Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SDCM Coffeeshop Discussion; a Positive, Fun, and Productive Experience

Last night approximately 20 riders came out to Rebecca's Coffeeshop in South Park to share ideas on how to improve San Diego Critical Mass, so that the monthly ride can function in a manner that is positive, respectful, purposeful, safe, and fun for all.

Concerns and solutions to those concerns were also addressed. An overwhelming concern was the Coronado Bridge and riders who attempt to ride over the bridge. The discussion was friendly and informal, so no "official votes" were taken. Nevertheless, the informal consensus was clear: Riding over the Coronado Bridge is a bad idea.

Riding over the Coronado Bridge is a dangerous endeavor. Not only does motorist traffic move at speeds close to freeway traffic, but the Coronado Bridge, which was not designed for cyclists or pedestrians, has a very low 3 foot barrier which separates the lane from one's deadly fall. Without trained traffic coordinators, like the Bike The Bay event had, Critical Mass on the bridge is a very bad idea which may only invite negative repercussions to the popular ride, enjoyed by approximately 1,300 people on a monthly basis.

If CM cyclists want to ride over the bridge, come out to the Bike The Bay event, instead, and ride over the bridge safely. It's true that Bike The Bay is not free; it costs about $55. However, the money goes back to the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, an advocacy group that works to improve conditions and awareness for cyclists throughout the county. It's a great cause. Riding over the bridge via Bike The Bay has a positive effect on cyclists. Whereas, riding over the bridge on CM may only result in negative repercussions.

If CM tries to go over the bridge again, take a stand and do not ride up the bridge. Be a conscientious agent and ride a different direction. (Note to readers: Let the above statements suffice as Bic Control's opinion piece on the bridge matter. We've been wanting to write an opinion piece on this controversy, but we decided to talk about it directly at the discussion, first).

Another key issue of the discussion was police escorting. The informal consensus of the discussion was that since police escorting of Critical Mass began in November 2008, the ride has been safer and more courteous for all; cyclists and motorists, alike. The discussion participants talked about how police escorting seemed to prevent many overly-aggressive riders from coming out to SDCM rides. Overly-aggressive riders, none of which are veteran riders of CM, take advantage of CM by partaking in disrespectful and dangerous activities on the ride that they would not normally do while riding solo; thereby, giving CM a bad name.

Several discussion participants expressed an interest in having bicycle enforcement officers ride w/ CM as police escorts.

Since the 20 discussion participants cannot directly control the 1,300 riders at CM, the informal consensus last night was that the best we could do was ride and communicate as ambassadors of conscientious cycling. In addition to riding and communicating as ambassadors of conscientious cycling, we talked about promoting conscientiousness through media--on blogs, websites, fliers, and even comic books.

With that said, stay blogged for our next entry; The Importance of Communication & Diffusing Conflict @ SDCM.

Discussion participants are keeping our expectations realistic. We're going to try to affect the ride positively, as much as we can. But considering the fact that at CM there are 65 times (i.e.1,300 divided by 20) more non-discussion participants as discussion participants, it's going to be a challenge. In the words of Ian Mackaye, frontman of punk-rock legends Minor Threat, "At least [we're] f*cking trying!"


  1. Would it be okay to cross post your post onto bikesd.org? It is fine if you're not comfortable with it. Alternatively, I could set you up with an account on bikesd.org as well so you could contribute if you so choose.


  2. What kind of "overly-agressive" riding are you talking about? Just curious.

    I still haven't made it out to cm yet because i don't have a bike i feel comfortable riding in something of that nature (my current ride is a hand me down piece of crapola).

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  4. Beany,

    How about we do both? We would definitely be interested in getting a Bic Control account at bikesd.org. Your site is lookin' great! We'd be happy to contribute. We'll go ahead and contact y'all via the email on your site.

    Since we're pretty busy at the moment, feel free to cross-post this post at bikesd.org on your own. We just ask that you cite Bic Control, as you did on the previous cross-post : )Thanks for the interest! Talk to y'all soon.


    Thanks for reading! That's a good question; it tells me you're reading in detail, which is awesome.

    By "overly-aggressive," we are referring to riders who think CM is a nihilistic, 'f*ck everyone!' power-trip. CM is not about that at all. As it is now (with police escorting) we believe that only about 1% of CMers are 'overly-aggressive.'

    An example of an 'overly-aggressive' rider would be someone who slaps a car for no reason beyond just for being there. We're talking about incidences where an overly-aggressive rider slaps a motorists' car even if the motorist is just sitting there patiently waiting.

    Why would the cyclist do that? Sometimes new CMers are overwhelmed by the sense of empowerment in numbers and instead of radiating w/ positivity they just want to exert their newly-found power back against motorists.

    Would that person slap the car while riding solo? Hell no, they would not. That's an example of an overly-aggressive rider who takes advantage of the Mass.

    It's those minority of people and the incidences that they create that stand out and make the news and turn people against CM. That's really unfortunate for the high-majority of CMers who are respectful users of public roads.

    Hope that helps.

    As for your ride, it doesn't matter how it looks! You should ride it anyways! Just make sure the brakes work, the tubes/tires hold air, and that parts (especially the stem/handlebars) are not falling off.

    Bic Control does not discriminate on bike-types; fixed gear, geared bike, bmx, mountain, townie, cruiser, recumbent, or even those giant bikes that float on water, such as these http://i38.tinypic.com/flk13q.jpg . We swing many ways.


  5. I can set you up with no problem. Email us at admin (at) bikesd.org. Glad to have you on board.