It’s not exactly a revelation to speak about how poorly we Critical Massers have managed to transmit our culture to the new generation(s) over the past decade and a half. Last night’s Aug. 30 2013 ride was a good case in point. Whoever got in front at the beginning didn’t do too badly in terms of pacing and direction, heading straight up Market Street (not so clever) and turning left at 5th Street as we wiggled towards 6th and Folsom. At 6th and Folsom many people wanted to stop and pay tribute to Amelie Le Moullac, but when I got there (I was about 80% back from the front) the ride had already sped by and headed east on Folsom. From then on it was a race, nobody at the front holding the pace to something reasonable, and the ride splintered repeatedly, finally just a few hundred making it all the way to Golden Gate Park. I myself had to sprint up 3rd Street after getting stuck at King when the back of the ride was blocked by cross traffic for the long light sequence there near the I-280 offramp, and it took a while to catch the ride. Many people behind me never made it.
How hard is it to remember to stop semi-often at the front and wait for folks to “mass up”? Circling, while annoying, can be a useful way to do this, but just stopping through a whole light change sequence can make all the difference for a fun, convivial, social ride.
Nearly everyone was aware of the tragic death of Amelie Le Moullac, run over when a truck turned into her at 7 in the morning. The following SFBC event, tarnished by the idiotic cop Sgt. Richard Ernst who deliberately blocked the bike lane with his cruiser and refused to move until the SFBC leaders would acknowledge that the woman caused her own death (!!), made many more folks aware.
It was an odd end of August anyway, what with the days-old rollout of the new SF Bikeshare program, which has not much to do with sharing, and a lot to do with overpriced, badly designed bicycles that seem designed to fail as a system (0nly 700 bikes for the whole Bay Area?!? $22 for three days of access?!? rising charges after 30 minutes?!? how about $3/day for full access?), and the closing of the Bay Bridge to connect the new eastern span to the island and toll plaza. And of course, tens of thousands are out of town at the Playa for Burning Man…
Generally, Critical Mass is an ongoing opportunity to do something quite different in our lives, but most months, and this one in particular, we collectively and unconsciously recreate a lot of what’s worst about our selfish, inconsiderate, boorish culture, everyone for themselves, and a shocking lack of empathy and solidarity in the execution of this whole event. People, we could do a LOT better, without even trying very hard… for starters, let’s remember to stick together in a mass, watch out for each other, help stragglers keep up, tell the racers to go off on their own if they’re so bent on going that fast, and don’t sheepishly follow along! Take responsibility for your own experience! and each other’s!