Bicycles need to be recognized as vehicles and this happens by following the rules of the road like any other vehicle. Or does it? Critical Mass decided to show that bikes belong on the road in a much different way.
On the last Friday of the month 30 or more riders take to the streets and can be seen cruising down the main streets of Albuquerque. Critical Mass is a group ride that is open to all ages. Its purpose is to show drivers that cyclists belong on the road. It has become a social movement and happens across the globe. Matthew Wright of The Guardian stated that most participants describe the ride as“a celebration of cycling, but described by the press as protests.” The Guardian
Some have no idea what Critical Mass is or how it started. Times-up.org provided a good summary of the ride with the following information, “Critical Mass is an event that began in San Francisco in the early 1990s and has since spread to hundreds of cities around the world. It usually occurs monthly (sometimes weekly) as bicyclists spontaneously come together to ride the ordinarily car-clogged streets of their cities. Critical Mass focuses on the rights of bicyclists.”Albuquerque also participates is this event every month.
Friday the 25th of May was a beautiful evening for a ride. The grasses of Civic Plaza were sprinkled with colorful bikes and even more colorful people. Millennials, babies and retirees all chatted and laughed waiting for the start of the hour-long Critical Mass ride. As the hour approached bikes started rolling in a chaotic pattern weaving in and out from one another. Then a flood spilled into the streets.
The ride is a very slow place and easy enough for all skill levels, but the ride has its share of pros and cons.
Friendly people with like interests
Riding together for safety
Taking lanes on busy streets to be highly visible
Going through red light
Not yielding to traffic
Not obeying rules of the road
Unfortunately, by not following the rules of the road it negates the idea of being seen as a vehicle and getting the point across that bicycle’s belong on the road. One small group of riders who decide to go rogue make all bikers look like assholes. Times-up.org “…recommends all road users obey all traffic laws, especially one-way street restrictions and traffic lights. Remember, the respect we seek as cyclists must be matched by our respect for the rights of other people, including pedestrians and drivers.”
By following a few simple rules, bicycles can be safe while still be radical and having fun, creating a strong biking community. Using Critical Mass as a movement or protest is welcome and needed, but safety has to be taken into account for all riders involved.
Our community is already booming with bikes and growing everyday. There are resources everywhere you look. Albuquerque is fortunate enough to have a city run bike shop whose focus is on bicycle education, with the goal of increasing the safety, self-sufficiency and comfort of recreational, fitness and utility riders alike. Take advantage of this free program available to the greater community at Esperanza.
As the part of the greater biking community of Albuquerque I will ride again with Critical Mass with the understanding that it is a leaderless ride and it is up to me to follow the rules of the road and keep myself safe. I hope you all will join me and mold Critical Mass into both a social movement and an opportunity to show that bicycles belong on the road by following the rules of the road and interacting with major traffic in a safe way.
#BikingBurque #CruiserCrush #YourWeeklyAlibi