Critical Mass Riders at Jackson Square

Here’s the thing. I love riding my bicycle. And I love other people riding their bicycles. And I wish everyone was on a bicycle and cars were the exception. But I’m not that good at riding with others. I want to be, I really do. I mean, those are my people out there, pedaling around! So when S. emailed to see if i wanted to go on a ride, I thought yes, let’s go to Critical Mass. I got this. I rode down to the Quarter, taking a special pleasure in the smooth Camp Street asphalt. I wonder if folks who ride in cities where streets are decently paved understand the pure joy of a smooth ride. Anyway, I dodged the early tourists and late commuters and looked for the people with bikes. Here they are! We stood, checked each other’s bikes out, and waited. Finally we were off, and I concentrated hard on the lights in front of me, hoping I didn’t take out too many other bikes should I list to far to one side. The riders were stuck in that old split between those who want to break traffic rules and take over the streets and those who want to ride courteously to show that we can share the road. Well, if we aren’t all on the same page, that first option can get a little dangerous. I negotiated myself for a couple of miles, but then I had to get out of there. Nope, I still don’t ride well with others, but it is certainly worth trying to figure out the how to.

5 thoughts on “Critical Mass Riders at Jackson Square

  1. I dunno, Kate, from what I’ve seen of Critical Mass in other cities — San Francisco, e.g. — they can be a pretty in-your-face bunch who give bicyclists a bad rap. In this, as in many things, it’s often better to paddle (pedal) your own canoe (bike).

  2. I agree completely. I rode with a small group (about 20 people) recently and there was one guy who took it upon himself to stop traffic and there was confusion among the riders because of that about running red lights or not. At one point, one car just went through laying on its horn and, to be honest, the driver had a right of way (it was a green light) except for the hippie parked in the middle of the street to allow 19 riders to run a red light. I think — especially in New Orleans — riders (as well as drivers in general, who seem very aggressive in NOLA over other cities) need to develop ea culture of following the rules. I love cities with “loose rules” — I don’t want “Singapore” — but there’s a point where it goes over the line.

    I generally follow this rule with red lights: I stop if there any conflict between pedestrians or drivers who have right of way and I only pass through red lights if there is no potential conflict. (Similar to the stop sign rule, except with a little more vigilance.) Pedestrians and drivers like when they see cyclists that don’t just “blow through” red lights like entitled schmucks but rather at least show some effort to obey the rules and to yield to those who have right of way.

  3. Always tough to adopt a group ethic, when no one knows what it is. Learning to ride with others is just like learning anything else…practice. But only practice what you wish to learn.

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