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Critical mass lives? Bike riders still selfish?

Original post made by TheRealSlimK, Midtown, on May 18, 2014

Years ago when living in S.F., there was this regularly scheduled event called critical mass, where bike riders essentially tried to tell everyone what to do and pretended this was their right. As I recall, SUV's used to get keyed, motor vehicles slammed into, drivers cursed and so forth, because they were holy about their cause and whatnot.

Today, a smaller scale version of this occurred. I have a family, you know, with little kids who need to be driven places, so I have a small van, which is to say, I'm not one of 'them' and maybe there was some even like that today that I did not know about? Anyway, just wondering what kind of etiquette they were expecting, as I was surrounded by several dozen bike riders near Arastradero Park, and being yelled at 'what an unsafe idiot!' I was. Did they really expect me to pull over and let ALL the many bike riders, all go by, even though I could easily drive the fastest and avoid them much easier than they could pedal quickly by them? What I yelled back was, share the road!' I don't think 'share' is these bike riders' message. In fact, I suspect it's one of the least familiar words in their vocabulary...

Comments (17)

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Posted by Chen Kai Wen
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2014 at 5:37 pm

ha. I don't think there was an event. But you're generally right. Don't take it personally. Maybe you weren't white enough for them, and yes, the kids you have means to them you are anti-environment, or not animal rights enough. Funny, I will go to China soon and see bike riders all over the roads, but never screaming at car drivers...


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Posted by Hippy Joe
a resident of The Greenhouse
on May 18, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Well, I'm a different kind of biker. We always useta ride over to Alice's Restaurant, kind of like that Bill Shatner commercial. Now, all these spandex wearing people have stolen our word, biking! In our vernacular, it bums me out. and guess what? Lance cheated, dude!


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Posted by TheRealSlimK
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Thanks, Mr. Chen. Thanks, Joe.

From research today, I theorize that I was being "corked." That is, if corking can be done at an intersection without a redlight, as well as on a normal Sunday morning without any organized event per se'. But, the problem is that I did not understand the concept of 'corking' and the 'corker' did not translate his duties of 'corking' to me other than to immediately resort to insults and antagonism because I was, he thought, corking resistent.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2014 at 5:29 pm

I think it is about time that traffic laws for bikes were revamped for modern bike usage. I have no idea how they should be altered, but they definitely need to be revisited. Most traffic laws relating to bikes haven't been altered for decades and at that stage there were no bike clubs and large groups of recreational bikes en masse on our narrow streets.

Traffic engineers should be working to make sensible changes to our laws at state and national level that would protect all road users.


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Posted by Keep it Legal
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2014 at 7:30 pm

I doubt that "corking" is legal as it breaks traffic laws. If that happened to me I would call the police.

Sometimes bicyclists do themselves a real disservice. I support bicyclists and am careful to share the road with them, but the last time there was a critical mass ride through Palo Alto it included our street, and the bikers rode through our neighborhood shrieking and whooping until well past 11:00pm. I'm still careful to share the road, but that event has made me a lot less supportive of bikers - the militants ruin it for the rest of them.

If bikers want to be respected they should start by obeying traffic laws and respecting others.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 19, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

What is corking? Until now, I have resisted learning about it, opting to think that the only corking I need to know about involves a good bottle of wine.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 19, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Corking is like what's for a funeral procession -- cork up the intersecting streets so that the entire motorcade can pass through uninterrupted.


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Corking is when you have a group of cyclists passing through an intersection, and some stop to block cross traffic and left turns, to keep the group from being divided. Not that big a deal done as originally envisioned, but easily and often misused and abused.

Original corking flyer from Critical Mass:

Web Link


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 20, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Thank you, Mr. Recycle & musical. I am lucky to not have yet been affected by corking. What a bummer for the OP. I often wonder as the asinine machismo of groups of cyclists. Of course, they're also drivers, which doesn't give me much confidence in their abilities, either.


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Posted by Sociologist
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 20, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Once a week some biker pisses me off. Multiple times during each commute(2x per day) drivers will do the same.
Its just easier to separate into groups and then claim the other side is the bad guy.
Human nature playing out in these posts for sure.


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Posted by Sorry, had to be said
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 20, 2014 at 4:37 pm

First Read this:
bigot: a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)

Now tell us again about how all these bikers are..you know "Them" and the way "They" act?. Then you can tell us all how the Asians are, then tell us all how the Hispanics are, following it up with how the Jewish or gay people are.

See? Kinda ugly when you look at it that way. People are jerks because of the people they are; not because of the vehicle they drive, the clothes they wear or the color of their skin. Please understand that. A civilized society depends on it.


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Posted by to Sorry
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 20, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Not sure where you got your definition of bigot

Here's a better one

a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion Web Link

In other words, someone who refuses to listen to other people's opinions. We can all listen and respect other's views. It is only intolerance of that opinion which can be called bigotry.


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Posted by Single file
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 20, 2014 at 6:50 pm

The last time I checked ( literally about four years ago), it was illegal for bikeriders in groups to ride more than two abreast. This is for their own safety, since riding more than two deep puts the bikeriders in harm's way. On roads where there are no bike lanes, the law states that single-file riding is mandatory. Basically, if there is no room on a narrow road for a bike lane, there is no room for a bike, especially not three or four or even more riders abreast as we so often see on sunny weekends.


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 20, 2014 at 9:48 pm

I think you need to look at the California Vehicle Code again. Nowhere does it say that bicyclists must ride two or less abreast. Nowhere does it say that bicyclists must ride single file. It does say that on roads that are too narrow for bicyclists and motorists to ride safely side-by-side that bicyclists are entitled to the whole lane. If a single bicyclist is allowed to ride to use the whole lane, then it is also OK for two or three of them to ride abreast.

Unfortunately the California Vehicle Code does not make any distinction between single bicyclists and groups of bicyclists. I agree that we are overdue for an update in this regard, but that is an issue that is only important in urban or suburban areas in our state, so it is hard to get lawmakers from rural areas to support changes.


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Posted by bert
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Palo Alto has NEVER had a critical mass ride. Those have only happened in real cities like san Francisco.


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Posted by Ladera Cyclist
a resident of Portola Valley
on May 20, 2014 at 10:25 pm

"Keep it Legal" is probably are referring to the San Jose Bike Party which occasionally has gone through parts of Palo Alto...


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Posted by to to sorry
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 21, 2014 at 8:53 am

I got my definition from the tried and true Merriam Webster Dictionary:
Web Link

I find it to be more complete and considered the "Official" dictionary if there is such a thing these days...besides the King George I guess.
Dictionary.com is too abbreviated for my liking and doesn't touch on all aspects of the word.

Here's is Webster's full definition for the word BIGOT:
: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

I see some posts here that match up perfectly to these definitions.


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