered bikes (like bike thieves don't know enough to file off serial numbers).

I don't recall exactly but I want to say I contested the ticket and got it reduced.

thedoctorpants, yes, Cindy Sheehan is helping by pissing some people off. But a Critical Mass doesn't discriminate who it pisses off and can actually make things more dangerous. Think about being stuck in an ambulance and needing to get to the hospital but the roads are clogged with protesting bikers. I'm not saying pissing people doesn't accomplish anything but I do think that they indiscriminately piss off all commuters that their message is lost for the most part.

I'd still ride my bike to work if I could but not because I want to unclog the roads, I'd do it because I like riding my bike. But 17 miles each way in office clothes just wouldn't work well.
posted by fenriq at 12:07 PM on August 24, 2005


klangklangston actually brings up the greatest misconception about cyclists that I wish could be cleared up. As PantsOfSCIENCE pointed out, a cyclist is NOT required to ride as far to the right as possible, but rather as far to the right as is SAFE. The distinction is huge, and most auto drivers don't understand it.

Take my usual commute through Denver. I ride along streets (designated bike routes) that have on-street parking. Some of the spots are empty, some are full. The safest possible position to the right is completely outside the "door zone" of the parked cars. This is a path that most drivers construe as being "in the middle of the street." Further, I can not weave back and forth on the street, depending upon whether or not an on-street parking spot is full: I have to stay outside the door zone of the parked cars, even when the space is empty (I know this from experience: if I drift right into an open parking space to be considerate to traffic, I open myself up to getting hit from behind when I have to go back farther to the left at the next parked car, and someone doesn't think of me as another vehicle, but rather as someone that should stay out of their way, even when they are behind me. I've been grazed by a mirror this way, and learned my lesson. So realize that sometimes, my being considerate to you as a driver can seriously increase my risk of injury).

Thus most drivers think a cyclist is breaking the law, or at least being a jerk, by riding in what seems like the middle of the street, when in reality the cyclist is doing what keeps him or her safe.

All that has nothing to do with Critical Mass (although, interestingly, it was just recently made legal for bikes to ride side-by-side on the streets of CO, for some reason). Of course, no matter what you think about Critical Mass, cops can't behave as they are reported to have behaved here. Being a jerk is not grounds for being beat up by cops. Breaking a minor traffic law should result in a citation. Any cop that tackles a cyclist to issue a ticket should be fired, no matter how much of a jerk the cyclist is.

It bugs me how many people feel the urge to minimize what the cops did because they don't like Critical Mass. They had tickets coming, assuming they broke traffic laws. Maybe arrest, if they resisted. But they certainly didn't have what the first link describes coming to them.
posted by teece at 12:14 PM on August 24, 2005


Think about being stuck in an ambulance and needing to get to the hospital but the roads are clogged with protesting bikers.
this happened at the RNC CM in NY I went to. It wasn't a good feeling. If memory serves though, there was an exception made to let car traffic through until the ambulance passed.
posted by hellbient at 12:17 PM on August 24, 2005


I enjoy crtitical mass in NYC. I like seeing families riding together, skateboarders, roller bladers - and apparently a lot of pedestrians do too. Cheers from small groups clustered on the sidewalk are common.
Assholes who don't simple "cork" a street, but act beligerent and aggressive are seen as a problem by me and most of my friends who ride.

I've heard of CM rides in other towns (the Dead Baby ride in Seattle) that use the lanes, and that seems like a good idea.. but I wish more car drivers experienced riding the streets of NYC without feeling like a target, I think it might change the politics and laws of riding around here.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 12:20 PM on August 24, 2005


All i know is that when i did my first Critical Mass ride last month in new york, we got all these cheers, and i was mainly thinking, "This increases the visibility of bikers in a city that routinely threatens their existence."

And as far as breaking traffic rules, cyclists should know when they can get away with it without bothering or endangering anyone (in the same way they themselves are endangered simply by getting on their bikes, of course). I know i am not going to sit there on my bike waiting for a light to change where there is no one coming. . . And that doesn't hurt anyone, unless someone has decided to leap into the street from a bush without looking.

I don't understand people who say bicyclists are assholes that make them jump off the sidewalk. Where that happens, it has nothing to do with Critical Mass.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 12:31 PM on August 24, 2005


I usually don't mind most bikers. But the whole idea of CM smacks of bored hippie bullshit to me. No amount of jerks blocking intersections and impeding traffic are going to get me to give up my car nor my desire to drive. I find driving to be a soothing, relaxing experience, and I thoroughly enjoy it.

I'm a Mass Transit commuter, so I'll probably go for a drive about twice a week. I used to bike around the city, but it's a pretty inefficient way to get around with such a comprehensive bus and subway system.

I do, however, hate with a passion, most bike couriers. These dumb luck trusting psychopaths are menaces to cars, pedestrians, and themselves. Just because you've got a mental health issue, and/or a drug problem that you're trying to support barely making minimum wage, doesn't give you the right to act like an asshole (whether or not they're on their bikes) I've seen people crossing with the light get mowed down, and I've personally been glancingly hit on two occasions. I've gotten into many arguments and near altercations with these assholes, and have gone so far as to crush the back tire of one messenger's bike before speeding off... In my defense, he dared me to do it... biker runs red light, I almost run him over... (but manage to stop in time) and I'm all of a sudden at fault in his eyes.... So... in the middle of the intersection, he positions his bike in front of my car so I can't move... I told him I'd knock his ass out of the way, and he told me to try it... so I did. (less than 3 MPH impact... bent the shit outta his back tire though) It was worth the small dent in the passenger side door that he kicked, and the gatorade, crack juice, or whatever sticky shit was in his water bottle on the back window IMHO. Fuckin' assholes...
posted by Debaser626 at 12:35 PM on August 24, 2005


I don't understand people who say bicyclists are assholes that make them jump off the sidewalk.
I've wondered this too, as I come up on a red light as people cross the street. Often people stop, or step back to get out of my way. I can only assume this comes from asshole bikers who go barrelling through a light (and therefore a crosswalk), yelling (or one time I saw a guy use an airhorn!), expecting everyone that's legally crossing to get out of their way. Pedestrians often hate bikers as much as bikers hate drivers (or drivers hate bikers).
posted by hellbient at 12:43 PM on August 24, 2005


Milwaukee's ordinances require that cyclists ride single file, but there's no ordinance that requires a cyclist to be as far to the right as possible. Wisconsin state law, however, generally gives cyclists the right to ride two or more abreast.
posted by hellx at 12:45 PM on August 24, 2005


"a cyclist is NOT required to ride as far to the right as possible, but rather as far to the right as is SAFE"

I was taught in Drivers' Ed that a car should also be operated "as far to the right as is SAFE".
posted by mischief at 12:58 PM on August 24, 2005


Debaser626, i agree that bike messengers can be terroristic in their rebellious means of money-making. But i don't think they should be trashed en masse as they obviously fill a useful role of fast package delivery. Also, they do not work for minimum wage. A good one makes more than your typical data clerk.

hellbient, the vast majority of the instances where i have witnessed "bikers who go barrelling through a light (and therefore a crosswalk)" in the manner you describe are actually trying to make the light, just as a car would, but are missed by pedestrians who wish to break the law by crossing on a red. After all, streets "have traffic", right?
posted by gorgor_balabala at 12:59 PM on August 24, 2005


Only a fool rides their bike on the road. I stay on the sidewalk. I've been hassled for it, but I will not endanger my own safety for other people's sense of order.
posted by Osmanthus at 12:59 PM on August 24, 2005


Osmanthus, it's a lot more dangerous to ride on the sidewalk than to ride on the street. The problem is that every driveway or alley you cross become a dangerous intersection. Cars aren't looking for fast moving (a lot faster than a pedestrian) vehicles on the sidewalk, and will more than happily roll into you or in front of you.
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 1:06 PM on August 24, 2005


Also, they do not work for minimum wage. A good one makes more than your typical data clerk.

Makes sense, gorgor.. I never gave it much thought, but I guess the physical demands of the job, coupled with the inherent danger of getting a package from A to B during heavy traffic hours would constitute an above minimum wage salary. It's just that I used to hang out with a few "friend of a friend" types who were bike messengers. We never discussed salary or our jobs... (we were primarily focused on getting wasted and "solving" the world's problems) but I was making minimum wage at that time, and my statement is purely based upon what their apartments looked like and the neighborhoods they were located at, in direct correlation to the state and locale of my apartment.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:07 PM on August 24, 2005


Osmanthus, you're kidding, right? What about the safety of PEOPLE on the sideWALK? "Walk" is part of the word for a reason. By riding your bike on it, you threaten and terrorize people who are generally defenseless. This is the most annoying behavior for me as a pedestrian, and if i happen to be one of the people you encounter on the sidewalk, i will be giving you a loud and withering earfull.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 1:15 PM on August 24, 2005


teece: Of course, no matter what you think about Critical Mass, cops can't behave as they are reported to have behaved here. Being a jerk is not grounds for being beat up by cops.

Exactly. Now why am I having a deja vu on this? the ravers, the cyclists, the protesters, the could-have-been-a-terrorist's, is there any excessive use of force by police that some people aren't willing to find excuses for? why does the debate always turn on those on the receiving end of said behaviour?
posted by funambulist at 1:16 PM on August 24, 2005


Yeah, actually the wage is quite good, I know more than a few responsible and sane people who support families as messengers. On the other hand, I also know many more people who like the allure of a job that they see as outside the law. Their money goes to toys and drugs. It sounds like you've run into some doozies, Debaser626, but not all couriers are like that. Keep in mind, too, that they do do a job in which the environment is mostly hostile, and sometimes injuriously so, to them. After riding your heart out to get a package to a destination in the shortest time possible, risking injury riding through crowded city streets, you are more often than not treated like scum at the offices you visit. It can breed a bad attitude, which I don't suggest constitutes a valid excuse or a pass for bad behavior.
posted by OmieWise at 1:20 PM on August 24, 2005


sorry gorgor_balabala, that should have been "barrelling through a red light".
posted by hellbient at 1:31 PM on August 24, 2005


Only a fool rides their bike on the road. I stay on the sidewalk. I've been hassled for it, but I will not endanger my own safety for other people's sense of order.

And in NYC you can be arrested for it:

Is it legal to ride on the sidewalk?
No, it is illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk. The police are entitled to seize your bike if you are riding on the sidewalk.

posted by jmignault at 1:33 PM on August 24, 2005


To my mind, the success or otherwise of Critical Mass is in getting car drivers to recognise cyclists as genuine road users. Quite frankly, I don't care whether drivers think that I'm an asshole on a bike, I'd just like for them to not run me over.

I commuted to work by bike for about three years and during that time I witnessed any number of moronic car drivers endangering the lives of cyclists and pedestrians. In total, I saw maybe 20-30 moderately serious accidents and two fatalities. The second fatality taught me more than I needed to know about the average car commuter and persuaded me to give up commuting by bike. Although the idiot had managed to more or less ride over the top of his victim, he still didn't seem to realise that it was a person that he'd just maimed - the only thing that he wanted to do was drive off and get to work. It was only about five minutes later that he got his head around what he'd done. It was then that I realised that to the typical car driver cyclists are just moving obstacles that get in their way.

I'm sure that when Debaser626 was running over someone's bike, he was probably not thinking of that person as a living breathing person who he could easily kill with his car. If a cyclist did to a car what Debaser626 did to a cyclist, no matter the provocation, then they would get locked up (rightly so), but somehow people think that committing assault with a deadly weapon is fine if tthat weapon is a car.
posted by daveg at 1:33 PM on August 24, 2005


You ever take your bike off any sweet jumps?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:34 PM on August 24, 2005


OmniWise, from my user page: "Contacts: This user doesn't link to any other MetaFilter members. Wasn't me.

Something I find amazing from my user page: "5 MetaFilter user(s) link to this user." WHY? Ain't I asshole enough for ya?

Anyway. My point about riding on sidewalks and stuff is that I often have to ride "illegally" to safely ride my bike at all.

In the first place I live in the city close to downtown, so if they ever did put in bike lanes around here they'd have to inconvenience everybody by widening busy, often narrow, city streets; it's not like they can just buy strips of cow pasture to put the bike lanes in.

In the second place I don't ride my bike just for health reasons but mainly because I don't have a motor vehicle, the bus system here sucks, and it takes too damn long to walk halfway across town to a supermarket, the library, or a decent video store. It's not that I fiendishly break the law just because I'm such a rebel, but because I have to be able to do things like buy groceries without getting hurt or killed by bad drivers on busy streets.

And anyway, as I said, usually there's nobody walking on the sidewalk here; they just don't do much pedestrianism here in Louisville, KY. For one thing it ain't very safe, and for another most everybody who can afford to drives -- whether they can see or think or not.

And yes, as I said before, I will often go out of my way or stop and wait to avoid inconveniencing those rare pedestrian -- and when somebody does edge aside for me (as I edge aside for him/her too) I always yell "Thank you!" And as I said, I have not run into any pedestrian on my bike either: my brakes work just fine, and I'm never in THAT much of a hurry. I'm not out to hurt or bully anybody either.

And POS, given the shitty drivers around here it's as difficult and unsafe to walk on the sidewalk with no bikes anywhere. E.g., crossing the street in the crosswalk with the green light and the "WALK" sign often involves playing chicken with drivers whose right to make a left turn obviously outweighs your right to live. The difference between two feet and two wheels ain't that much.

And on Preview, like I said, I've had Louisville cop cars crowd me off the road but leave me alone once I started riding my bike on the sidewalk. That is, I have cops endanger my safety to force me to violate the traffic laws. So much for "sideWALKS".
posted by davy at 1:34 PM on August 24, 2005


Gatorade crack juice. Hmmm.
posted by veedubya at 1:34 PM on August 24, 2005


Of course I don't ride like a bat-out-of-hell on the sidewalks, that wouldnt be safe either. But it doenst really matter because a bike/pedestrian collision is very low energy so wont cause any injury let alone fatality. Also, a car backing out/in a driveway is certainly an issue, but its there if your a foot away on the road too, but luckily the lower speed means minor injury and not fatality.
The problem is that when a vehicle weighing a couple tons hits a biker at traffic speeds. This has a thousand times more energy than a bike can generate, and will easily lead to death.

One day, if I am ticketed for riding on the sidewalk (never happened yet), I will fight the law on the basis of public safety. Also maybe with descrimination : for what is a bicycle but a wheelchair with wheels inline?
posted by Osmanthus at 1:54 PM on August 24, 2005


But it doenst really matter because a bike/pedestrian collision is very low energy so wont cause any injury let alone fatality.

Doesn't that rather assume that pedestrians are all adults? Get off the pavement before you hit a child.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:05 PM on August 24, 2005


It's great to see not one but two cycling threads in the blue. Really warms my shriveled little heart. On my very occasional forays to Philly Critical Mass, it seemed to be populated by the sort of folks who felt a little beaten down and abused and who got 'bike muscles' by riding in a group. The mass here sure ain't NYC or SF, that's for sure.

Every bike thread here goes in the same direction, though. Sidewalk. Bike lane. "As far to the right as is practicable."

Two big schools of thought with respect to bikes in the USA. Bikes are toys and should not mix with cars. The should be segregated, with off-street facilities, or if they do happen to mix with cars, need dedicated bike lanes. That is bullshit.

See John Forrester who coined the term 'vehicular cycling' or maybe even read the book. Much of the equipment advice is sorely dated, but the concept is still valid and every library has a copy. These folks have the right idea. I don't want to cower in a bike lane filled with crap, I just want to use the road.

The only lobbying group we have is pretty toothless, seeming only to exist to beg me repeatedly for more money.
posted by fixedgear at 2:10 PM on August 24, 2005


Only a fool rides their bike on the road. I stay on the sidewalk.

Only a fool rides their bike on a sidewalk. I stay on the road.
posted by fixedgear at 2:12 PM on August 24, 2005


Osmanthus: the data is limited on bicycle crashes, but what data we have indicates that riding on the sidewalk causes more accidents for the cyclist, no matter what reasons you have for it. Reality is reality.

In CO, it is legal to ride on the sidewalk, unless otherwise prohibited, but you are required to behave as a pedestrian. That is, you must go at a pedestrian speed, and you must dismount your bike at all crosswalks, and proceed on foot. In Denver, sidewalks are generally forbidden, overriding the state law.

But I strongly suspect you only feel safer, and are not in reality better off. Most likely you're worse off, unless you really do turn your bike into something barely faster than a pedestrian. If you don't dismount at crosswalks (or at least slow to a crawl), you are much more likely to get hit by a car, and it is going to have the same kind of momentum as any car. Cars don't look for bicycles at a crosswalk. That's why sidewalk riding cyclists get in more accidents. Pedestrians also don't look for you, and can force you into the street or into hitting them. Doors can be a killer, if they open onto a narrow sidewalk. There is not a chance in hell the average person is looking for a fast-moving bike before they open an outward-opening door (but hopefully most doors open in). Just don't do it. And a bike-ped collision can result in serious injury and even death, in a very unlucky instance. They aren't something to sneeze at.
posted by teece at 2:18 PM on August 24, 2005


For example, this picture. That's Farwell Avenue, the street I live on. It's a very busy one way street with two lanes and a bike lane running through that stretch blah blah blah blah.

Jeebus, you drivers are a bunch of tightasses. Wait 5-10 minutes, then move on. Crank up the Zeppelin and rock out while you're waiting, or take pictures of your genitalia with your cell phone. The possibilities are endless.

Riding on sidewalks is perfectly acceptable wherever it's legal, although I can't think of anywhere ... I'm not sure about Louisville, but it should be legal there. Nobody walks on the sidewalk outside of downtown there.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:22 PM on August 24, 2005


Even when the police don't get involved, Critical Mass rides tend to be dangerous, simply because of the number of people involved. Anytime that many people get together on bikes, there are bound to be collisions and accidents. (Not to mention that many Critical Mass riders intentionally act violently to, erm, prove their points?)

Even when the police don't get involved, car rides tend to be dangerous, simply because of the number of people involved. Anytime that many people get together in cars, there are bound to be collisions and accidents. (Not to mention that many motorists intentionally act violently to, erm, prove their points?)

As for the question of "who brings their kid out on the road in a bike carriage," well, those of us who have kids but not cars. if you think about it, you really shouldn't bring your kid outside anywhere at all ever. But I've seen Altered States, and dammit I want my kid to get out.

And reasons for the mass are numerous. Personally i'm not trying to convince you of anything. i'd just like you to effin' take notice of the recent invention of the bicycle, as it's really starting to catch on with kids these days... and also just hang out with friends and fellow cyclists and get to enjoy a ride that doesn't resemble the Indiana Jones giant boulder scene.

That said, I would never bring my kid to a critical mass. but i also think it's obscene that I would feel unsafe doing so, and that's the fault of cops and crazy motorists, not cyclists.
posted by poweredbybeard at 2:26 PM on August 24, 2005


i've learned that riding on the sidewalk, as well, is a matter of my own safety. i, too, have found that in certain neighborhoods, nobody seems to walk, and on certain streets, dealing with driveways is easier than dealing with the speeding SUV-drivers who seem to have no concept of bicycle right-of-road. those people scare the bejesus outta me, and i don't want to be killed by one of them. i really wish we had bike lanes, but we don't.

my standard response to the assholes who yell abuse: "wish you were here!"

and i love Critical Mass. someday i hope to participate in a ride in my own town.
posted by RedEmma at 2:26 PM on August 24, 2005


lets assume I accept your unsupported idea that more accidents happen on sidewalks than roads (I do not), it means nothing. I'm talking about fatalities. So you get bruised and scraped up a bit when soemone opens a door, its a lot better than death.
As far as the 'hit a child' troll goes, it makes no nevermind either. A biker has only slighte higher energies than a jogger, less if the jogger is especially obese! Nobody, child or not, is going to die if they get hit by a byciclist.
posted by Osmanthus at 2:29 PM on August 24, 2005


But it doenst really matter because a bike/pedestrian collision is very low energy so wont cause any injury let alone fatality

Sooner or later you have to cross a road intersection. If you're a pavement cyclist, when you cross intersections you're not where vehicle traffic expects you to be and therefore at greatly increased risk of collision.

Permit me to recommend to you some very detailed reading on this topic? Effective Cycling.
posted by normy at 2:33 PM on August 24, 2005


"pavement"(UK) = "sidewalk"(US) just to avoid any confusion
posted by normy at 2:36 PM on August 24, 2005


Normy: Pedestrians have to cross the intersection, so is your argument that drivers don't expect to see pedestrians? I'm not gonna argue that! Crossing the road is dangerous! But I say that bicyclists have a better chance that pedestrians because they have shiny piece of metal with reflectors.
I say that vehicles don't expect to see a bicycle ANYWHERE so its up to the cyclicst to be entirely defensive.
posted by Osmanthus at 2:48 PM on August 24, 2005


Osmanthus, the fact remains that you have decided to take the option that (you believe) is safer for you at the expense of making the pavements less safe for pedestrians. What makes you so special?

How is being concerned that you will hit a child a "troll"? A bike is composed of metal, pumped-up tyres, and sharp spikes on the chain assembly that could lacerate. You may not have much higher energies than a jogger -- even a fat jogger -- but a fat jogger is soft and a man on a bicycle is sharp, hard, and is likely to have (at least initially) a smaller point of impact. Work it out.

And then get off the pavement.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:53 PM on August 24, 2005


First of, is anyone really surprised when cops act like major cocks?

Secondly, to all the hataz, the people in the cars: Fuck off.

Cars are the most visible symptom of the pernicious modern cityscape. Strip malls, highways, people living in their own little worlds, 'wallowing' if you will. You need to slow down! Who gave automobile drivers the world? And don't tell me it's mine either; the overwhelming majority of 'the street' is devoted to cars and to hell with all else.

Look, it's one day a month, just take it as an opportunity to sit on your fuckin ass, twiddle the radio dial, smoke a cig.

Understand that shaving 5 minutes off your trip by rushing around like a maniac, in the end, provides you with nothing.
posted by kuatto at 3:01 PM on August 24, 2005


They're not on a Sunday ride. They're participating in an event designed to cause trouble by clogging city streets and pissing people off.

How can you reason with such people? Sheesh...
posted by monkeymike at 3:01 PM on August 24, 2005


“I personally love getting yelled at, honked at, and flipped off,” says Prudhorn. “I’d rather get a bad reaction than no reaction at all."

Um, perhaps not the best way to win friends and influence people? Don't forget Street Physics 101: (Mass of Car + Driver) > (Mass of Bike + Rider).
posted by cenoxo at 3:12 PM on August 24, 2005


lets assume I accept your unsupported idea that more accidents happen on sidewalks than roads (I do not), it means nothing.

Not unsupported, Osmanthus, read up thread. One of the few studies on bicycle accidents showed sidewalk riders were 1.8 times as likely to get in an accident.

And you grossly underestimate the energies involved in cycling. I was idling along, waiting for my wife to catch up to me one day in May, and (because of an unbalanced saddle bag) managed to get my front wheel sideways. Probably going 5-10 mph. The force went directly onto my left leg, and fractured my femur, the largest bone in the human body, in a spiral; it required surgery to fix. I still have a slight limp, 6 years later. If a pedestrian get similarly unlucky with you impacting him with your bike, with that force to the head, you're dead. Sure, death is going to require an unlikely accident; but serious injury does not.

A bike can pretty easily go 8-15 mph, even on a sidewalk. Energy goes up as the square of velocity. Force felt upon impact is going to be directly related to the area used to deliver the force, and the rigidity of the delivering object. A bike puts the ped at a significantly increased risk over that of a jogger's impact, for these reasons. And there is enough energy in a fall walking to seriously injure someone. Further, a jogger is much more able to stop on a dime and jump to the side; a bike is not quite so agile.
posted by teece at 3:13 PM on August 24, 2005


Osmanthus: Normy: Pedestrians have to cross the intersection, so is your argument that drivers don't expect to see pedestrians? I'm not gonna argue that! Crossing the road is dangerous! But I say that bicyclists have a better chance that pedestrians because they have shiny piece of metal with reflectors.

The problem is, motorists watch for a pedestrian moving 3 MPH, they don't watch for a cyclist doing 10-15.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:17 PM on August 24, 2005


Not unsupported, Osmanthus, read up thread. One of the few studies on bicycle accidents showed sidewalk riders were 1.8 times as likely to get in an accident.

Of course, you have to assume that those studies, done by groups that admit their entire goal is to increase bikes on streets, are unbiased, which I wouldn't. Every study must be taken with a rather large grain of salt based on the person who funded the study, and what their motives were. I could link to dozens of studies that say cigarette's don't cause cancer (funded by cigarette companies), but that doesn't mean you should take them at face value, or any value for that matter.
posted by nomisxid at 3:25 PM on August 24, 2005


So the ITE Journal, which is apparently a peer reviewed publication for transportation engineers, published a doctored study to get bikes off the sidewalks and onto the streets? You're taking healthy skepticism a bit too far, nomisxid.

But really, the study, which is available in full, seems pretty straightforward. Both authors were members of the Palo Alto Bicycle Advisory Committee, with expertise in bike safety, and seem to have been primarily motivated by making cities safer for cyclists. Further, googling for their names turns up this interesting corroboration which points to some stuff, that I don't have time to track down and verify. (Man, I need to get a job). But the results are all the same: riding on the sidewalk is more dangerous than on the street.
posted by teece at 4:26 PM on August 24, 2005


If you seek bikers in Milwaukee:

http://www.bikecollective.org/

(they had the domain name my client wanted)
posted by rough ashlar at 5:08 PM on August 24, 2005


Civil Disobedient: If you split lanes, you're not sharing the road.

I find that incredibly ironic since the other term for lane splitting is lane sharing.

I don't really care about these crazy bicycle people, but you can pry my freeway lane-splitting from my cold, dead hands.

ok, ok, I'll just be incredibly irritated if CA bans it, and it'll add at least 30 minutes a day to my commute. close enough.
posted by flaterik at 5:23 PM on August 24, 2005


I got as far as the third post:

the impression it serves two purposes: 1) to intentionally slow down and annoy drivers as some way to “convince” them to respect bikes on the road… 2) a meeting place for bike riders…

That sums up my opinion as well. I ride to work everyday.
posted by tomplus2 at 5:35 PM on August 24, 2005


When I ride, I share the road. But sometimes I slow and go through the occasional red light. It upsets cars. I look at it this way, I'm on a bike, I'm made of flesh, it is safer to get ahead of the cars so they pass me spread out instead of one bunch or so that I can get to an area w/o parked cars.

I don't understand why car drivers get so upset. Are the jealous? Or just had bad experiences with biker (like critical mass for example).
posted by tomplus2 at 5:40 PM on August 24, 2005


i've been nearly seriously injured several times on my bicycle

In other words, you've never been seriously injured.
posted by Bonzai at 5:55 PM on August 24, 2005


could link to dozens of studies that say cigarette's don't cause cancer (funded by cigarette companies), but that doesn't mean you should take them at face value, or any value for that matter.

and i could link you to dozens of studies that say second-handsmoke causes numerous ailments, all funded by the anti-smoking lobby and Big Pharma, but that doesn't mean you should take them at face value, or any value for that matter.

as for biking, people who live in the Boston area should be aware that the City of Cambridge, supposedly progressive, will now conficate bicycles chained to 'city property'meaning parking meters, sign posts, etc. how progressive is this?
posted by brandz at 6:13 PM on August 24, 2005


jmgorman writes "The kind of idiot who feels safe riding with a baby with dozens of other bikes around?"

You know, even small children master the art of keeping a bike upright. By your tone it would seem that you have certain problems achieving this though.
posted by clevershark at 6:40 PM on August 24, 2005


Have any of you even looked at the pictures from this ride?

From what I can see, there's no reason to believe that the baby was being treated unreasonably, until a cop decided to drop it to the ground.


From what I can see, there's no baby or baby carriage in any of these pictures.
posted by jjg at 7:00 PM on August 24, 2005


These protests are counter productive in a big way. People that are unaware or neutral towards your cause become aware of it and develop hatred for it about the same instant.

Last summer a "farmer's rights" group shut down the highway I take to work everyday for hours. Twice.

Since the ignorant bastards left me sitting PARKED on a multi-lane highway, late for work MY atttiude went form being sympathetic to roughly "Fuck em. Let the corporate farms buy their deeds after they go bankrupt."

Blocking traffic with your bikes will get pretty much the same type of reaction, I think.

(bonus points for stupidity to the guy who brought his infant BTW)
posted by login at 7:36 PM on August 24, 2005


I have never had any accidents on my bike, but absolutely every serious near-miss has been because I did something other than operate my bike in the legal way. Like coast through an empty red light and almost hit a pedestrian crossing at his green. Or hopping up onto a sidewalk to cut across a scary intersection. Or making a left turn by using the pedestrian crosswalk instead of making a real left from the left lane like a car. What's dangerous isn't all those cars, it's the cyclist's unexpected behavior.

Yesterday I was behind someone who was doing that curb-hugging thing, rolling up into the blind spot of right-turning vehicles and weaving in and out between parked cars. I can't believe she wasn't clipped.

Do not be foolish. Ride like a legal vehicle, take lanes where appropriate, obey traffic laws. It's safer. Honest. Many cities offer defensive cycling classes that will teach you how to ride, because if you are using the sidewalks, you don't know how.
posted by nev at 8:16 PM on August 24, 2005


a stupid approach to a problem that is really only semi-legitimate

Yup. That said I still try to ride in the Chicago Critical Mass every month. Yeah, sometimes the mass is spoiled by the bicycle taliban... but other times it's really pretty awesome. The best times are riding along beautiful city streets in silence with hundreds - if not thousands - of riders around me. It's surreal sometimes.

The worst is when the hardcore "cars are evil" bicycle terrorists hijack the mass without regard for the safety of the thousands of people behind them and try to lead the mass onto a major highway like the Lake Shore Drive.

NOTE to the Chicago PD: if you want to bust some heads go after the ten jerks in the front trying to take the mass down an on ramp - not us nice people in the middle and rear.
posted by wfrgms at 9:37 PM on August 24, 2005



Jeebus, you drivers are a bunch of tightasses.


Dear mrgrimm, I am a serious bike commuter (100 miles per week). The only time I drive my car is when I have to take my upright bass to practice.

I also don't like Critical Mass in Milwaukee because I believe it makes it more dangerous for the average biker (as I've stated up thread).
posted by drezdn at 10:10 PM on August 24, 2005


Bike threads are fun.
posted by srboisvert at 12:33 AM on August 25, 2005


I always find it strange and anarchistic that many bicyclists don't think red lights or stop signs apply to them. Many just buzz on through without even looking. I used to commute to work alot on bike and had a healthy attitude toward not only sharing the road with cars but following the rules of the road as a vehicle would. I rarely felt threatened by "vicious cars".

Last year at the water tower in Milwaukee, I was driving to work in the early morning by car and as I pulled away from the stop sign at a 4-way itersection a biker blew through the stop sign to my right and continued on down the hill to Lincoln Memorial. Fine, it's his life. As I followed down the hill he is hogging an entire lane of the twisty 2 lanes going downhill. So I pass him because I can go faster than him. I gave him more than enough room but when I got down to the bottom of the hill and waited for traffic to clear to make a right turn, the guy catches up and lays into me. "You can't pass me like that! Don't you cars have any respect for bikes!? Blah, blah!!" It was funny that the guy acted as if I put his life in danger and usurped his right to have the entire road. I dig the bumper sticker "Share The Road With Bikes", but it goes both ways.
posted by JJ86 at 1:35 AM on August 25, 2005


JJ86: it's a common human failing. The same idiotic urge that makes some drivers hate everyone on the road is also present in cyclists, after all.

(And it's cyclist, people. A biker is a guy on a Harley. Call yourself a biker around them and they'll kick your ass).
posted by teece at 8:15 AM on August 25, 2005


Since the ignorant bastards left me sitting PARKED on a multi-lane highway, late for work MY atttiude went form being sympathetic to roughly "Fuck em. Let the corporate farms buy their deeds after they go bankrupt."

So they're losing big in the knee-jerk idiot market, then.
posted by poweredbybeard at 9:15 AM on August 25, 2005


Wheels of revolution turning toward cheap, friendly transit
posted by mrgrimm at 10:13 AM on August 25, 2005


I always find it strange and anarchistic that many bicyclists don't think red lights or stop signs apply to them.

Visit Vietnam.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:34 AM on August 25, 2005


Dear mrgrimm, I am a serious bike commuter (100 miles per week). The only time I drive my car is when I have to take my upright bass to practice.

I also don't like Critical Mass in Milwaukee because I believe it makes it more dangerous for the average biker (as I've stated up thread).I also don't like Critical Mass in Milwaukee because I believe it makes it more dangerous for the average biker (as I've stated up thread).


I wasn't saying Critical Mass is great, or even good. I was saying that drivers are tightasses. I'll admit that I can be when I drive.

Critical Mass (even here in SF, dunno about NYC) probably sticks drivers in traffic for an extra what, 5-20 minutes? It's generally always the last Friday of the month so that drivers know in advance. If there's an emergency vehicle, there's a solution because bikes move away easily, and it's much easier for bikers to communicate verbally than drivers. So what's the big deal? The big deal is that it's minimally subversive. And there's nothing for sale. And so the straights don't like it.

I consistently hear people say that 90% or X% of drivers are incompetent idiots. I think they're way off. I think most people are good drivers. I think that automobiles themselves are the problem.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:11 AM on August 25, 2005


So what's the big deal? The big deal is that it's minimally subversive. And there's nothing for sale. And so the straights don't like it.

Bullshit. The "straights" don't like being inconvenienced. Nobody likes being made to wait unnecessarily. How would you like it if, every once in a while, a bunch of people blocked your front door for 5-20 minutes when you wanted to leave? Would it be ok with you if they told you in advance?

I think that automobiles themselves are the problem.

I do too. I don't think that CM is the solution.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:07 PM on August 25, 2005


How would you like it if, every once in a while, a bunch of people blocked your front door for 5-20 minutes when you wanted to leave? Would it be ok with you if they told you in advance?

It depends. If it was a parade of clowns and monkeys, I'd pay for it. If I knew about it ahead of time and could avoid it, I wouldn't have much problem if I couldn't leave my office or apartment from 5:30-6 every last Friday of the month. It's just me, perhaps.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:44 PM on August 25, 2005


How would you like it if, every once in a while, a bunch of people blocked your front door for 5-20 minutes when you wanted to leave?

i'd go out the back door.

i mean really, does everybody get this jacked up over parades? i drove a cab in chicago. seemed like there was a parade every goddamned week. so the hell what? go around. or turn the damned radio up and enjoy the excuse for being late.
posted by RedEmma at 10:00 AM on August 26, 2005


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