Courteous Mass anyone?

Now for another thought. AWB has something of a point here.

I've already said my thing about bending rules for Critical Mass, maybe now we need to think more about a Courteous Mass.

We're not too terribly oppressed in this town, really. It's not been since Muncie that I've been shot in the face with a BB gun anyway*, much less had anything thrown at me while riding. Hell, in New Castle the SUV drivers are biting people's ears off.

I'm pretty sure I can ride around this town with little fear of being eaten.

And we do have the bike task force thing going for us. As long as they don't come up with some crazy helmet ordinance or some such I see this as being a really positive thing.

It is all cool to have fun like big city kids with the crazy fun all over the place anarchy ride, but it's not worth it if in the end all we accomplish is antagonizing people in cars and cops once a month. That's in no way going to accomplish anything positive, especially at this point. Now that the task force thing is rolling, and new trails and lanes announced, if anything it will make bicyclists look like a bunch of spoiled brats.

And by "bicyclists" I mean all of us bicyclists. Not just the people out riding on the last Friday of the month. The aggravated people are going to remember being aggravated, not whether it was someone on a road bike or fixie or tallbike or what have you.

So maybe it's time to try a Courteous Mass:

(I am brazenly lifting this from several other sites)

This ride is different from Critical Mass in that it will follow a planned route and follow state traffic laws. It is intended to demonstrate support for better bike facilities and safer traffic conditions. It is also a great opportunity for less-experienced cyclists to try riding on the streets, as well as being a fun social event. We urge everyone who believes in a balanced transportation policy to join us.

Courteous Mass Tips:
  • Ride no more than two abreast on 4-5 lane roads, taking up only the right lane.
  • Ride single file on 2-3 lane roads so as not to interfere with traffic flow.
  • Please allow faster cyclists ahead of you so they are not stuck behind slower cyclists during single-file stretches.
  • Do not pass stopped cars on the right (unless there is a bike lane).
  • And as always, be courteous!
I'm pretty down with this except for the planned route bit. We can still be spontaneous and follow traffic laws. More spread out, but hey, we can stop and regroup more than once, too.

But then, since there is no actual leadership or anything, the people that want to do it the Critical way will keep it up, and the people that want to hang back with the Courteous can do so. There's no reason both can't start at the same place.

And most people around town do seem to enjoy the Mass passing by. Maybe there's also some room for some rule bending - like we saw in the first rides here - as long as we're not obnoxious about it.

So what do people think?

* A charming tale of woe & no respect for another time.


Eric S. said...

I think this is a great idea. The funny thing is that if a courteous mass were to take place and stayed within the confines of downtown, traffic would be more impeded than the regular mass. The group would break up at lights and the downtown streets would be filled.

fwbikecommuter said...

Michael K.,
I am totally into the Courteous Mass. Not following traffic laws was my biggest reason for never participating in the Critical Mass. Hey Eric, hope all is well. I like your downtown idea. Good post.

Spider Count said...

My dad is actually a part of the new bike task force in Ft. Wayne, and from what he said about the first meeting they seem to have our interests in mind.

As for stuff being thrown at you while riding, I was headed east on State last summer around the Coliseum area and had a Snapple bottle thrown at my head. I was luckily wearing a helmet (the only time I've ever needed it).

I only went to the first three Critical Mass rides last summer because I no longer live in Fort Wayne, but what I saw was something that was fun and contained at the time, but could easily get out of hand. I think there are a lot of people who take the idea of strength in numbers too seriously and think they can do whatever they want. I'm going to try to make it to the on in May, so we'll see what happens then I guess.

Vincent said...

Great Ideas. I believe the Courteous Mass is a more constructive way to bring about change in attitudes of drivers in relation to cyclists. Also, the Courteous Mass is sure to get more people involved. In the last few months, I have heard many say they won't participate in Critical Mass if it continues to be a lawless rampage through Fort Wayne. The Courteous Mass is sure to bring a more diverse group of people to the cause, which only helps bring about change for bikes and the terrific people who ride them. As a daily rider I seek respect on the road, not retribution from Snapple throwing SUVs. Courteous Mass all the way.

Colin said...

If you guys are really interested in Courteous Mass then come on down to Lawton Park at 6:30 PM on the second Friday of the month.

Mikael said...

Thanks for the post. I love the idea of a courteous mass and I'll bring some friends with me the second Friday of the month.