Monday, May 31, 2010

Another Frank Gray Article

Some great press for the Critical Manners/Courteous Mass. Frank contacted me after I sent him an email after his last article on biking.
What failed to come out in the article is that I understand why people do Critical Mass. Riding your bike is fun. I just personally feel that it is counterproductive for bike commuters.
Also, after some discussion with Vince, we will continue to start from Lawton until further notice.

Published: May 27, 2010 3:00 a.m.
Honking off drivers silly, cyclist says
Frank Gray

FORT WAYNE – Something called Critical Mass made its debut in Fort Wayne about two years ago, and it hasn’t set well with P.J. Thuringer.

Thuringer has been a bicycle commuter for five years. Time was he’d take the bus to work in the winter, but two years ago he decided to ride his bike year-round, rain or shine. In fact, he was probably about the only guy out on a bike during bike-to-work day last week when a storm hit just about quitting time, pounding everything with torrential rain and hail.

By and large, he says, motorists have been pretty nice to him. There have been some run-ins with unhappy motorists, but so few that it’s negligible.

Critical Mass, though, threatens to undo a lot of that goodwill.

Critical Mass involves getting as many riders to gather in a single spot and go for a spontaneous ride as a group. The concept sounds like fun, and the attitude that the pack doesn’t stop when a light turns red seems a little defiant, but harmless.

But the slow-moving packs have gotten so strung out in some past rides that traffic was getting blocked for several traffic light cycles. If you miss one light, at least you can entertain yourself watching all the people ride by. But when cars are forced to sit through several lights, it gets irritating.

“It gives us a terrible name,” Thuringer said. It emphasizes the attitude that people on bikes don’t obey traffic laws, makes bicycle haters hate cyclists more, and strains the patience of even bicycle lovers.

So not long ago, Thuringer said, “Me and a buddy decided to try something different.”

They started a ride called Critical Manners. A group of riders get together at 6:30 p.m. at Lawton Park on the second Friday of each month and ride through town, obeying all the laws, stopping at stop signs and red lights and signaling turns and that.

The rides aren’t that long, only about eight miles, but it takes a lot of time to cover eight miles on a bike when you’re stopping at every traffic light and stop sign.

They’ve had only two rides so far. Only six people joined in on the first ride, and only nine the second time, but it will grow, Thuringer said.

The group stays off major roads, such as Clinton Street, but they have ridden Fairfield Avenue to Rudisill Boulevard and taken Calhoun Street back downtown.

“We want to be seen obeying the laws,” he said.

Thuringer hopes it pays off. More people are riding bikes for fun, for basic transportation and for little trips to places like the grocery.

“I see more people with bicycles with baskets on front going to Scott’s to buy a bottle of milk,” Thuringer said. “We don’t need for them to catch heat” because of other riders who cause problems.

Thuringer has written about his ride in a personal blog, but he hasn’t promoted his alternative ride too much. He doesn’t want it to get too big. “We’re just trying to keep it positive.”

Lawton Park is also where Critical Mass rides have started, but Thuringer wants to distance himself from that event, so he’s looking for a new place for the ride to start. So far he doesn’t have one.

1 comment:

Jugomugo said...

We had about 25 people at our last Courteous Mass, Critical Manners ride. So far so good! We do our best to do what is right.