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San Fransciscans Love Critical Mass

John on April 5, 2007 at 12:49 pm

Not! If you don’t know what Critical Mass is, here’s my initial post on the incident that has become the topic of conversation in SF.

The SF Gate has a blog of sorts which asked readers to comment on the incident and Critical Mass in general. I’m surprised how uniformly negative the responses seem to be. But the outrage is providing plenty of telling stories:

  • When I first moved to San Francisco, I thought critical mass was a great idea. After eight years of seeing the event transform from a group of pleasant bikers making a point without violence to monthly reports of anarchist-bent rude hooligans has made me reconsider.
  • Critical Mass could be a great thing, I rode in it once, but it seems to be more about taunting people in cars than about enjoying a bike ride. How many of these bicyclists own cars I wonder?
  • I stopped riding in CM several years ago because I had witnessed several needless mob-behavior type incidents in which the cyclists were the aggressors and behaved extremely badly and rudely.
  • My car was smashed up by critical mass back in the 90s while I was stopped at a traffic light. Hundreds of riders went by, kicking and swinging tire pumps, smashing my headlights and making it impossible to drive the car away. Critical Mass is full of wild-eyed “stick it to the man” crazies who want to smash the state, starting with anyone who isn’t just as Pee Cee as them. They need a good dose of realty, starting with a jack-boot in the jimmy.
  • I’ve seen Critical Mass change, too. What used to be a pro-bike event has turned into an anti-car, anti-bus, anti-taxi, and at times, an anti-yuppie event complete with hecklings over fashion and hairstyles.
  • I am a disabled person who has been inconvenienced, bullied, humiliated, and insulted by persons participating in the Critical Mass gatherings. I have been bumped into, knocked over, yelled at, roughed up, bruised, and delayed on my way to medical appointments.
  • I stopped riding in critical mass almost 10 years ago because people who DO NOT REPRESENT THE BICYCLING COMMUNITY took it as a reason to create anarchy. Critical Mass is no longer a bicycle ride, it is an attack on the city by people with very narrow views
  • what really sucks about Critical Mass is that it’s full of angry guys who are looking for confrontations with cars and the police. The car that drove through the crowd? Guys were smashing their bikes on its hood, very much as weapons. And at another point, a number of bikers started fighting with the cops (it didn’t turn out well.) At another intersection, a woman tried to drive through the crowd and rolled down her window either to plead or to complain, I couldn’t tell – somebody reached in, took her keys, and took off.
  • I’ve ridden in Critical Mass (I quit) and I have seen cyclists attack drivers for the smallest slight, real or imagined. It was an incident last summer that made me quit riding mass. A woman stopped at a light, and went a hair past the stop line. A cyclist went over to her, kicked her car, and continued doing so for at least a minute while the woman’s toddler was crying her eyes out in the back seat. It’s a mob on wheels, I tell you.
  • I’m a former Critical Mass rider (emphasis on former) and I witnessed first-hand the mob mentaility at work there. Because it’s a “mass” in every sense of the word, individual riders lose their sense of social responsibility and behave in ways they never would if they were alone and in a smaller group. It’s a fascinating study in mob psychology but one which I don’t wish to participate in, either as a rider or a motorist.
  • Several years ago I had a similar experience. The bikers swarmed from out of nowhere. My car was in a driveway waiting to pull into the street. While I waited several CM bikers deliberately struck out at my car, pulling off a mirror and denting a fender. Nearby cops just watched and did nothing.
  • as a former Critical Mass rider, I have witnessed many, many incidents of vandalism and minor assault by the riders. If they aren’t going to self police, and the SFPD aren’t going to police them, who’s going to protect the public? Nobody, and that’s why this mini-van incident happened and more such incidents will happen in the future.
  • I got stuck in this crap as a pedestrian, crossing the street when I had the green light. I almost got run over multiple times AND I got yelled at. For what?!? For walking… I wasn’t in a car with my phone to my ear. These people are just hoodlums.
  • anybody else want to put up some specific instances of violence? here are my two.
    1. personaly injured walking down columbus street 1998 summer hit in the head with a half full snapple bottle.
    2. Witnessed an elderly lady trying to cross the street on a walk signal when CM rode through a red light. they knocked the groceries out of her hands and kicked her while riding by knocking her down she got to the sidewalk and when i tried to help her up a number of cyclists yelled at her on the ground that she could have killed one of them one man with long black hair kicked her in the face, i shoved him he rode away- crowd picked up her groceries and threw them at peds,cars,shop windows corner of Union and Columbus also Sumer 1998
  • My one experience with Critical Mass was as a pedestrian attempting to cross Market St. to get to the BART escalator (disabled, stairs BAD). I had the walk signal, but no bikers stopped for me, most ignored me, nearly hitting me and others glared at me, I guess for crossing the street.
  • A similar situation happened to me last Halloween. I was stuck in my car while hundreds of bicyclists were riding by. I was pretty scared because cyclists were drinking on the street while riding/walking by, and knocking on my windows and shaking my car back and forth. I didnt see any police officers until about 30 minutes later and that was only because the car next to me got into a fight with some cyclists.
  • I have always noticed in every ride a few people that are looking specifically for drivers who are clueless to the nuisances of the ride and are actively looking to surround punch or kick a vehicle. These people who kick etc are mostly male in their 20′s & white. The conflict sometimes is fun to watch sometimes it’s sad because you can tell the driver has no idea but always when the biker hits he flees.
  • I’ve got a little Critical Mass story. We were all crossing Howard St. on a series of lights: red light, green light, red light, etc. The cops were holding traffic and the jam was bad. BAD. I mean really, really bad. Motorists were honking, yelling, It’s Friday night and people just want to go home. Massholes were yelling back, pounding on hoods, the usual. Cops were doing nothing but watching, as usual. So one motorist, tough looking guy, gets out of his car and just tackles the first cyclist he sees. Dogpile of cyclists defending the cyclists pounds the motorist. Cops break it up and then arrest… the motorist, in cuffs take him away in a squad car.
  • I have witnessed a CM attack as well, a car got caught in an intersection at Folsom and Division and bikes just started swarming around it, believing that the car had done something wrong, like you know, existing. They started kicking the car and then someone spit on the windshield and the driver as well. The passenger got out of the car and ran after the fleeing spitter, pulling him off his bike, throwing him to the ground and then pummeling him until other bikers pulled him off. I was shocked that someone would spit on someone else just for being there. I hate the idea of a fist fight, but if you spit on other person, you deserve a real good a$$ kicking.
  • I recall one particular incident in which I was in my car, with my girlfriend, driving home. Unbeknownst to me, CM was doing a ride. I stopped, legally, behind a stop sign, as a group of say… 300? 400? CMers decided to ignore traffic laws and run through the lights in front of us, causing a 30+ minute delay. Boo hoo, you may think – I need patience, right? Well, given that my girl is diabetic and needed to get home for meds – they were endangering her life with their recklessness. I honked, pleaded, said – I have a sick girl here, needs to get home! Nothing.
  • Last year we were riding in one of those corny fake Trolley Car vans (hey it was a wedding). We were going through Chinatown in between Grace and the reception hall. Critical Mass losers stopped us dead in our tracks for 45 minutes.
  • I have utter disdain for Critical Mass itself. I have to wade through it on foot every month in San Francisco. Not only are these cliquey cyclists hostile, aggressive and downright abusive toward cars and trucks, they dish the same terror to pedestrians such as myself as well as other bicyclists who aren’t “edgy” enough to belong to their club.

There’s more, but you get the idea.

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Category: Absurd & Outrageous |

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