• 09-29-2011
    ugh...crit mass in small towns
    Some people I know and have ridden with before have decided that we need a crit mass ride in Nacogdoches. in fact, the one time I rode with the group in the past, I caught myself thinking based on the way they were riding, "I didn't sign up for a crit mass ride" and sure enough, several months later they've planned one for my area.

    when they started floating the idea, I aired my opinion so it was out there...that crit mass didn't do much to make things better for cyclists on the roads. I think that's especially true in my area. NOT ONCE have I encountered drivers who were unaware how to drive around a bicycle, as long as they saw me. In fact, I'd characterize most local drivers as more courteous than they need to be. That's absolutely not a bad thing, but they give me way more space than they need to most of the time. I rarely get buzzed closely and when I do it's because they weren't paying attention anyway (those people are scary drivers no matter how you're getting around town). I occasionally get cut off, but those are most likely the same people cutting me off when I'm driving, so my mode of transport makes little difference here, it seems.

    there are two major headaches here, in my opinion.
    1) inexperienced young drivers associated with the university. this becomes especially apparent when the new students show up every year and they don't know the city yet. they're scary no matter what.

    2) the city doesn't provide adequate bike-friendly infrastructure. on streets that are especially narrow and busy, the city designates the sidewalks as bike paths, but the sidewalks are too narrow and cross too many driveways into parking lots to really be safe bikeways. there are not enough bike racks in public places. some local businesses have taken it upon themselves to provide bike racks, but some areas (like downtown and public parks) are sorely lacking in bike racks.

    in my opinion, crit mass is not going to do anything to make either of these situations better.

    the one thing crit mass MIGHT do (and it depends on the people running it) is educate people how to ride safely and appropriately, but I think that's probably pretty unlikely. I've expressed my opinion that it would be a good idea to do so (there are many ninja salmon bike riders among the non-university full time residents, and the college students are oftentimes downright unpredictable with regards to their bike riding behaviors). however it seems my comments have fallen on deaf ears.

    the first ride is tomorrow. I am tempted to strap on my GoPro and record it as a bystander to see how they run the thing. I definitely don't want to be out driving at the time. I know some of the people involved and they like to antagonize cars intentionally.

    I am also pretty sure a lot of people don't know what they're getting into