Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Importance of Communication & Diffusing Conflict @ SDCM

The following statement is a collaborative written effort by members of the San Diego bike community. This statement was written and disseminated at the October 31 2008 SDCM ride and carried by several local bike shops, thereafter. Nevertheless, the ideas, goals, and suggestions described here are still pertinent today. One of the constructive ideas that came out of the SDCM Coffeeshop Discussion was to re-disseminate this statement. Here goes:

The Importance of Communication & Diffusing Conflict at SDCM

October 31 Halloween 2008 San Diego Critical Mass Riders,

Some of us ride San Diego Critical Mass to celebrate sustainability, to exercise energy independence, to practice solutions to global warming, to be healthy, to make friends, to restore civic life to public streets normally dominated by speeding automobiles, to make a statement, or to enjoy the landscape of San Diego. But one overarching goal that we can all agree on is our celebration of Fun, via the Bicycle.

To keep SD Critical Mass rides fun, we can all work on the following:

-Communicate: Communication is our most vital asset. See something you don't or do approve of? Then make a comment. Communicate to that person or persons. This is the people's ride. It's up to all Critical Mass riders to do their part and contribute their two cents, in person, at the ride. Don't be complacent to something you don't agree with. Now is the time for self-regulation. Speak up. If you have a voice, use it, positively.

-Dealing with Impatient Motorists: Most motorists that drive by Critical Mass smile or cheer in support of the awe-inspiring bike ride. Many of them think, "I want to be with them on a bike right now!" However, there are a small minority of motorists who are bent on an inflated ego and who subscribe to the Culture of Immediacy school-of-thought which places their immediate priorities far above the well-being and livelihood of other human beings. The Culture of Immediacy is why the majority of freeway-using motorists regularly speed above the speed limit on neighborhood streets.

If you (unintentionally) slow down a motorist w/ a dangerously inflated ego, then many motorists will take this personally, and will occasionally get Road Rage, and may act violently towards you. Any cyclist who rides on the streets, or even any motorist who drives on the freeways, will tell you that Road Rage is real and scary. Road Rage is a facet of auto-dependency and American culture which sociologists, psychologists, police officers, or any user of a public street, for that matter, are well aware of.

As everyday bike riders, and as Critical Mass riders, we need to remember that Road Rage exists.

If you see a motorist that looks impatient or frustrated try talking to that person in a polite manner. Say, "Thank you for waiting. We'll be out of your way shortly."

Motorists like to see that someone on the ride is concerned about them waiting. If they're determined to drive through the group, and they start to act irate, then it's usually best not to challenge them, but to let them through. At that point, you (the corker) should step up your game, and communicate to other cyclists. Warn them that the motorist is determined to drive through the flow of cyclists despite our safety. Warn the cyclists, "Look out! Be careful! This person is determined to drive through!"

If we do this, then we can reduce the likeliness that a bicyclist will get hit or ran over by a motorist; something which no cyclist deserves. Period.

In the streets, you earn respect by practicing it. Share the road.

Have fun tonight! Celebrate! Be spooky. To prevent something too scary from happening, show respect for other human beings around you. By practicing respect, even those who aren't on the ride can have fun, too.

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