Smile Politely

Critical Mass in Seattle Slightly More Confrontational than in C-U

I traveled to Seattle for my brother’s wedding this past weekend. While I was a little bummed that I would miss Critical Mass in Champaign-Urbana, it never occurred to me to attend the Seattle equivalent. It was the same time as the wedding anyway, but it looks like I really missed out. Here’s the mainstream media account and the indymedia version.

It’s going to be pretty tough to get an accurate picture of what really went down from those stories. After spending a few days in Seattle, though, I can see where commuting tension would be high. There’s a ton of traffic of both the car and bike variety, and even a lot of the arterial roads are narrow and curvy.

Critical Mass is confrontational by nature, and in a high-tension, big-city environment like Seattle, there are bound to be problems. Seattle police have cracked down on riders in the past during the ride.

Here in comparatively pastoral C-U, Critical Mass is, in my experience, a celebration of bike culture and a brief opportunity to force motorists to acknowledge our presence by taking up a lane of traffic. I’m sure that it pisses drivers off here, too, but I’ve never seen anything beyond a honk and a bird. Violent interactions with motorists seem out of our reach at this point, but who knows.

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