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My response to the Copenhagenize.com blog post, “Critical Miss or Critical Mass?”

August 25, 2011

The blog post to which I’m referring can be read here: http://www.copenhagenize.com/2007/11/critical-miss-or-critical-mass.html

Dear Copenhagenize.com,

It is profoundly apparent you have set neither foot nor wheel in the 904 area code. Let’s do something about that, shall we? I’d like to invite you to spend one concentrated day of road-rage observance here. You’d likely die of culture shock, or at the very least, understand why the blood of a Duval cyclist boils with such disappointment and turmoil. Because, you see, here in Duval county, there are two types of cyclists – those who are too afraid to ride these mean streets, and those who are currently too full of piss and vinegar to be bullied off these mean streets, even if it’s at the cost of getting hit… on purpose.

What you refer to as “Mr. Motorist”, I’ll be replacing said reference with a more specific driver, “Joe Jacksonville”.

Meet our antagonist – Joe Jacksonville. He drives to and from work everyday, as he always does. Actually, to and from any A and B route, including the two measly little blocks which lay silently sandwiched between his home and the corner store.

He is not your typical motorist here in America, but certainly your typical motorist in Duval county. He is vehemently and needlessly impatient, his fuse is a short one, and his right foot is made of a mercilessly heavy block of lead. Worse over, he has zero tolerance or empathy for the delicacy of his fellow man.

His friends, John Schmuck Duval and Jack Ass Nineofour, only slightly less typical than he, get their rocks off by harassing innocent, law-abiding pedestrians and cyclists, and enjoy attempting homicide during the days they feel most feisty… or feel most drunk.

Joe Jacksonville, stuck in the parking lot that is Phillips Highway during the hours of 7:30am to 9:30am, looks out the window. His still sleepy, hungover eyes fall upon the flash of a thigh-powered, two-wheeled, gas-free contraption propelled by a healthy man in his work clothes. The man on the bicycle passes each car with ease and grace. Joe Jacksonville has little time or care to contemplate much about the idea of riding a bike to work. He is too busy eyeballing the mountain of trash in his car, imagining himself flinging the heaviest object in that pile at the cyclist’s head.

Whether we ride en masse or ride alone; whether we are one thousand or just one; whether we are within a bike lane, stopping at each stop light, signaling when turning, and doing everything perfectly legal and completely out of the way of Joe Jacksonville, it will not matter…

Joe Jacksonville does not think fondly of cyclists in any capacity.

It is a fanciful pipe dream to merely hope that every single solitary driver shall one day wake up and smell the gas fumes and perhaps dust off that rust-freckled bike of theirs and pedal push it to the corner store located two blocks from their home. That will never happen, so why bother writing about it. If that is what you wish for such brazenly desperate cities in America as ours, dear Copenhagenize.com, then join forces with us and advocate here in America. Otherwise you are no more the solution than your grossly far-fetched utopian fantasy, however beautiful it may be; however much I hope and wish as much as you it were not so far-fetched.

Regarding Duval specifically, a peaceful demonstration of protest is most certainly in order and long overdue. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Protest, no matter how peaceful, will never be perfect. But in certain situations where citizens have reached a breaking point, a protest is absolutely appropriate. We are human beings. When pushed to the limit, our hearts are undoubtedly scathed and pumping blood crimson-bright in fury. It cannot be squelched so easily by mere hope and hope alone, but can at least be settled in compromise by abiding by the rules of the road during our quiet protest. The man heading our Critical Mass, Kirk Tsonos, sees to it our group follows the rules of the road and does not ,in any way, support or allow the harassment of drivers by the cyclists.

Such peaceful demonstrations should also be coupled with behind-the-scenes sincere advocacy for pedestrians and cyclists by way of city council hearings, volunteering, the creation of pro-bike paraphernalia, and the hosting of various fun, positive, bike-friendly and family-friendly events. Though many of us here at JBC may not agree on the idea of Critical Mass as necessary or effective, at least all of us here are very much already active in other proven-to-be-effective schools of thought. And certainly none of us here believe violence, misbehavior, or breaking the law is the answer. It is a multifaceted concerted effort of many ideals.

In reality, the reality within this strange bubble we call the 904, otherwise known as the Third Most Dangerous City in America concerning cyclists and pedestrians, some cyclists cannot and will not be quieted; not by motorists, not by this city’s disgustingly backwards bureaucracy regarding public and alternative transportation, and most certainly not by a man who lives 7550.65 km across the ocean in the heavenly little bubble that is Copenhagen, otherwise known as the Eden of the Bike Riding World.

As much as I disagree with you, I agree with you, my fellow bike-riding brother. I am torn much of the time. I respect your perspective on this matter and hope you may someday come to understand mine.

Ride safe and take care of yourself,

Jennifer

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2011 5:28 PM

    I am a member here on JBC so I want to make it clear that the sentiment promoting critical mass does not resonate with mine. I tend to agree with Copenhagenize’s post. I tend to side with the One Mile Solution by Andy Cline rather than a supposedly peaceful protest like a Critical Mass. One person can not claim to keep a protest movement involving a large group of free-thinking people peaceful. Even Gandhi failed in this regard. Mob mentalities do take over — a normal human nature; I would not like any part in it.

    • August 25, 2011 5:42 PM

      I am torn over of Critical Mass’s controversy and imperfections. I am compelled to get this desire to protest out of my system, yes, but am open to better ideas and will also partake in those better ideas. Thank you for your diversity within this group and I urge the other JBC members to be just as diverse.

    • August 25, 2011 5:45 PM

      You are still full of piss and vinegar, though, brother. I love that about you.

      • August 25, 2011 6:02 PM

        What part of my comment implies that I am full of piss and vinegar? Piss and vinegar about what?

      • August 25, 2011 6:09 PM

        Abhishek, I am not referring to your comment. You are a passionate individual. That is all.

        Okay, scratch “piss and vinegar”, replace with “honey and passion fruit”.

  2. August 25, 2011 8:39 PM

    I’m with the J’ster. Nice response. See you tomorrow!

  3. October 19, 2013 2:44 AM

    This is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.

    Brief but very precise info… Thank you for sharing this one.

    A must read article!

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