August 2, 2008


This is our first weekend at home in a while, and it is nice to have an empty calendar for a day. The wife got some much needed rest, finished her book, did some knitting - basically took it easy all day.

I didn't do a whole lot more. I slept in a bit and I went for a bike ride in the afternoon. The weather was near perfect and I picked a route that took advantage of our local trails. The Interurban trail took me south to Greenlake, then I headed down to Freemont to pick up the Burke-Gilman trail.

It is Seafair weekend, so there was the occasional thunder of the Blue Angels flying overhead. I stopped for a bit to watch them fly in formation, climb straight up into the sky and dive back toward the lake. They really are impressive to watch.

The hydros are running this weekend as well. People spend all weekend on their boats stationed near the logboom surrounding the race course. I assume being up close to the race is a cool experience, but to me it is like any other race going around in circles - kinda boring.

I was pulled up at a stop sign in Wallingford. I had some music playing on my i-ride speakers to keep me company. This song was playing - "When You're Falling" by Afro Celt Sound System. Now my speakers don't exactly crank out much volume, but the woman in the car next to me rolled up her window, I assumed to stop my tunes from messing with hers. Then a second or two later she hit the power locks and locked all her doors. Strange.

I don't see myself as an imposing figure, much less threatening. Not sure what her concern was, but maybe it had something to do with the recent confrontation between some bicyclists and a driver during the monthly Critical Mass ride. After being surrounded by bicyclists, a driver lurched forward and back, knocking and/or dragging bikers to the ground. Other bicyclists then drug him from his car, hit him on the head, slashed his tires and broke his windshield.

Regardless of who's version you believe, both sides overreacted. But in my opinion it is the bikers that created the situation for tempers to escalate. The original intent of the monthly Critical Mass bike rides was to demonstrate for bicyclists' road rights. But like many demonstrations, the original intent is hard to find behind the actions of demonstrators. Here is a description from one of the riders of the practice of blocking and surrounding cars:
Normally, the term known amongst the Critical Mass participants for the defining of a traffic perimeter using bicycles and human bodies is "corking". Corking generally takes place at intersections. The collective pack of Critical Mass bicyclists travel without regard to traffic signals. This disregard for the rules that motorists follow requires that cyclists take measures to control car traffic. Cyclists use their bikes and bodies to make barriers designed to block cars that would otherwise try to travel directly through the crowd, which is obviously dangerous to the cyclists...The goal of corking is to keep bicyclists from getting hit by cars when drivers choose to ignore the fact that hundreds of human bodies are a physical obstacle to forward motion.
So the Critical Mass riders demonstrate for bicyclists' rights to the road by practicing a "disregard for the rules that motorists follow". I think the point has been lost and these riders are doing nothing to promote cycling.

I think there are some jerks in cars and on bikes as well. I have seen my share of inconsiderate drivers and bikers, but there are people who go out of their way to endanger the lives of others on both sides. A car is a much more deadly weapon, and unfortunately it might be the innocent biker the driver next sees who pays the price for the antagonizing (and illegal) behavior of Critical Mass.

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