September-October 2002 Newsletter
From the President
by Earl Jones
I think that weíll look back on the 2002 season as very important one
for the Louisville Bicycle Club. Weíre in the middle of a mess. Although
others made most of the mess, we can blame ourselves for some of it. Whatís
critical is that we extricate ourselves and fast.
The Critical Mass mess is in the first category. The groupís antics
escalated this year and led to a confrontation with police one evening in
July when CM members impeded rush hour traffic on Bardstown Road. This
group rides bicycles and talks a lot about bicycles and about the rights
of cyclists to use the roads. But thatís all we have in common. We fight
to share the road not block other users. To find constructive solutions
for conflicts not to fight for the sake of fighting. And we fight for
cyclists and for facilities that accommodate cyclists, not for lifestyle
or environmental or resource allocation issues, all worthy causes but
causes for which the bicycle is incidental, not central. We are for and
about bicycling. And if we intend to last into our second century weíll
make sure everybody understands that fact and the difference between them
The need is becoming clearer every day. Critical Massí antics seem to
have given license to motorists to express their frustration (or worse,
their hostility) at having to share the roads. How many of you have had to
explain that the LBC doesnít engage in those tactics? How many of your
friends have recounted close calls with inattentive or disrespectful
cyclists? After steady progress in our advocacy programs and support from
the local government for bicycle-related improvements we seem to be on the
Letís make certain that our rides are not confused with that other
groupís gatherings. If we donít, weíll make a mess bigger than the one
being made for us.
The Tuesday evening rides from Cherokee Park are a good place to start.
Since these rides were added to the schedule as a regular event last year,
theyíve become the Clubís most popular. On a good weather day more than
100 riders participate. Itís wonderful to see so many cyclists enjoying
the sport and each otherís company.
But the rideís popularity has also become its biggest problem. The
excitement generated by that many riders can make you oblivious to the
possible intimidating impact of such a large group, especially on
pedestrians and inexperienced cyclists who use the Scenic Loop. That same
excitement can diminish the ridersí normal caution around automobiles.
It can lead them to take chances they wouldnít take in other situations.
I received an e-mail complaining about the
conduct of some of the riders on the Scenic Loop, which I read to the
riders the following week. After some discussion the riders agreed
experienced cyclists should stay out of the recreation lane and that no
one should race in the park. I think our efforts to police ourselves
would have been successful and that might have been the end of it.
But the recent activities of Critical Mass forced the hand of the
Louisville Police Department, which says theyíve received complaints.
Several squad cars showed up at Hoganís Fountain on their first visit,
fewer on the subsequent ones. Theyíve been nice about it, although they
did follow the riders through the park.
Iím optimistic that this isnít the beginning of a serious worsening
in our relations with the community. But itís certainly a time of testing.
Become familiar with your rights to and
responsibilities while on the road. Get involved in our advocacy
program when the call for volunteers goes out. And if you know someone
out there making a critical mess, set them straight.
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web posted: 9 September 2002
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