critical mass - Melbourne

Discussion in 'Australia and New Zealand' started by luke1972, May 1, 2005.

  1. luke1972

    luke1972 New Member

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    Anyone been on one of these rides. I was in Smith Street Collingwood on Friday night and 5 police motorbikes approached at a slow speed with lights flashing. I left the restaurant to have a look (thinking royalty must be in town). Minutes later a couple of hundred riders came along as part of "critical mass". There was police officers on bikes along side them and more police motorbikes at the rear. Some of the pedestrians standing by abused the riders.

    Police cost alot of money to have at a bike race and this is a major reason why there is a lack of big bike races in Victoria (I think). I assume critical mass do not pay for the police during their rides. Why should we (when racing)?????

    I would be interested in what bike riders think about "critical mass". It certainly got my attention.
     
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  2. 531Aussie

    531Aussie Well-Known Member

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    I think you'll find most "real" cyclists :)p) like us don't appreciate the flack we cop because of these people.
     
  3. tzama

    tzama New Member

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    They should really have a good look at when they schedule these rides.


    I'd prefer to see them ride around Gov House and not let any pollies in/out !


    Do these guys have their own web site ?
     
  4. rooman

    rooman New Member

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    Yes, there are two CMs in Melbourne ( I think) one from around St Kilda and one in the city, do a Google Search for the critical mass org and you will find them.

    It is an International group of loosley affiliated souls aiming ( according to web site ) to reduce polution and increase bike useage in inner city areas and across the population generally.

    I think the big problem is that too many use or abuse CM for their politics and depart from the pure aim.... in fact if you visit Athens Georgia in the USA, they have a group of critical mass participants and it is one of the best run and well attended of all CMs anywhere...you know why...because they refuse to use the word "Critical", they call them selves "Courteous Mass", and it works...!!!

    The usual CM rides are from the Library in Swanston St from around 5to5-30pm ish on the night of the full moon, and if a month has two full moons, the other one is a "Blue Moon " ride.... some of their members may post to this and clear up times and political agendas, I've never been on a CM ride here, been tempted, but the looks of the bulk of participants in the press and the reaction from many who are upset by the CM action doesnt bode too well to get more roadies into the scene, mainly mtbs, hybrids and inner city treddlies., but its not the bikes that concern me its the unpredictable nature of the mob, and the unpredictable nature of the chemical substances seemingly influencing some that is the concern to me.

    And a certain Neil Mitchell on radio bags them no - end, but then he bags a lot of sensible lifestyle issues in the name of his own weirdness so go figure that !

    over to anyone else who can shed more light on this populace movement .

    Oh yeah, they have a Yahoo Group site too, through CM, and emails whizzing around cyberspace en-mass.

    Seems like a group with potential that is too able to shoot itself in the foot, so when it should be running ( or riding ) at the lead, it is wobbling in the gutter...pardon my images !
     
  5. cfsmtb

    cfsmtb New Member

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    While you're firmly entitled to your pro or anti Critical Mass P.O.V, you've made a couple of strange assumptions. Especially the one quoted above.
     
  6. rooman

    rooman New Member

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    Hi there, will yes it is an assumption, and the only way to sort it out is to actually get along and do the ride, more than once, so next ride, I'll just do that.( and I now know its the last Friday of the month too)
    I applaud the actions of CM - in the main, especially its resilience to all the crap dumped on it by anyone and everyone, and the main problem really is that not enough people know enough about it, so the unknown wailers build weird prejudices, you know, the irrational fear thing....and case in point. last Sat after a particularly vigorous ride I sat in a cafe with a group of mid 40s through mid 50's talking about McGee and protest rides and the question was asked, what about Critical mass, maybe we should go do their rides....then several said, "no forget it, they are too far off the planet, etc... ( not sure what that meant and my request for a definition was left with a square puzzled look, but it just re-inforces the perceptions out there, that there are cyclists and there is critical mass, the two just dont mix....I don't know enough about CM myself here in Australia, not having been back here long enough to get into it, but I mentioned Athens Georgia, and their Courteous Mass, they have got it together, a close alignement with the city and the University, and the community is actively supportive. So its not just the home of REM, JitteryJoes-Kalahari and the big Bulldog, its also a great lesson in how activism sweeps up mainstream.
    But the essence is, discussion, forums like this and our personal willingness to get out and about and spread the message of riding for life, to save life, to save resources, to save our cities and to save our senses...it really does help get your head together...just some better press and some powerful linking of all cycling enthusiasts would ensure a cohesive lobby to sort all that out...the roadies, the mtbs, the trackies and the commuters, all have a stake in working to ensure we adults and our kids can ride safely, and our communities are better off because of that.

    I had a hard day today and my head wasnt quite out of its stuck up there position when I wrote that, so excuse my ranting, seemingly rednecked ravings there...I will make a factual immersion into CM and I'm sure it will be a hoot.

    Thanks for the wake up call :)
     
  7. cfsmtb

    cfsmtb New Member

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    Hey, just between you & me, I saw a AIS jersey on the last ride. And at least two Giant TCR's. Shhhh. don't tell anyone.... :D
     
  8. rooman

    rooman New Member

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    I think I'll ride my fixie ! ;) ...and I'll drag a few others along, they'll probably be kicking and screaming, but if we detour to a few servos and pass by the odd bottle shop like I hear can happen, that might make them smile and lighten up...:D

     
  9. crazney

    crazney New Member

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    Critical Mass doesn't ask for the cops, and many riders don't really want them there anyhow. You can take them if you want.
     
  10. Marx SS

    Marx SS New Member

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    ‘Real’ cyclist?
    I ride everyday, but I also support what Critical Mass does.
    No harm in it.
    I’ve been on a couple.

    So lemme get this right, if I pay for the police escort, then it’s OK is it?

    When the Queen visits, who do you think pays for that escort? You reckon Liz signs the checks do you?
     
  11. takver

    takver New Member

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    Critical Mass Melbourne congregates at the State Library in Swanston Street at 5.30pm Last Friday of the month - rain, hail, snow, sunshine or public holiday. It usually doesn't leave till 6pm to allow for latecomers.

    The route for Critical Mass is determined by xeroceracy - whoever arrives with a route map, hands it out, and convinces people to take that route. Sometimes no route map is prepared and it comes down to who is in the lead about where to go. Occasionally CM will diverge from a prepared route map.

    Most people come for the fun and celebration of cycling in a large group around the city. Some use the opportunity to make a statement: against pollution; for sustainable transport options; against car culture; for more cycle friendly facilities; a protest about penalties for motorists who kill cyclists. It is all part of Critical Mass, and you don't have to agree with any of it. You can come just because its fun cycling at a leisurely pace (average speed 5-10kph) in a large group: with small tots in trailers, young kids peddling on trailer bikes, teenagers on bmx, road bikes, mtbs, tandems, recumbent trikes and bikes, upright trikes, people on rollerblades. CM is a very inclusive bunch of people. Some of us get dressed up for the occasion, others bring music systems to ride along to.

    The object is to ride as a mass, to look after each other, and prevent motor vehicles entering the mass by "corking" intersections and driveways. The object is not to obstruct traffic, but to be part of the traffic as one mass of cyclists. Sometimes the mass becomes spread out, and that is a danger for the mass, and can cause frustration for other traffic users, and is to be avoided. If you see someone doing something silly, tell them. If you see an ambulance or other emergency vehicle needing passage, then organise yourself and the people around you to get out of the way quickly. That is what I think CM is about.

    Generally I ride with a smile on my face, wave to the people sitting at restaurants, and even apologise to people stuck in traffic, saying it will only be a very small delay and wish them a pleasant evening. Being courteous, I generally receive more positive comments than abuse.

    It usually only takes one really aggro driver, which attracts agro responses from cyclists, and you have a potential heated conflict situation. In the past, before the police got involved about 5 years ago, other massers would defuse these situations. Nowadays the police presence usually dampens down any driver road rage pretty quickly.

    As a frequent attendee, this is my take on CM in Melbourne. I have no hesitation in bringing my children (4 & 17) to enjoy the event on a regular basis. Come along to the next mass on Friday 27 May.
     
  12. smartie

    smartie New Member

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    I lost any form of support for Critical Mass when they performed their stunt ride through the Tunnel. This stunt was purely political as it was in the peak period and by doing so obstructs vehicular traffic from quickly and efficiently by-passing the City. Without this type of vehicle infrastructure, it makes it more dangerous on the road for cyclists as the inner city roads are the only alternative.

    Although it is a nice aim to have no cars and all be riding bikes, this will NEVER happen and the sooner some sections of the community realize it the better for all. Then organizations such as CM may be treated with some form of respect in the community. Even the name doesn't engender respect as "critical mass" is the state a nuclear bomb gets to just prior to detonation.

    The only thing you ever see about them are the problems they cause the general driving public, and rather than actively trying to solve any issue, are seen to be part of the problem whenever they are out. Critical Mass are not going to change driver opinions and attitudes to cyclists with the methods they use, rather they will only inflame things, this is why the police would be required, to stop the stupidity of the organized rabble causing their own injuries by a frustrated motorist.

    I both drive and ride bikes, both are appropriate forms of transport, and the actions of some will not alter which form i use, but the actions of intelligent people will ensure both can be utilized as efficiently as possible.
     
  13. Cipo

    Cipo New Member

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    Beautifully said, smartie. Beautifully said.

    They just create more angst against the rest of us cyclists


     
  14. Phuong L

    Phuong L New Member

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    I think that's where the problem lies - you people seem to believe that the roads belong to motorists and that cyclists are secondary users. Critical Mass challenges this and says "it's our time to take over the roads. See how lovely it is to cycle here without cars?"

    I'm not sure what CM in Melbourne is like, but Mass here in Sydney is more like a mobile, friendly street party!

    I cycle everyday and everywhere in Sydney and I've copped a lot of slack from uneducated motorists. Cycling with Critical Mass is the one time that I get to cycle on the roads without having to fear that the vehicle behind me is going to run me over, speed past me at an unsafe distance, etc. (I'm sure you all can think of some other things to add to the list.)

    Everyday I get stuck behind cars that mysteriously 'break down' so the passenger can get in/out, get held up in peak-hour traffic behind pollution-emitting vehicles. But there is that couple of hours, one day of the month where I get to relax and breath a little more easily. Motorists are a major cause of pollution and traffic congestion in the city every single day! So why is it that Critical Mass is being abused for holding up traffic for less than two hours one day in a month? I don't get it...
     
  15. smartie

    smartie New Member

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    The fact that you don't get why Critical Mass is held in such low regard by the general public is exactly the reason they are.

    Not meaning to demean the protest ride last weekend, but it was held at a time that gave riders the opportunity to protest at the unfairness of the system towards the bike riding public, whilst not treating the rest of the general public with total disregard. Although i wasn't there it appeared to get across greater awareness of the plight of the cyclist in a much more dignified way than CM has ever done, and as such shows that we deserve a fairer go on the road.

    My previous posting has shown the total opposite from Critical Mass. Timing any ride with a great many people during the Friday Afternoon Peak is tantamount to asking for trouble from motorists. If i was sitting in my car trying to get home through the tunnel only to find it had been blocked by a group of bike riders who were not really going anywhere and were just showing they could stop traffic, i'd be extremely annoyed. Slowing the traffic down further doesn't help things, making the roadways more efficient so vehicles are off the roads quicker does, as believe it or not the motorist also hates being on these roads too and would like to be home as quickly as possible.

    I am aware there are users of this forum that ride in CM rides, and also hope they use common sense in the routes they choose to go on with them. As i've said before, trying to beat the motorist over the head into your way of thinking is not going to work.

    Why doesn't CM run their Summer rides at 7pm. It's just a thought, as the majority of motorists would not unduly be held up and CM can use a greater portion of the road in a much safer time-slot which really would not inconcenience them to any extent. This is truly what sharing the road is. Letting people perform their daily work/travel, then use the freer periods for leisure / pursuits. You may also find Critical Mass slowly loses some of the disrespect they have in the community for showing what appear common sense solutions to the traffic problem, rather than continually becoming part of it.
     
  16. Phuong L

    Phuong L New Member

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    Personally, I don't think is quite correct. Firstly, Saturday's rally was brought about by an incident which led cyclists to say "enough is enough". CM on the other hand is a regular 'rally' to protest cyclist's rights to using the road. Technically it is (or was intended to be) a coincidence where cyclists just happen to be cycling in the same direction, legally using the roads (ie cycling in one land of traffic with 2 abreast on what happens to be the whole side of one road because there are so many cyclists). Secondly, Saturday's rally was well publicised with the case and media in all four states. CM on the other hand isn't publicised and so when motorists get held up for... I don't know... 2-3 minutes (if not less), they don't quite understand why and so get upset because a bunch of cyclists are inconveniencing them.

    This may be the case, but it's the best time we can make our statement. Without publicity, cycling in the middle of the night where no-one will see us or notice us will not generate much discussion whatsoever. What motorists seem to mistake is the level of delay they experience. CM Sydney is aware of peak-hour traffic and we cycle on main roads only to a certain degree and only for a short period and then turn off in order to let traffic flow again. Cars may have to wait for an extra cycle at the traffic lights, but that's all. We try to avoid cycling on bus lanes and stop for pedestrians because we value these methods of transport.

    But why is it that work is held in higher regard than "leisure/persuits"? But besides that, the times chosen to conduct a ride are a convenient time for Massers. We study/work too and many finish around 5pm. Having CM start in the city at around 6pm would ensure a larger turnout because people could just go directly there after work.

    Just a thought - why don't motorists drive home from work at a later time? They'll avoid peak-hour traffic and won't inconvenience any cyclists on the roads. They can do it on the last Friday of every month! That's what sharing the road is all about, isn't it? I know I try not to cycle on major roads during peak hours, so why can't motorists do the same but just for one day of every month?
     
  17. rooman

    rooman New Member

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    The fundamental principal across all these threads, whether it relates to CM, WheelsofJustice, anything regarding forward motion, in essence, I believe, is this........

    TIME,

    humankind has a problem with time... when, each considers he/she is delayed....this is driven by a desire to be some where else, a desire that overrides any consideration that the other 6 Billion of us also want to be some where else too, so rather than allowing give and take, managing time so that we all can orderly and safely traverse distance over time, humankind is selfish, it inately demands the space of others to allow it to traverse distance to beat time...... got that?

    There are 86,400 seconds in a day.....what is 10 or 20 of them ?, each time a pedestrian, cyclist , other motorists, wants , needs to have some of your seconds....hey people, just give them some....take that time to relax, recover, and thank your god that you still have that time to just ponder that thought....not like all those who have had their lives taken by greedy members of our species who JUST WONT SHARE TIME, because of ignorance or attitude.

    We, (human kind) as a major contributor to this planet's ills are also its custodian, we can contribute to healing earth in one little way (among so many others), by sustainable transport, and we can contribute to our greater enjoyment of the time we have on this rock, by healthier persuits in our form of transport (cycling) when it is practical, desireable , or necessary....

    It has become necessary, that "more people cycle more often", and any occasion to remind us all that we have 86,000 + seconds in everyday" is a bonus.

    remember the next time you are driving, walking or riding, just give some time back, and coupled with also giving 1 meter of space...so consider 86,000 as a mantra to resort to...it may just save your life !!!!!!!

    86,400...dig it ?

    ROO
     
  18. SomeGuy

    SomeGuy New Member

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    I'd be interested to know just how much slowing effect critical mass has. Being a Friday night, the traffic is already moving at a crawl in many places, to the extent that the mass will often get caught up behind other traffic.

    Which is why we present them with an alternative :).

    Because many people on CM are in the CBD at 5:30pm because they have just finished work? That was what it originally started out as, a ride home in a group for safety.

    Unduly held up? What is so undue about having to share the road with other users? You could of course state that it is Critical Mass which refuses to share, but I haven't seen any massers riding their bikes into motorists, or screaming abuse at them. Not to mention for the rest of the month we quitely hide away in our tiny little bike lanes, which does of course lessen traffic congestion. The real undue holding up, to my eyes anyway, is people driving their cars when a bike is a real and valid alternative.

    No, the tunnel encourages people to drive. We don't need more road infrastructre, we need to be trying to get people <i>not</i> to drive. If all the money spent on city link had gone into encouraging people to use public transport and/or bikes (more bike routes and cheaper fares), Melbourne would be far better off. If you want to know why, take a look at cities like Sydney. There is a simply a limit to how many cars you can get in and out of a small space (CBD), and Sydney has reached that. Should we really be spending money encouraging more people to drive into the city?
     
  19. smartie

    smartie New Member

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    The infrastructure being created in Melbourne is to move traffic around the CBD. This is where the big problem with traffic is, not into Melbourne proper. The freeways (tollways) have been created to ease congestion on other major roads. Anyone who has seen the beneficial impact on Bell St. once the Eastern Freeway was extended would have to agree. Leaving cars to have their own roadway and bikes a much improved roadway with less congestion.

    I don't travel into the city very often, but when i was for uni, i'd catch a train as it is a much better proposition and if i was still travelling, the train is the only way to go.

    It is ludicrous to tell someone that has to travel 50+ kilometers to work each day to ride a bike. This would add approximately 4 hours+ to their day which is in my opinion unreasonable for anyone to ask. (The train still looks good). Saying that you offer a real and valid alternative is not a reason but an excuse to justify your actions as your alternative is not a practical one for the majority of people.

    I may seem to be playing Devils Advocate on this issue, but people must realize there is no simple solution to the traffic problem on the road and making motorists pay for the ideals of others is not a solution. Cars are not going to go away and it is only going to get worse until drivers realize there is a better method (re. public transport) and unfortunately beating them over the head with a bike pump is not going to change their priorities.

    I have not taken cycling as a valid means of transport as the idea of leaving home at 6am and getting home at 8pm is not what i'd believe to be palatable for most people. Believe it or not the public transport system in Melbourne is quite good but if a stack of money was spent on it there would only be another interset group whinging that it should be spent elsewhere.

    Critical Mass have a right to ride, i just believe they should use common sense in their rides and not try to force their ideals onto people whose ideals and/or priorities differ from thos of CM.
     
  20. SomeGuy

    SomeGuy New Member

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    But we aren't. What % of people have those kind of commutes every day? A large number of people drive short distances every day. These are people who could be riding bikes, but don't for whatever reason.

    What's the source for your claim? Studies generally find that cycle commuting is actually faster in a large number of cases. Now all I have to do is link you to one so I don't look like a hypocrit :p.

    Also while riding 100k each day is certainly a lot, I dispute that it would add 4 hours to travelling times. A fit cyclist would probably take around 2.5 hours each way. To drive or train the same distance would be take 1-2 hours, so in fact the ride would probably add 1-3 hours (I'd put money on it being closer to one), not 4.

    It's interesting you say this, because I often find that I can ride places faster than I can get there by train. For example a friend of mine lives in Kallista, about 50ks from me in Brunswick. Riding from my local train station in Anstey to Belgrave station takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes. The train ride is more like 2 hours 30 minutes - and costs $7 each way.

    And I could argue that we do. In the end I guess we will just have to agree to disagree :).
     
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