Friday night I inadvertently attended Edinburgh's
growing critical mass. I wasn't on a bike at the time,
and had completely forgotten it was taking place.
But standing on the outside I saw myself placed perfectly
to see the ride as the majority do. And it worries
it was there was plenty time to ponder the nature
of the ride, and to take in the responses on people
watching the events unfold. When I say unfold, I'm
thinking of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon and
very deliberately stretching out its wings. Only slower.
I go any further I have to say that I think I understand
the reasons behind critical mass. Bikes have a rightful
place on the road, they are a legitimate means of
getting from A to B and then on through the rest of
the alphabet. That I get. What I don't understand
is how critical mass proves any of this.
pace of the 50 or so riders was topping out at around
4mph, with the bikes inhabiting the entire carriageway.
The worm had turned, and in so doing proved that cars
are not the only mode of transport capable of creating
gridlock and annoyance.
I am blighted by courtesy, but I see the use of the
roads more as sharing. Ride sensibly, drive sensibly.
To my eyes critical mass seemed in that moment to
be attempting to prove that two wrongs make a right.
It antagonised, annoyed and angered. And rebuking
such statements with a belief that they're car drivers
and so deserve it, or that we're bikes and so have
every right to be there, misses the point by such
a distance that if anything I believe it can only
make matters worse for cyclists.
the way to show the bike as a viable city transport
option is to be visible in your faster passage from
start to destination rather than proving you are just
as capable of making traffic move slowly.
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