Critical Mass - Halloween 2008

"Critical Mass de los Muertos" post-ride story.

I LOVE CRITICAL MASS!!!! On Halloween 2008 in Chicago 2000+ cyclists took an 18+ mile day-of-the-dead theme urban trek, with minimized car traffic disruption and quality after-party. It's simply unparalleled. SOOOO MANY GREAT COSTUMES my brain is still de-spooling and giggling spontaneously. Not just several gorillas but numerous bananas as well, several skyscrapers, countless concepts, a good Monarch+Dr.Girlfriend, and hundreds more.
Photos here:

The route and map, execution and after-party were peak achievements by T, S, H, me, etc. For gosh's sake, we launched after a fire and drum performance, HAD A CIRCUS leading half the way, and touched all four planned ghost bikes. Alicia Franz in particular was something of a miracle to me. I happened to have just met her, and she had already changed the way I listen, when suddenly she was gone. My shock is finally easing more, having now thanked her memory in person and left bittersweet tears on the bike.

I've increasingly taken to corking, due to experience and mobility, and protective nature. Over some three hours I saw maybe 9-12 creeping/cutting car incidents, and interacted with some 4-5 bewilderingly hard-headed drivers personally (trying to turn/merge into the mass, where they gonna go?!?). Though I cover a lot of ground on skates I must see only a fraction, particularly missing those that cut off stragglers. So the big masses are generating maybe 10 to x significant angry driver moments, and hundreds of pissed one. In balance though, there are also large numbers getting out of cars to cheer, and watching and waving with kids. Problem cars we can minimize through quality traffic co-existence as we did this time, and by becoming an even more widely known expectable monthly traffic delay.

Based on 1st/2nd hand reports, we're also generating at least one incident escalating to property damage every mass. That's the piece to address. I do believe and have previously written on this being a driver entitlement psychology problem, mixed with drinking, stupidity, and other issues, and not all us. I again swear by the WNBR-C approach to VISIBLY to the driver take a flash photo of license, or video of problem drivers as soon as possible, and make a hoopla about it. This makes drivers suddenly aware they may be held responsible for their actions, and worst case makes that possible. We've tried other approaches, make sure to add this one to the arsenal. Finally, there's inevitably 1-3 riders tapped or worse by cars, beyond or overlapping the incidents above. Unfortunately this often includes bike damage or minor injury, leading to police involvement, sometimes even ambulance. Carpe diem but caveat cyclor.

The bike cops repeatedly mentioned that we're cool, they just can't let us on LSD. I'm happy with the few times we have gone there. They put something like a dozen on us in Daley Plaza, and a few stuck with all the way, which is unusual but welcome. The few in front in particular significantly assisted and enabled the mass and even interacted with buses. There were drinking and hooliganism busts, but that's fair, be smart. The last minute adjustment to Grand because of Chicago bridge damage was a testament to flexibility, and clearing cars and emergency vehicles I've never seen done better. Our radios were again a failure despite now having the most powerful available, and I'm looking seriously at high-end solutions. But don't mark me coordination hungry, the completely unplanned masses are miraculous.

Need more rides? Think bikewinter.
We seriously rock. Massive massive kudos to all.