Violence and Cycling – Response to July Critical Mass Craziness in Seattle and NYC

So if you haven’t heard yet, July wasn’t the greatest month for Critical Mass. Luckily for us down in New Orleans, we had a wonderful ride with a great turnout of friendly folks and no injuries or tickets. That overall has been my experience with Critical Mass in New Orleans, but there have been some crazy times when I rode in Cincinnati. Usually the rides are great, but I do remember one month where we finally got over 100 people and the police took notice, gave a number of tickets, and my friend Corey almost got arrested, but when you scream at cops, you’re asking for it. We lost a number of regular riders after that event, but since then and until I left, things went really well.

Well, things didn’t go so well in Seattle and NYC last month. In Seattle two cyclists were hit, according to the driver on accident, according to cyclists on purpose, and then cyclists attacked his car. I wasn’t there, I don’t know what really happened, so I’m not going to say who’s at fault here. You can read about it here. Also, in NYC, a police officer attacked a cyclist and pushed him to the ground. There seems to be no reason why the officer did this. My past experiences are telling me this officer was probably just some jerk who really hates cyclists – they’re out there. Luckily here in New Orleans conflicts between cyclists and police are so rare I’ve never meet anyone who’s been involved in one.

Critical Mass is something a lot of cyclists either love or hate. Personally, I love it. I love riding in large groups, meeting new people, and biking all over the city. Some people view Critical Mass as a protest while others just a fun social gatherings. Here in New Orleans, I’d say we’re much more of a fun social gathering than a protest. If there is ever an incident with a driver or officer here in New Orleans, I want to urge all cyclists to handle it lawfully. Instead of attacking a driver who hits fellow riders, you have enough people to record the license number, probably people with cameras so you can take pictures, and at least 30 witnesses. What the kids in Seattle did was totally uncalled for and if they wouldn’t have attacked the dude’s car, there wouldn’t be all this negative press and there wouldn’t be any cyclists in jail awaiting trial. I hope nothing like that ever happens in New Orleans, and judging by all the people I’ve rode with, I don’t think it ever will.

Moral of the story – keep on riding and keep the Mass positive and keep violence out of the rides.

-Lauren

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