Saturday, November 27, 2004

Memories of Buy Nothing Day & Critical Mass Ride

Several Years Ago in Bellingham. A bit too Confrontational, but Good at Heart.

Most Critical Mass rides are a bit too confrontational for me. The costumed cyclists will often take up all the lanes, on a multi lane street like Holly in Bellingham.

More people would see costumes if cyclists only took up one of the lanes. Then motorists could pass a long string of colorful cyclists.

Taking up all the lanes means that motorists just see the backs of other cars. Maybe this is not as effective?

It's just a thought.

Anyway, I don't mean to be too critical of the Critical Mass movement.

Some would say it is the duty of bikes to slow all the cars. It slows society down a bit, even though tempers may rise.

Several years ago, on Buy Nothing Day, a group of colorful cyclists headed out from downtown Bellingham. I went along for the ride, even though confrontation is not really my goal.

Telling people about the peaceful times I have on my bike tours is more my style. It makes them jealous; especially after they notice how much gas costs these days.

Anyway, I found myself "going with the flow" right through a red light. Afterwards it donned on me that going through a red light is not really my goal, it was just the flow.

Soon the line of cyclists came to a stop. Police were arresting one of the ring leaders who placed his bike across the intersection, signaling traffic to stop, while others went on through. His bike was impounded.

A controversy ensued as the activist was knocked off his bike by the bumper of a police SUV.

After this, the police cars were less evident and they were replaced with bicycle cops. Possibly this was an attempt to "soften" the police presence to reduce confrontation.

Next stop was Jerry Chambers Chevrolet, on Northwest Avenue. Insults were chanted across the ocean of new cars parked on the lot.

I don't think any of the customers, or staff, noticed.

The ride proceeded on.

Last stop was Bellis Fair Mall. Slogans were chanted in favor of Buy Nothing Day. Some thoughtful conservations took place with mall shoppers.

Eventually mall security passed a message along to the bicycle police asking them to disperse the group.

People headed their separate ways home.

This was a few years ago.

I like many ideas that Critical Mass stands for, but the style is more confrontational than my style.

Still it does take many kinds of voices to bring change.

I say, good luck to Critical Mass. Just remember, more people would notice the costumes, and color, if the ride just took up one lane.

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