Bike the Ike!
July 9, 2002 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Bike the Ike! About 700 riders from Chicago Critical Mass rode on the Eisenhower Expressway for a mile at the last ride. Dangerous and insane, yes, but the cyclist in me thinks it's the bee's knees. Ah, to ride on the 10 all the way to the beach...
posted by RakDaddy (23 comments total)
This is my new desktop background. When SFmassers tried to do the Bay Bridge from Oaktown to SF, they were arrested, but they're pressing on.

I spent the fourth of July weekend in Davis, just outside of Sacramento. It's probably the most bike friendly town in the US, and it was a breath of fresh air. Great wide bike lanes separated from traffic along every major street. Downtown open only to bikes on occasion. Zillions of bike racks everywhere. Bike shops everywhere and bike races on holidays.

I just know I will eventually live there.
posted by mathowie at 6:50 PM on July 9, 2002

I take it you've never been on a Critical Mass ride, skallas. Too bad; it's civil disobedience at its most fun.
posted by RakDaddy at 7:24 PM on July 9, 2002

Oh, and, Matt, I totally agree with you about Davis. I almost went to school there because of its bike friendliness. That, and the on-campus bowling alley.
posted by RakDaddy at 7:26 PM on July 9, 2002

Great wide bike lanes separated from traffic along every major street. = good.

700 riders from Chicago Critical Mass rode on the Eisenhower Expressway = bad.

See, I'd like to practice the kind of civil disobedience that appeals to me, but I recognize the foolishness of driving a NASCAR Ford Taurus 200 miles per hour on my local highways. Since the expressways were built for passenger cars, people on bikes are hardly "liberating (them) from the horrors of car traffic", they're creating a dangerous situation for themselves and the intended users of the highway, just as my imaginary 200 MPH race car would be.

Just like my hypothetical race car has its time and place, separated from passenger-car traffic, so does your bicycle, and the expressway is no place for either one of them, especially with this kind of idiocy: "If a driver does attempt to break through the pack from the rear, several bikers will jump in front of the car and stop it in its tracks." The irony of a statement like that appearing on a page which produced a pop-under ad for the Sylvan Learning Center was beautiful, however.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:45 PM on July 9, 2002

It's probably the most bike friendly town in the US

If you believe Bicycling Magazine, Portland Oregon is the most bike-friendly U.S. city. I can't find a link to the list of their most recent rankings, but here's the 1999 list.

And.....Bike Summer takes place in Portland next month. So visit and go nuts.

During one of the Seattle Critical Masses last year, ten of us decided to ride across the I-5 ship canal bridge. We weren't really stopping or slowing traffic since we stuck to the shoulder and were riding single-file. But to catch the view up there while pedaling away was amazing. We got off at the first exit, unscathed and without being arrested.
posted by gluechunk at 8:52 PM on July 9, 2002

I, er, knew some people in Minneapolis who tried to start a Critical Mass offshoot where they rode completely nude.
They called themselves "Critical Ass."
posted by bonheur at 8:58 PM on July 9, 2002

bonheur, you're not covering up some of the bare facts about these so-called acquaintances, are you?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:02 PM on July 9, 2002

Yes, it's a little dangerous, but Critical Mass rides get results. They bind the cycling community together and those cyclists agitate for change.

Portland is incredibly bike friendly, and is becoming more so by the year. It happened not by chance or because the mayor is friendly to bikes, but because cyclists came together and insisted.

I've never heard of anyone getting hurt on a Critical Mass ride. It just makes motorists angry because for a few minutes, it's inconvenient. That's the idea. Make things safer for bikes, and commuting is more convenient for everyone.
posted by frykitty at 11:27 PM on July 9, 2002

bonheur, you could ask the folks in Critical Mass Chicago who, according to the website, at least planned a June 11 "Top Freedom Ride" downtown. So this seems to have an, um, natural overlap.

<boyzone>No pics, though.</boyzone>

Oh, wait.

And apropos of nothing above, I like this navigator. A little. I usually dislike these things.
posted by dhartung at 11:53 PM on July 9, 2002

where they rode completely nude

Each year in Seattle there are nude cyclists who ride around right before the Fremont Solstice Parade.
posted by gluechunk at 12:29 AM on July 10, 2002

I was stuck trying to get through an intersection (with a green light) by a Critical Mass ride while on my bike. I said "fuck it" and rode right through - I think a couple of them hit a curb or a parked car or two.

I'd like to thank Critical Mass for pissing off the drivers in my city even more....assholes.
posted by jalexei at 5:03 AM on July 10, 2002

Critical Mass in London is always fun, because you can bring the place to a halt very quickly in a way that's much safer than the Chicago thing: just pick a square, a green, or best of all a roundabout, and ride around in circles. As long as you don't get dizzy, it's a cinch.
posted by riviera at 5:14 AM on July 10, 2002

I have had some of the most enjoyable and safe riding experiences of my life on critical mass rides in SF the only scary parts being the rather heavy hand of the police (picture big beefy harley riding cop clubbing brave but basically defenseless lil' bunny bikers) There is a really amazing film by Ted White that documents the rise of critical mass with a focus on SF and the violent confrontations with police that happened during the mid-late nineties. There is one particular scene where the police and demonstrator/cyclists are slowed and put to a beautiful aria - the result is sheer surreal beauty.

Yeah it's dumb to ride on the freeway, but how dumb is it that we, as a society continue to spend HUGE GOBS of money enthusiastically sponsoring the car medium of personal transportation within our densest cities?
posted by dorcas at 6:33 AM on July 10, 2002

Isn't this the same highway where a motorcyclist got caught doing 160mph???

Overall, this sounds like fun. I wish they had something like this in Washington, DC.
posted by Witold at 7:42 AM on July 10, 2002

Actually, if they did this at the right time of day, they'd be the only vehicles actually moving. So i'd say not as dangerous as one might think.
posted by schlaager at 8:01 AM on July 10, 2002

Witold--I'm fairly certain that the motorcyclist in question was in fact caught doing 160 mph on Lake Shore Drive. I could be mistaken.
posted by 40 Watt at 9:02 AM on July 10, 2002

I'm fairly certain that the motorcyclist in question was in fact caught doing 160 mph on Lake Shore Drive.

Which was the road they shut down on the previous CriticalMass...
posted by thirteen at 9:14 AM on July 10, 2002

That, and the on-campus bowling alley.

Are you implying that there's a university campus center in the US that doesn't have a bowling alley?
posted by Eamon at 11:51 AM on July 10, 2002

Cyclist did 160 on LSD. They say this one had a motor.
posted by dhartung at 12:42 PM on July 10, 2002

Why must they be on their bikes? Last time the local teamsters went on strike they didnt break out a giant lathe and start doing crazy things with it.

What kind of analogy is that? When teamsters go on strike, it's usually not due to issues involving a giant lathe.

When critical massers take to the road, it's partially a reminder to motorists that bikes can be on the streets and that the motorists need to share the road. It's about being visible. You think this point would be better made "handing out leaflets" outside of a Wal-Mart?

related mefi discussions:
Chicago driver convicted of murdering a bike messenger
the Freeway Firing Line
commuting via bike

posted by gluechunk at 2:25 PM on July 10, 2002

There is a very simple answer to the problem:

If they are breaking the law and endangering others then arrest them. All of them, if necessary. Use whatever force is necessary.

The critical mass morons might have a point, but their right to make that point is not absolute. One mass arrest with a lot of legal fees and trouble as followup will tend to supress this sort of nonsense.

Yes, I would vote for someone who supports that view. Too bad San Francisco doesn't have the sort of leadership necessary to make that happen.
posted by hadashi at 8:13 PM on July 10, 2002

hasashi, what exactly do you mean by "this sort of nonsense"? Breaking the law and endangering others? Then lets arrest all those driver going over the speed limit.
posted by gluechunk at 11:11 PM on July 10, 2002

Good bike parking examples

Local Pedestrian Hazards

Bike activist Don Fong has campaigned block by block for better bike lanes, and this technique works! Pictures are worth a 1000 words when you're describing the obstacles cyclists face. These links show how you can use the Web to document problems and help other activists get results.
posted by sheauga at 11:17 AM on July 11, 2002

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