photo by alexbcthompson
On the heels of multiple bicyclists being hit and killed by motorists, last friday night's Critical Mass bike ride began as it always does, with a gregarious gathering of cyclists at Wilshire and Western. The ride had a planned destination, the ghost bike erected in honor of Jesus Castillo, a bicyclist killed by a motorist. Upon heading out, the mass quickly splintered into numerous groups of riders separated by vehicular traffic. It seems the ones at the front were riding way too quickly and not keeping the ride organized and tightly gathered in one continuous group. The usually ordered process of "corking" the lights was almost non-existent, with cars getting stuck between groups of riders, and drivers growing impatient at their pace and lack of road sharing abilities.
This led to the police becoming increasingly agitated as the ride meandered into downtown. Since the mass was not unified, the usually safe and organized system of rolling thru red lights became haphazard at best, with single riders making poor decisions in an effort to catch the pack. I belive the police responded to this lack of cohesion by citing a few riders they singled out for running a red light.
Though I've only attended a handfull of rides, this was by far the least organized, especially considering there was a planned destination and reason for this ride, namely to honor the life and death of a fellow cyclist. Everyone in attendance had their own political and philosophical views which is to be expected with a anarchic assembly of independent minds. However, past rides almost always stuck together and kept a unified mass that could safely make its way thru the city with a tolerable amount of disturbance to vehicular traffic.
Usually I would see drivers honk in support of the riders. While I did see many drivers in support of us that last night, a negative and adversarial tone by both drivers and riders dominated the evening. It wasn't the best ride, and I hope the organization improves next month.