Critical Mass Tomorrow

I’d be a bad biker if I didn’t mention Friday’s Critical Mass.

I know not everyone’s is a huge fan, but it can be a fun time to meet and greet with other bikers. For those who don’t know, it’s a monthly bike ride that meets at the State Library at 5:30 (but doesn’t usually get going until around 6:00). It’s designed to help raise bike awareness amongst other bikers and drivers in the city. I will say that sometimes drivers get annoyed, so it’s important to be respectful and make sure that everyone has a good time.

It’s kind of supposed to rain tomorrow, so check the weather and maybe pack a poncho!

11 Comments so far

  1. Neil (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 2:47 am

    I bike almost every day. I don’t mind bicyclists getting together but Friday at peak hour is plain dumb. Traffic is bad enough as it is. People just want to come home to their familes and relax but instead Critical Mass takes up entire major roads.

    When I took that video last time, they were on Lygon Street, right next to Alexandra Parade. Thats the main route to get to the Eastern and Princes Freeway. They blocked car and tram traffic.

    Is there any wonder why I get cars cutting me off, yelling at me, and lecturing me. Critical Mass gives all bicyclists a bad name.

    Thats my 2 cents.


  2. Brie (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 10:42 am

    I know you don’t like it, which is why I mentioned your post. I don’t really want to get into a debate about CM, but since you brought it up, you said in that post:

    “Police and traffic coordinators have trouble predicting and routing traffic.”

    That’s just incorrect. A map is chosen by the group, and handed out to participants. It is also given to the police escorts that ride and/or drive with the Mass. It’s also given to public transport officials. Both Police and Met officials know ahead of time where the bikers are going to go. I watched the smiling police and tram officials coordinating with CM last month.

    And Sunday at 5am would probably be a more convenient time for cars, but that would kind of miss the point. It’s a celebration of bikes, but also a mild form of protest against the pollution/traffic/accidents/you name it that is associated with cars. It’s once a month and people are maybe inconvenienced for 5-10 minutes, tops. Seems like a silly thing to get angry about.


  3. urbanbicyclist (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 12:23 pm

    Hi Brie and Neil,

    I read the Metroblogging post about November Critical Mass a while ago, nothing it’s many inconsistencies, but I decided that this wasnt really the forum to debate the merits or Critical Mass, or any other major event in the city that Neil doesnt happen to like for that matter.

    Either way, there were many inaccuracies in the article.

    At the end of the day, Melbourne is a world class city, hosting thousands of events every year. Many of these are run by the government and many are not. This is why Melbourne is the most livable city in the world (equal to Vancouver ;)

    As for cyclists riding on Lygon st.

    If you think that a bunch of bikes riding on Lygon St for a few minutes every few month is the biggest transport problem we have, then perhaps you’d better read the Northern Central City Corridor Report, the Metropolitan Transport Plan and the Eddington Report, and then see if you have a spare $10bn (5 x the cost of Citylink)

    At the end of the day, Critical Mass is a bike ride, its another fun and crazy event in this fun and crazy city we all inhabit. Generally we all get along, and when I go to Critical Mass I see people getting along. Like any group of people, we have small problems. The video showing Andrew, Michelle, Steve and others was a minor misunderstanding that arose out of someone having a bad day. I know and spoke to everyone involved personally before and after the incident (including the yarra trams line manager) and really the only reason that it’s ended up on this blog is because you managed to record a video of some people on bikes (some in uniform) walking from the road to the footpath and raising their voices.

    For more photos of Critical Mass in Melbourne check out http://www.flickr.com/gropups/cm-melb
    for the Melbourne Critical Mass discussion list, go to http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/cm-melb


  4. Trevor Trove (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

    The police and VicRoads themselves have acknowledged that Critical Mass is rarely more than a minor blip on the friday night traffic radar. Compared to da footy for example… Critical Mass gets a lot of blame for stuff it simply isn’t responsible for. EG getting yelled at by guys in cars who were held up by other guys in cars, all facing the other way, all going in a completely different direction. With NO interaction from the mass. And guess who was holding them up? Other guys in cars. ALSO, Critical Mass spends nearly all its CBD time at less than 10 kmh. Why? Cos its held up in the city by: Guys in cars. Sometimes people just can’t seem to see the traffic for the cars.


  5. dissembly (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 2:10 pm

    TrevorTrove: “And guess who was holding them up? Other guys in cars.”

    I have to say, as a car driver who regularly moves long distances between the city and Frankston and the outer east, who almost never rides a bike, i’ve never once been put out by bike riders. I’ve never seen a bike rider acting illegally or unsafely. And i’ve never felt the slightest been of antipathy toward them.

    The biggest, most consistently illegal, most consistently unsafe, and most consistently-responsible-for-traffic-delays road users in the whole Inner-City to Outer-East to Frankston area that i’m familiar with are Other Guys In Cars.

    Even truck drivers come second to car drivers.

    Thank-you for phrasing it so perfectly!


  6. Neil (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 4:26 pm

    Hey, debate is what we are here for. Promoting bicycle use is great and I’m all for it. Its great for the health, low impact on the environment, and CHEAP. But some of the points here:

    “Police and traffic coordinators have trouble predicting and routing traffic.”

    I only was basing that on what I found on Wikipedia CM as I got the impression the route is made up at the last minute. But as I stand corrected, it is know in advance…

    but..

    It seems that car drivers don’t know and maybe if they did they would have a chance to detour.

    “It’s a celebration of bikes, but also a mild form of protest against the pollution/traffic/accidents/…people are maybe inconvenienced for 5-10 minutes, tops. ”

    Going by those estimates and the amount of cars going through, by holding the CM, you are actually adding 5 to 10 minutes of car emissions, and the need for people to buy 5 to 10 minutes of gasoline. So on the environmental side, every CM, actually is doing worse for the environment.

    “The video showing Andrew, Michelle, Steve and others was a minor misunderstanding that arose out of someone having a bad day.”

    From what I witnessed, the bicyclists didn’t do anything to warrant that kind of police action. I thought it was an interesting video, wasn’t trying to make any political point. I enjoy watching COPS shows, although Melbourne police are kind of tame in comparison (No tasers).

    CM has a once a month impact but anything to reduce traffic is good.

    -Don’t do construction during the day, do it overnight.
    -I would be all for scheduling Footy games or other sporting events later to avoid bottlenecking traffic.
    -Teach people how to drive better in traffic.

    I only suggest doing the CM at a later time and perhaps not by freeway entrances.


  7. Trevor trove (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 6:51 pm

    “Going by those estimates and the amount of cars going through, by holding the CM, you are actually adding 5 to 10 minutes of car emissions, and the need for people to buy 5 to 10 minutes of gasoline. So on the environmental side, every CM, actually is doing worse for the environment.”

    Sorry dude, but that’s riiculous. Might as well say that cars caught behind trams can attribute their emissions to the tram itself! Which implies that people in the car have more of a right to be on the road (cos their journey is more valuable!?!), such that they can blame surrounding conditions for their own pollution. I think that idea died when transport planners saw me riding to work in my Armani suit. “Even though he’s riding, maybe he DOES perform a role in society – look he’s wearing a suit! – he must be important”


  8. Pete (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 6:55 pm

    “Anything to reduce traffic is good”

    Well, yes. That is the whole point of CM. Many of those ‘guys in cars’ could get out of their cars, use a bike or PT and significantly reduce traffic. If all those nasty CM riders were in a car each instead, that would mean several hundred more cars on the roads.

    So by definition CM is good for traffic – in the long run.


  9. Strider (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 12:06 pm

    Hi there.

    I am not a fan of cycling at all, for various reasons (which I frequently raise in my blog).

    Organised cycling, such as the Hell Ride and Critical Mass, is little better than Organised Crime, except that people like Carl Williams do get put away in gaol for life.

    What about the rights of pedestrians, such as the innocent Mr James Gould, who was cruelly killed by organised cyclists who were breaking the law? How many hell riders kept on ‘rolling’ instead of helping their victim? How many hell riders will be gaoled for the homicide of Mr Gould? None!

    The problem with cyclists is that unlike motorists, commuters, and pedestrians, they flagarantly break lots of road laws all the time without regard for other people on the roads, and particularly make life hard for pedestrians and commuters.

    Things like Critical Mass are just another sociopathic effort by organised cyclists to bring suffering and misery to their fellow Melbournians. The sooner the govt legislates to properly regulate and prosecute cyclists for their appalling road (and footpath) behaviour, the better.


  10. Brie (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 12:22 pm

    The James Gould incident is certainly a sad one (he was hit and killed by a biker who failed to stop for a red light), but your comparison of biking to organized crime is… we’ll just say it’s a bit much. Many, many pedestrians, bikers, and other drivers are killed by people in cars every day. I have had several friends killed by drivers – one of whom was a pedestrian and was dragged behind the car for nearly a half mile.

    People who are reckless are just that – and as sad as the case of Mr. Gould is, there is no doubt that behind the wheel of a car the incident would have proved equally deadly (or worse).


  11. urbanbicyclist (unregistered) on April 29th, 2007 @ 1:34 pm

    Eek, here we go.

    It was not Hell Riders who killed James Gould. 17 witness statements to police back that story up (half from drivers and pedestrians.)

    In previous years, the Hell Ride used to continue through lights like a freight train. Illegal, but nobody steps in front of a freight train.

    These days the Hell Ride stops for lights. There has been ALOT of collaberative work between Hell Riders and Police and there is more respect either way these days. As a result, the Hell Ride had stopped at these lights. 2 cyclists not a part of the Hell ride knocked James Gould over. Sadly the media did not report the facts in this case, but firtunatly, the police know what really happened and are not cracking down on the Hell Ride for something they didnt do.

    >The problem with cyclists is that unlike motorists, commuters, and pedestrians, they flagarantly break lots of road laws all the time without regard for other people on the roads

    Yes, motorists never break road rules, commuters, pedestrians?

    UMMM, speeding, drink and mobile phone driving, fare evaders, jay walkers? We ALL break rules, there are stereotypes for all transport modes, we just break different rules by type of mode. It’s because we’re human.

    and life goes on.

    >Things like Critical Mass are just another sociopathic effort by organised cyclists to bring suffering and misery to their fellow Melbournians.

    Yes yes, I’m sure they are. And judging by your post, it seems to be working.

    —-

    Oh and in response to Neil:

    >From what I witnessed, the bicyclists didn’t do anything to warrant that kind of police action.

    Earlier Andrew wasn’t wearing his helmet, and he was being a grumpy moody sod (to the cops at least, plus he nicked off into the crowd when they told him to stop) Sure they over reacted, but at the end of the day, you witnessed a cyclist being booked for not having a helmet. Not something you see at Critical Mass _ever_. Even Neil Mitchell admits on the air that Critical Mass cyclists all have helmets and lights. People even bring spares to lend.

    As for the suggestion that drivers be notified. I would suggest that the impact is so insignificant that a detour wouldnt be worth making. Critical Mass is very visible, but moves from main roads to minor streets quite quickly.

    And as for the Freeway/Citylink rides, they havn’t happened for about 3 years.



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