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Some Suggestions For A Peaceful Critical Mass

A suggestion for a peacefull non-confrontational bicycle ride for peace.
Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition has been doing this well enough so that
families which children are participating and police are providing escort,
not confrontation

I have just got an email from the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition email
listserv about a Peace Action Bicycle Ride from Boston to Lexington and

What is nice about this is that it is fully law abiding, it's on a Saturday
afternoon, and it kid/family friendly. It is a fully permitted ride, in some
areas, even getting a police escort.

The folks who are putting this on are stressing that it is a fully permitted,
law abiding, and non-confrontational ride. At most, they will take one lane
of traffic; but will be riding single file or in twos or threes most of the
time. Part of the trip, they will be using a bicycle path. They are also
making a point that this will be a family event, being sure to encourage
families and children to take part.

The ride will start in downtown Boston and proceed through several suburbs
until it reaches Lexington; with several rest stops. The total distance will
be close to 35 miles, but it will be at a slow pace, obeying all stop signs
and traffic lights and ensuring that children and slow riders are not left

What is nice about this is that is will show a positive message for peace.
There will be no 'corking' or any of the other things that I have been hearing
happening here with some of the PDX critical mass rides.

What I would like to suggest is that perhaps we should re-focus our rides to
be more like what they are doing in Boston.

I feel that what they are doing is still getting the message out, but without
the confrontation and antagonizing those who have to be driving in their
cars at the time the ride is going on.

One of the things that prompted me to write this is that I just recently
had a conversation with a friend of mine who was in his car in downtown
and was stopped because some of the critical mass riders had blocked one
of the intersections leading to the Burnside Bridge. While he was stopped,
one of the bicyclists had leaned in his drivers' window and started yelling
obscenities and spitting on him and his companion. I have to assume that this
is true; I personally know this person and trust what he says.

This is inexcusible. I am almost embarrased that I get around by bicycle.
If this person was not a close friend of mine, I don't know if I would
admit to him that I get around by bicycle.

Peace, Safe Riding, and all

Mrs. Clear Plastic
Won't work out here 07.Apr.2003 23:54


Great idea, but it won't work around here. See, we have to allow ourselves to be subverted by all manner of idiots who think that the way to "Get the message across" is to break stuff, block streets / bridges, and throw stuff at the cops.

Cause that's the stuff that gets airplay!

Sorry, not a flame on you at all. I'm just furious that people who really believe in peacefull exercise of thier 1st Amendment Rights have allowed thier gatherings to be so subverted.

nice idea, but... 08.Apr.2003 00:00

fuck the police

I'm personally in favor of non-confrontational Critical Mass rides, but this proposal has one major flaw in its suggestions: the police escort.

Part of the reason why I ride Critical Mass is because I don't own a car and I don't want to promote fossil fuels. Portland Police appear incapable of understanding that you can provide police escorts for parades and demonstrations _without_ using squad cars or motorcycles. If you want to have a permitted event, they're going to insist on burning gasoline to help you out. Simply not acceptable.

Of course, without the permit, they're going to tag along with the motorcycles and paddy wagons and squad cars and riot-cop-mobiles. So, you're screwed either way, unless they find better ways to waste their time, or they completely drain their police overtime reserve fund.

Good idea but.. 08.Apr.2003 00:04


doesn't kind of defeat a good deal of the reason for critical mass. I might be completely ignorant but I thought critical mass was supposed to show that bikers exist and should be respected, not to mention fun. I think that a family friendly bike ride would be awesome but as a seperate thing from critical mass.

When did that happen??? 08.Apr.2003 00:11


I really don't know where people get these examples of what most people are like in Critical Mass. I personally would have a nice talk with somebody that spit on a car driver and was that hostile.

I was in last weeks critical mass and there was almost equal amount of police to Critical Massers, when I joined at 7pm. I personally was only in it for maybe 30 minutes before I got annoyed by police yelling orders. When I left 2 police officers followed me and my friend. Then gave us $77 tickets for blocking traffic when we stopped at an intersection to make a turn. Police Harrassment is not a fun thing, and I've had 3 bad experiences in the last 2 weeks. Why don't the police do something about these people spitting on car drivers or people dealing herion downtown? Cause I never see people doing that kind of stuff. What I do see is police officers using abuse of power to throw people off there bikes and etc. Right now, I'm staying away from downtown because I'm more afraid of the police than crime.

Critical Mass was family orientated before the police made everybody feel unsafe. Who wants their kids getting pepper sprayed or hit by some crazy top gun motorcycle police officer.

I have lights on my bike, do hand signals, ride in the bike lane, and obey traffic laws but that's still not enough for some of the Portland police. Personally I find that sickening, to be happening in the US. Critical mass should be celebrated by Portland, not police trying to show how much force they have.

sounds like a plan 08.Apr.2003 00:14

fix the plunger

this is soooooo great

do you think we would have enough time after following laws and stopping and rest breaks and driving through fucking suburbs we can stop by churches and pray for a while too?

Finally, common sense 08.Apr.2003 00:26


It had to come from Boston, but finally some common sense seems to have made it into this whole Critical Mass issue.

Ride your bikes, ride like the wind Timmy. Hell, tie a neon "no war" sign to your ass and whistle the theme from the Mary Tyler Moore show...

Just follow the law, don't threaten the cops, don't block bridges, don't block traffic and if you are going to; get a permit and give proper notification so traffic can avoid geting blocked by your ride. I think you will be amazed at the much more favorable response you will receive, after all isn't it your goal to bring attention to you cause - bringing attention to yourself for causing trouble or breaking the law drowns out your message. Negative publicity is not as good a good publicity. More people may join you if they are relatively certain they won't end up in the middle of a riot.

Thanks for the positive approach - the people of Portland will appreciate it. Good Luck.

One sure fire way to ensure 08.Apr.2003 00:58

a peaceful critical mass

one sure fire way to ensure a peaceful critical mass is to LEAVE THE FUCKING COPS AT HOME!!

Critical Mass 08.Apr.2003 01:12


Mrs. Clear Plastic

What you are describing is not Critical Mass. Critical Mass is not a permitted ride. It is a free expression of people riding as and where they spontaneously choose.

If someone wants to organize a permitted, controlled and planned ride, that is fine, but that is not a Critical Mass.

That said I have no respect for someone who yells and spits at a driver. I have only seen that once at a Critical Mass here in Portland, and a couple people told the person not to do it.

By the way, there have been lots of kids riding in Critical Mass here in Portland. It is just right now that the police are acting way outside the law, and hurting people and falsely arresting people.

The police are a disgrace.

bill of rights 08.Apr.2003 10:44


bill of rights, 1: congress shall make no law... abridging... the right of the people peacefully to assemble.

you don't need a permit to peacefully assemble. why do you want to throw away our RIGHTS?

last week's critical mass: no lights were run. no bridges were blocked. one lane was always open to traffic. the only intersections that were blocked were blocked by police.

police stopped people from legally turning.

police stopped people from legally moving through green lights.

police stopped people from legally walking their bikes on the sidewalk.

police told us we had "one option: go over the bridge, over the river." we were all legal, peaceful, and they threw us out of downtown.

why do you want to work with the police? they obviously cannot be trusted.

i saw no one spit on a car. i saw no threatening moves on cars or police. i saw nothing thrown.

i've ridden in critical mass for almost a year now. i've NEVER seen anyone spit on a car. i've NEVER seen things broken (except when an aggressive driver broke someone's bike). i've NEVER seen anyone throw anything. i've NEVER seen the mythological "slashed tires". i have occasionally seen people yelling at cars or suv's. this has ALWAYS been proceeded by the suv/car honking aggressively, or driving aggressively, or flipping off the bikers, or yelling "i'm calling the cops" at the bikers, or yelling obscenities at the bikers.

Critical mass is dead 08.Apr.2003 11:12

APC thequizwiz@aol.com

Yes, perhaps a harsh choice of words, but in the last couple of months, and especially since the war began it has devolved into something that I really don't feel like doing. In other words it gets pretty old riding around in circles downtown, single file, padding my bike like a scooter so as not to fall on top of parked cars or a convoy of bicycle cops. Now I realize that the cops are one variable we can only do so much about, but from what I've seen and read, it seems like CM gets split up into many splinters almost immediatley. I know some people like that tactic, and if people want to shut down the shopping district, and circle pioneer square 50 times that's fine for the weekly anti-war rides. But with summer coming up, I'd like to see the monthly last friday rides to be an actual mass.

It seems like every time a contingent tries to cross the river to the eastside, they are coralled back downtown by the police. Perhaps we could try starting the ride at an eastside location (i.e. Laurelhurst Park, or near Omsi underneath 1-5 for example). That way, at the beginning of the ride, where the numbers are the most plentiful, it can stay together longer. No matter what, there will be cops, and they will make us stop at every red, and make up violations as they go along. At least away from downtown, the ride would be able to go several blocks without stopping (as opposed to each block downtown) and stay together longer. Perhaps later in the ride could include downtown, where it will invariably splinter beyond recognition, and maybe even conclude somewhere downtown, like the square, park blocks or the traditional starting point under the Burnside bridge.

just ride your bike 08.Apr.2003 14:45


Just ride your bike and don't try too hard to corral CM, because it's not easy. CM has overcome police harassment before, and will again.

Document EVERYTHING and put together a lawsuit. Portland CM has won before and can again (park exclusion in '96 or '97).

Moving CM to the eastside wouldn't be possible, and even if everyone agreed to a eastside starting point, we'd never be allowed to cross into downtown which is where I have the most fun anyway.