Monday, August 23, 2010

Shifting Gears in the 216

Some people have referred to the group as "Terrorists on bicycles". During July's event, two riders were ticketed and threatened with jail time. The officer told the pair that he was "sick of this group".

Who are these people, exactly? Are they a rowdy bunch of rough, tough bikers with a penchant for terrorizing our fair city?

The "plague" sickening the law enforcement officials of Cleveland consists of bicyclists; and if the Critical Mass rides in June and July are any indication, they are strong in numbers - and I'm one of the many.

I commute to work by bicycle most every day. The HealthLine is slow, and I can't seem to go on a single bus ride where someone isn't dramatically pulled from the bus for freeloading, so I ride. As a commuting cyclist, I can attest to the dangers of Cleveland streets. In many areas, the roads resemble spent minefields, scattered with holes and large pieces of glass. The roads, combined with your average motorist can make even a 5-mile commute a truly horrifying ride.

On the last Friday of every month, Critical Mass Cleveland meets Downtown at Public Square at 6:00, shoving off at 6:30 for an uncharted and leisurely ride through Downtown and surrounding areas.

What's the point? In a way, it's social networking on two (more or less) wheels. We ride, we talk, and we end up at a bar. Sometimes, cake is involved. Another important purpose is to show people what it would be like with a significantly higher number of cyclists on the road. Yes, we're slower than your motorized vehicles but we also have every right to be on the roads.

We're here, we're geared... Get used to it!

The mood however, isn't so militant. Through the bicycle bells you will hear riders wishing onlookers and passers-by a "Happy Friday". If someone rides by on a bike in the opposite direction, Critical Mass riders will often clamor for that person to join in the fun. Sometimes, at least once in the ride - it works.

Riders of all skills and types are welcome. There is no charge to ride. The most important thing is to have fun, and make friends. Check out the Facebook page or the group's Twitter. I hope to see you there this coming Friday!