A kinder, gentler Critical Mass
May 18, 2004 10:09 PM   Subscribe

Tonight (or tomorrow night, ymmv) marks the 2nd Annual Ride of Silence, a solemn testament to those that have been injured or killed while biking on the roads. Begun last year in Dallas in tribute to local ultramarathoner Larry Schwartz, it began as a one-time tribute. Apparently, there was enough National interest to make this an annual event, and this year more than 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada are participating.
posted by Ufez Jones (19 comments total)
posted by notsnot at 8:00 AM on May 19, 2004

Thanks Jonez. Last week, a car decided to pass a semi and plucked a rider from the middle of our paceline with its sideview mirror - killing her instantly. I'll share this link.
posted by rotifer at 8:01 AM on May 19, 2004

Why 12 miles an hour as the top speed? Is there a significance to that number?
posted by JanetLand at 8:18 AM on May 19, 2004

My condolences, rotifer. You may want to e-mail the organizers and see if you can get her listed on the "In Memoriam" page.

Janet, I don't think the number 12 has anything to do with it (though I could be wrong). I suspect it's just a natural pace for most bikers, and one that is sustainable for an 8-10 mile ride. This eases the flow of traffic (especially when you're talking up to 1,000 bikers here in Dallas) where on a narrow path you typically will be passing many people, and proper bike etiquitte will require you to inform them that you are getting ready to pass them. I suppose, ideally, people will just ride with little to no passing, thereby maintaining the silence.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:25 AM on May 19, 2004

I see. Thank you!
posted by JanetLand at 8:41 AM on May 19, 2004

With all respect to the deceased, wouldn't it be better to protest the insanely reckless practice of riding bicycles in a thoroughfare decisively dominated by two-ton metal objects hurtling along at high speeds under the minimal direction of persons of all ages, mental states, physical capacities, who are subject to attention-distractors ranging from cassette-changing to coffee-sipping to makeup-applying, the bicyclists even-when-helmeted being virtually unprotected against all but the mildest tumble, and habitually dressed in pointlessly ugly clothing designed, it would seem, to deliberately annoy non-bicyclists, and be more constructive to demand that cities and municipalities provide adequate paved bicycle paths separated from motorways, for the safe enjoyment of the altogether wholesome, environmentally friendly and otherwise inoffensive (when done in normal clothing) practice of bicycling?
posted by Faze at 9:40 AM on May 19, 2004

I think you may be misconstruing the point of the ride, Faze. This is not meant to be an explicitly political event. It's a tribut to friends, peers, and fellow riders who have fallen along the wayside. A simple, non-competitive show of solidarity.

I can't speak for all of the courses (or frankly, any of them outside of Dallas) but the path around White Rock Lake is completely safe for both bikers and joggers, and for that reason (and the fact that it's gorgeous out there) it's one of, if not the, most popular spot(s) in the area for outdoor enthusiasts. There's about a two block section, on a bridge, where there's immediate danger from passing traffic that has a speed limit of more than 15 mph. And even there, the path for bikers and joggers is a good 7 feet wide and separated by reflective plastic mounds.

I think you'll also find that there are many organizations that do just what you're suggesting as well as go to schools to teach about bicycle safety (here, we have the Texas Bike Coalition).
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:02 AM on May 19, 2004

Faze gets a ten yard penalty for run-on sentencing.
posted by RakDaddy at 11:16 AM on May 19, 2004

I remember a call I got from my mother-in-law when my now husband and I were dating for about two years. I was at work, and I got a call from her that she started with, "First of all, he's going to be fine, but..." She was calling from the hospital; my dear one had been hit by a car while out on a bike ride. He ended up fine - his helmet was cracked, not his head, and five years later, you can just barely see the scars on his arm and leg if you know what you're looking for. However, it took him a year with a sports psychologist to get on his bike again at all, and he still doesn't ride regularly like he used to. It used to be a calm, relaxing workout, and now it is a source of tension. Ironically, he was hit about 10 yards from a sign that welcomed visitors to "Mentor - A Bicycle Friendly City."
posted by ferociouskitty at 11:18 AM on May 19, 2004

I was at my spin class today and some of the other "spinners" were talking about bike safety on the road. Quite a few of them do either mountain biking and/or road biking...one of them was talking about how she was riding with her husband on a quiet country road when someone in a vehicle drove up right behind them and then blasted their horn just for the hellaciousness of it.

I think I will bring this info to class tomorrow-sounds like something they'd be interested in.

("spinning" is a fitness class conducted on special stationary bicycles.)
posted by konolia at 11:26 AM on May 19, 2004

Amen Faze.
posted by dr_dank at 12:08 PM on May 19, 2004

...and not to bring out another MeFi Favorite Angry Debate Topic, but bikes belong on the road. Give us lanes and wide shoulders, not separate paths that will then get clogged up with pedestrians, skaters, strollers and other hazards. Bikes are vehicles, and vehicles belong on the road. Yes, there are dumbass cyclists who act like they own the road, and, yes, they need to be educated and bawled out for being dumbasses. But, for the rest of us who a) like to ride and b) follow the rules of the road, we're going to be out there on the street with you. I'll watch out for your car, 'cause I know you won't be watching out for me.

And don't forget, this is National Bike to Work Month and Week, and Friday is Bike To Work Day. I hope you'll all be out there on your bikes, following the rules of the road, being good vehicles, wearing your shorts and jerseys and offending the heck out of Faze's sensibilities. You may have had a point there about being on the road when it's dangerous, Faze, but you lost me when you ripped on the clothing. No chamois cream for you.
posted by RakDaddy at 1:00 PM on May 19, 2004

Ok Faze, so I suppose these insane bicyclists should just stay off these roads until the city finds the money to redo all the roads. Of course, the city should also dispense with the laws allowing bicyclists to ride on the same roads as cars (and in some cases, in the middle of the lane! *GASP*). And drivers of cars shouldn't be blamed for staying in their lane and watching the road (after all, that cell phone call is IMPORTANT!). They should also be allowed to honk, toss beer cans, swerve, and such...anything to harass and knock that dumb-a$$ bicyclist off that two-wheeled monstrosity. And lastly, I agree it's important that all bicyclists...heck, all people everywhere...should wear what you think they should wear. After all, pressing a pedal and moving along in an air-conditioned, airbagged, motorized horse is a difficult thing to do compared to that idiot in the day-glo outfit (worn to make sure you DO see him/her) enjoying an afternoon ride with his friends. I mean, the NERVE!!!

Get it through your heads people, bicyclists have EXACTLY as much right to ride those roads as you do (excepting highways). And they should be thanked for riding on the side of the road and not in the middle where they have every right to ride. Aside from the few bicyclists who insist on disobeying red lights, traffic laws, and such, it's the the guy in the two-ton moving vehicle who should pay attention more. Because, statistically, it's generally his fault in accidents.

I can't fathom the lack of respect people on this planet for others. It makes me ill. Why can't we all just share?
posted by Dantien at 1:09 PM on May 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

Bicycling in America
posted by normy at 3:08 PM on May 19, 2004

Yep, tired argument Faze. Training rides (for me) involve hundreds of miles a week, hills and curves enhance the pleasure. Were I to ride on a bike path, other users would complain - no matter how polite I am. Furthermore, bicycles (in Washington state) are considered motor vehicles. "Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle..." I've been pulled over many times for infractions - depending on the cop's whim. Thanks again Jonez.
posted by rotifer at 3:14 PM on May 19, 2004

In reference to the previous link - I race, as do many of the people I ride with. I don't feel the need to make any excuses - fuck cars and people who don't get it.
posted by rotifer at 3:20 PM on May 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

I just got back from the Dallas ride. I'm a horrible estimator of crowds, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that there were more than 1,000 this year, and maybe by several hundred. Great diversity, very solemn, very powerful. There's something odd about being in a huge group of people in complete silence.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:07 PM on May 19, 2004

We should ban cars. Get off the road fat fucks. Get some exercise. You're poisoning us all, and yourselves.
posted by Slagman at 9:31 PM on May 19, 2004

and maybe by several hundred

Where several = 15. I told you I was a horrible judge of crowd size. The DMN is quoting 2,500 at yesterday's ride (login req'd, cpunks@cpunks.com Password: cpunks works).
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:25 AM on May 20, 2004

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