Had a great time taking the road on a couple of rides with Miami Critical Mass, and was sorry to miss Friday’s evening’s Halloween ride (about 300! riders, apparently). Even though, as a conservative, road-rules and red-light observing (well, almost always) rider, Urbanista! felt ambivalent about the corking of intersections and rolling through lights. But I understood the reasoning, and it’s all over in a few seconds, so at most motorists miss only a single light cycle. I was actually more troubled about the group’s tendency to take the entire road on multiple-lane roadways, something that’s probably really necessary (and totally legal!) only when turning left. That said, the sense of freedom and relative safety was something to savor, and I hope to again soon.
Most of the comments posted online on my story were supportive -- that alone marks some kind of change -- and some though critical were reasonable. Others of course could not get past the I’m-in-a-car-get-out-of-my-way mindset that makes riding solo or in a smaller group such a freighted experience in Miami. Like this beautiful post from some ignoramus who apparently could not be bothered to take note of information in the story about cyclists’ right to the road:
From one fyshhead, who thinks he/she owns the road:
“I commute South on Old Cutler Road every day. Between COCO Plum and Eureka I see bikers ridng two or more abreast in my lane about twice a week. They won't move to the side or to the bike path and many times only one of them has lights. I contribute to this road every time I buy fuel, buy a tag, and get my driver's license. They contribute to nothing but want to hijack my car lane for their own use. They call themselves corkers and by their own admission they want to be enough of a danger to themselves and a nuisance to the rest of us that they will get what they want. Kind of like Somali pirates. I think they should turn critical mass into mass arrest. Then when they pay the fine, at least they will be giving something back to the community. They can organize an interruption, but if the county waited for them to contribute to building bike lanes there would not be one in the county. HOnk HOnk....’’
Sigh. We badly need an education campaign.
Far more relevant and thoughtful is the blog post (and ensuing comments) in a blog by former racer and framebuilder Dave Moulton (a critical voice on Critical Mass whom I quoted in the story).
My own parting thoughts: Yes, there are louts on bikes, but they usually threaten no one’s safety but their own and are vastly outnumbered by louts in cars, who can and do kill cyclists (and pedestrians and fellow motorists.) The hyperventilating anger of so many over being slowed for a few moments by someone on a bicycle is irrational, a sign of how warped we become behind the wheel of a car (and we’ve all been there, let’s be honest). I blame automakers, advertisers and all of us who have colluded in creating the myth of unfettered freedom for the automobile. But no Constitutional right provides for driving at 50 mph down Coral Way. And I say this as someone who really likes his little (mid-life red) Acura; when Peak Oil hits they can pry my cold dead fingers from the steering wheel. And bury me with my bikes.