What makes San Francisco’s monthly Critical Mass an illegal bicycle parade is the fact that nobody gets permits. ‘Cause getting a permit is hard - it would entail doing stuff that costs a lot of money and it would make you a magnet for lawsuits, so who needs that, right?
The thing is that corking intersections and running red lights as a group (hallmarks of Critical Mass going back to the mid-1990′s), those things are obviously illegal, so the SFPD could start issuing citations whenever it wants, of course. And that’s true no matter how they roll in the Empire State. (Actually, I question how the New York decision affects us here in San Francisco at all, but oh well.)
I’ll tell you, the biggest shock that drivers have when they get stuck at an intersection is that they get no sympathy from the cops. Drivers without criminal records tend to stay by their cars and watch the parade of bikes.
OTOH, drivers with criminal records, well, Critical Mass is a test of their ability to maintain. Some fail.
Do I think San Francisco has the will to kill Critical Mass? No. But do I think Police Chief George Gascon is planning on shaking things up, in the coming months, you know, when rain no longer threatens* and the number of cyclists is bigger? Yes.
“Hey, man, we don’t have any “leaders,” man. The City can’t do nothing to us, nobody’s in charge of CM, man.” Yes, roger that. I don’t think anybody’s going to stick you with a bill for $35,000 or anything, but changes are a coming…
Collateral damage from Critical Mass - MUNI vehicles stretching to the horizon in both directions. (Is that on the DO list or the DON’T list?) This kind of thing is one of the reasons you don’t see CM listed at the SFBC website calendar anymore.
Where’s Waldo, Cagney and Lacey on a recent Critical Mass ride:
The wonder of encountering an unexpected Critical Mass for the first time. Out-of-towners Rachel and Monica were delighted:
To Be Continued…
*Actually, tonight looks to be clear as a bell, Mel. But the forecast was for rain so tonight’s should be a smaller ride.