On Saturday November 26 I opened the Spokesman-Review to find an amazing photo of two plainclothes police officers handcuffing and arresting, face down on the asphalt, two Critical Mass bike riders who had blocked traffic with their bikes. Critical Mass is a nationwide monthly demonstration of cyclists filling traffic lanes during rush hour to call attention to cycling rights and promote alternative transportation.
Say what you want about the Critical Mass folk’s agenda and methods (full disclosure; I have participated in a Critical mass rides in Spokane), do their actions really require the same sort of police treatment you might expect for a meth dealer?
Just three weeks earlier, Denny Bartlett, one of my best friends from high school, who lives in Seattle and commutes by bike to Kent everyday was rear-ended by a car, his bike was totaled, his helmet split open, and he broke his leg. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, the driver of the car that hit him just didn’t see him.
All of this makes me want to be a better cyclist and follow more of the riding tips we have on page 13. The Critical Mass folks, my friend Denny, and anyone who regularly hops on a bike for transportation is doing us all a favor by: helping reduce auto emissions, lessening dependence on foreign oil, and saving on healthcare costs by getting more exercise (broken leg not withstanding, biking from Queen Anne to Kent everyday like Denny makes you one healthy mofo).
Instead of making cyclists lives more difficult we should be trying to figure out ways to make them easier. We need better bike lines, more trails, more bike racks and more education. Who knows, if gas ever hits four bucks a gallon a lot more of us might be out there.