Reading the first premise of Criticial Mass, "A leaderless, spontanous bike ride through the streets of Portland", I don't see how anyone believes this is occurring. Spontaneous is spur of the moment. These rides are "planned" in advance, occurring on a certain day, beginning at a certain time and announced in advance. There is not one ounce of spontaneity in that.
"A time to ride your bike without fear through busy downtown streets". I don't really understand how this is a pleasurable experience if done with the idea of "fun" and "family oriented" Riding through a higher density of exhaust fumes with the oh-so-beautiful scenery of concrete is fun? Just because I could do it with a lot of other people, does that make it fun? Then there is the anger energy that occurs. Does it matter whether it is generated from within or without - its still present - does that make it fun?
If I want to break a law and am successful, does that make it fun? What have I truly gained in that one moment? Who have I educated and what have I taught them?
Critical Mass was born as an alternative action and its been around for awhile. The first Critical Mass ride was in September 1992 in San Francisco. That was 14 years ago. Its sprung up all over, but because of that fact, does that alone make it "successful"? After 14 years, it appears to have reached its peak.
Another Critical Mass philosophy is "A visionary projection of what our future might look like". After 14 years, the future has arrived and Critical Mass appears to be at its peak or already reached that summit a few years ago. What do you see in this future that has arrived?
Then I take a look at an organization like Cascade Bicycle Club, originally formed in 1970 Yes, they work "with" police, corporations and legislative bodies. Their vision is simple. Creating a better community through cycling.
By realizing that police, corporations and legislative bodies are not going to vanish into thin air, through the years they have negotiated numerous benefits to cyclists.
In 1971, Bicycle Sundays started on Lake Washington Boulevard. This Boulevard is heavily traveled but was closed to all motorized vehicles. In 1972 they began lobbying for the Burke Gilman Trail. Seattle has about 28 miles of shared use paths, 22 miles of on-street, striped bike lanes, and about 90 miles of signed bike routes. This was accomplished by working with the Seattle Department of Transportation Bicycle Program.
This organization is realizing its vision. It has benefitted the community and they did this by understanding that compromise is a highly effective tool. They have reached into the mainstream and have made a difference.
I especially enjoy the fact that EVERY DAY of the year they have a different daily ride.
Similarly in Portland, there is the Portland Bicycle Transporation Alliance. I read about the proposed Bond Measure coming on the November 2006 ballot to voters to approve a $227.4 million measure to preserve natural areas by purchasing lands near rivers and streams, enhancing trails and wildlife corridors and connecting urban areas with nature. This will have the opportunity of creating more cycling paths. It's also another opportunity for non-voters to rethink their position.
Portland Bicycle Transportation Alliance will also be hosting a Bike Summit on June 17th at PSU.